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Palliative polypharmacy

Palliative polypharmacy: When approached by a patient with symptoms, doctors often prescribe drugs to try and help. Painkillers for pain, anti-sickness for nausea, laxatives for constipation etc. If that doesn't work, we might add in another drug. Some drugs cause side effects, which in turn can be treated with other drugs. And soon, before you know it, the patient has a list of medication as long as their arm. This poem is a light-hearted attempt to capture this scenario we see all too often:


Try this drug, this patch, this pill,
To stop you feeling quite so ill.
If not effective, try another -
This one’s stronger than the other.

You might feel sick or constipated,
Drowsy and disorientated;
We’ll give you pills for those things too -
Yes, that does mean quite a few.

We’ll give you laxatives aplenty,
Help your sluggish bowel to empty.
If feeling sick, we’ve many choices
(Some drugs stop you hearing voices).
If vivid dreams or agitation,
We can give you night sedation.

When all else fails, one thing’s for sure
In the absence of a cancer cure,
Whatever symptom comes your way
We have a pill to keep it at bay.

Rachel McCoubrie 2011

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