I asked reaching for the real tea and then waiting for a reply.
"Blackcurrant thanks. It has more flavour."
I hauled out a blackcurrant "tea" bag and handed it over. My friend helped herself to a mug out of the other cupboard and we waited for the water to boil.
"So, no tea or coffee. What else has he told you to give up?"
She launched into a long list of things her doctor has said she "must not" eat. By the time she had finished I was not merely disturbed I was alarmed. Was she perhaps really ill and he was not telling her?
No, she looks fine. Her blood pressure is up a little but controlled by medication. Her cholesterol is a little elevated but her entire family has a history of that and most have lived into their nineties without the benefit of any sort of related medication. Diabetes does not appear to be an issue. She weighs more than she should but is not obese and she does exercise because she does not drive.
"Well, what's the problem then?" I asked her. I have known her for a very long time and felt I could ask the question.
"I don't know. He just sat there and gave me this lecture about how I was eating all the wrong stuff. I thought we were doing pretty well but apparently I am not even feeding D and the kids the right way. I mean okay we do have something like pizza on Saturday nights but the rest of the time I thought I was doing the right thing."
I know her children go to school with very healthy lunches that are actually the envy of the other kids. They have sometimes shown me what is in their lunchbox as they head off for school, "Look what Mum did!"
She is a "stay-at-home" Mum. Her epilepsy sometimes makes things difficult for her. It is the reason she does not drive. She is also a little slow to understand sometimes. Her husband will 'phone her at around lunch time each day just to check. If she does not answer the 'phone then one of her elderly neighbours will check to see she has not had a seizure. The house is clean and tidy and full of craft work. She makes a little money from some of it.
I would also have thought her family ate better than many other families.
It all sounded a bit strange to me so I asked,
"Who's your doctor?"
"Dr X.... We were seeing Dr Y but he has gone on leave so we have to see Dr X. "
Oh. That explained everything. I know Dr X. I was given the same lecture. I know other people who have been given the same lecture. I suspect he gives it to every patient he sees. He is the only doctor at the clinic you can be almost guaranteed you can see immediately.
"I don't know what to do. What do you think I should do?"
The water boiled in the kettle. I made real tea. I ignored the blackcurrant tea bag and I told her that he had said exactly the same sort of thing to me and to other people I knew.
"He does it to everybody?" she asked.
"I don't know about everybody but I know at least nine other people who have been told the same thing and they have told me of others they know about. My advice is to take no notice of him and wait until Dr Y gets back. Talk to him if you are worried you are not feeding D and the kids properly. Personally I think you feed them very well indeed."
She nodded and looked a little happier. It was what she had wanted to hear from me.
She went home with her shopping bag overflowing with fruit and vegetables. I ignored the school holiday treat of two iced buns in the bakery bag. Her two will exercise those off in no time at all.