Sunday, September 12, 2010

Completing the Course

My mother banged her leg whilst doing some gardening, and cut it.

Perhaps because she didn't really notice, and perhaps because dirt got in, it got infected. Whilst she was staying with Amy, her best friend from when they were both at school seventy years ago, recently, they went to the hospital because Amy fell over. Whilst there, a doctor looked at Mum's leg and realised it was horribly red and swollen and prescribed some antibiotics.

When Mum got back from Barrow, she showed me the bad leg. She was not happy with it because the cruel doctor in Barrow had said this meant she couldn't go swimming until it healed.

"Are you taking the antibiotics, Mum?"

"Oh yes, four times a day. I've read all the instructions."

"And you know that, with antibiotics, you have to complete the course? Because otherwise the infection can come back worse than before you started."

"Oh yes, I know that."

That was a couple of days ago. This evening the leg is a bit better.

"And you are still taking the antibiotics, Mum?"

"Oh no, I've stopped now because it's getting better."


"Mum, it's getting better because you're on antibiotics."

"Yes, well I've stopped them now. Because it's getting better."

"Mum, with antibiotics it's really important to complete the course. Otherwise the infection can come back just as bad, or even worse."

"Yes, but it says in the leaflet that over-sixties should beware of side effects. I don't think that doctor realised that I'm over sixty."

"I think he probably did, Mum. He will have checked. And once you're taking them, you do need to complete the course. It's really important. Remember what happened with Dad's leg?"

The Communist's leg, of course, got so badly ulcerated that it had to be amputated.

"Oh yes, but that was him. That won't happen to me."

(By this she means "Because he was an old man, and I'm not that old." She's eighty-six and a half and is actually older now than he was when he died, but hasn't taken this in, really - and it would have been cruel to remind her of it.)

"Yes, well we need to make sure that all the infection's gone."

"Yes, but then you have to remember to take them. I don't think I've had any today anyway."

And here, I think, we have one of the problems. She's finding it hard to remember. I'll have to remind her, four times a day, and perhaps get a dosset box for any future tablets.

And this is my mother who was married to a pharmacist for fifty years. The Communist always stressed the importance of completing the course of any antibiotic.

Twenty-one years ago, whilst I was pregnant with Olli, a health promotion video all about antibiotics was filmed in this house, with every room pretending to be a different location. And, guess what, it was all about the importance of completing the course of antibiotics.

I reminded her, gently, about the video.

"Oh yes, I remember. Something about antibiotics."

"Yes, Mum. Something about COMPLETING THE COURSE of antibiotics."

I left her to come back the ten yards home.

"I'll take one of the tablets now, shall I?" she said as I left.

"Yes, Mum, please. It's important."

I stayed calm and patient throughout. But I hate this slippery slope. Just hate it.


Blogger Jennyta said...

All I can say, Daphne, is I do understand.

9:35 am  
Anonymous Ruth said...

That remembering thing can be tricky. Yes, you may need to help her by providing reminders.

I have a row of pill boxes with a handy digital alarm which can be set with up to, I think, four different alerts. The boxes and alarm clip together but can also be separated. My sister acquired the set from a drug company.

I don't know if such things can be bought commercially. Even if they can, of course your mum might not hear an alarm or she could just ignore it unless she will really take on board your correct assertion that, with antibiotics, you must complete the course. Good luck

7:38 am  

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