Posted in Personal life

An Old-fashioned Remedy for A New-fangled Illness

For a frivolous Friday, here’s a light-hearted post that has nothing to do with my writing. It’s about a strange prescription that I received from my doctor earlier this week. Do not read if you are squeamish about health issues – you have been warned!

tube of whitening toothpaste
Beware the hidden dangers!

On returning at the end of last week from a residential school trip with 27 nine-to-eleven year olds, my daughter and I needed to catch up on sleep, which I thought would restore my energy levels. But I woke up next day still feeling rather depleted, due to a swelling in the right side of my neck that had come up virtually overnight.

A few days later, because the lump had still not subsided, and Dr Google had failed to make a plausible diagnosis, I called the doctor. I found it hard to talk to the receptionist because the swelling was now so big that it was painful to open my mouth very far (torture for any chatterbox). She fixed an immediate appointment.

After prodding about for a bit, the very nice GP gave me a diagnosis and prescription:

  • Diagnosis: blocked salivary gland caused by the tiny polishing fragments they put in new-style whitening toothpastes (we’d just switched to a whitening brand)
  • Prescription: a bag of pear drops, or any other sour sweet likely to make one salivate more than usual
Bag of pear drop sweets
No need to sugar these pills

Well, that’s one way of keeping the cost of NHS prescriptions low, I thought to myself, as I headed round the corner to Poundland and invested in one bag of pear drops and another of chewy sour cherries.

So acidic are both of these sweets that It’s hard to believe that technically these “pills” contain any sugar at all.

Pack of sour cherry sweets
Hard to believe that kids prefer these to vegetables

Apparently the best cure is to force out the blockage with a surge of saliva, before, like a pearl in an oyster, it grows to the size where surgery is needed to remove it. Yuk! The desired effect is to force a miniature volcanic eruption in your mouth. Double yuk!

So this morning finds me sitting at my desk, alert for pre-seismic movement that might herald a cure, as I chomp through sweets that feel like they’re steadily removing every last scrap of enamel from my teeth – pretty ironic when the starting point was a new improved toothpaste that promised to take better care of them.

My other Poundland purchase? A tube of innocuous clear toothpaste gel. Those whiter teeth will just have to go on hold for a while.

Tube of clear toothpaste
Going full circle – back to the Colgate ring of confidence

What’s the strangest cure you’ve ever been given for an ailment – and did it work? Do tell!