Friday Night Frights
Someone tugged on the grand tapestry of the universe and unraveled a thread that led me to be at the Walgreens up the street on a Friday night.
This was not my original post idea for tonight, but when life gives you lemons, you need to pucker the hell up and be sour. It’s time for a little blog improv.
My wife, who apparently is on a quest to find another way to die, had a prescription that needed to be picked up. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been caught dead at such a place on an evening like this.
It all started around New Year’s 2011. My wife already had a hurt shoulder than pains her greatly from time to time. One night we went to bed and everything was fine. When we woke up, somehow she had injured her knee. We’re still stumped about that one. She’s just that talented, I guess. But yeah, that knee injury was bad. Out of the blue she was on crutches and going in for MRIs (which were a friggin’ joke), trying to see an orthopedic surgeon who wouldn’t call her back and interpret her scans, and generally just trying to figure out what the hell was going on.
Then, about three weeks ago, the wife decided she needed to go foraging for organic materials for basket weaving. She likes to weave baskets. Personally I’d rather debug Perl scripts or write compliant HTML, but we all enjoy different things. Naturally, a few days later, she started seeing red splotches on her body. At first we thought they might be a reaction to something we ate. The next morning, however, it was all made clear. She had been visited by the poison oak fairy.
On my wife’s side of the family, poison oak is a deadly force to be reckoned with. Just looking at a picture of it can make them explode in an itchy red mess. Me? I don’t think I’ve ever had it. I guess some people are more susceptible.
My wife’s case was bad. Very bad. It was in and around her eyes, mouth, face, tummy, legs, hands, and, well, suffice it to say a few other choice spots that shall remain unmentionable.
So now my wife was being subjected 24/7 to intense pain and scratchiness on top of her shoulder and knee that were still painful, too.
That led to several more doctor’s visits, missed days from work, and eventually a prescription for a pill known as prednisone (a pill) for poison oak. My wife was told right up front that one of the side effects of the pill is that it can make you “grumpy.” Oh Lord, help me!
I went to WedMD to check out the possible side effects. There it was in black and white. Mood swings. Chronic trouble sleeping. Depression. Delirium. Hallucination. Paranoia. Mental disturbance. Wow. That’s quite the list.
Bonus side effect: “Complete Stoppage of the Heart.” Yeah, that would qualify as a side effect. Personally, I don’t care what medical problem you have. A side effect like that one just might be worse than the problem it’s supposed to allegedly be fixing, eh?
She’s definitely had trouble sleeping since the first of the year. That sure doesn’t help.
So Friday morning we wake up and something new is going on. She’s having trouble breathing and doesn’t feel well. By the time I go to work she’s still in bed so I figure she’s taking the day off. I tiptoe out of the house.
I called at lunchtime to see how see was doing. No answer. Finally later in the afternoon she called me. She had gone in to work at noon and will be going to urgent care when she gets off. Because she’s sick of her doctor who never does jack shit.
Related post: Salubrious Basterds/The doctor will fee you now.
Urgent care told my wife that she had picked up bronchitis and/or pneumonia and likely an infection, probably because the prednisone weakened her system to the point of allowing such things to be able to gain a foothold. That’s just friggin’ pluperfect! Their brilliant plan to deal with this troubling development? Yep. You guessed it! A cocktail of even more prednisone and some antibiotics to knock down the infection. Doctors are so smart!
And that’s the short preface to this post. A post which is actually about how I ended up at a friggin’ Walgreens of all places on a friggin’ Friday night. Gads!
I had to go pick up my wife’s prescription. It takes a damned good reason to get me in that shit hole.
As soon as the glowing building loomed in my field of view I knew I was in for the time of my life. You see, I live in a very small town where they roll up the sidewalks early every evening and all day every Sunday. Places like Walgreens stay upon 24 hours a day, thus become destinations in and of themselves to the indigenous locals who don’t know how to entertain themselves any other way.
I pulled into the parking lot and couldn’t believe my eyes. 8pm on a Friday night and the Walgreens was packed. Who knew?
I parked and tried to make my way to the front door. The sidewalk was teeming with all sorts of miscreants. Yes, once again, I had entered The Cloud. That’s just my way of saying “outdoors where people accumulate and smoke their asses off.” I was swimming through a sea of smoke, holding my breath while walking, trying to make it to the front door.
Most of the people were conglomerated around the evening’s star attractions: The two shiny and gleaming RedBox video rental machines on the sidewalk near the front door. Jesus Christ, what a clusterfuck! I couldn’t help but wonder to myself, “Who the fuck rents their DVDs from a fucking vending machine?” No doubt if they put a vending machine there that served french fries then these same helpless/hopeless people could also enjoy a hot meal!
I steeled my resolve. My mission was to ingress and egress the scene as fast as humanly possible and then get the hell back home. I was already “feet wet” so there was no turning back.
Inside, I made a beeline to the area for prescriptions. Imagine the layout of the store as a rectangle with the same aspect ratio as a widescreen movie. Label the bottom left corner of that rectangle as “entrance.” Label the top right corner of that rectangle as “prescriptions.” If you drew a line between those two points you’d have a hypotenuse, your optimum shortest distance of travel. If only there weren’t aisles and aisles of shit in between.
The place where you pick up your prescriptions is located in the most remote location in the whole friggin’ store. There can’t be any logical reason for that, right? It has absolutely nothing to do with making you walk by soda and candy bars and cheap plastic toys made in China and all kinds of other friggin’ horseshit, right? I must have hiked 2.3 miles to get to my wife’s prescription all the while exposed to purchasable goods.
