Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I have no heart and you must eat my soul

Sounds like the title for a science fiction or fantasy story, doesn't it? I should probably run a contest for whomever can write the best story to the title "I have no heart and you must eat my soul". But I'm not sure what I could give away as a prize. Maybe a couple of autographed copies of my books? Yeah, I can see the legions of fans beating down the doors to write blazing copy for me.

Maybe a $50 gift certificate from Amazon? I'll have to think about that.

In the meantime, I went walking along the street a little bit tonight. It's the first time in weeks I felt like going out. In fact, I had to mail a letter to my sister and forgot to do so at lunch, so I walked down to the post office. And after I got home from work I walked down to the corner store to buy my dinner. Not that I needed to buy dinner but I wanted to go out for a walk.

I got pretty sick in November. Everyone at work was coughing, sneezing, hacking, and wheezing. In fact, a few people are still struggling to get healthy and the rest of us are struggling to stay that way. I finally went back to the doctor and begged for help. "You're not really sick," he said. "It looks like an asthmatic reaction to me."

Reaction to what? The antibiotics he had given me a week before? I'm still in the process of getting to know this doctor, and he me. We understand each other to a point so far: I complain and whine, he waits for me to shut up, and then he does something doctorish. This time around he told his nurse to stab me twice and wrote a prescription for me.

"This may make you feel caffeinated," he said sotly.

Caffeinated? What does that mean? I had no idea, so I asked. "Doc, what does caffeinated mean? Like 'wired'?"

"Something like that," he said.

He gave me the prescription, shook my hand, and gracefully waited for me to exit his office. I glanced down at the prescription and saw some strange behemoth of a pharmaceutical name I had never heard of before. But it sounded familiar, like something I knew other people took on occasion. It seemed to me that I was about to start taking POWERFUL MEDICATION (sorry for those of you who have screen readers).

Well, I couldn't stop coughing so by this point I was willing to try just about anything for my "asthmatic reaction". I headed down to my pharmacy with my new insurance card in hand, looking forward to taking advantage of the company health benefits after waiting nearly two months. I didn't even have to wait very long. The pharmacist processed my prescription in about 15-20 minutes. I could feel that cough wrangling in its death throes.

Just to be on the safe side, though, I had warned my boss that I might seem a little different over the next few days. "Why?" he asked. I told him the name of the medication. His eyes grew wide. "Oh, yeah."

Did everyone know something I didn't?

Well, to make a long preamble longer, by the time the pharmacist came over to discuss the medication with me, I was ready to try anything. So I could barely contain my enthusiasm until she said, "And this may make you feel caffeinated...."


"What does that mean?" I asked. "Like, I'm going to be wired or something? Bouncing off the walls?"

"Yes, you could say that," she replied. "And some people take the entire dose in the morning, but you may want to spread it out across the day if you have never taken anything like this before."

Okay, I spread the doses out across the day. Didn't help.

I spent the next few days bouncing off the walls, yelling, screaming, crying, depressed, excited, laughing, joking, talking fast, slowing down, speeding up, turning sideways, doing cartwheels, handsprings, somesaults.

Yeah, they say steroids will do that to you.

All the women just laughed at me and said, "You're just PMSing. You'll be fine."

Okay, I understand so many things better now that I have stopped climbing buildings and chasing down armed bankrobbers. I know I said things I should not have said. I did things that should never be mentioned in the light of day. That doctor did things I would never disclose in therapy or under oath.

But I feel a lot better. Hardly cough at all now.

It's hard to complain about success. I just hope I don't go through any more asthmatic reactions again. Next thing you know, I may be running for President.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first time I took steriods (a high dosage that tapered off over a seven-day period) I was amazed by the change in my personality.

Instead of feeling responsible for everybody and everything, in a constant tizzy of guilt and apology, I was cool, calm, and utterly disaffected.

If someone did something stupid, I'd say "That was dumb. Fix it," and go on with what I was doing. (Usually I'd have been fluttering around trying to fix it for them.)

My husband was amused when I told him about the effect of the steriods. "Now you know what's it's like to be a guy," he said, scattering toast crumbs and stepping in them.

"Clean that shit up," I said.

I called a therapist and spent a hour doing role-playing to try to lock in some of the steriod-based behavior before the drugs wore off. I was able to incorporate a lot of the calm, dispassionate style into my professional life.

I've only taken steriods one more time since then. I look upon them as the world's best vacation.

11:34 PM  

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