Troubled Times


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.

15 thoughts on “Troubled Times

  1. candyyork

    I take blood pressure medicine too and was a little freaked out by the compromised meds, but luckily it wasn’t mine either and I hadn’t been taking them for very long either, so I’m glad to hear you are OK! We really do live in a strange world right now, I wonder what future we are leaving to our kids!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Paul Post author

      Thank you! I agree with you one hundred percent. We truly need to think of fifty years hence, when the two year olds and the three year olds are in their prime. How will they look upon us?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Paul Post author

      Thank you so much! Yeah, I’m gonna try to get back on some sort of blog schedule…I never was too good at that to begin with. Ha! So, Thanks again Tina for your support.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. jim-

    Keep taking the medicine, another ten days if cancer is really nothing 🙂 “patients taking the recalled Valsartan medicine should continue taking their medicine until they have a replacement” I thought this could be a religion post lol. But then again, no replacement would be necessary.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. doesitevenmatter3

    I’m so glad you are okay. That is scary. And I hope those other people are okay, too!
    I guess meds can be a blessing or a curse depending on what’s going on.
    I have low potassium, too. I eat lots of foods rich in potassium. Do you know the part of the banana that has the most potassium in it?
    Autumn is my favorite season! Come on, Autumn!!! 🙂
    HUGS!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Paul Post author

      Whoa! What part? Eh, I hope it ain’t the stem. I’ve also started eating avocados, grapefruit, and sweet potatoes on a regular basis. And sure enough they seem to work…somewhat. It may be the best result is that I can finally lose these last ten pounds! 🙂

      Thanks for reading. And HUGS back to ya!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Paul Post author

      I have to say, it was a bit nerve wracking. Looking back, I think it’s the terrible feeling of helplessness that is the worst. Not only were folks told that a med they are taking to keep them healthy, may well be killing them, but also who are “they?”

      I noticed at the pharmacy, the workers either became very quiet or very nervous when I asked about the situation. I realized they don’t really know what the hell is going on either. They only can repeat what they’ve been told. And one can see the “It’s not my fault” expression on their faces…and it’s not! Sigh.

      But thank you dear Kate. I’m back to work on my novel. Fussing at the cat who keeps trying to drink my coffee and petting my black lab who wants to be loved. My dear wife is humming to herself as she gets ready for work. These are lovely moments that settle my breath, that reassure my spirit.

      Thank you so much for reading and your kind words. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. jrose88

    I go to a Mindful Eating class offered through my local health center, and the other week one of the other attendees was raving about how Banana Tea has helped her with her body pain — basically you chop up an unpeeled banana and boil it for a while, peel and all. It reportedly helps with sleep too. I haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds good! The only thing is that they HAVE to be organic bananas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Paul Post author

      I’ve never heard of that. I visited the site, thanks for that info! 🙂 And it sounds absolutely. I’m going to try it. Our store sells organic bananas so I’m good with that. Thanks again, Jrose!

      Liked by 1 person


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