Barb’s Bad Trip, or The Importance of Researching Drug Interactions

I’m really happy to say that aside from the persistent cough from hell, I am over the horrible head cold I contracted at the beginning of February. It was a bad one. It scared me, if I’m honest. I thought I was never going to feel better. I was wondering if it was a function of getting older, or if bugs are evolving into frightening, insidious things that attack you from a whole host of angles. Either conclusion had me worried about future illnesses.

But it turns out that I brought much of my woes upon myself. Because I had such horrible vertigo and mental confusion, and a desire to sleep at least 20 hours a day, I wasn’t thinking clearly at all. If I had been, things would have gone much differently.

Much of the time I was so dizzy that I felt as if I were floating 6 inches above the ground. And unfortunately, I often didn’t feel as though I were floating upright. Sometimes I felt like I was sideways or even upside down, or swinging slowly back and forth. And I couldn’t focus on anything. People would tell me things and I’d forget them 30 seconds later. And I couldn’t recall words for the simplest things, which made it impossible to communicate clearly.

Me (while floating upside down), “Hey, um, what’s your name? Could you get me a thingamajig? I need it for… something or other. La la la la la…Zzzzzzzzzzzz”

The scary part is that I tried to power through. I drove my car in that state. I operated a drawbridge, possibly the heaviest piece of equipment on earth. La la la la la.

But I just had a weird, modern head cold, right? I’ll be fine. Nothin’ to see here. (My goodness, but people look funny when you’re looking down at them from midair. Wheeeee…)

Sometimes I’d start to feel better, and I’d get all hopeful, and then a few hours later I was floating again. I didn’t know what to do. I felt so awful.

And then one day, something happened that even I couldn’t giggle haplessly through. I had a dentist appointment to get a filling in a tooth. I remember driving there. I remember walking in the door. But I don’t remember anything about the visit. Nothing. I “woke up” halfway home, half my face numb from Novocain, not knowing where I was. And I was alone. Driving.

Okay, so this isn’t just a simple head cold. Something is seriously, seriously wrong. So wrong.

So I started reading up on the medications I was taking for the cold. My doctor had been out of town, so her colleague had suggested, among many other things, Nyquil, Dayquil, Mucinex, and either Robitussin or Delsym for the cough. Well, I had all those things in my cupboard. (Actually, I had Mucinex DM, not plain Mucinex, but heck, it was Mucinex, right?)

It turns out that all of those things, without exception, have one thing in common. Dextromethorphan. And what are some of the possible side effects of Dextromethorphan? Dizziness, mental confusion, and exhaustion. And oh, by the way, one should not take Dextromethorphan while taking a certain kind of anti-depressant that I just happen to take.

Oh, joy. Much of this had nothing to do with the sickness at all. In actual fact, I had been stoned out of my flipping mind for two weeks. And I’d start to feel better, but then I’d take some more meds to help speed up the process, and I’d be tripping once again. 24 hours after I stopped taking all of that stuff, I felt just fine, except for the cough.

I can’t stress this enough, dear reader. Read about your medications before you take them, even if they are over the counter things. Ask questions. Discuss their interactions with your doctor and/or pharmacist. Be an active participant in your health care.

The ugly truth is that I could have killed myself or someone else. That’s such a sobering thought that all the Dextromethorphan in the world can’t wipe it from my mind. That was a bad trip, and as with most bad trips, it could have easily been prevented.

This experience also reinforces my desire not to do drugs. Believe you me, I’ll just be saying no for a long time to come. No, no, a thousand times no.

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And Away We Go

Imagine sitting in the recliner in your living room, only to discover that it has somehow been attached to a bull riding machine straight from the nearest honkey-tonk. Granted, it’s on the lowest setting, the one designed to make you look sexy, not throw you to the ground in a beer-stained heap. But still, you’re not feeling particularly sexy, because this is, after all, your living room, and stuff isn’t supposed to move.

Welcome to my world at the moment. My latest head cold comes with the vertigo accessory, even though I don’t remember ordering it. Can I get a refund? Please?

In theory, I’m watching TV, but everything is gently rocking and slowly spinning, and it’s all I can do to hold on, let alone focus on the show. I’m being taken for a ride. I want to get off.

Even typing this blog is a challenge. I have to remind myself that the keyboard is oriented to me. I don’t have to chase it. I’m actually finding it easier to type with my eyes closed.

