A spoonful of sugar..

Anybody with a childhood filled with all of the Disney movies,like I did,must have definitely heard Mary Poppins sing this tune,”A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down…In the most delightful way!” I truly believed that’s how eating medicine worked until maturity and conscience happened and boom!,eating medicine when ill was probably the worst part of falling sick,besides of course the easy leave from work/school and the pampering from mum.

I totally feel for anybody who has to take the pill,whether it be just multivitamins for daily health,or the tablets for diabetes and hypertension,or the cough syrup for the nasty cold.It’s the taste,the size of the tablet,and of course the timely manner you are supposed to take it,which could totally put anyone off.Then the question arises,how come,being a doctor I can say this so easily,it’s because till date the minute I find that I have to swallow a large pill,even if it is for the pain that I’m having I’ll think twice,pray to God thrice,drink mouthfulls of water both before and after and hope that the pill goes down in one go,completely dreading the aftertaste if the tablet remains at the back of my tongue.

Medicine has developed leaps and bounds over the last few years,trying to combat such mini wars with the medicines.Science discovers something new everyday,and the sheer determination of the pharmaceutical industry drives forward to reduce the menace of the same problem.Drugs initally scheduled to be eaten thrice a day,are now reformed to second third generation ones ,sustained release versions and the amazing once a day ones are definitely on my go to ones to ask my physician to prescribe if possible.Yet alone the pill is not a problem,the patient is a complicated person too.From the early days of visiting the crowded OPD as an intern ,to sitting in my own preanaesthetic checkup OPD,I’ve witnessed bizarre and funny clinical scenarios.The ones on medication thus can be roughly divided into three categories.

1.Placebo patients-

Placebo is defined as a medicine or procedure prescribed for the psychological benefit rather than any physiologicalones.These are people who are willing to take any pill,big or small,and for however long they any to,these are my “placebo” patients.

An old lady once came to the OPD once complaining of giddiness,her blood pressure everything seemed fine until I checked her blood sugar,which was quite low,hence leading to asking, whether she was diabetic and on any sort of medication,to which she enthusiastically responded with a yes!She collected her blood samples in the morning,but not to worry she had taken her timely pill and yet had not eaten a morsel of food.A sweet tea,and a sugar check later only confirmed the symptoms of hypoglycemia,only due to her sheer dedication to her medicine schedule.

Another patient who I encountered in the OPD almost every week,first with bodyache,then with headaches,had been thoroughly investigated for the same,and came clean on every chit.When told that she was healthy enough to run marathons,she laughed and said that any pill would do,her checkup wasn’t complete without the wait in the line at the pharmacywanted just about any pill,if nothing she requested to at least prescribe a multivitamin as she didn’t feel normal until she took one for the day.

2.The take only when needed patients.

Patients often appear for the anaesthetic checkup with hypertension,layman terms high BP.When asked if taking an antihypertensives previosuly they respond with ease,yes they had it for 10 years,a few months back the BP had normalised,the doctor was happy,they were happy and they stopped the pill,fear being why take medicines when everything is normal and all right?What they don’t realise is that hypertension like many others is a chronic illness,it doesnt get normal in a day or two like a common cold.In fact by not taking the tablets at all they push themselves to developing end organ effects,akin to a pressure cooker without a whistle as an outlet for pressure build-up.If it doesn’t get an outlet to push the pressure out and it blasts to cause injury to its surroundings.

3.The Stubborn ones

We have the other extreme here,the ones who come for their routine checkups,take the prescribed medications,then go home and lock them in their respective boxes,to return on their nextscheduled appointment and do the same.If asked whether they take the pills they reply with no,why take when they can’t remember,it pulls thier daily lives down,at least the doctor prescribing can be happy.

The attitude I’ve learned to taking medications over the last decade of being a doctor is hence exactly like Mary Poppins says to do,take them like how you would eat a favourite sweet,agreed it won’t taste as good,but it will definitely keep your body in as normal a state as long as they can,also probably prolonging your visit to the hospital.Us humans have realised it only after so many years on this earth that everything comes with a good and bad side to it, sort of like yin and yang.Everything should be ideally lived with moderation ,relationships,food,even habits,only then can we push forth the ideal good life.

 Whether the medications are allopathic/homeopathic or ayurvedic they have been treating us humans from ages,they have been tried and tested for centuries to cure the common cold to the backache.Of course everything on this earth comes with a warranty,Chinese manufactured clocks to our own bodies.Taking the medications would probably prolong our lives just a little bit,make our lives just a little healthier and hence taking it and moving on would probably be the best way to deal with it.


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