I’ll spare y’all the rest of the details of my visit to Walgreens. I was able to make my escape and somehow return to home base, but it’s all a blur. My debriefing is scheduled at 0800.
I’ve been plotting my wife’s ailments since the first of the year. The trendline has decidedly upwards movement. In fact, if I project that trendline into the future, today should be the first time she’ll add two new problems on the same day. The rate of growth is exponential, so I have that to look forward to.
See you again soon, Walgreens. My old friend.
How’d I do with those lemons? Was I sour?
Before I begin, let me just say this: It was nice knowin’ y’all! 🙂
I have decided on my next ambitious project. It is based on the simple premise that what is advertised on television must be good for you.
Those of us in the United States are lucky enough to be in one of only two countries in the world where “direct to consumer” (DTC) advertising of prescription medications is legal. (The other being New Zealand.)
New Zealand legalized DTC advertising of prescription medications in 1981 and the United States followed suit in 1997. (Source: Wikipedia.)
The goal for my project is simple. To consume as many prescription drugs as I can for 30 days and document what happens. And let the chips fall where they may!
I have to be honest. When I see those commercials for prescription drugs on television, I’m very curious about the endless litany of “side effects” that get mentioned. I began to wonder: Can these be stacked up for even greater effect?
I decided to find out!
To keep things fair, this little experiment will be restricted to only those medications that are advertised on television. I imagine that will force me to make some hard choices from a selection of only a few thousand different drugs. (That’s just a guess.)
I’m especially looking forward to seeing what happens when the drugs are combined in new and interesting ways. The technical term for this is “interactions.” Aw, heck. Interactions? That doesn’t sound like anything too bad! Sign me up!
So look out Cialis and Ambien. You, too, Viagra and Lipitor! I’m coming for you. Watch your back, Zoloft. I’m gonna eat you up!
Our modern society in the United States is the most heavily medicated civilization of all time. American children are three times more likely to be put on psychotropic drugs than children in Europe. (Source: ScienceDaily.) And I’ve heard that medicated drivers are a “far worse” problem than drunk drivers. (Source: NaturalNews.com) It it high time for me to get with the program and find out about what I’ve been missing!
For the conditions of my experiment, I’ll consume three random prescription medications three times a day (with breakfast, lunch, and dinner).
For bonus excitement there will be a “Dead Pool” running on the side. Pick the day I die and win fun prizes!
Note: This post satisfies the legal requirements of my earlier post entitled “Blog improv.” That’s where I asked for some random words. I will now use those words in this post. The random words, in addition to “Salubrious” which is used in the subject line, will be highlighted when they are used. Enjoy! –Abyss
The doctor will fee you now!
Is your doctor all that and a bag of chips? Is your doctor the cat’s meow?
I don’t know. You tell me. How do you feel about someone who says, “Sure, I’ll help you with something important like your health.” You know, that life and death stuff. Almost as important as a new episode of Jersey Shore. “But I’ll only do it for something akin to every penny you make for the next twenty years. Deal?”
Wow. That’s just awesome! And to think I’m such a friggin’ idiot – I do nice things for people every day and I don’t even charge. Woe is me, how dumb I’ve been. If you catch me at home sticking my head in my Easy-Bake Oven, please don’t try to stop me!
I get it. You are an important human being, Doctor. Me? I’m a steaming pile of poop. That’s why I have to schedule my whole life around my visit to see you, wait in your disgusting little room full of sick people, and pay over $100 for 10 minutes of quality time where you’ll barely pay attention to me and rush me away as fast as humanly possible.
The other day my wife was feeling rather forlorn because she was in some rather extreme pain. There was a red bump behind her ear and some painful redness that seemed to go up to the tip of her ear. At first we assumed it was a pimple or a bug bite.
The next day, though, her ear was still in a pickle, so she did something we don’t often do. She took herself in to see the doctor. Good thing, too. I turned out to be neither of the problems we suspected. It was some kind of infection of the bone behind the ear and is fairly serious if left untreated. The doctor prescribed some antibiotics.
My wife complained about the severe pain, which seems to be close to debilitating, but the doctor refused to prescribe her anything for it. Apparently he has his own moral standards about prescribing the dreaded “narcotics” that might take away my wife’s pain until the antibiotics could kick down the infection.
I understand that the health care system is so discombobulated that doctors now live in fear of writing prescriptions for pain meds. Some people visit 10 different doctors a month, get 10 prescriptions for pain meds, and get those prescriptions filled at 10 different pharmacies to remain under the grid and avoid detection. I get that.
On the other hand, however, my doctor can easily verify that he sees us like once every few years and that we haven’t had any prescriptions from him during that same time. If we’re addicted to pain meds we sure have a damn clever way of hiding it!
So the basterd listened to my wife complain about her pain and decided, “Nah. You can live with it. My salubrious standards are more important than your suffering. You are depressed. I’m glad you came to see me to get this off your chest. Come back and see me later. Next patient, please. Send in another victim of industrial disease!”
I thought doctors took the Hippocratic oath which says, “Do no harm.”
“Ah,” says the doctor. “There’s your problem, old chap. I’m not the one doing the harm. You can blame the funky ear bone widget thing for that. I’m just the one refusing to treat the pain caused by what is doing the harm. See the distinction? They taught me that in medical school – in addition to billing systems, of course. Also sailing, golfing, and hiding assets offshore.”
Are doctors simply in charge of thinning the herd? Or are they actually supposed to help the people that come to them in pain?
I admit. I simply don’t get it.