Two siblings, living on opposite ends of a great pond, catch up over the phone. Ill tidings of assorted aches and pains are exchanged. Morbid moroseness, often misspelled as ‘morosity’, ensues. Based on a true story from the Intrasomatic Conspiracy files. Written for those who enjoy listening to other people’s conversations.
Warning! Not for the hypochondria oriented! Please consult your physician or psychoanalyst before reading any further.
Gil: Hello? Are you there?
Gil: Oh! I almost didn’t see you there. How are you? I’m crappy.
Jill: Crappy or crabby? (laughs)
Gil: No, not crabby. ‘Crappy’, with a capital ‘C’. Sorry, you just caught me at a bad time.
Jill: Sorry to hear that. What’s up?
Gil: The usual suspects: bad headaches and allergies. I went to an allergist today in the morning, though. Going to do some tests next week.
Jill: Why next week?
Gil: Because the ENT guy, you know the ear, nose and throat doctor, gave me an antihistamine to take a couple of day ago, and it apparently screws up the tests.
Jill: You went to both an allergist and an ENT?
Gil: Yeah. I got on a new health plan. Sort of a clinic thing. They’ve got a shit load of doctors so …
Jill: … so you’re making the rounds, huh?
Gil: Yeah, pretty much. Tonight, I have to go and do that big peripheral vision test again. You know, the one I took last year. High IOP in the eyes again.
Jill: IOP? As in pancakes? (laughs)
Gil: No! Not IHOP. IOP, as in intraocular pressure. Looks like those crappy eye drops for my allergies are screwing up my eye pressure … you know what leads to glaucoma and my eventual singing the blind man blues on a corner somewhere.
Jill: Yeah, you have to watch that. You don’t want glaucoma. Aren’t the antihistamines you’re taking helping?
Gil: (sarcastic) No. In fact, the ENT, a great help he is, said nothing will help. He says I’ve got vasomotor rhinitis. No known cure. Big duh! I’ve been like suffering with this since I don’t know when.
Jill: Did he do an x-ray of your head? Maybe it’s your sinuses. I’ve got sinusitis, you know.
Gil: Yeah I did one. He said my sinuses were clear. Told him about the headaches, runny noses, and full feeling in my ears, and uh … you know what he said?
Gil: He said, it’s all in my head! (laughs). Told me to move to a drier climate. I said thank you very little. He claims I shouldn’t be taking meds and just learn to deal with it. Screw him! Anyway, so I went to the allergist.
Jill: How’s your blood pressure?
Gil: Low. So low I get dizzy at times when I walk. Actually, I read something about low blood pressure possibly stemming neck problems. Maybe the ringing in my ears is a result of that, too. Not sure. Anyway, low blood pressure is good. But as usual, the problems are problematic and the good stuff is just not a factor.
Jill: I see. So … do you think it’s all related somehow?
Gil: Lord knows! I’d like to think so, but there doesn’t seem to be any ‘one size fits all’ cure for this. It’s a downer ’cause I’d like to get ride of this ringing in my ears … but also my eyes are being a pain. Am tired of walking around all day with ‘feed bags’ under my watery eyes. I don’t know, maybe part of this is neck related.
Gil: Just that my IOP pressure was high, despite the fact that I’ve been taking pressure lowering drugs. She sai the optic nerve looked good, though. Damn it! Every time I go to the eye doc about eye allergies, she brings up the IOP issue and we get side tracked.
Jill: Yeah, well it’s problematic. You need to look after your eyes, I mean the pressure, you know? Do you think the eye allergies are seasonal?
Gil: No. (a pause for thought) I don’t know. The eye allergies kicked in last year and have not let up all year.
Jill: So they didn’t get better in any season? Any chance it’s some new allergy?
Gil: I don’t know. That’s why I decided to go to the allergist. The other allergies, or maybe they’re not allergies, just rhinitis (anotehr pregnant pause is heard) are uh, they’re like seasonal. All spring and summer it’s dripping noses and sneezing my head off and then in the winter, I get sort of dried up and get sinus headaches and crap.
Jill: The heat in houses in winter here does me in. It changes from store to store when I go shopping. In the summer, I get sick from something, maybe mold or no air flow or something. Spring and fall though I’m okay – sort of the opposite of most people, I guess. I get more headaches in here in the South, though. I mean it’s always this vs. that … six of one, half a dozen of the other, really.
