Sailing Through September

Usually, I love September with its crisp bite in the morning breeze, the first tracings of crimson and gold on leaf tips, and (of course!) school supplies, my ultimate favorite binge buy. But this year, September has betrayed me. It's not only the weather, still heavy and dull with August-like heat and humidity. My own body has turned on me, and quite viciously too. Admittedly, this all started in August, when I had my annual physical. Within a couple of days, I got the first phone call. "Rebecca, Doctor wants to call in a prescription for you." "A prescription?" I ask innocently. "What for?" "Your cholesterol is 236 and she'd like to put you on medication." Okay, I guess. I mean, that's not horribly high, but I'll take the medication (rather than completely forsake toasted cheese and bacon and tomato sandwiches). And I've been taking my Lovastatin, luckily without suffering any of the several zillion grim side effects so neatly listed on the prescription insert. Then Monday, while we're in Florida trying to have a tiny vacation, I start feeling the unmistakeable scratchy throat, itchy eyes, and watery nose that spell URI (upper respiratory infection). This does not come as a huge surprise~when I visited my mother in law the night before we left, she was sick and coughing, as were several of her "neighbors" in the Alzheimer's facility. Those places are a hotbed of germs, and it would have been a miracle to get out of there unscathed, no matter that I virtually scrubbed my hands raw with antibacterial wipes and gels when I left. What starts as a cold quickly moves into my bronchial tubes (the weak spot of all child astmatics) and by Tuesday morning not only can I not talk, I'm gasping for breath~and I'm facing a three hour plane trip at the end of the day. This time, I call the doctor's office and say I need a prescription, which they kindly provide. Except that our local Walgreen's is out of the medication (and so apparently is every other Walgreen's in Naples, Florida, and believe me, there are just as many there as everywhere else in the US). So I board the plane decongestant-less. Everything is fine going up, but as soon as we started to descend, so did I. Had it not been for the kind ministrations of my seat mate (who was not my husband because we couldn't get seats together!) and several flight attendants with ice packs, cold cloths, and ginger ale, I probably would have spent the last 20 minutes of the flight stretched out unconscious on the floor. As it was, I came pretty close. You better believe I was glad to get home last night. My old house never looked so good, and I'm not planning on flying again anytime in the near future (if ever). Unfortunately, I made the mistake of listening to the messages on my answer machine before I went to bed. "Rebecca, this is Doctor's office. Please call us as soon as possible~this is about your mammogram." Well, God. Do you think I slept at all last night? You're right. I did not. Sure enough, they want me to come in and have a "some more pictures done." Won't tell me why, but I'm smart enough to know it isn't because they need additional views to put on the cover of Mammography Monthly. You'd think that would be enough, wouldn't you? Nope, September is out to get me. About an hour ago, the phone rings again. "Rebecca, this is Doctor's office. Doctor wants to call in a prescription for you." "Good grief!" I yelp. "What now?" "This is about your bone scan. For Actonel." "What are the T scores?" I ask. I know a little about bone scans. "Well, I don't have those. She just wants you to take this medication." Bother with that. I'm quickly reaching my limits with medications, and I've heard about this Actonel you take once a week, and then can't lay down or drink for 30 minutes later because of potential gastrointestinal side effects. Nope. "Call me back when you have the T score," I tell her. "And I don't want to take Actonel." "How about Evista?" she offers. "We have some samples here." "I'm not taking Evista," I refuse adamantly. My mother in law (the one in the Alzheimer's center) has taken that for 15 years, and it's been linked to dementia. "How about Miacalcin?" that's the nasal spray my mother takes for her osteoporosis. "Sure, that's fine," she says happily. Of course, she didn't call me back with the T-score. I called again and made them look it up. If you've managed to read through all this, you're probably feeling a lot like me~either ready to laugh or cry. Sometimes I think the scariest thing about facing potential serious illness is not the disease itself but navigating the world of modern medicine. So wish me luck as I set off through these evidently stormy September seas.