cardiology

If Jack had spent his life pursuing the pharmakon of the written text, a medicine that acted as a poison was finally what did him in. In early May of 1991, he had gone to see an NHS doctor, a young woman with a Maggie Thatcher hairdo, complaining of pains in his chest. Having had a pretty serious heart-attack a few months before, he mentioned his worries to her. I do not wish to make a scapegoat of the doctor, but she neglected to ask him about his stomach, and prescribed ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory and painkiller often classed with aspirin, the side-effects of which include abdominal discomfort and pain, nausea and vomiting, serious gastro-intestinal bleeding or activation of peptic ulcer. The drug activated an already existing ulcer, which perforated the stomach lining, spilling the contents of his gut into his abdominal cavity and spreading infection everywhere. They moved him into the cardiology unit of the Stevenage Hospital, in Hertfordshire, where he was monitored for the wrong things. Hearing the news late, I flew to the England, but he died while I was still in the air. The pain must have been excruciating, and there was no family member, or even another South African with him during that hard time.

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