Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Dischem: what was your pharmacist THINKING?

Daniel had an earache Monday night, so Brett took him to our regular GP yesterday afternoon - I don't mess around when it comes to ears. He was given a prescription for antibiotics, which is what I expected, which Brett took to Dischem in Norwood to be filled.

He called to tell me that now Daniel's such a big boy, he's got Augmentin tablets, and has to take two big tablets, twice a day. He said he asked the pharmacist if he was really sure that that was what Daniel should be taking - and the guy just referred to the prescription, and said 'yes'. Alarm bells started going off, but I left it until I got home. In the meantime, had a discussion with my (nearly 70 year old) mother - who happens to be on a course of Augmentin too  - two big tablets, twice a day. The alarm bells started ringing a little louder.

When I got home, I had a look at the pack of tablets - a pack that I recognise very well, as I have had those very meds before. Me, the adult. I BBM'd my doctor, who said that he may have made a mistake, but that I should definitely go back to Dischem. So I did.

When I got to the counter, I asked the pharmacist if it was correct that that medication had been prescribed for a five year old boy. She looked very alarmed, and then spent 10 very long minutes digging through a messy pile of the afternoon's paperwork to find the prescription.

Turns out that the doctor had indeed prescribed the wrong thing. I asked why the pharmacist hadn't questioned the doctor, as it was very clear to me - the person who is not a pharmacist - that the prescription was wrong. Oh, she says, my colleague checked with your husband. My husband? The writer and publisher? The one who's NOT a pharmacist? (When actually it was him who queried with the pharmacist, not the other way around). When I asked how they could possibly dispense such heavy antibiotics for a five year old boy, she snarkily pointed out that his age is not on the prescription. No, it's not. But it very definitely is on their system, and my child was standing there in front of them - clearly not an adult.

Am I wrong in believing that the pharmacists are the experts in medication here? They are the ones who are supposed to look at the prescription, look at the person for whom it is prescribed, and if there are GLARING errors (like a not-that-sick child standing there, about to be given a heavy adult dose of antibiotic), that they should maybe pick up the phone and question the doctor?

Our doctor did apologise, and when I asked, he explained that the adult dose is four times the paediatric dose. Daniel would have had severe diarrhea if we had given him what was dispensed. The pharmacist would surely know that too?

Our doctor was apologetic, admitted his error, and is a good guy who makes himself totally available to his patients. We will stick with him, but we will make him check any prescriptions twice before we leave his office.

Dischem - with whom we spend a fair amount of money each year - will not see us again.

Monday, 28 March 2011

We're kick(box)ing the Spur into touch

Yesterday we headed to Greenstone Mall to do our usual dose of weekend admin and shopping. On the way, the littlest Haggard fell asleep, so I took him and Daniel to the Spur, while Brett did his admin - the idea being that the boys would play, we'd have a decent-ish meal, and all live happily ever after...


The restaurant was completely packed, which is great for the Spur, but it meant that we couldn't sit anywhere near the kiddies' play area. All well and good - space is limited, and Daniel could find his way back to us when he wanted to. Matthew is too little to see over the tables and chairs etc, and is too little to be seen too, so when he came looking for us, crying, he got lost in the maze of tables. Just as well ExMi was there too with her family - she spotted him and kindly brought him back to us. That's not the Spur's fault though - it was our problem, I do understand.

Now I know weekends are meant for families to spend quality time together - and we do. But there's merit to restaurants with playgrounds - a whole mealtime is a long time for two active little boys to sit still, and there's no denying that it's a relief for Mom and Dad to have some time to eat a meal relatively undisturbed. The Spur playgrounds have climbing walls, trampolines, blackboards and climbing apparatus, which are all great.

However, what I fundamentally disagree with is the barrage of PlayStation consoles in the play area - most particularly the one with the kickboxing game, to which Daniel migrated like the proverbial moth to a flame. Scary thing is, even though he's never played anything like that before (we don't let our boys play violent games on our Wii), by the time I saw what he was playing, he was getting perfect scores. By that time, his brother was awake, so I asked Daniel to go away from the games, and to play with his brother.

