Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Better Living Through Chemicals

In which our Heroine gets confused, overdoses, and later when her head clears, contemplates the World of Pharmaceuticals

The phrase “better living through chemicals” is one meant to refer to the marvels of modern medicine.  In recent years it has begun to take on a slightly cynical tone, one that I will take full advantage of today.  I find it particularly apropos since today is officially the one-month anniversary of my brain surgery and I have had a number of pills/chemicals pumping through my veins every day since then. 
Yesterday morning, my husband brought home a newly-filled prescription for my seizure medicine.  I used to take two pills of this every morning, and another two at night.  As I opened the lid and tipped a couple out into my hand, I thought, “Oh my goodness, they’re even larger than they used to be.”  Did I think about this observation much?  No.  But I did pop them both in and swallow them quickly down.  Yeah, you guessed it.  The pills were double the milligrams of the last bottle.  Oops.  I now felt even more tired than usual.  Also, this medicine tends to make my brain shut down soon upon taking them. (It is a pity that I came up with my allegory of the Alcan idea yesterday, just when my head was swimming through sludge). Ah, well.  Such is my life these days. 
You know, I used to be the girl that took a total of one Ibuprofen for the worst headaches ever.  Ironically, the last week I have taken the largest dosages of this plus the largest of Tylenol every day.  On this anniversary day I am pleased to report that I’ve only taken a couple of each since midnight last night.  I only woke up once from a headache.  I can’t wait until I’m not tied to pills anymore.  I’m sure life will be better.  (A groundless hope? Nah.)  New goal: being pharmaceutically free again someday. 
Of course, this will have to wait until chemo is over.  How do I feel about putting chemicals in my system that kill off the quicker growing cells like that in the hair, nails, or stomach?  Queasy.  But I recognize the necessity of getting any and all traitor cells out of my body.  There is no home for them here, no room at the inn.  What I’m really dreading is any nausea I may have.  Pregnancy was miserable because of the nausea. Uggh. Down with nausea! It will be easier for me to pretend I don’t have deathly chemicals or evil cells in me if I don’t see any outward signs.  Have I mentioned yet that my new goal is to be pharmaceutically free again someday?  One more reason why: that will mean the cancer is gone.    
Truth to tell, I liked the idea of being pill-free before.  Last winter I read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and loved it.  I spent hours lamenting the loss of heirloom vegetables and the extinction of countless indigenous grains and dreaming of green things and deep damp earth in the dead of a white and frozen winter.   This led me to start grinding my own wheat flour, which led me into an exploration of herbs and aromatherapy.  I even began eating the chickweed in my back yard.  The way I saw it, groceries in Alaska are expensive, so why not eat what I already had in abundance? I was going an alternate direction in the hopes of feeling healthier.  Perhaps I was sensing some truths about my current state of well-being.  I begin to see that there are dualities in my life: usually the plan I thought I had, verses the way its actually going to be.  So much for being a control freak.   Still, I feel a good goal cannot go amiss.  Goodbye pharmaceuticals, after the chemo is over.

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