I’ve realised this evening as I was scrabbling around for something to numb the pain in my gum (don’t ask) that I’ve incredibly strong associations with Bonjela; and sadly the most recent one has tainted it somehow.

As children my parents desperately tried to keep us healthy. There was no junk food in our house, we were the kids who had brown bread healthy sarnies with a crunchy bar and piece of fruit for lunch, years before it became trendy, it was almost exotic at primary school! I have to confess to wishing just once in a while I’d open my lunchbox to find squidgy shop plastic white bread jam sarnies, a bag of crisps and a penguin with a bottle of fizzy pop – never happened, but never gave up hoping.

That’s context to my first Bonjela association… my cousin and I sneaking upstairs in my grandparents home, trying to silently open the top drawer in the chest of drawers which was effectively my Grandad’s medicine cabinet!! We would sneak the Bonjela out and eat it!! Back in the day it was very sugary. We honestly thought we’d been so discreet and got away with this, but a few years ago my Grandad made some comment to me about how much Bonjela he got through and winked – he knew full well what we were up to! Sprung.

Sadly that happy memory has been tainted in the last six months since I read the Independent Report into Connor Sparrowhawk’s death. The report refers several times to Connor having bitten his tongue, and to his mother Sara raising this as a clear indicator of seizure activity with staff at Southern Health.

Connor had epilepsy and was being ‘assessed’ at the time of his death. Despite Sara raising this with staff, Connor was prescribed Bonjela! The staff completely ignored Connor’s parents, Connor went on to drown in the bath. The independent report concluded that Connor’s death could have been prevented if assessment had been better.

Bonjela might help with mouth ulcers but it doesn’t help with epileptic seizures; but you’d think staff in a specialist hospital would know that, wouldn’t you?

0 comments on “Bonjela”

Words fail! But it is bound up with regarding mothers as over-protective and unreliable, and epilepsy as either no big deal or a “natural” cause of death in people with LD. Pieces of “received wisdom” that are not easy to dismantle. Goes along with the idea that young, unhappy girls in care are naturally promiscuous. How long will it take, what will it take, for “experts” to be a bit less sure of themselves?

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