Eating humble pie – taking antibiotics for the first time in over 20 years

by Matilda Bathurst, Midwife & Primary School Teacher, UK

I have been beautifully, tenderly and gently humbled this week following a visit to my GP on Monday. For over 3 weeks I had had a cough and was feeling various degrees of unwell, resisting, as is my tendency, really taking care of myself and allowing support from others.

Prompted by a beautiful man in my life, I made the appointment and was guided by my GP to take some antibiotics, in that a cough that persists for over 3 weeks is significant and he could hear a ‘slight crackle’ in the base of my left lung.

For a long time, I have had a disdainful relationship with mainstream medicine, avidly exploring alternative modalities and building an arrogance in myself about mainstream medicine being ‘less’ and below me. So it was with some discomfort and unfamiliarity that I collected my prescription and actually committed to take the tablets.

What has transpired in the week since (I completed the course yesterday) has been nothing short of miraculous. For one the cough has gone… but more significantly I have had the opportunity to explore and review a filing cabinet’s worth of pictures, beliefs, opinions and ideals about how I have always thought things ‘should’ be: how I should present myself in the world and that it is a failure and weakness to be ill and need the support of others.

I wrote to my GP today to say thank you and enclose a copy of part of the email here:

‘I just wanted to say a big thank you for your support in our appointment last week. I have just finished the course of antibiotics and my cough has gone. Almost more inspiring though than this, is the fact that my whole relationship with being unwell and allowing myself to be supported has shifted. I realised that in well over 20 years I have only taken one paracetamol and up to last week I was quite stubbornly proud of this, but what it actually shows is that I have not allowed myself to be taken care of and have ‘done’ hardship far too much.

So, more than just physiological support, my first round of antibiotics for a while has shown me a whole lot more.’

Would I say I have a tendency to be stubborn, yes; opinionated, yes… but less and less so and it is life changing moments like this one that are breaking the abusive and self-disregarding patterns of behaviour I have chosen and established in my life.


Read more:

  1. Should we reconsider what illness and disease mean for us? 
  2. Why don’t I feel well? Is illness and disease just a random event? 



529 thoughts on “Eating humble pie – taking antibiotics for the first time in over 20 years

  1. At the hospital where I volunteer the nurses love to receive ‘thank you’ cards from the patients. They work so hard as they are always short staffed and so when they are appreciated for all their hard work they say it was all worth it. Their dedication and the level of care given to the patients is huge. I tell the patients they are staying in a 5 star hotel they laugh, and by the end of their stay they agree it’s true.

  2. Matilda I loved the simplicity in how we can appreciate a health care professional.

    When I’ve attended a GP’s surgery it’s often full of doom and gloom and fix me attitude. So to receive an email, even for some that may consider it to be a small token of appreciation gesture, can actually go a long way.

  3. I am gonna go as far to say that making life hard is an addiction. With anything thats had a tight grip I’ve found connection to within me to be a great support to pry me away from those behaviours.

    1. Melinda I agree we need to be open to all possibilities for healing. There is room for appreciation every where we go.

  4. I am seeing more than ever how being stubborn and not accepting support makes life harder, complicated and more draining. And, when I stop being stubborn there is support around me to access when I am willing to see it.

  5. It seems quite common that we isolate ourselves when we are ill and when we do experience the support and caring concern that you had, it can inspire us to be more open and allow a more comprehensive health programme for ourselves.

  6. I rate antibiotics very highly. They have rescued me from a few serious illnesses and my life was saved without any shadow of a doubt from a serious kidney disease by penicillin. It’s all the unnecessary prescribing that is where it has gone wrong.

  7. We can learn so much when we look at how strongly we believe in something. I’ve been realising for myself, that when I start getting excited about something I’ve chosen to do and keep talking about it… it’s not actually true for me. It instead takes a lot for me to justify it to myself instead of seeing that maybe I got hoodwinked.

  8. I had a similar history of not wanting to take antibiotics for the same reasons as you Matilda and was also served a portion of this pie and I must say, it tastes far better that the stubborn pride I was stuck in before, or more astutely put – it tastes far better than the arrogance I indulged in that had me seeking hardship and struggle over a life of simplicity and joy. Lesson learnt.

  9. Healing takes an openness to receiving healing in whatever shape or form.. no pictures, just a surrender and a commitment to being with and loving our bodies, whatever they are showing us.

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