Cooking with cilantro is now one of my favourite things to do! But what is cilantro I hear you saying? Last week when making a curry I hurriedly went into the garden and picked what I thought was flat leaf parsley. We did have flat […]
As of today, the 1st February 2018, there is codeine control in Australia. We will join 26 other countries who have also introduced codeine control. If you want a painkiller that has codeine it will no longer be available over the counter (OTC) at the chemist. Pharmacists are little worried that some people may not have heard about the change. People will turn up and expect the pharmacist to hand them something stronger than paracetamol. To get a painkiller, stronger than paracetamol, a person will have to make a doctor’s appointment. There have been rumours of people stock-piling and there are good reasons for this for people who are sensible in managing their pain.
How did the codeine control come about?
An expert panel recommended to the Federal Government that codeine control for pain killers was the best way to protect the public.
What drugs have codeine
The painkillers that contain codeine and now only available by prescription include Panadeine, Nurofen Plus, Mersyndol, and pharmacy generic products. Some cold and flu medications also contain codeine. However, there is no mention to date, that we will have to go to our General Practitioner (GP) to get a prescription for cough mixture.
Extra trips to the doctor
Think of this scenario. I have a toothache but cannot get into the dentist until after the weekend. I have taken paracetamol for 24 hours and the pain persists. I will have to see my GP to get a prescription for something stronger, a painkiller that has codeine.
If you are one of those fortunate people whose GP bulk-bills then you won’t be too concerned about having to pay for a doctor’s visit to get stronger pain relief. If you are not entitled to bulk-billing your visit, then you will pay.
It’s Friday and I made an appointment to see a doctor. I can’t cope with this toothache all weekend! I can’t see my regular GP, fully booked, yet I am lucky enough to see another doctor. This should make me feel better, but my tooth is still aching. The visit, for less than a 20-minute consultation will cost me $75.00, but the good news is I will get a refund from Medicare of $37.05. Prescription in hand I take the shortest trip to the pharmacy. That little box of 20 tablets has cost me almost $60. Don’t think because you are an aged pensioner all is well in your world. Increasingly, medical practices are changing and charging pensioners up to $55 for a consultation.
Medicare costs will increase
The government argument for codeine control is about patient care. However, all codeine control will do is increase the cost of Medicare, for the government and consumer. It will also put more demand on GP’s and more waiting time for a doctor’s appointment. This will not make the public happy when someone with more serious symptoms, than a toothache, must wait a week or more to see a doctor. A few people needing codeine have congested the queue!
How harmful is codeine
Codeine is a low dose analgesic. It is at the lower end of the range of opioids. Codeine is a low efficacy opiate drug. On its own codeine is not a pain reliever. Once it is in the body, the liver metabolises codeine into morphine. Any pain-relieving effects is determined by how fast a person’s liver metabolises codeine. It cannot be predicted as to whether some people will have a bad response to codeine, hence now it is in the hands of the GP.
ABC’s Fran Kelly spoke last week to Professor Brendan Murphy, Chief Medical Officer. He said the main reason for codeine control is the concern about addiction, around 100 deaths a year from misusing the drug. Professor Murphy said that around 600,000 Australians are abusing low-dose codeine. However, Professor Peter Carroll, University of Sydney, holds the view that most people use low-dose codeine safely and appropriately for acute pain.
Read about Katie McQueen, as reported by the ABC, and how codeine control will affect her. Also, in the same article is a story about Peter Panas who has chronic back pain. With the help of Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital pain management program his quality of life has improved.
What are the statistics saying?
The Australian Bureau of Statistics tells us that in 2016 there were 1,808 drug induced deaths. This is the highest number of drug deaths in twenty years, and like those in the late 1990’s, when a steep increase in opioid use, specifically heroin, the deaths in Australia peaked at 1,740 in 1999. Although the 2016 statistic is the highest on record, the death rate per capita of 7.5 per 100,000 people is lower than that in 1999 (9.2 deaths per 100,000 people). Find more information here.
The highest number of drug induced deaths in 2016 is due to Benzodiazepines (663 – 36.7%). These include Alprazolam, Diazepam, Oxazepam, Clonazepam, Clozapine, Temazepam, and Oxazepam. Other opioids, including Oxycodone and Codeine account for 550 (30.4%) deaths and alcohol 222 deaths (12.3%). Of the top 20 causes of death in Australia there is no mention of codeine and the associated pain killers. Read more here.
The National President of the Pharmacy Guild, George Tambassis, said that the decision to up-schedule the medicines were short-sighted and ultimately would only add pressure to the already financially stressed health system, while also increasing the burden on already over-worked doctors. The codeine up-scheduling decision fails consumers according to the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.
As Mr Tambassis said “shifting it (codeine) to prescription only without a mandated real-time recording system or any screening program will simply bury the problem even deeper in the overwhelmed system and cost shift it to an already bursting MBS (Medicare Benefits Schedule)”. Well said George!
We are enjoying a fork to fork experience as our home veggie garden is producing some of our food. Why should we worry about fork to fork when it is so easy to pick up veggies at the supermarket or local markets? There are a couple of reasons why I have gone down the track and today I will share those with you.
