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Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I'm not so much into taking medication. When my allergist diagnosed me with chronic asthma and put me on a "daily maintanence inhaler," I almost started to cry in his office. Fortunately, it's a pediatric allergy and pulmonology office, so he's probably used to seeing his patients cry.

I realize that lots of outwardly healthy-appearing people who aren't necessarily going to die in two weeks or are all crumpled up like a pretzel take daily medications, and it's no big deal. I know that these people exist, and I accept that-- I just didn't ever want to become one of them. In my days on the ambulance, I would transport patients whose lists of daily medications were longer than some bathroom reading.

My allergist noticed my slumped shoulders and crestfallen expression and he asked why I was upset.

"Well," I said, after a slightly wheezy sigh, "the idea of being shackled to this stupid, purple inhaler for the rest of my life kind of makes me really.... depressed."

His brow furrowed. I guess pediatric allergists aren't used to dealing with their patients' depression. They're also not accustomed to hearing sob stories about their financial woes, as few seven-year-old asthma sufferers in this affluent suburb have financial woes of their own.

But I did.

I went on to talk about how I'm paying out-of-pocket for my own insurance and how shitty it is and how I was working three or four jobs (I literally couldn't remember) and how we were saving up to buy a house at this point and on and on and on. He gave me an avuncular pat on the shoulder and told me about how, when he just got out of the Navy, he was penniless and basically totally fucked, though he didn't use that terminology (pediatrics, remember) and how it was no crime to be poor, though I suspect certain Republicans would disagree.

"Wait right here a minute," he said to me and he disappeared from the exam room. He came back a minute later, clutching an overflowing armful of samples of the new inhaler to which I had just been joined in matrimony. He looked like a young, skinny Santa Claus, just in from a training seminar at Astra Zeneca.

"Here," he said. "This should keep you for three months or so."

And then my eyes really did start to well up.

I'm surprised he didn't write me a psych referral right then and there. Everytime I've come back for a consult or a check-up, he would leave the room at the end of the visit and he would bring me more purple presents.

I still hate my fucking inhaler, but I am beginning to love my doctor.


As any of you who take medication (regularly or otherwise) know, medicine does not always make you feel better. Sometimes, it has no effect at all-- like drinking coffee late at night for me. I can drink a huge mug of coffee and go to sleep soundly with no problem. Caffeine doesn't keep me up-- it's my neurotic Fran Dresher brain that won't shut the fuck up that keeps me awake. It offers up a maddening playlist of my parents dying, me rapidly aging, hardcore pornography, Gilbert & Sullivan patter songs, me transporting a bizarre array of patients, and, maybe once a year, Adolf Hitler and I running through a peach orchard, giggling, playing a game of tag.

I, of course, am "it."

Sometimes, medication does make you better, but only at the cost of making some other part of you feel much, much worse. Side-effects, they call them. Everything has side-effects. Sure, we can cure your erectile dysfunction, but make sure to contact your doctor if you develop rheumatic fever or the hanta virus. Buying a car has side-effects. Yes, the new four-banger from Tata Motors will provide you with economical transportation for only $2,200. The side-effect is that if you collide with so much as a golf or shopping cart, you're fucked.

I am currently taking an antibiotic that has a pretty mean side-effect. The drug is called Augmentin, and I mention it so that, when your well-meaning doctor prescribes it to you at some point in the future, maybe a little alarm will sound in your bird's nest and you will think to ask for something else. A cute little Z-Pak, perhaps.

This Augmentin motherfucker is currently plowing through my bowels the way newbies get serviced on their first day in the penitentiary. I have had nothing but liquid stools for two days now. This morning, I was positive that I had cleaned out my system, after unloading a mocha-hued gallon. Finally ready to begin my morning errand, I went to the ACME supermarket to pick up some groceries. I got into the car and turned the key and immediately went green. The choir of gremlins in my stomach told me that they would start singing a requiem if I tried to make it all the way home, so I pulled into a Genaurdi's supermarket and promptly shat my brains out in their bathroom. In the seven-or-so minutes I spent in that bathroom, five men came in and out and, each time one of them would come in, I would pucker up tight so I wouldn't have to be embarrassed by the sound of a small lake falling rapidly into the toilet bowl.

I couldn't believe it-- the bathroom was like a revolving door. I couldn't get a minute's straight flow on. I checked my watch. 8:23am. Who goes to the men's room at Genaurdi's at 8:23am? Was it some kind of drug lounge or homosexhub? These guys didn't seem the type, from what I could gauge from the crack in the stall wall. At least four out of the five of them washed their hands.

After I finished my new weight loss program in the lavatory, I decided to pick up some cases of Caffeine Free Diet Coke, my & Mrs. Apron's liquid drug-of-choice. I grabbed two twelve-packs and headed for the closest cash register, feeling the stomach choir preparing to sing again.

"Here. These," I said tersely as I plopped them on the counter. Did I have enough time to run back to the bathroom?

"Oh, sir," said the apron-bedecked clerk, "there's a special on these. Buy two cases, get two cases free."

"Um....." I stammered, starting to sweat. I was wearing my best pair of underroos, too........

"And a free 24-pack of Dasani water."

"Uh......" My brow was furrowed in anguish. Do I shit myself in the middle of Genaurdi's and score this fantastic bargain like a good Jew, or do I screw it, race home and possibly save my dignity/trousers/car interior.

"Yeah. I know. I don't care. Just this."

She looked at me like I was a total asshole, and, for that moment in time, I was. But it wasn't me talking.

The real asshole was in charge.


  1. Man, you need to get better control of your shit! (hahahahahaha!)

    Those of us with IBS would have grabbed the other two cases, and the case of water, and left it waiting outside the bathroom door, before departing with our dignity and our deal. ;)

  2. I really wouldn't have gone out if I felt like that, which used to be frequently. I think that has to be one of the worst ways of being ill when out.

  3. Aahhhh.....the cold sweats and coincidal clench of the ass cheeks..I know it well... ;) How come it always happens like that when you're out running were lucky to have a restroom nearby.... :D

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