Fran says that I’m the perfect patient. I have a team of expert physicians at Jefferson who attend to my various ailments. I’m always cooperative. Follow their instructions. Take the proper dosage. I’m always 15 minutes early for my appointments. I like and respect my doctors and believe they like and respect me. Considering some serious medical conditions that I’ve overcome (Trump Derangement Syndrome not being one of them), I’m thankful for my quality of life. Or was, until a little situation developed. I became worried about my blood pressure.
For years, doctors had told me that the bottom BP number was more important than the top one. Finally, after a number of years, I got the bottom number in line only to find out that the medical profession changed its mind. Now it’s the top number they’re more concerned about. Go figure. So, for the last two years or so, as my top number drifted a bit higher, I decided that the whole thing had become mental with me. I convinced myself that my blood pressure readings at the doctor’s office weren’t really higher, it was just that I worried myself into such a situation.
I tried everything to calm down before the BP reading was taken. Took deep breaths, mentally recited the lyrics to the Grateful Dead’s FRIEND OF THE DEVIL, visualized palm trees swaying in the breeze (although inevitably the breeze turned into hurricane force winds and made that damn top number climb even higher.) I steadfastly blamed “white coat syndrome” (so, I stopped wearing white coats. That didn’t help). A couple of weeks ago, I decided that I was fooling myself. I asked my doctor for a change in medication. The doctor obliged and to say the least, the results weren’t what I expected.
We live in an information age. Sometimes I think we have too much information at our fingertips. I try to resist taking a peek at the potential side effects of any medication that I’m on because, as Fran says, I have a vivid imagination. Please believe me when I tell you that I did not look at the potential side effects of this new medication until AFTER I began feeling really weird.
I had trouble sleeping. The dreams were not frightening, just bothersome enough to keep me awake. And the same dream kept repeating over and over. I dreamed that when I sat down at my desktop computer to write my column, Microsoft kept kicking me out like I was an Elizabeth Warren supporter at a Trump rally. Then things got worse.
I began to run a low-grade fever. Lost my usually healthy appetite. Grew lightheaded with a weakness that spread to my limbs. I contacted my doctor, who asked me to try cutting the dosage in half. I did. But that didn’t seem to help. I couldn’t carry a partially filled shopping bag from Trader Joe’s to our apartment. A total of two blocks. I found an empty bench, where I contemplated the worrisome notion that I would not be able to make it home unassisted. Eventually, I did make it home. But barely.
Last Monday night, I thought I might have to bow out of our show MONDAY NIGHT KICKOFF, which that night was being held at the Parx South Philly Race and Sports Book. I decided the show must go on, but I hated Ethel Merman for ever singing that damn song. I got through the show. But I partially collapsed after I got off the elevator in our apartment house. Fran must have felt I was past my expiration date.
I spent that night as I had all recent nights shifting from our bedroom to the living room couch. Same dream racing through my head about Bill Gates and Microsoft having betrayed me. A bizarre European techno soundtrack playing over and over in my head. Where was Miles Davis when I needed him?
I was worried. I had passed up a dish of ravioli on Sunday night and when the hell had I ever done that?
Then — just before dawn arrived on Tuesday — it all stopped. The maddening music. The no-Microsoft dream. The low-grade fever. All of it. Suddenly gone. And gone for good, I hope. I tell myself it was just a case of a medication that went wrong for me. But I’m fearful that Echo and the Bunnymen might begin playing inside my head at any moment. Not:-Fran is even less familiar than I am with either Echo or his Bunnymen. “No, they didn’t record EASTER PARADE,” I tell her, hoping I’m right.
I’ve never understood why pharmaceutical companies advertise their prescription medications on TV. Are those ads directed at physicians or the general public? Can you remember any of the names of those drugs? I sure can’t. And the list of side effects? I can’t imagine requesting an Rx medication by name. And the lists of side effects! They’re often more dire than the conditions the medication is supposed to treat. It’s kind of scary to know that your prescription for acne might cause thoughts of suicide. Sometimes the medication can cause the condition it’s supposed to treat. I’m taking medicine to limit the possibility of strokes, but the medication itself can cause strokes.
The TV shows I watch almost always carry commercials for medications designed to treat horrible diseases. Is Chris Cuomo’s audience really more susceptible to irritable bowel syndrome and psoriasis? Or does watching Chris Cuomo cause those conditions?
You can see Tom Cardella talk football on Monday at 6 p.m. with a former Eagle, streaming on wbcbsports.com, or hear the rebroadcast Tuesday at 5 p.m. on 610 AM ESPN Radio.