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? 



494 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. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Your letter to your doctor is extremely gorgeous and very touching. We often take this profession for granted and tend to demand if not on a subtle level that they fix and cure us without asking us to take any responsibility for how we are living. You could say that at least to some level the industry can be used and abused without the needed appreciation for what they are offering us.

    1. I saw this first hand today Joshua, “We often take this profession for granted and tend to demand if not on a subtle level that they fix and cure us without asking us to take any responsibility for how we are living.” I had a stint in hospital this afternoon and had a long time sitting in emergency, and what I saw was quite humbling. The medical staff were so busy attending to patients but they gave every patient the time they deserved. However, it made me wonder how different it would look if as patients we came in fully ready to work with the medical system honestly and appreciating their support.

  10. I used to be one of those people that had to be on deaths door before I would go and see a doctor but all that has changed over the past few years due to being far less stubborn. I wonder how many people’s stubbornness has killed over the years?

  11. I am not a doctor, so I don’t know if that kind of things happen very often, but getting a thank you email like the one you shared here – that is so confirming and empowering, actually for anyone in any profession, to know that our job just does not sit within the confinement of and end when a consultation/surgery/task/project is over, that we are making a difference and we have a responsibility and power to make it even more richer.

  12. There is actually something very beautiful in being honest at where we are, surrendering to the support on offer and supporting the body with whatever is needed. Quite different to the push on and mrs independent that is so easily embraced.

  13. I wonder if taking antibiotics is really eating humble pie rather than realising that doing without medicine is a pipedream for most of us?

  14. Sometimes the hardest thing can be to let go to the fact of being ill, to admit to the fact that actually the body is run down or sick and struggling. Sometimes the best thing to do is just let go of all the demands on our time and our body and give space to the fact that we are sick

  15. Without being pigheaded and defiant in what we think is the right thing to be doing for our bodies, when we actually stop and feel them and realise that we need some support because the way we have been living has created the dis-harmony then life doesn’t feel like a struggle and hard work.

  16. Sometimes we can get really sick and almost not even realise, just getting on with life and pushing through. Sometimes its only when I stop for some reason, like at a weekend or if a friend asks me if I’m sick that I stop long enough to really feel it and then realise I am actually feeling very run down, but I then ask why its taken so long to check in with my body

  17. There is so much humility in being honest with where we are truly at and permission to let go of what is not ours to be lived.

    1. Stubbornness is the dogged refusal to let go of a way of being that does not help our evolution back to Soul, whereas humility is the surrender required that will help us re-open the door to Heaven we closed on ourselves long ago. From here true healing can and will occur.

  18. It really doesn’t serve anyone when we decide to go it alone when in truth we need support, It only separates us and inhibits our connection and possible evolution.

  19. One of the first things I noticed about this was that you actually wrote and thanked your GP Matilda… I did the same with my surgeon once… He said that they so rarely receive letters of appreciation, usually it’s complaints… It’s such a good thing to do… And we can always practice appreciation in all its forms.

  20. It’s quite something the defiance we can go into where we think we can do it on our own. I have gone my whole life thinking this, defending this and being proud of this. All at the expense of my body and keeping people at arms length. Crazy how our buried hurts can have such a destructive impact. Healing the hurts and letting go of the protection has allowed me to accept support from others and it feels amazing.

    1. The surprising thing is that we can move out of this isolation and protection when we are ready to do so. Opportunities to do so seem to simply present themselves.

  21. Sometimes waking up to our ill choices can be humbling but being humbled is often necessary to stop us from doing whatever we want in life regardless of the cost to our body.

  22. Being open to both Western and true complementary medicine i.e. that which is offered by Universal Medicine allows the body and being to be supported and deeply healed in more ways than we could ever imagine. We would be foolish to discount either.

  23. We like to think we know better and yet our beliefs do not always include our whole body intelligence nor the intelligence and support that is all around us.

  24. A dose of humble-pie that offers “life changing moments like this one that are breaking the abusive and self-disregarding patterns of behaviour …” Now that’s medicine for you!

  25. When we stay open to both conventional medicine and the esoteric medicine and modalities, it gives us the whole picture in order to support us through illness and disease and so much more in life. What a blessing.

  26. Arrogance can accompany ‘good’ health and when we begin to feel invincible, watch out To feel our vulnerabilities invites us to more deeply nurture ourselves.

  27. What I love Matilda is your letter of thanks to your GP, your honesty and humility. We should all be this way more often.

  28. I’ve just eaten humble pie after declining my dentists offer to prescribe antibiotics before I went away to work. I thought I knew best, and didn’t. The pain that accompanied a raging gum infection over a weekend when I couldn’t get antibiotics was enough for me never to reject them again. Repeated pain killers ineffective except for short periods, antibiotics subsided the pain within twenty four hours. Lesson learned and dental procedure planned.

  29. A ‘humble-pie’ moment reminds us that humbleness is a way of living that keeps us forever in the learning seat of life and of others. It removes the ‘I’ attitude of thinking that we are ‘right’ – for there is no right or wrong…

  30. Oh those pictures, beliefs, opinions and ideals we have and even are proud off. A form of control maybe so we can manipulate ourselves and others so things go our way. Your example of surrender to your illness and what you got to see about yourself and attitude about being ill is fabulous and so one by one we can let go of what we thought was the way and choose a life of healing.

  31. We can be so blinded when we take sides between Western Medicine and Complementary Medicine… when both have a place in supporting us with our health and wellbeing.

    1. Yes, both approaches definitely aid the healing process as one heals the physical symptoms and one brings about deeper awareness, insight and understanding… thus a more complete and all-round healing.

  32. There is something very remarkable about outing my opinions and beliefs and being open to listening (actually really hearing) what others have to say, different angles on things and then letting these ‘new ideas’ freshen up my relationship with life. It feels a bit like dissolving old cement.

  33. Antibiotics is such a big subject for discussion because although they do the job they are designed to do in terms of killing unwanted bacteria, they can often have huge side effects that may require further medication to suppress. In the end it is up to us, we trust our doctors but our body knows what it needs and for some of us antibiotics are fine, for me, I ended up with a horrendous rash on my back and an inflammatory response to subsequent insect bites which means that I will be very cautious about taking them again. Many people are allergic to penicillin, as another example.

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