Home grown organic: the first reason is that when we grow our own organic produce we have better tasting food. We reduce the food kilometres and we know that our food is fresh – no storage! I really like beans, particularly when cooked in garlic – yummy. However, I have found that the beans we buy from the supermarket do not keep for long in the fridge. Even in an airtight container. Therefore, we went out and bought bean seedlings, the stringless type that grow in a small bush and do not need a lot of climbing space. Only after a few weeks the growth is phenomenal. It won’t be long before we will be eating our own green beans, fresh from the garden.
Improve our health: when we grow our own food, we know how these are grown. If they are organic than there are no pesticides. The more veggies we eat, the better is it for our health. The more colours we can put on our plate helps us get the nutrients we need. Also, I know that my food is safe to eat with no contaminants.
Get outdoors and exercise: having a veggie garden gets me outside. Once I am outside then I am breathing in fresh air, looking around and enjoying my surroundings. By the time I have watered the plants, citrus trees and pulled out a few weeds I have had 15 minutes of exercise.
Save money: saving money on grocery shopping means we have extra $$$’s for treats, outings and holidays. For those on a low-income saving money is important and they get all the other benefits plus keep within their budget. Saving money is not my primary motivation but it is still satisfying knowing that I am not wasting our money.
Soul satisfaction: growing your own veggies is good for the soul. It just makes me feel good to see my plants flourishing. A little work in the veggie garden is very rewarding. A few months back we grew snow peas. From the garden to our plates in less than an hour. The taste is very different to the peas bought at the supermarket. Then there are our potatoes! The real fork to fork experience. So fresh. Steamed with butter or roasted – bellissimo! My O&O planted the seeded potatoes and I watered them most days when doing my gardening/chicken chores.
What about the chickens: Yes, our chickens also have the fork to fork experience. When we have cherry tomatoes a few go into their run for them to enjoy. Then when my O&O cuts the leg of ham, some of the bits are set aside for the chickens. This is their top food item now! Once they finish they squawk for more. A little is never enough! They do not understand the word moderation!
We hope to enjoy our fork to fork experience many times over 2018. Our current crop of lettuce has been good to us. Very soon we will have more cherry tomatoes. The bean plants are thriving and so is the zucchini, capsicum, chilli and cucumber. As I am the only one, out of the two of us, who likes cucumber I planted only two seeds. One plant died, and I am left with one! However, it looks like I will have dozens of cucumbers, the plants are climbing everywhere with many yellow flowers. It looks like I will have to share our fork to fork experience and when we have an abundance give some to our neighbours and friends.
If you have a fork to fork experience maybe you would like to share it with me and others. In the meantime, go for some “soul satisfaction” – by growing some of your own veggies. If I can grow veggies, anyone can!
Do you think it is the little things that mean a lot at this time of year? As we are nearing Christmas most of us are thinking about ways we can share the joy of Christmas. What can we give to family and friends? What can we buy for that special person in our lives?
At my age I have everything I need, maybe not everything I want! Generally, my “One & Only” (O&O) and I do not give gifts to each other at Christmas. What we like to do is to go shopping together near Christmas and buy one another a gift or two! Then there is our Christmas stocking where we can place the little things and yes, little things mean a lot. This year we bought ourselves a Fitbit. That is the look-a-like watch that stays on your arm 24/7, apart from when we have a bath or shower. The Fitbit counts the steps we do each day (from midnight on) …. all those trips to the bathroom during the night are now all worthwhile for my O&O! Our heart beats per minute are monitored, we can track a run or work-out and then collapse in a chair and relax with a guided breathing session for two minutes. I like the fireworks that go off when I reach the 10,000-step target. A very worthwhile Christmas present for 2017. If you are thinking of buying a Fitbit, go on-line and buy one. Our on-line purchase came about because when I rang up The Good Guys all the sales people were busy. I had to wait for them to call me back. As I could not get a definite answer on the time I would wait I had a look on-line. To my surprise I found and ordered two Fitbits for $62.00 less than the Hot Buy price advertised by The Good Guys. The next day we picked up our Fitbit Christmas presents, from The Good Guys. A small saving – but little things mean a lot.
There are a lot of little things that we can do for others that will mean a lot. If we know what a family member likes than we can buy that. There are little things we can do to make a difference to the lives of others such as something we can make or bake at home. This year, as enthusiastic as I am in making things and baking things, I did not do this. I had other ideas that I hope others like! Another Christmas gift I could have bought my O&O, and at $12.00 a month ($144 per year), is just over the price we paid for one Fitbit, is to adopt an orangutan. Helping an orphaned or injured orangutan is a worthy cause plus you get an update twice a year on their progress. Maybe, this is a gift you could buy for an animal lover.
There are so many little things you can buy that mean a lot. There are figurines, books, scented candles, plants, flowers, garden tools/gloves, diaries, watches, chocolates, fruit cake, biscuits, perfume, after-shave, soap or a reed diffuser, fragrance for the home. Then what about costume jewellery – the sparkling type!
In the song “little things mean a lot” by Kitty Kalen she sings about the importance of little things. Yes, little things that mean a lot. If you like songs from the 1950’s and 1960’s click below.
The gift giving, while great, will not change the heart towards others if there are no kind words or no acts of kindness throughout the year. In the lyrics Kitty sings “don’t have to buy me diamonds and pearls” – not sure about this line in the lyric – after all, aren’t diamonds and pearls just “little things”! Happy Christmas shopping. There is still time to shop – 10 more sleeps!