It’s not about the antibiotics

By Dr Joseph Hawkins, Consultant in Palliative Medicine, Clinical lead for End of Life Care, Ashford and St Peter’s NHS Foundation Trust. Twitter: @JoeHawk75825077

The cough is getting worse,
Breathing-once a silent unnoticed activity
Punctuating the stillness between sentences
Now a cacophony of rasps and gurgles
Such an undertak-… a challenge
(Let’s avoid some words).

The doctors round was good,
A change in antibiotics, the third this month.
Wonderful what medicine can do.
That noise, though.
It reminds me of the sea, washing shingle
I wonder idly -is the tide receding or coming in?

Moving in bed is good,
Hands rub the sheets and chest heaves with each rattle of inhalation.
A few mouthfuls of porridge- a positive thing, I think.
The cough is getting worse.

CRP is just 55, last week it was 200.
That’s good, they say.
He’s not talking but then breathing seems
So much effort.
At least the cough is less

The bed is quiet,
All sound seems absent, lost in a void.
A nurse just came to check the blood pressure
I don’t think he’ll need the antibiotics, I say.
The silence is a relief, at last there’s peace.

We met, you and I.
I asked what happened and you
Said the antibiotics didn’t work.
I wondered, but it felt rude to contradict you.
Was it ever about the antibiotics?


Also by this author:

Poem: My bubble

Poem: A New Year Resolution

Poem: No Longer in Vogue

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