I am loo roll deep in yet another cold of the century, the second in two months. I must be incredibly run down. I’m a magnet for lurgis when I’m walking dead and I spent the day after my bakeathon with a cold infested friend. Who I’m not quite sure how I feel about right now! I think it’s meant to be another head cold but my chest is deeply implicated. I’m overdosing on cough medicine and have used up two entire rolls of toilet paper in two days. And the pain. My pain score has been averaging about 7 or 8 these last couple of weeks and now I feel like I’ve been beaten up by an American footballer then run over by a London bus. It has totally incapacitated me and I have been very good and have been trying to resist telling you all how near death I am and this post isn’t about that so technically I’m still in the clear.
Actually you might have guessed that this post wasn’t about the totally horrendous cold that I’m suffering with by the blog title. Colds never exactly inspire me to utter those words about them.
It’s in a similar vein perhaps though because I’d like to talk about medicine.
I don’t do medicine. Not for myself. What can’t be cured of, must be endured of is my motto. And as I fail to believe in most medicines, especially the conventional/Western/modern, then I decide to do the enduring. (You must understand that enduring does not preclude the odd whinge now and then). Besides which I fret that it might get worse and if I’ve already taken something, what am I going to do then? I might as well wait until I really, properly need it. (For the same reason, there is no 10 on my pain skill. 9 is screaming out loud and might have to give in to painkillers. 10 is a nightmare yet to be discovered). There is also a certain pride in being able to bite your lip and soldier through. I’m not a fan of hysterics.
As a teenager, I used to pop painkillers all the time. Most women of my acquaintance seemed to. The majority of us teenage girls had a pack in our school bags and if you’d forgotten yours then you just asked around. But I ended up questioning the point of taking drugs for everything especially when they didn’t seem to make much difference. I found out that these drugs don’t actually work immediately and can take ages to have any effect on the system. I was worried too about overdosing and the effects that they would have if they built up in my system which evidence also seems to indicate that they do. I was concerned about increasing tolerance levels and even dependency. Why do so many people take them so regularly? Placebo, comfort, security, control?
There’s another reason I don’t take many of the medicines I maybe should, it’s a question of whether I deserve to. OK, that sounds crazy right? Probably doesn’t even make sense, if it doesn’t then be thankful. But think back to the posts that I’ve written about the Voice. What evidence do I have that I’m even ill? People tell me that I’m making a fuss or doing it for the attention. (Voice-free me would tell them that they haven’t got a clue). I know that millions of other people are struggling with real or serious illnesses, what right does little me have to take something for so minor?
I suppose you could call those reasons ‘psychological’, they are to do with what goes on inside my head. Sometimes I have to concede that I need medicine which is when I meet a physical barrier.
I take the cough medicine because of my chest predominantly, not always because of any coughing although this time I have done some stomach-muscle-wrenching episodes. But I can’t always take the medicine when I want. Why?
I have an enemy.
In three words.
Now, child-safe lids are great in theory but they also happen to be ME-proof. Totally proof. What annoys me is that I can actually get inside the bleach bottle easier than I get into my cough medicine. I don’t get that.
The last cold I had, I spent a whole day (well, I paused for rest several times and had to go and do other things as well) hacking and drilling into the cough medicine lid with a very sharp knife. Despite that, I still have all my fingers. And some patience. And a sense of humour.
I needed cough medicine and I couldn’t have it when I needed. (If you hear my chest, you’ll know why I’m so dependent). You can’t really go wandering down the street asking strangers to take the lid off for you. For one thing, it’s not very convenient. I was dosing myself at half past five this morning, for example. Now my cough medicine bottle works more like a flour dredger and has a turban of sticky clingfilm around it and gets increasingly sticky with each dose that I shake out.
It was a work-around, a temporary fix.
I’ve tried quizzing every pharmacist that I’ve been near whether they can issue non-child-safe lids. Surely they could cater for the demographic of the seriously ill? (I’m not seriously ill of course just wretchedly useless with lids). And childless. No? Apparently not.
I quizzed the GP about whether I could store the medicine outside of its proprietary container, some medicines, particularly bubble-packed tablets, do degrade because of light, humidity etc. He said it was fine but we both concluded that a recycled curry sauce jar might not be a good idea.
