Recent weeks have seen me go from nil painkillers to occasional painkillers. Memories of last October when I was routinely varying which pharmacy I was attending to buy daily supplies of cocodomal and ibuprofen remain history, and a supply of prescribed tramadol and naproxen remain unused, but my back and pelvis have niggled occasionally in recent weeks.
For a few days in New England I hit the naproxen and paracetamol. And while that pain has gone away I now seem to have twisted my lower back a little. Hopefully it’s a twist. The obvious panic is that the tumours are returning. Just a little game I’m destined to play in my mind until they eventually do. Today means more naproxen. More paracetamol.
I do get free prescriptions in the UK. One of the perks of a nice dose of the big C. But they’ll only prescribe paracetamol 100 pills at a time. Within two weeks they’re gone. And while I’m pretty confident my GP will prescribe anything I want that’s legal, I have to negotiate a phone call in a narrow time slot to book a triage call with a GP, answer my phone when they make that call – to be told it takes them two days to write out a prescription.
So Walmart became my friend while I was in the USA. I’ve returned with 1,000 paracetamol (or whatever brand name the Yanks give it), 500 ibuprofen and a similar number of naproxen. These will form the basis of my occasional pain relief between now and the cancer returning. Fewer medical calls. Convenience for me. And a small cost saving for the NHS too.
Yes, I’ve used my own cash to get what’s free back in Blighty, but it simplifies a small part of my life and let’s my GP practice put their feet up for an extra 90 seconds a month.
The alternative of paying over the counter for basic medicines dispensed in packets of 16, limited to two packets a time, looking furtive in the pharmacy, really doesn’t appeal.