Gil: (laughs) Yeah, doesn’t everyone! I’ve been taking a nasal corticosteroid all year which, generally speaking, helps in the summer and spring. Winter, not so much.
Jill: Well, what are you eating, you know food wise? (laughs)
Gil: What’s the difference? I’ve changed diets off and on for either my cholesterol issue or the GERD issue … or just to lose weight. I haven’t seen much difference, this way or that. I mean, there’s never any real effect … except maybe going off of wheat products completely a while back. I also went off dairy for a while to see if I was lactose intolerant.
Gil: I think it was just gas or maybe too much salad. You know, too much roughage will give you the runs. Too much lettuce perhaps – a natural laxative I discovered a bit too late.
Jill: You’re not a rabbit.
Gil: Yeah, apparently I’d make a bad vegan, too.
Jill: So, did the allergist say anything?
Gil: He told me I don’t have asthma or bronchial issues, which is good. I took a breath test. It gave me a headache; I sort of got light-headed afterward.
Jill: What about dust?
Gil: I don’t need a scratch n’ sniff skin test to tell me that! Am hoping for some revelation about food. Anyway, he said he’ll try to help me find a treatment for ‘the problem’ not the ‘symptoms’. I told him the meds I take for the symptoms work better. He laughed. I didn’t.
Jill: Didn’t the ENT tell you the same thing?
Gil: No. He just said that all the crap I’ve taken in the past should not be taken year ’round, etc. You know, “blah, blah, blah”, the same old crap.
Jill: Well, you know you can’t self-medicate.
Gil: Yeah, well I can’t keep shoving $150 dollars plus a month up my nose and down my throat for meds that don’t work, either. I’m going broke here on medication and I’m still sneezing my head off!
Jill: That’s why you need to treat the cause and not the symptoms.
Gil: Tell it to Sweeney! The cause is untreatable. They say that, too … at least the ENT and pathologist said.
Jill: Well, medication will do that. It has a negative effect. I mean even when it helps, you know like diabetes drugs. As soon as people go on them, they gain weight. But they need them and then they gain weight. It’s like a vicious cycle.
Gil: Put the pork down, step away from the table! (laughs). Anyway, for me taking drugs is a trade-off between enduring negative effects and being functional.
Jill: Yeah, like the other day I made Bill go to the doctor as he’s been freaking out coughing, like he’s got whooping-cough or pneumonia, or something. So the doctor says, “Your lungs are clear. You need an over the counter cough syrup, when your go to bed, if you have such problems.”
Gil: Right! So he pays like $60 to go to the doctor to get advice a druggist can tell you for free.
Jill: Well, that’s my point with Bill. He pays a fortune for medical insurance then doesn’t go when he’s sick ’cause he doesn’t want to waste money on co-payments. And, then when he does goes, like after complaining of chest pains and stuff …
Gil: … Which is most likely from coughing too hard in the first place …
Jill: … yeah, and then the asshole idiot doctor goes and says to take over the counter stuff.
Gil: The whole medical industry is cracked and obviously on the take …
Jill: Which is exactly, why he never goes to the doctor. It costs money, and the doctor always says “you’re fine” and to take over the counter meds. Like, duh! You don’t go to the doctor to be told to take cough syrup, obviously you need something stronger. The moral of the story is: don’t choose a doctor unless he’s gonna prescribe the real meds …
Gil: See, that’s exactly why I self-medicate in the first place, which thankfully is what can I do where I live. (concerned) Was Bill coughing up blood or something?
Jill: No. I mean, he’s not fine. He’s been coughing horribly for about 3 to 4 weeks; that is not fine.
Gil: Yeah, well his problem is that he refuses to take anything. Like mom, he reads the labels and get’s nervous. Me? I don’t care what the labels say. I don’t operate heavy machinery and enjoy the ‘buzz’. (laughs) I mean, if you’re going to spend all that time and money going to the doctor, at least take the meds for Christ’s sake!
Jill: (pensive) I don’t know. You seem a bit medically obsessed, but then again you don’t feel well. I wish I had an answer. I hope that health plan you’re on works out.
Gil: Well, they’ve got a shit load of doctors and all the good machines (laughs). You know, the ones that go “ping”. Main thing is I can see the doctors at least and follow-up on blood tests for cholesterol … and the ophthalmologist obviously.
And, I’m medically obsessed because I have daily issues which really do impede my normal … or abnormal function (laughs). On the one hand, I hate going to doctors and have pretty much written off their advice.
Jill: So why go?
