What’s in YOUR medicine cabinet?

What’s in YOUR medicine cabinet

“OOOH,” grouched the other half who’d spent the best part of the afternoon on the beach turning himself the colour of a Christmas Island crab on one of the hottest days of August, “I’ve got a thumping headache.”

“Well, I’m hardly surprised,” I shot back, “but there are more painkillers in the medicine cabinet than you can shake a stick at. And while you’re at it I suggest you slather yourself with after-sun lotion.”

I heard Marcus rummaging around in the cabinet, then came the plaintiff cry, “which ones are the painkillers?”

Sigh. I broke away from a game of Scrabble I was winning (me v the computer) and peered at the mind-blowing array of pharmaceuticals the cabinet contained. “Er … these are some sort of paracetamol I said.” I handed him a bright red box of Dolorstop that I really can’t remember buying.

“How many do I take?” was the next question. I suggested two, the number of paracetamol I normally take for a headache. So down they went. An hour later Marcus complained of feeling ill, threw up and went to bed early.

The next day he said he thought the tablets had made him ill. I believed it was sunstroke. But a quick Internet check revealed that over-the-counter-in-Spain Dolorstop is almost FOUR times the strength of your bog-standard Boots’ paracetamol, and only one tablet is recommended.

This little episode prompted me to do a thorough check of everything I had in the medicine cabinet, and, much to my astonishment, I realised that I hadn’t the foggiest notion of what around two-thirds of the phials and packages contained.

There was a box of Doctril with seven tablets missing. Doctril? What was that for? And a blister pack of CoCodamols (six tabs missing). The Naproxenosodicacinfa packet of blue tablets was less of a mystery because I’d scribbled the word “knee” on it. That was handed to me in a pharmacy when my right knee came the size of an Ogen melon after I fell down a flight of stairs about two years ago. Six of those brought down the swelling.

But what was Ilvico for? And Acoxxel? It was clear that I needed to open Google and run all these medications through it. Doctril, I discovered, was given to me for toothache. CoCodamol is a mixture of codeine and paracetamol and have no idea when I acquired it and what I used it for.

Ilvico, I learned, was for sinusitis and Acoxxel was a gout remedy. Gout? I’d forgotten about the pain that was caused to the big toe of my right foot a few years back, and I certainly didn’t appreciate being reminded that I was hobbling about for a week like a Victorian gourmand who’d overdone the rich food and port wine in London’s Army and Navy Club.

“Oh my ears and whiskers,” I exclaimed as I gazed at the pile of boxes and blister packs surrounding my computer, “taken together, these suggest that I might disintegrate at any moment.”

“Ah,” said Marcus, “you’ve still got the first aid box to trawl through. It contains about 20 different tubes of creams and lotions with funny names and no indication of what they are for.”

“I don’t feel well,” I retorted. “Let’s leave that for another day.”

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Barry Duke is a South African born photo-journalist and gay rights activist who settled in Spain in 2010 after working in the UK since 1973. In May 2017, Duke, a lifelong atheist, was handed a lifetime achievement award by the London-based National Secular Society for his services to human rights and secularism.


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