There’s a pill for everything, you know. Not that that puts pharmaceuticals in any special category. There’s an anything for everything—just a click away. Still, all those meds you see advertised on TV, targeted particularly to people who look to be about my age, people who are “having trouble” breathing or peeing or digesting or remembering. It’s become a cliché: all old people do is take pills.
Well, that ain’t me. I have no prescriptions and take no medications. At least that’s what I say every time I fill out medical history forms. In fact, I’m just about a perfect human specimen, according to such documents, and I’m generally able to hold on to the notion that when I fill out these forms I’m conveying the spirit of the truth if not all the boring minutiae.
Then my knee started hurting. Karma, you have to figure. Since no injury could be more symptomatic of mortality than—ouch!—all of a sudden, for no reason in the world except to throw it in your face, your goddamn knee goes out on you.
But we’ve all had these little tweaks, little yips in muscle or tendon, foot, knee, elbow or shoulder. We’ve all made the lame joke about how we don’t seem to get over them quite as fast these days. That’s all this was, and I waited it out like a man. Iced it, elevated it, tried to stay off of it. But it’s hard to walk on one knee, and it didn’t get any better. I went to the orthopaediatrician, and now I’m on a pill, an anti-inflammatory. I get one tiny tablet a day, and it’s all I think about. I don’t know whether to take it in the morning so it can be working all day, or at night so I can look forward to it all day. Just like a junkie—except maybe with different delusions about the paradise that beckons. I just want my knee back.
My addiction to this pill made me start thinking about all the other pills I take. Two of them, I suppose, fall into the category of supplements, but I take them with fanatical devotion. One is fish oil, or Omega 3, or whatever it’s called, and I’m convinced it helps control my cholesterol, which tends to drift upward. The other is magnesium, the purpose of which need not be mentioned. Both, of course, are perfect metonyms for the universal syndrome we call aging.
OK. Full disclosure. About that other pill: Do I use it? Heck yeah. I call it my “happy pill,” and I’m taking about hydrocodon. Bro: I’m telling you. It’s the way to go. It’s the only pill out there that delivers the satisfaction of assembling a piece of Ikea furniture without blowing your head off. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t abuse this drug or possess it illegally. But if I happen to luck into a prescription—for some minor surgery, say—I’m not returning the leftovers.
Oh, you thought I meant that one. All I can say about that one is make sure you have the insurance.
So okay, maybe I’ve been in denial. Maybe it’s time to give it up, to let truth ring, to say the words.
Yes! I’m old and I take my pills.
But I ain’t changing how I fill out those forms.