Gil: Why, for the meds and attention! (laughs … the “rolling on the floor” kind og laugh). Seriously though, I need to follow-up on the cholesterol issue. The statin I was taking wasn’t working.
Jill: I never took statins after my initial attempt when my cholesterol was above normal. Also, I don’t take statins on account of they make me feel weak – like when I took one my whole body was weak and I got achy and depressed.
Gil: Try Bailey’s in your morning coffee (laugh). No, seriously, without meds, my cholesterol soars.
Jill: I lost some weight, exercise a lot and my HDL is high – which is good even though my total number is high.
Gil: Have you been retested? You’re supposed to bleed for the medical industry every 3 months or so.
Jill: No, I haven’t been retested. I eat about an 80% vegan diet with little fat other than olive oil, so hopefully its down some. Exercise brings it down faster than weight loss they say.
Gil: Been there. Done that. It’s a myth. Get retested. As for me, I’m taking a high dose pill now containing a statin and another drug – the one I think really does the trick for me … that is when I take it. Still, there’s some bad press about research on high dosages with regards to both drugs. And, I’m pretty sure the drugs are contributing to my neck and lower back pains … who knows what else.
Jill: Look, I took a statin, then something else which made no difference whatsoever, and from what I read they’re not really healthy. Like, many people have high cholesterol naturally. In fact, I know another guy who was diagnosed at 45 with high cholesterol and they wanted to put him on meds. He turned to exercise and diet and other things. He was told that for some people, genetically, it’s natural …
Gil: Uh huh, like me …
Jill: … and if you don’t have diabetes or other factors, you’ll be ok. He’s close to 90 now. Meanwhile, the doctors told him that without meds, I mean strong meds, he wouldn’t live to 50. Anyway, honestly, I’d be worried more if your LDL was over 200 or something. What’s yours?
Gil: It’s 320.
Jill: Shit. Maybe you should take the meds.
Gil: Yeah, no shit Sherlock. Well, I resisted for while, and because of the price, it’s like $70 a box.
Jill: And that last you a whole month, right?
Gil: No! The fuckers only put 28 pills in the box. Fucking scam artists! Anyway, my pathologist said I had to weigh the factors. You know live with muscle pain or have an attack. (sarcastic) Well, when you put it THAT way …
Jill: Yeah, well everyone taking statins think they are doing well cause they are taking statins but not losing weight and it’s still a time bomb … but uh, I think you should take them.
Let me put it this way: one of my neighbors is on meds for heart problems, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and a list of other symptoms. When tested, the doctor says he’s doing well on account of the meds. No! Wrong! He’s gotten much much heavier, can barely walk, is popping pain pills faster than he can swallow them, is getting heavier … and all that has an effect on his heart. (sarcastic) But OH! He’s taking meds! So it gives him like a false sense of security. And so the fat fucker is like frying everything in sight he can lay his hands on and munching on cheese like its candy … but hey, it’s ok cause he’s taking cholesterol meds! It’s pathetic!
Gil: I don’t know. When I eat ‘good’, I eat ‘very good’. Salads, chicken, fish, etc. I don’t eat as badly as I used to eat, and I’ve changed my diet mainly due to stomach problems. You know the heart burn, GERD and that Barrett’s Esophagus problem I was diagnosed with 2 years ago, which my pathologist says is what I REALLY have to watch down the line.
Jill: Well, I’d worried more about the stomach problems, too. Pancreatic cancer is a bad way to go. Ask Steve Jobs and Patrick Swayze. Just saying. That scares me more than cholesterol!
Gil: (laughs) Pancreatic cancer won’t be the kicker with me. It will be Esophageal Cancer. Oh lord, what a morbid thought! Ew!
Jill: I don’t know. There are a million factors, maybe a hundred, but if you focus on them … well, I’ve found you’re worse. And, when you are happier, the problems tend to me mitigated. At least, that’s what I’ve noticed. So be positive!
Gil: Thanks, Pollyanna.
Jill: Go to the gym.
Gil: Ha! That’s another story!
Jill: Or, start walking.
Gil: I like walking, but my bad ankle and lower back start acting up. It’s a shame cause I like to walk. Lord, I’m getting old. Think old rickety dog like. (laughs) Pending hip problems. Someone will have to ‘put me down’ someday! (laughs)
Jill: Really! (laughs) Well, at least you can laugh at yourself. That’s good.
Gil: Yeah, laughing all the way to the grave. (sigh)