But then, when were we ever NOT in “troubled times”? The thirties and forties? Depression and World War. The fifties? Racism and McCarthyism. The sixties? Assassinations and Vietnam. The seventies? Drugs and serial killers. The eighties? I don’t even remember the eighties. The nineties? Techie Takeover. The millennium? Okay, okay. It’s a hard life.
So here we are: September 2018, with our Democracy standing on the razor’s edge. Will we survive this insanity? Or will we slowly? quickly? descend into a fascist state? I agree with Michael Moore, I don’t think it’s impossible. We all get up, make ready for the day, drink our coffee, watch the depressing news, get into our cars, and for one reason or the other, sally forth into the world. Can this typical day come to an end? Yes, it can.
The idea—imagined or otherwise—of a normal life style coming to an end is what we writers write about. It’s the only thing we write about. We know this intuitively. Someone dies or doesn’t! Someone travels or not; answers a call or hangs up; falls in love or gets dumped; gets married or divorced; or as recently in my case, receives a notification.
I got a letter from my pharmacy. Here’s the situation. I take two pills every morning: one for high blood pressure, Valsartan, and another for some mysterious pain in my back. For all I know that pill is a placebo. At any rate, the letter stated that my current high blood pressure medicine, Valsartan, “may be linked to risks of developing cancer.” It went on to say that “short term use is low” for developing any health issues. I’ve been taking the damned thing for ten years…Jesus. So, I responded as you might expect. I FREAKED OUT! Especially when the letter stated, “patients taking the recalled Valsartan medicine should continue taking their medicine until they have a replacement.
Oh, right, just keep taking the killer pill “that’s linked to risks” until they figure out what to do. Great idea. Thank you for that winsome advice. So, I staggered like a doomed duck from one room to the other. What to do? What to do? I finally settled down and re-read the letter. There was a website I could go to and check whether or not the big pharma lab that made MY med was one that had produced the “compromised” Valsartan. I did just that.
The company listed on the bottle is Alembic. I’ve never heard of them. It turns out that Alembic’s Valsartan is okay. It doesn’t contain the carcinogenic element. Well, that was good news. I still have about two weeks left of the current pills, so I keep taking them. I do feel better. I feel much better.
I finish the pills. I get a notification from my drugstore. The other prescription is ready, but the Valsartan isn’t ready. I ask about that. The druggist says my “care giver didn’t call it in.” I felt like being sarcastic, but I meekly tell him thank you. I’ll go to the doctor’s office and see what’s going on. I do that—post-haste.
The receptionist behind the window in the crowded waiting room tells me that Valsartan isn’t listed on my chart or whatever she’s looking at. I respond (nicely, politely) informing her that I’ve been taking it for years. “It’s not there,” she says. Then she tells me that I was supposed to have come in for a check-up back in June.
WTF is she talking about? I tell her that I didn’t remember such an appointment. I wasn’t given an appointment reminder. She repeats. “You were supposed to come in June. That’s what it says. It’s now September.” She stares at me with her mouth hanging open. It’s all my fault—obviously. “You want to make an appointment? The doctor does want to see you,” she smirks. She could win an award for MOST CONDESCENDING.
“Yes, please,” I say. I’m fighting off reptilian urges.
The next day I show up at the doc’s office. A student assistant comes in. She’s a very pretty young lady from India. She’s so nice. Asks me how I’m doing. I tell her I’m okay, but I mumble about the pain in my legs. Neuropathy, I suggest. At her suggestion, I remove shoes and socks. She checks the pulse at the top of my foot. It’s good. She gives me a quick response test by pricking my feet with a prong. I pass the test.
My doctor, who is also from India, comes in. He gruffly tells the assistant to call my pharmacy. She does so and hands him the phone. She sits at a chair behind him. He sits at the computer and talks on the phone, staring at my online info. I feel rather odd sitting there with my shoes and socks off. I’m sitting on the hard-cushioned patient’s bed. It’s quite high, and I’m gazing down at the two of them. It’s not too unlike an out-of-body experience. My doctor’s professionally tough on the phone. “Are you a pharmacist? I need to talk to a pharmacist, immediately. This is Dr. Reddy!”
I like that. Give ‘em hell, Doc.
My drug is okay they tell him.
“Thank you,” he says. He hands the smart phone back to the assistant.
He lets me know that I’m okay. “You can pick up your prescription,” he says. He pats me on the shoulder. The student assistant tells him that I complained a bit about my legs hurting. I feel almost guilty. He ignores the student who is still talking. He checks my foot pulse. “He’s okay,” he smiles. “Paul’s okay. Yeah, Yeah.” He pats me on the shoulder. “You have low potassium. Eat bananas,” he tells me. “Eat more bananas.”
“Yes sir,” I say. He tells the pretty assistant to go check on another patient. I thank her for her concern.
I go to pick up my Valsartan. It’s not ready. I go back later. It’s still not ready. I go back a third time, and they are all smiles and hand me my newly filled prescription. All is well. I get to my truck where my black lab, Cody, sits. He leans against the door on the rider’s side. He’s a great dog. I sit there in my truck. Cody’s panting, ready to go home.
I watch an incredibly heavy man with long gray hair struggling to get out of his car. It’s very difficult for him to turn in his seat. At one point with one foot in and one foot out, he stops to catch his breath. Finally, he emerges and starts shuffling toward the store. Cars stop for him. Everybody stops for him. We all feel for him.
Ah, what a day. I’m fortunate. I know I am. I think about the patients who had been taking the “compromised” Valsartan. I hope those people are okay. Hope, it’s all we have sometimes. Hope for ourselves, hope for each other.
Thank you for reading. I hope to get back to blogging now that summer is nearly done. Ah, autumn. I love autumn.