Zeno’s Pillbox

Dearest Rachel –

At this rate, I wonder if I’m ever going to finish these pills. Or, for that matter, how I’m expecting to cut them any further.

First, the good news. Remember that issue I had with my thumb a week and a half ago? As you’ll recall, they prescribed a couple of pills – an antibiotic and a steroid – to clear the infection (assuming that was the problem) and bring the swelling down. It seems that that regimen has worked; there’s only the slightest twinge when I both bend and fold my thumb at this point, but I really have to go all out to that. For the most part, I’m pain-free, and at full mobility. So there’s that.

The thing is, when I talked to Lars about the situation, he expressed surprise at the dosage of the steroid I’d been prescribed. Apparently, two 20 mg tablets is rather large for a dose of prednisone; pills are actually available in much smaller dosages, down to as little as only a milligram or two. Also, one doesn’t simply stop taking the stuff just like that; it has to be a steady drawing-down process. Not entirely sure why, but I get that he knows this stuff from his own medical background.

So, rather than taking two pills a day until the bottle was empty, I took two pills for the first two days, then only one pill for the next two or three, then I broke the remaining pills in halves for subsequent doses. Now, I’m having to cut these last ones into quarters; it’s delicate process, at this size:

But if you line it up properly in the pill-otine (I know that’s not a word, but I can’t think of a better name for this instrument), you can get a reasonable split between halves.

The thing is, I’m still only down to a 5 milligram dose; I don’t know how much farther I have to drop this – or, for that matter, if I can cut these remnants that much further down. I will say that, with so many cuts into the pill, so much of its inner surface is exposed to the tongue, and it literally is a bitter pill to swallow.

Of course, that never posed much difficulty for you, as you would take your swig of water, and drop what pills you had elected to take (unlike me, your morning regimen was entirely elective – fish oil, flax seed, multivitamins, that sort of thing) in after it before gulping it all down. I never could figure out how you managed to do that – or why, for that matter. It seemed such a challenging process. For your part, you couldn’t seem to see why I would pop the pills before drinking the water, so there’s that. And given the taste of this one in particular, I guess I understand your puzzlement.

Assuming I can cut these down further (and still have to yet), I wonder how much longer I’ll have to deal with this. It’s like Zeno’s arrow, constantly halving the distance, but never actually reaching the target.

And I’d just as soon be over and done with these; it’s always been a disheartening thing to be on a certain medication for the rest of my life. I thought, for instance, that when I retired, and no longer had the stressor that was my old job, I could stop bothering with the blood pressure medication. And indeed, my last few checkups – including the one a few weeks before the accident – suggested that my vitals were at normal levels. But that didn’t seem to mean I could set it aside, and put up some kind of ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner on my old pillbox. Nope; it was sort of a chicken-and-egg phenomena: did I not need the pills because my blood pressure was back to normal, or was it back to normal because of the pills? I was left on the pills.

I’m not thrilled with the situation – and I’m sure that, if Daniel were more aware of it, he’d be having me get rid of them tout suite, what with all he’s read about Big Pharma and all that. But as much as I find it an annoyance (and a reminder that I’m continuing to grow that much older), I’ve also concluded that it’s necessary thing to maintain one’s health as one’s body gets lax with automatic maintenance.

Besides, I don’t see Big Pharma as the deliberately malevolent monolithic entity that Daniel does. Yes, each company is driven by a profit motive – so are we as individuals, on a smaller scale, we have to have money to buy what we need and want in life – but that means they need to come up with useful drugs, ones that relieve suffering and cure illnesses. If their discoveries don’t accomplish that, they are discarded. Granted, it’s not an overnight process by any means – the industry’s history is littered with failures, some particularly catastrophic (think thalidomide, or heroin – or even the Swine Flu vaccine of our childhood, to give an example somewhat germane to the period of time you departed from) – but the successes endure, sometimes developing a host of other uses. I mentioned heroin earlier, but at the same time that was discovered, the same company introduced aspirin, which not only deals with headaches and the like, but it also useful (in low doses) with dealing with heart health… and blood pressure. And yes, I’m taking it, too, and probably will continue to until I get to pack up and join you some day.

Until then, however, keep an eye out for Daniel and me, and wish us both luck; we’re going to need it.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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