I’m a bit of an ‘alternative’ girl. Wherever possible, pharmacy tablets and medicines are given a wide berth. I’m a firm believer in vitamins, herbs, exercise and fresh air. If a cold comes along, rather than reach for Lemsip, I prefer to have Vitamin C, zinc and Manuka honey. My son, trained in medicine, doesn’t quite understand my aversion to conventional treatment. However, one brand of medication I do take is a drug called Tasigna. And something I learnt last week is to never underestimate the power of ‘alternative’ medicine.
A little over three years ago, I was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia. To top it all off, I broke out in shingles due to stress. Ever since then I’ve taken Tasigna to put CML into remission. I hope to eventually stop taking the drug, so use complimentary medicine in an effort to assist this result and keep neuropathy at bay. It’s not a quick fix. It takes time. Medicines should never be mixed, as I found out in a menopausal moment when I absent-mindedly washed down Tasigna with a mix of tap water and colloidal silver. Within twenty seconds I knew something was terribly wrong.
‘All right?’ said Mr V, wandering into the kitchen.
Empty glass in hand, I turned round to face him. ‘I’m hot.’ ‘You’re always complaining of being hot.’
‘No, as in burning up.’
‘Actually, you do look rather red. Are you having one of your flushes?’
Imagine standing too close to an open furnace. Heat was now searing painfully through my body. Every hair follicle on my head felt like a zillion burning needles sizzling into my scalp. My bare arms looked sunburnt. I rushed off to the hall mirror. It reflected back a frightened woman with a face the colour of tomato ketchup. Even worse, my tongue and throat were now heating up too. I tore back to the kitchen, opened the cupboard where a basic first aid is kept, and swallowed down two Piriton. Then, feeling horribly faint, I lay down on the cool kitchen floor tiles.
‘I think I’d better get you to A&E,’ said my husband. ‘C’mon. Let’s go.’
Thank God for our wonderful NHS. Where would we be without it? Sitting in the car, my body began to involuntarily shake. By the time we walked into the hospital the painful heat had dispersed but instead I was vibrating like a pneumatic drill, teeth chattering together as if we’d arrived in the North Pole without coats.
A sweet nurse gave me the once over.
‘Looks like the Piriton is doing its job. This will subside,’ she assured, ‘but you’re not leaving until it has. Go and take a seat in the waiting area where we can keep an eye on you.’
There then followed what seemed like the longest two hours of my life. As I collapsed on a row of metal screwed-together seats, I apologised to everyone for making their bodies vibrate. To be fair, most of them were locked in their own misery. It was the least of their worries to be sitting on a juddering seat. There was the young pregnant girl worried she was miscarrying, the middle-aged man with ankles swollen like an elephant’s, a young man who’d stood on a nail whilst doing DIY, and a pensioner gasping for breath. And then there were those who I wondered what on earth were doing there.
At the risk of sounding fattist (is there such a word?) I was transfixed by a mother and daughter. Both were enormous to the point of morbid obesity. The daughter had a bad stomach ache. Fair enough. But throughout the time there the pair of them worked their way through several packets of sandwiches, cakes, biscuits and a litre bottle of cola each. You don’t need to be a doctor to work out why she had a stomach ache. And this is where our NHS becomes burdened. But I’ll stop there, as I don’t want to get political.
I want to say a big thank you to all the staff at Darent Valley Hospital. You are tremendous. And so is Britain’s NHS which we are so fortunate to have. Which reminds me.
Part of the admission procedure in the hospital where consultant Mr Brown worked, was to ask new patients if they suffered any allergies. If so the consultant had it printed on a special allergy band which was then placed around a patient’s wrist as reference for all other hospital employees. One day Mr Brown asked an elderly lady if she had any allergies.
‘Why, yes,’ the old girl replied. ‘I’m allergic to nuts.’
Later that day, Mr Brown was visited by the old lady’s son, who was most irate. ‘Who the heck is responsible for labelling my mother nuts?’