Occam’s Razor: At its simplest, William Ockham posited—more than 500 years ago—that when faced with multiple solutions to a problem, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.
The dogs had been walked and my husband kissed good night. When my eyes started drooping and my iPad slipped from my grasp, I gave up the story in my hands and the fight to stay awake and snapped off the bedside light. And that’s exactly when my eyes started scratching and burning in earnest.
More specifically, it was the skin above my eyes. My eyelids had started bothering me two days prior after peeling three mangoes—one particularly green—for my morning smoothie.
Now, I’d always known that mangoes could produce an allergic reaction. They belong to the same botanical family as poison ivy, and the sap of the mango tree and the rind of the fruit contain oil called urushiol that can generate the same kind of skin rash as that from a brush with poison ivy.
I’ve picked mangoes from trees. Eaten them like an apple. Peeled hundreds during the nearly 15 years I’ve lived in Hawaii. Next to watermelon, mango may be my favorite summertime fruit.
I’d never had a reaction.
But the other night in bed, I wanted to ball my hands into fists and dig them into my eyes. I wanted to bury my head in my pillow and wiggle my face around its bamboo pillowcase with the determinedness of a dog digging for crabs in the sand.
So, I fired up my iPad again and searched for “mango allergy treatment.”
I learned that some people can go years without a reaction. I learned that green fruit contains more of the dreaded oil. When it came to treatment, every single website I visited said a visit to a doctor was in order where a skin test would be conducted and medication prescribed.
But a doctor’s visit wouldn’t help me when I needed it most—right then as the clock neared midnight, right then as I wanted to find some of my husband’s sandpaper and apply it to my skin with rigor. Furthermore, I had a plane to catch the next morning at 7:00, so there would be no doctor’s visit the next day, either.
At the very least, an antihistamine, I read, might get me through the night. So, I searched through drawers in the kitchen and the bathrooms. I pummeled through our first aid kit. No antihistamine. No where.
I went back to scrolling through search results. Several pages in, one caught my itchy eye—something about natural treatments. I clicked, and I was presented with a myriad of solutions to my problem:
1. A mixture of salt and witch hazel.
2. A mix of tea tree oil and aloe vera gel.
3. A cooled tea bag poultice.
4. A mixture of Fuller’s earth and turmeric.
I knew some of these ingredients. I even owned some. But I didn’t have an available dropper to get the measurements right. I didn’t know whether the tea should be green or black. I had no idea what Fuller’s earth was. There was the matter of the sleeping husband who I didn’t want to disturb. And my eyes were itching like a gluttonous tick feasting on an unsuspecting dog.
So, I tried the honey—a few dabs above each eye. And in the 24 steps it took for me to get from kitchen to bed, the itching, the burning, the urge to gouge out my eyes went away. Immediately. Completely. Miraculously. Easily.