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Friday, February 3, 2012
Better Living through Chemistry
That is a lesson I have had to learn as I have grown older.
If one lives long enough, there comes a time when doctors begin to loom on one's personal horizon, like Indians on the rim of the Little Big Horn, with scrips in hand for meds and treatments meant to keep us ticking and kicking—and paying—for years to come.
I am frankly amazed at the range of medications available to the patient of today.
You say your fingers tingle and grow numb sometimes, like when you are tightly gripping the steering wheel of a vehicle you are driving across a bridge stretched out across a vast body of water, and the slightest slip could send you careening toward oblivion?
There's a pill for that.
You want to lose weight?
There are a hundred pills for that. Try 'em all until you find the one that works!
You say you've got this pain that hits the inside of your right knee when the sky becomes overcast and the humidity rises?
Yup. Here. Pop it.
It's a wonderful world we live in nowadays, free of pain, discomfort—even free of the insights into the human condition that misery can reveal to us.
Unless, of course, you are, like me, chemically contrary.
Now, you must be asking yourself, "What the hell is he talking about?"
I am talking about the fact that my body does not always respond appropriately to medications I put inside of it.
Take side effects, for instance.
Ever since television-commercial spokespersons started rattling off the litanies of side effects to the panaceas they are peddling, I have begun to notice my own body's tendency to respond gleefully to one or more of these glitches.
Just recently, my doctor decided I was depressed. I thought I was pretty chipper, but he disagreed and prescribed an anti-depressant for me to take. Now, I've taken anti-depressants before, and they pretty much made me feel suicidal, so I figured I would monitor the effects of this new pill. Surprise! I've been taking them for over a month, and I am not yet, in fact, ready to call it a day, as it were. On the other hand, I don't feel any more vivacious than when I started, but my doctor sure thinks I'm great company.
So what is so contrary about my reaction to this little happy pill? According to the literature that accompanied my purchase of the drug, one little drawback to all this bliss might be a tendency toward ... diarrhea. And sure enough, within a couple of hours of swallowing the pill, I'm discharging waste like a well-oiled sewerage system.
However, since a previous side effect to my blood pressure medication had been constipation, I see no reason to complain about this new development.
Let's put aside the side effects for now and consider the actual intention of a drug (prescription, of course), and how my body might respond to it.
I've taken pills guaranteed to make me lose weight. And gained twenty pounds.
I've endured pain medications that have given me migraines.
I don't blame the pharmaceutical companies for these inconveniences. It's just me and my body.
Recently I stopped smoking.
I was all prepared to find myself eating like a 4-H hog up for the blue ribbon at next summer's county fair. I was not prepared to have everything I ate taste vile, so vile that I couldn't stand the smell of it and would wretch if I even caught the scent of good cooking in passing.
Nothing I ate would stay down—except sweets. I could handle pastries, ice cream, chocolate. I found myself loading up on those, which is not a good idea. I've even caught myself sneaking down to the kitchen in the dark hours before dawn, pouring myself a cup of sugar and spooning it down. I'm afraid I might be turning into a secret, double-life-leading sugar whore!
God! Don't let me end up dumpster-diving for donuts!
People tell me this state of affairs will pass in time. Until then, I make do. I accommodate.
Oh, I see it's six o'clock in the morning now. Time for a steaming cup of chocolate syrup—with a dollop of heavy cream on top!
Pardon me while I waddle downstairs to the kitchen.