Pill Popper

Today I’m going to venture into the world of medicine. Only young people take one round of medicine and are cured. When you become older, it doesn’t work that way any more.

The other day my doctor actually told me I could quit taking a pill he had prescribed. Quit? There must be something wrong with me. Any time you start taking a pill, you are supposed to continue taking it forever. If the prescription runs out, the pharmacy calls for a new one.

“We’ve found out that after 10 years, you no longer need to take this medicine,” said the doctor. “It helps your bones, but the bone created is not normal bone.”

Not normal bone? Now they tell me — after 10 years. I’ll probably be sprouting horns or getting a hump on my back any day now.

After a certain age, everyone becomes a pill popper. Sooner or later there are medications lined up in the medicine cabinet waiting to be consumed. I have pills of all colors. Pink ones for allergy, yellow ones for arthritis, green ones for depression, red ones for sinus, and boring white ones for everything else. I only need a purple pill to complete my rainbow.

I have a different pill for every symptom and every ache. Actually, it’s good that they come in different colors because I can tell which pill I am taking without bifocals. The generic pills all seem to be white, however. Maybe dye is too expensive or maybe it is only added to make the pill seem worth the money being charged for it.

I seldom leave a clinic without a new prescription in my hand. Doctors are not happy if you have something that can’t be cured, or at least helped, by a pill. The prescription pad practically jumps out of their pocket the minute you describe a symptom. Of course, patients expect to have a pill prescribed whether they need it or not.

Doctors don’t really do the doctoring any more, insurance companies do. They tell the doctor what can be prescribed for a certain illness, preferably in a generic form. You can get the higher priced, name-brand med, but you pay for it yourself or pay a higher co-pay, at best.

My doctor suggested I try a different arthritis pain that was cheaper. “The drug companies like for you to at least try something less expensive,” he said. So, I did. It was not any good. It seems that whatever is bad for you and expensive is what’s good for pain.

When you can get a pill for your pain in generic form, everybody is happy. The doctor gets to prescribe, the patient gets treated and the insurance company gets out cheap.

What really upsets the medicine wagon, however, is when a former prescription drug goes “over the counter.” Insurance companies no longer pay for it, doctors no longer prescribe it, and pills that used to cost a $5 co-pay with insurance now cost $20 over the counter.

Who wins? Not the insurance company as you might expect, but the drug companies. Although they can no longer charge a hundred dollars per prescription, the demand becomes so great that they can scarcely make pills and profits fast enough.

Doctors love sleeping problems. It’s an easy fix. Most of the stuff on the market has a side effect of drowsiness if you read the fine print. We don’t really need a pill that makes green butterflies fly through our bedroom when half the stuff in medicine cabinet causes sleep. Staying awake long enough to take the pills is the trick.

When a drug commercial is on TV, it discloses all the side effects of a drug. The challenge is deciding which is worse, the risk of taking the pill or the risk of going without it. Usually, by the time the commercial is done telling you about the risk of heart attack, depression, loss of appetite, hair loss, high blood pressure and suicide, you decide that the illness is better than the cure.

No wonder I can’t sleep.

The hardest part of all is not having too many pills or even paying for the drugs. The hardest part is remembering to take the stupid pills.

Of course, there is probably a pill for that as well.

Copyright 2011 Sheila Moss

About Sheila Moss

My stories are about daily life and the funny things that happen to all of us. My columns have been published in numerous newspapers, magazines, anthologies, and websites.
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