If Amoxicillin Liquid was Crack Cocaine.
I would be totally, completely, and hopelessly addicted. Many of you know I have been up in Alaska this week interviewing medical school applicants for the University of Washington School of Medicine and I find myself reflecting on my reasons for wanting to become a physician. I think it had something to do with a tour of our local hospital when I was five.
However, it might have had more to do with my love affair with Amoxicillin liquid.
As the granddaughter of a General Practitioner and daughter of a Pediatrician, I had some unique experiences growing up. For instance, I was in the 6th grade when I learned not EVERYONE gets a suppository up their rear end when they are vomiting. I assumed it was something every mom bought at the local store, like cough medicine.
My best friend was absent from school and the following day I asked where she had been. She had been vomiting so she stayed home. I said “Oh you got a suppository to get better?” She was puzzled and asked what that was. I am sure you can picture what happened next; the look of astonishment on her face and the look of embarrassment on mine.
Let me go back to where it all began. The days when my dad would bring home antibiotic samples and leave them on the counter. They were packaged in small little bottles containing one or two teaspoons of powder medication. If the medicine turned pink when I added water, I had hit the jackpot! It was indeed Amoxicillin. I remember the first taste of “antibiotic crack” like it was yesterday. It was practically like sneaking dessert. There were a handful of times I recall mixing up between 6 to 10 bottles and savoring every last drop. I am certain I ingested more than the recommended dose for a child in one sitting, but who was keeping track?
This exposure to liquid Amoxicillin was buried in the recesses of my brain until my oldest son had his first ear infection when he was three. Typical signs and symptoms including cough and runny nose for a week, then fever, and left sided ear pain. The AAP recommends treating the first ear infection with Amoxicillin. I picked up the prescription from the pharmacy, went home, and opened up the bottle. One whiff of that stuff and all those memories came flooding back. It is amazing what our sense of smell can store in our minds. (For many, it is like inhaling the scent of your mother’s perfume and remembering your childhood, only a little different.)
After giving my son a teaspoon and tasting a few drops myself, it was love all over again. It was almost as good as chocolate and it is just as delicious, pink, and heavenly as it was three decades ago. My children love it too; they beg for more after each dose. Not that I give it to them. Maybe Amoxicillin addiction runs in families after all?
Please understand this post is intended to be a little whimsical and not an endorsement to fill your children full of antibiotics, as judicious use of antibiotics is important and necessary. Rather, it is a childhood story of survival in spite of a few episodes of Amoxicillin overdose. I would like to remind all of you to keep your medicines out of the reach of your little ones.
In truth, I might not have ended up becoming a doctor without my love of Amoxicillin. Do you think they would have accepted me to medical school if I had answered “why do you want to be a doctor” with the explanation of my love for liquid antibiotics? Probably not. It might be a good thing I did not remember all this until long after being accepted.