Mrs Antrobus has the gout. She had it a few months ago and hobbled along to see Dr Neighbour. He, quite rightly, gave her Indocid (a shiny new Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drug – NSAID for short). Of course, by new here I mean invented during the latter half of the last century, but in overall terms that’s quite new really.
It worked like a charm for the gout. Only problem, it made poor Mrs A feel terrible: queasy, giddy, sore-tummied, tight-chested, in short pretty much all the listed side effects short of massive and life threatening gastrointestinal haemorrhage. She almost preferred having the gout.
This is a shame, because, and I can speak here from personal experience, when it works and is tolerated Indocid can be a great help. Still it appears Mrs A is particularly sensitive to the side effects of NSAIDs and so we perhaps should avoid them for the future. But Mrs A has the gout. Again. It’s time, to coin a phrase, to “get mediaeval on it’s a**e”. No more Dr Nice-Jest!
You see, for all our modern sophisticated scientific method, sometimes you just have to go the apothecary route. It’s time to wheel out the Autumn Crocus. More properly, time to wheel out that extract of the aforementioned known to our ancestors as colchicine. It’s a difficult drug to use because it can be quite toxic, causing vomiting and diarrhoea. Indeed the dosing instructions contain the comforting advice “take Ye until ye paine hath abayted or peradventure it happeneth that ye patient vomiteth or suffereth an flux of ye bowelf, prithee”, or words to that effect. It’s also a bit of a pain having to go back to prescribing in grains and drachms, but, for all that, it can and often does work every bit as well as the shiny new drugs, and is often better tolerated.
I have this mental image that the drug is prepared by tonsured and habited apothecary friars sequestered in sheds at the bottom of monastery gardens, dispensing antique wisdom and solving the odd ecclesiastical murder. Somehow I suspect this is no longer the case, but it suits my fancy to continue in my delusion, and to delight in turning the clock back a few centuries once in a while.