Originally published: 14 October 2003
I was reading a sensationalised SAPA report yesterday about antibiotics, in which some UK professor is claiming that they could become useless within the next few years, as the bugs they are supposed to fight build up immunity to them.
The tone of the article was that we can all pretty much tie ourselves up and shoot ourselves in the back of the head to avoid Death By Pissed Off And Immune Bugs, and while I don't imagine we're all about to die because our doctors prescribe too many antibiotics, I do also think antibiotics are a complete and utter scam.
Professor Hugh McGavock of the University of Ulster (a specialist in "prescribing science", whatever that is), apparently told Brit radio station Radio Five Live that humans could be immune to antibiotics by 2015, and that should this happen many surgical procedures would not be possible as they require antibiotics.
Which means we all die. Something like that.
While I don't buy his Beelzebug theory any further than I can spit him, the story got me thinking about antibiotics and how unnecessary they are.
As a kid I had a pathological hatred of pills - not from a natural remedy angle, nor save the planet pitch, but simply because I couldn't swallow the damn things. Every time I took a pill it would get stuck in my throat, which lead to violent bouts of choking and an ever-present nausea.
The condition still exists today - I still can't swallow pills without choking, but it really doesn't matter since I never need to take them.
Childhood pills were always enormous - far from the slimline little numbers you get these days - and they always seemed to come in capsule form, and be the size of a big enema. Don't ask me why - maybe the pharmaceutical companies simply hate kids as much as I do.
The upshot of my troubles was that I never - ever - took any pills whatsoever, including antibiotics. Whenever I was handed a pill I would stick it in the side of my mouth and keep it there until Authority had disappeared and I was able to flush it down the toilet.
Thousands of pills - not to mention rands - disappeared down the drain in this fashion, and the incredible thing about it all is that here I am. I'm not dead. Yet I never took a pill in my life.
Which is why I believe pills are a scam, or maybe just the purest form of psychology ever practiced. I'm sure an aspirin genuinely takes care of a headache, and I have no doubt that a strategically taken Viagra can give one a blue-veined, throbbing, manly woody, but of all medication the one I really have to question is antibiotics.
I was told as a kid that you had to finish an entire course of antibiotics in order for them to really work, and that if you stopped taking them once you felt better - and didn't finish the course - you would get the same illness repeatedly.
Yet according to an article published in the Natal Mercury last year, Professor Willem Sturm - head of the University of Natal's Medical Microbiology department - said you should stop taking antibiotics as soon as you start feeling better, and not finish the course.
So obviously it was a bit of a "Mum's Tale" - one designed to get small boys to take their pills...
But it didn't work, since I never took them, which leads to my next question: why am I still alive? Surely by not taking my antibiotics over the years - and particularly when I was a kid - would mean that I should have died of one of the illnesses that they were prescribed for?
But here's the kicker - I never, ever get sick. Don't get me wrong - I'm a vast ocean of pain, from my back that won't bend to my lungs that won't draw air to my pulsing brain tumour - but I don't get sick, and I can't remember when last I did.
Which in turn means I have a little theory, and if you're a GP or related quack please accept my apologies for exposing your vicious, money-making little scam: I don't believe that antibiotics do a damn thing for you, and the only reason they are prescribed is because doctors a. make a fat profit, and b. can fob medication off on cases which they can't diagnose.
Maybe that's taking it a little far, and maybe I'm just the healthiest human ever to have lived, but I don't think so. In the cases where I was prescribed antibiotics I obviously didn't need them, since I always got better on my own after a couple of days.
So either the doctor himself was fooled by the supposed healing qualities of antibiotics, or he was in on the scam, or he simply had no idea what was wrong with me and felt he needed to come up with something to appease my mother and I.
Whatever the case - he was always a lying, money-grabbing bastard, since I never needed the medication.
To take this further - I believe the reason that I don't get sick is because my immune system had to deal with all those illnesses on its own, and therefore it is strong enough to repel those particular bugs whenever they try to infiltrate my rather meagre defences again.
In other words - although I cost my mother millions in wasted medication, I've saved myself millions as an adult, and am far healthier for my efforts.
On a simpler level - my dog was stung on the lip by a bee as a puppy, and her head swelled up to the size of a football. We debated whether to take her to the vet, as she appeared to be struggling to breathe, but I decided to hold off until either she started turning blue, or the first signs of rigor mortis started to set in.
It was a frightening situation, but she eventually started breathing a little easier, and within an hour was right as rain, running around like a lunatic and generally behaving like a bit of a tit. Nothing new there.
The next time she was stung by a bee she looked mildly surprised, but that was the extent of her pain. Obviously her body had built up antibodies in reaction to the first sting, and they were successfully repelling the new threat.
Which of course means that we saved roughly R5-million in vet's bills, and our dog is actually far better off for it.
The only advice I could offer her was to leave off the damn bees, but I don't think she was listening as she was savaging an old slipper at the time. Besides - I get the distinct feeling that she's embarrassed by her parents and has taken to sly drinking with the neighbour's cat whenever I'm out.
All this convinces me that we are far better off without antibiotics and the myriad of pills and capsules and creams and lotions, and I truly believe we should simply let our own bodies do the work for us.
Doctors and pharmacists are overpaid enough as it is.
All Smoked Out,