CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE: Taking Meds Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

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WIMPY1By W.T. WIMPY HIROTO

[This] may increase the chance of a heart attack or stroke that can lead to death. [It] can cause ulcers and bleeding in the stomach and intestines. [Other] symptoms may be nausea, more tired or weaker than usual, itching, yellow skin and eyes, flu-like symptoms, vomit blood, blood in your bowel movement or it is black and sticky like tar, unusual weight gain, swelling of legs, hands and feet.”

I doubt many take the time to read the written explanation that accompanies all prescribed drugs; it’s that folded piece of paper that you throw away without reading. I mean, hey, all you have to know is how much, how often, right? So just for kicks, I read the entire warning notice.

An added caveat I forgot to mention was the possible urge to commit suicide. I believe it covered everything else that could possibly go wrong. It describes everything that could possibly go wrong. With no guarantee it’ll do you any good. What a racket!

The opening paragraph above is a rundown of what may occur when taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). This was my last attempt to eliminate a pain that’s been ongoing.

“Let’s try this stuff since nothing else seems to have worked for you,” the good doctor said as he wrote out the prescription. (*The 13th in a long list of varied professionals who have been enlisted to solve the dilemma.) When I pointed out a double bleeding ulcer was in my recent medical past, he was most reassuring: “Don’t be bothered by the warnings on the medical guide list, you’ll be okay.”

Legal mumbo jumbo to protect against frivolous lawsuits, I guess. What greater defense than, “You were forewarned, dummy!”

There was a time when I took nothing stronger than Bayer aspirin and didn’t even know what ibuprofen was. Other than the pair of unexpected hospital hiccups, CR2S had been fairly healthy and medication-free.

I had a friend who took so many meds he had worked out an intricate color scheme to remind him of which to take when. Unfortunately, “had” is the operative word. Brother Edwin had a seven-container tray he would dutifully fill at the start of each week. He was always the practical one in the family. His problem was remembering what day it was. A lady friend lined up her liquid intake in a cupboard next to another that had her required pill intake.

My introduction to medications and their unintended side effects came while tending to the needs of an Alzheimer’s-stricken spouse. We had enrolled in an early (meaning failed) test program that had been highly recommended. It began with a 40-milligram dosage of a new drug, rapidly climbing to 400 mgs.

During bimonthly tests and interview, I offered to write a journal describing her daily actions. It never dawned on me that I was giving them a coveted 24/7 observation report. Is it any wonder my wife was soon disregarded and I wound up the subject of intense interrogation?

It took a while but eventually a naïve caregiver realized the ensuing bizarre behavior had nothing to do with Alzheimer’s, but was caused by the growing amount of prescribed medication that in turn required additional drugs to control the side effects of the earlier! The onset of depression and hallucinations had absolutely nothing to do with AD. All of which was of great value to the research team; more interested in my daily entries than the worsening condition of my wife.

Heart-rending episodes that occurred during this time period are too painful to revive. When it finally dawned on me that we were being used as guinea pigs, I didn’t even pause to get bent out of shape. The program had been offered at a major university, which purportedly meant legitimacy and quality, at a time when Alzheimer’s was seldom discussed.

The relentless onslaught continued for years, but at least the erratic, emotional stresses disappeared with the discontinuance of drugs.

Which explains CR2S’s negative attitude. I have been relatively prescription-free for quite a while. As others regularly pop pills, lozenges, tablets, capsules and whatever else comes in liquid form, what Ole WTH chooses to swallow nowadays isn’t in the medicine cabinet.

While remembering mentholatum, lemon juice, castor oil, mustard plaster, ether, gargling and all those old-time remedies, it is obvious the Tylenol age is a much better place to be. Who can forget those painful vaccinations for chicken pox, measles, typhoid and TB in grammar school? Ugh. Got a tooth pulled? Exactly.

In today’s world there is something for everyone for everything. There is something that will cure, remedy or forestall. Ah, but what is the magic that brings you happiness and joy? Where? Dr. CR2S believes it’s in your heart. And asks you not to laugh.

W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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