I count myself a normal American in most ways. I go to a job every day. I have two kids, two cats and one wife. I pay my rent and car payment. Sometimes I go to McDonalds (even though I may not particularly enjoy my time there). I enjoy watching American football, sitting on the couch and eating chips. My favorite American foods are Italian, Thai, Chinese, and Mexican food. I am a Christian and sometimes go to church. And I take four separate medications every morning, and a puff from an inhaler twice a day.
There ya go. American.
I decided to sort of take stock, now that I’m over 40 and have new and interesting symptoms that may or not be kidney failure, or a heart attack, or scabies, or a brain tumor, several times a day. Gotta love midlife. I think that’s pretty normal isn’t it? maybe even below the average: four pills and a two puffs. Sometimes five pills, And an extra puff from a different inhaler if I’m feeling exceptionally asthmatic.
I will start with the simplest one. The daily Clairitin keeps me from headaches, runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing. I suppose I don’t need it per se, but I feel a lot better when I take it.
Then there’s the Prilosec. since my late teens, I’ve been suffering from chronic gastro-esophageal reflux (doesn’t it make you just want to throw up in your mouth just a little bit?). It goes away for awhile, then comes back with a vengeance. Between Prilosec and the occasional Tums, I keep it mostly under control, and pain free.
Another thing I’ve had since my late teens, but never did anything about, is high blood pressure. Doctors never believed me when I told them I was running 150/100 even when I was young and skinny. I’ve just always run the pump hotter than the normal person. Now that my 190-pound high school frame weighs about the same as if I had stapled a dozen raccoons to my flesh, the blood pressure’s still there. I’ve been on various BP pills, with various effects, for about fifteen years. One gave me nosebleeds and migraine auras. One made me a little bit suicidal. One clogged my pipes like a toilet behind a Texaco. This current concoction, called Exforge, is really three pills at once: Norvasc, Diovan, and an diuretic that gives me about two minutes between “realizing I have to pee” and “about to wet my pants.” Diuretics are supposed to make you pee, so this is a good thing; I just wish the urge didn’t flip the bladder to the On position quite so rapidly.
Then the dynamic duo: Wellbutrin and Prozac (six months ago, Wellbutrin and Paxil). I started taking these less than 3 weeks after I left Bethany and they changed my life. Many people dump considerable stigma on those who take antidepressants, but as I see it, it’s better than hiding from public. I was afraid to drive a car. I was afraid I’d see somebody I knew at Safeway and be forced into a chat with them. I taught my classes, and needed two hours afterwards to recuperate. I couln’t sleep at night, and when I did, I didn’t want to wake up. I was terrified of crowds: agoraphobic, I think it’s called. That’s all gone. Wellbutrin kicks the butt of my dopamine level, while Prozac plays with the serotonin levels inside my skull.
So, I in my amazing five-drug cocktail, wonder if we’ve become drug dependant as a culture to these little pills. What price do we pay? I bet, for my age, I actually take fewer medications than most men. Am I better, or worse, or different on Prozac? What about when I was on Paxil, which made me want to sleep 12 hours a night, and take a three hour nap (and turned Mr Pointy into a limp noodle for four years, I might add)? And that drug that brought my blood pressure down, but gave me such severe tunnel vision that I had to leave work on several occasions. Should I lose weight? Probably, but when? Can I drop my blood pressure through diet and healthy living? Doubtful. Herbal remedies? Chiropractic? We’re always looking for that magic solution to dull our pain. Maybe we’re not so unique in the world because of that, but I do sit and worry about it sometimes. Say! Maybe there’s a pill for that!