Health & Fitness

Strictly use drugs on orders of the doctor

Depression should not drive you to resort to
Depression should not drive you to resort to drugs that are not prescribed by relevant doctors. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Qn. My uncle is fond of taking medicine at any given opportunity and without a doctor’s prescription. How do with remove him from this habit?

Two years ago, we saw a man in his 60s who was referred to us by a surgeon. He had been presented to the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department with severe bleeding through his rectum. He had bled a great deal and was in fact admitted directly to the ICU where he received many units of blood.

It was at first assumed that he had some kind of cancer in the colon that had caused the bleeding. When all tests proved negative, he was asked if he had been taking any medication before the bleeding started.

Like your uncle, he had been taking many different drugs without any medical supervision. He was taking a number of Non-Steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help him deal with the multiple pains and aches he was experiencing. For headache he took aspirin. For backache he took Diclofenac and for joint pains he took brufen. He also took Indocin when things got real bad, as they did in the cold season.

The local chemist knew him well, and was happy with the regular income from this now retired man.


A review of his drug taking habits revealed that this man was lucky to be alive. In addition to the problems related to bleeding, these and other drugs that he had been taking had damaged his kidneys.

After several weeks in hospital, the man’s physical health was restored. Mentally he remained severely depressed. His story was typical of many men of his age. He had, at the age of 60 retired from a multinational company where he had worked all his life.

For 35 years, he worked in the accounts department, where he rose from a clerk to the chief accountant. CPA exams had proved difficult at section IV and further promotions were not possible. His obsessional and meticulous nature had ensured that he had not been late to work, even once, all the time he had worked there. When his wife was due to have a baby, he made sure he was on leave that week so as not to inconvenience the company by taking time off without notice.

For as long as he worked there, all his work was on time, orderly, neat and complete. No boss ever had reason to question him about the quality of his work. Not a single penny was lost under his watch.

At the local church, he was the people’s warden, meaning (in church parlance) that he was the custodian of order in there. He was the link between the people and the clergy. He ensured that Sunday collections were counted, checked and banked. He sat at the same spot in church every Sunday. Other than his wife, it was said that nobody had seen him without a tie! Rumours were that he only removed his tie in the bedroom.

His shirts, shoes and car were the envy of all. Always clean. His only fault, it turned out was that he did not want to waste money (or time) consulting doctors. The chemist was, after all “a doctor” who had dispensed medication for many years!

Upon retirement, he went back home in the rural area, where he knew nobody. His parents had died, his siblings had friends he did not know, and many of his classmates were dead of old age.

He came back to his home in Buru Buru and promptly became very depressed. He used all the NSAIDs to control the pain from depression.

His wife who still worked for a bank had her own life with her investment club (chama) friends and the church group. The grandchildren also kept her busy. He had spent very little time with them as he was busy at work and with the church matters.

Without the title “chief accountant” this man had nothing left to do. He floated in Buru Buru with his depression, taking medication without prescription. He could have died! How much of this man do you see in your uncle? Many depressed people take many different tablets to try and deal with the multiple symptoms of depression. Some are addicted to sleeping pills!

Antidepressants is what turned his life round again. He got better on just one tablet a day. He now enjoys church, grandchildren, as well as long walks in the estate!