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Torfaen Tales

Pills and Potions

When Jenny went to stay with her parents after a couple of years working in the USA she was astounded to see just how much medication they took. A whole shelf in the kitchen cupboards was devoted to bottles and packets containing their prescriptions.

‘Why do you take all this stuff, Dad?’ she asked, holding up a large bottle of bright green, shiny tablets with a name she couldn’t begin to pronounce.

He shrugged. ‘I just do as I’m told and take them. The doctor must know what he‘s doing.’

‘But what’s wrong with you? I didn’t realise you were ill. Or Mum.’ She felt guilty for having been away so long.

‘Don’t worry yourself, dear. We’re both fine, nothing life threatening. We‘re just getting older, I suppose. Need a bit of propping up.’

Jenny felt one of her lectures coming on, but managed to restrain herself. Her friends had pointed out of late that she was inclined to bore people to death with her enthusiasm for alternative remedies. Tinctures and infusions made from the roots of this and the leaves of that. Dietary supplements incorporating ingredients that would keep her young, fit and healthy forever. A friend she’d got to know in California had introduced her to his healthy way of life, and she had to admit she felt great as a result. She was now earning a second income as an agent for these products.

The following day Jenny’s grandparents came to visit. While washing the dishes with her Nan she couldn’t help but notice the older woman’s hands were knotted and gnarled.

‘Nan, those fingers of yours must be painful,’ she commented.

Her Nan shrugged. ‘I’ve had arthritis for years, dear. I’m used to it. Your grandfather has it too, but mostly in his feet and knees. We’re a right old pair.’

This time Jenny couldn’t help herself. She told her Nan all about the wonderful natural products that could help ease joint pain and arthritis.

‘I’ve got to dash off now,’ said Jenny, glancing at her watch. ‘I’ve arranged to meet some friends. But I’ve got some samples upstairs. I’ll bring them down for you.’

When Jenny came down with her remedies her Nan was nowhere to be found. Then she heard voices in the distance. Her Nan and Gramp were out in the garden with her parents. She left the tablets on top of the fridge, and on her way out, told her Nan what she’d done.

Several days later Jenny called in to visit her grandparents. She could smell the warm aroma of fresh baking.

‘Mmmm, have you made a cake? How are your hands today, Nan?’

‘No better, love, I’m sorry to say. I took those tablets but they don’t seem to have done any good yet.’

‘That’s a shame. Nan, why has Mum left her medication here? Oh, and these ones are Dad’s.’

Jenny’s Nan looked puzzled. ‘Oh dear. I thought they were the tablets you left for me on top of the microwave so I took them home. My eyesight’s terrible.’

Jenny panicked, and scooped up the two bottles of tablets. ‘Oh, Nan! No, I said on top of the fridge. Please don’t take any more. How many have you taken? And what about Gramp? I’ll have to ring the doctor.’

She dashed back to her parents’ home. A couple of hours later she returned to her grandparents, feeling more relaxed.

‘Phew! We were lucky. The doctor said the tablets wouldn’t have done you or Gramp any harm. Those ones of Mum’s were Vitamin B12, and the blue ones Gramp took were Viagra, which would have been a problem if Gramp had high blood pressure but luckily he hasn’t. Now, here are the supplements that might help you. The instructions are printed in large type.’

Jenny had never seen her grandmother look quite so embarrassed. ‘Viagra, did you say, dear? Oh my, that would explain last night …’

Jenny didn’t stay for tea or cake. There were some things that came into the category of Too Much Information.

by Karenne Griffin

Last Modified on: 05-11-2015

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