But sauce jars are too wide necked, ungainly.
And likely to be tainted.
In the meantime I had another light bulb moment to do with medicine. A few years ago I had seen a friend administer her child’s liquid painkiller with a syringe instead of the classic white plastic medicine spoon, very modern and not entirely practical with such a thick gloop. (That brings me to another aside, if you have liquid medicines as an adult they never deign to give you medicine spoon, even if it’s prescription. Very disappointing and awkward, standard teaspoons are always too shallow. I’ve had to filch them off child-owning friends).
I struggle to pour. I kind of need two right hands. Preferably two right hands which are more stable than mine is usually. I’m well-trained in spilling liquids, I always pour over the sink. A tell-tale drizzle of pink syrup and a decreasing cough. Other medicines are runnier and more more slippery Not so easy.
I decided that my mission was to acquire one of these syringes. I thought I’d have to buy child painkiller and donate the medicine to some child-owner whilst saving the coveted syringe all for myself. It turns out that although pharmacies don’t cater for the ill who can’t open lids or the adults with liquid medicines, they can sell you a dosing syringe. Mine’s a funky purple. And cheap.
The next part of the how-to-dose-myself-conveniently plan was to acquire a bottle. A suitable bottle. Chilli sauce bottle not being an option. Not too small or fiddly, not too wide like a jam jar.
A couple of days ago, I hit upon the perfect victim. We had a bottle of mouthwash malingering by the kitchen sink, rapidly becoming part of the furniture and being ignored. There was only a small amount left but that was where the husband had finally decided that he didn’t like this flavour mouthwash after all. It was an ideal shape and size.
I don’t just use cough medicine, or rather, I shouldn’t just, there is something else which should take higher priority. So I needed the twin. I remembered seeing a bottle of the same brand mouthwash on a relative’s bathroom shelf so I asked if I could have the bottle when they finished with it. Yes, I’m cheeky like that. Turns out that theirs was vintage, in the wrong kind of way, and was never going to be used, so within a day I had scored me both the bottles I needed.
The next task was to knit them some wee jackets. Of course. Well, I’m worried about the glass being clear as medicine bottle glass is brown, they might be a little photosensitive or something. Next up, mouthwash bottle glass seems to be quite a lot thinner than medicine bottle glass so for travelling a little padding might not be a good idea. And for grip.
I used some yarn that I got free some time, it promised to be DK and I knitted a bootee in it but it turned out twice the size of a bootee knitted with bona fide DK so I was rather suspicious. I was also suspicious about what sized child such a bootee might fit, a four-year old? (Someone had just told me that my bootees were ridiculously huge and that they’d fit a two-year old at the youngest). It’s probably acrylic but it has a cotton-y feel and I loved these colours, although a little more white would have been good. And surprisingly, very little pooling. Oh and believe it or not, I just cast up and knitted it on up on my DPNs, just like that. No collywobbles.
Now for a confession.
There is another medicine that I’m supposed to take. Daily. Or even regularly would be good. It’s liquid because I have such bad side effects with the tablet versions. I don’t take it because I really don’t deserve to. I should just think myself well and good. Or something. I don’t know. Sometimes I feel like a need permission, some kind of authorisation or validation, to take it.
In an accessible bottle and with my funky syringe, I can now make myself take it more often. And hopefully the world might become a better, or at least, a more easily dealt with place. I might feel a little bit better too. I don’t know if I deserve that.
Liquid happy pills.
My syringe also comes with a magical rubber stopper which allows you to turn a nearly empty bottle upside down to fill the syringe. I tried it. Over the sink. It worked. In my hands. I felt very medical. It also squirts water a great distance. Very entertaining when doing the washing up. And comes with an entire sheet of instructions. Which I haven’t read yet. I read the waffle iron instructions once, it says to keep away from children and adults with special needs which doesn’t exactly gel with my sensibilities. Why is it the smaller the product and the less it does, the larger the instructions? Computers don’t even manuals anymore.
I took a photo in my newly made photo studio to share with you. It makes me happy. It feels like I’ve achieved something, made progress. Small things.
I took a dose and it was wonderfully foul-tasting.
I’m not too sure about the symbolism of dosing oneself with a syringe either. Sounds like the kind of pastime that I was meant to avoid.