Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pushing Pills

I take fourteen pills a day, only four of which are prescription. Mary, my wife takes three, two of which are the same kind. She would actually take five except she doesn’t take pills very easily. Consequently one of her medications uses a nasal delivery system.
Most articles on pills deal with the need to take them, or the cost of them, or where R&D fits in. But today I am going to talk about HOW to take them and why, at an advanced age and with nine years of post-graduate education, I learned something from my son.
I was trying to think of when and why I started taking pills. My mother was a good pill-taker. She used to chew Aspirin and more than once helped a pill to her stomach by chasing it there with Scotch Whiskey. She also was interested in the health of her children: didn’t allow coffee until high school, fed me cod-liver oil until I was strong enough to take the spoon away, and taught me to put wheat-germ on my cereal. Of course we sopped up the grease in the broiler with lightly toasted bread when she grilled well-marbled Iowa beef steaks and wolfed the toast down, chasing it to our young arteries with express train speed.
I started taking more pills early in or marriage when I contracted cold sores, probably from Mary, although she would probably deny that. I attended a lecture at the Chicago Mid-winter dental meeting on treating Herpes Simplex, and even preventing reoccurrence by taking Bioflavonoid and Lysine. This was designed mostly just to prevent reoccurrence. If I had an active lesion, there was other treatment. In that case I would apply some medication (I think it may have been in the Iodine family) and subject the lip to fluorescent light. Thinking back on that it sounds like a recipe for cancer, but I didn’t follow that regime very long. I do, however continue to take the Lysine and Bioflavonoid and believe it works.
Around the same time I started taking another pill that I still take. Mary had an Uncle Mike, also a dentist. At one time in my life I found myself going through a reception line and congratulating him on one thing or another. At the time he must have been in his mid-seventies and looked about fifty. I commented on this and with a spark in his eye he said, “The secret is Vitamin E.” I probably have read thirty articles that disclaim that theory, but I still take my daily dose of “E”. Perhaps coincidently, I still see mostly brown through the thinning grey hair.
Somewhere around my fiftieth birthday I started taking a multivitamin, probably enticed by the “Centrum Silver” label, and sometime five years or so later I faced the inevitable medication control of my cholesterol and blood pressure: two pills each. And then I had to add enough Calcium and iron to counter the effects of age and the medications I was taking.
Not that long ago I found myself at a meeting in Chicago with a group of peers and discussion revealed that I was the only one not taking something for my aching joints. Enter Glucosamine. Now I take something else that is popular at Costco. Two very big pills a day. Even a good pill taker has limits.
Watching me gag one evening while taking my ration of nine evening pills, Mary must have felt sympathy, because she shared with me what our son, Tim imparts to his grade school students. The lesson is to open the throat rather than tossing the pills down. So, now I tip my chin down after I have a mouthful of water and gently place the pill on my tongue. It’s almost relaxing to swallow a pill.
So, that’s the secret. Fill your mouth with a swallow of water, slip a pill in, tuck your chin to your chest and swallow. I find it helpful to start with the largest pill first. If I have two of the same size the uncoated one goes first. I bought a pill-cutter for Mary but it never worked out too well and even coated pills become uncoated when divided.
Most people my age get techy tips from kids or grandkids. I’m fortunate to get more practical advice, something I can use every day. Thanks, Tim!
I was going to tell my DMV story today, but it is still playing out, so probably will be a week from now. Stay with me, the story is worth the wait.

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