Thursday, March 11, 2010

Also - There's A Hole In My Bucket, Dear Liza

Okay.  So I got tired of walking into walls and staggering down hallways and looking for all intents and purposes like I was under the influence when I wasn't.  I knew I had a sinus infection and finally gave up the 'I can get this on my own' mindset and went to see my doctor.  She agreed that since I wasn't under the influence I must have a sinus infection.  Pulling up my medical records she expressed astonishment that I had not taken a medication in at least a decade.
"I don't like them," I replied.
"Then why are you here?" she asked not unkindly.
I explained that since I was getting on a plane in a couple of weeks and flying across the country I preferred to swallow my distrust of western medicine and - as long as I was swallowing - down some antibiotics too.  I added that whatever side effects western medicine might dish out to me seemed a better option than exploding ear drums over Kalamazoo.
While her agreement was not noticeably enthusiastic, she did write the prescription for ten days worth of Ciprofloxacin.  She seemed to think this was a good choice considering my distrust of all things pharmaceutical.
Off I went to the pharmacy where I was given my bottle of stuff and asked to wait because the pharmacist needed to talk to me.  Since I had a few minutes to consider the miracles of modern medicine, I started reading the Ciprofloxacin patient education sheet.  The first thing I learned was that Ciprofloxacin is a medicine.  So far so good.  It is used for treating certain infections caused by certain germs called bacteria.  Okay.  That certainly seemed, well, basic.  It may also be used to prevent or slow anthrax after exposure.  Interesting.  Useful information.  And just before the pharmacist stopped in front of me I learned that if you have ever had an allergic reaction to Ciprofloxacin in the past do not take this medication.  I assumed the reason I shouldn't take it to be that -- wild guess -- I'm allergic to it.
But the pharmacist was waiting to tell me important stuff so I had to shift focus from my reading to his presence.  After all the man had walked all of six or seven feet to talk to me.
With all the solemnity of a beginner executioner, he cautioned me that a possible side effect of Ciprofloxacin was a softening of tendons.
"Tendons?" asked I.
In response he flexed both hands and then lifted a leg to flex a foot.
"Tendons," he then replied.
"How will I know my tendons are softening?"
"You can feel them."
I felt both writs and then both fore arms.  I couldn't distinguish a tendon from a finger.  I was getting worried.
"I can't feel them now.  How will I be able to feel them if they get soft?"
He held a limp wrist in front of me. I worried the conversation had changed and my questions remained unanswered.  He waved the limp wrist.  I watched his hand flop uselessly back and forth.
"This is how," came his explanation.  "You won't be able to use your hands or your feet depending on which tendons get soft."
"What should I do if that happens?" I reasonably wanted to obtain as much information as possible while I could.
"Call your doctor immediately?"
I should have thanked him right then and there, picked up my pills while I still had useable hands, and gone home.  The conversation was just too seductive, though.  I couldn't resist.
"If I've lost the use of my hands because of soft tendons, how will I be able to pick up a telephone much less punch in a telephone number?"
Whereupon the pharmacist looked at me like I was the anthrax against which Ciprofloxacin might have some beneficial impact, took three steps to his right, and said in a really loud voice, "Next."

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