Which was when it really struck home why I don't let them play games like that at home. Within two minutes of them playing one another, Daniel was kickboxing his brother, and wrestling him to the ground, far more forcefully than I've ever seen him do. Which was when they were brought out of the play area, to sit with us until we were finished.

Apart from the PlayStation issue, I left the restaurant with a raging headache - the noise of the crowds was clearly not sufficiently stressful - we had to have loud 80s music blasted at us as well, with the odd birthday singing and clapping as well, all spiced up with crying children, banging from the open kitchen, slow service because of the busy-ness (and the resulting grumpy husband)... and then there was the fun of trying to walk in the greasy floor. I might sound like a bit of a complaining Mother Grundy here, and I do understand that restaurants use different tools to create atmosphere, but the only word to describe my Sunday Spur experience was: mayhem.

So... we won't be going back. Definitely not soon. Maybe never. Even though my fillet was very tasty...

Friday, 25 March 2011

Kooking at Karma

My friend Charmain spotted a Wicount deal for a cooking class at Karma. Now, I've never eaten at Karma before, but I've heard that their food is legendary, so I paid over my R150 in the week of no credit cards (a whole other long story), and we went to the Fourways restaurant last Tuesday to learn how to cook Indian food.

Shyrose was our teacher - she's the owner, a lovely lady with an interesting accent and a very gentle way of teaching. Apparently there are some secrets to cooking good Indian food - although there are so many regional and cultural influences that it's ok to not be too much of a purist, apparently.

Secret no 1 is the spices. You add the whole spices (mustard seed, cumin etc) early on in the cooking process - and you don't cook them until they pop, as some recipes suggest. Rather just toast them a bit...

Secret no 2 - when you cook the onions, cook them until the flavour and colour you prefer. This will determine the colour and the flavour of the final product.

Secret no 3 - cook the onions first and then add the tomatoes... and then you cook them until they melt into one another. This is how you get a smooth gravy from a foundation of tomatoes and onions.

Charmain and I made a curried bean dish (way nicer than I thought it sounded) and onion bhajias. The surprise of the evening was the dip that was brought out for the bhajias and the potato kachoris - the recipe is below.

We rounded off the cooking lesson by learning how to make chocolate samoosas. Oh. My. Word. Easy really - melted chocolate, bit of cream, bit of butter, chilli flakes and almond slivers, all melted together and then refrigerated. Wrap up spoonfuls in samosa pastry (with cumin in it), and then freeze. Deep fry quickly in hot oil - the pastry goes all crispy, and the chocolate goes all gooey. Perfect way to round off a meal, even though it was a little (!) rich!

It was a good night out, and fun to do with a good friend. I'd recommend it as a different night out, for you and a friend, or for a group of friends. Eating the yummy food that you've cooked at the end of the evening rounds it all off very nicely! Just a note - don't get excited by the promised goody bag - it's a small bag of Spekko rice, a couple of recipe bookmarks and a travel brochure. But then you don't go to such a thing for the goody bag I guess :-)

Here's the recipe for the dip - be careful - it's addictive. It think it would go with just about anything on the planet. Anything at all.

Coriander and Mint Sauce

1 cup coconut powder
½ cup chopped mint
1 tspn salt
2 tbsp green chilies blended
1 cup chopped coriander
6 tblspn yoghurt
¼ cup water  (add as per your liking if you like it saucy add more water )

In a blender, blend the coconut powder and chopped mint, chopped coriander with a little water, yoghurt enough to purée Add the salt and blended green chilies. Blend until smooth.

I've just mentioned the two recipes to tease you into going, and to be fair to the restaurant. Shyrose emailed us about 12 recipes, for everything from the dreamaliciously delicious Butter Chicken to the startlingly divine Potato and Aubergine  dry curry.