A spoonful of sugar would seriously help right now


When I was a child, nobody had ever heard of a global resistance to anti-biotics.

If you were sick, your mum whipped you off to the doctors for some ice-cream flavoured penicillin, before heading home to catch the rest of Knots Landing.

These days it isn’t like that and rightly so. The words, ‘it’s a virus,’ translate as go home, take Paracetamol and don’t come back unless you have to crawl in like a character from Reservoir Dogs that’s just been shot.

With this in mind, I knew things must’ve been bad when this week the three year old was prescribed a SECOND course of antibiotics for a chest infection, after the first had failed to shift it.

I’d been relieved that they’d plumped for something different from the first one: something stronger, mightier, something that was going to beat this infection into submission and let us all get a night’s sleep again.

Then I tried to give it to him … and all hell broke loose.

For some bizarre cack-handed reason – childhood obesity rates probably - someone from on high decided that this medicine had to be sugar free. Which is nice in theory, until you realise that the liquid you’re trying to persuade your three year old to drink tastes like Cillit Bang laced with car battery acid.

When he first kicked off, crying, begging me not to give it to him, I couldn’t believe anything could taste that bad. Then I put a dab on my finger, licked it, and spent the rest of the evening trying to get the rancid, fizzing taste out of my mouth.

We tried everything. Mixing it with chocolate milk, mixing it with yoghurt, bribing him with a premature Easter egg. NOTHING worked.

‘He’s going to have to have it, simple as that,’ his Granddad declared. I agreed wholeheartedly, then invited him to tell me exactly how we were going to achieve this.

Blackmail didn’t work. Coaxing didn’t work. Distracting him long enough slip a spoon in while he wasn’t looking didn’t work; he just spat it out like he was trying to put out a fire.

In the end, I returned to the doctor to persevere with the first medicine – and I’m happy to report that it worked.

But I have a plea to the pharmaceutical industry to sort out their flavourings and get their priorities right on this one. One spoon of sugar three times a day for a week is not going to give a sick child a problem. But the alternative just might.


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© 2016 by Jane Costello