Is this what Dorothy felt like when she went to Oz? I never noticed what a funny name Oz was before. Okay, I’m delirious, too. Yippee.

Why do we say a pair of pants? It’s just one. It’s not like you’d ever separate the legs and use them independently. A pair of pants should be two pants. Same with a pair of scissors. Just because scissors have two blades doesn’t make them a pair. Try using one blade without the other sometime and see how far you get. These things seem very important all of a sudden.

My dog is worried about me. He keeps jumping up into my lap. I try to warn him off, because I wouldn’t wish Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride on anyone, but for him, loyalty is everything. I tell you what, though, if the situation were reversed, I wouldn’t be sitting on his lap. No way, no how.

I see my mother’s picture float past. I miss my mother the most when I’m sick. She was really good at holding my hair out of the way when I threw up, and bringing me flat ginger ale and crackers afterwards. That’s a character trait that separates the men from the boys, if you ask me. If your person isn’t willing to hold your hair while you throw up, well, then, it’s a slippery slope, is all I’m sayin’.

And there goes my father’s memorial flag, all folded up in its triangle, some of the 21 gun salute bullet casings inside. I keep it to honor the one good thing he did. As it floats past, it occurs to me that that flag got closer to him than I ever did. How pathetic is that?

Whoa. What? The sun jumped across the sky. Or maybe I fell asleep. Yeah. That’s what happened. I fell asleep. I think I dreamed I was bobbing on the ocean. And what do you know? I still am.

I’m not enjoying myself, here.

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Waging War

Inside my body, an epic battle raged. A bacterial infection had invaded, and for the past three weeks, it had threatened to take over. And it had been a very near thing.

This had been the weirdest cold I’d ever experienced. I had a sore throat for only 20 minutes. I never had a stuffy head or nose. Every time I took my temperature, I never had a fever. The congestion settled into my upper chest for the duration, which caused me to cough, sometimes so hard that it triggered vomiting. When I talked, I sounded like Brenda Vaccaro.

But the absolute worst part was the battle that was waged in my head. Vertigo. The ground was like a storm-tossed sea. When I’d move, everything around me seemed to lag about a second behind. And I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t remember things. I couldn’t concentrate. It exhausted me. It scared me. All I wanted to do was sleep.

I started to worry that I had a brain tumor, but didn’t have the energy to do anything about it. If only I could sleep, I’d throw up a white flag and let the invading hoards take over. Whatever.

In my muzzy-headed dreams, I watched from a distance, looking down over the chaotic battlefield. They had orcs and goblins, and ringwraiths and trolls. My brave little hobbits were hard pressed to keep up. There was much growling, much bloodshed. It seemed that all was lost.

But then, at the eleventh hour, Gandalf appeared, shouting, “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” and cast a z-pack upon the shoulders of the balrog.

The invading hoard screamed in agony. The hobbits cheered. The tide had turned and everyone knew the good guys would win. The music swelled. All hail modern medicine.

It took another long week to clear the battlefield of bodies. Even now, vultures still peck at the scattered remains. But, oh, the sunrise in the distance is a beautiful, beautiful thing to behold.

battle

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Gently Down the Stream

Row, row, Row your boat…

Ugh. I have a cold. And it’s a weird one. No stuffy nose. No fever. A sore throat for about 20 minutes. Then, chest congestion and coughing, coughing, coughing for weeks. And the worst part: vertigo.

The ground seems to be rolling like a storm-tossed sea. And whenever I turn to look at something, the rest of the planet seems to lag about a second and a half behind me. It’s messing with my head. I can’t think straight. I can’t focus. I can’t blog. And I’m tired. I’m so very tired.

And yet, here I am, at work. In a stupor. And my ever-lengthening personal to-do list is a source of anxiety. I feel like I’m not keeping up with my end of the marriage. All I want to do is sleep.

And, is it a full moon? It must be. Because everything is weird. I feel like no one, including my computer, is understanding anything I say. I’m struggling to make myself clear. And people are acting strange. No. It’s not a full moon. In fact, we’re approaching a new moon. Oh, who cares? Nothing seems real.

It’s raining. A jeep stalls on my drawbridge, backing up traffic. I call a tow truck.

Did I call the tow truck? I remember calling someone… I think I called a tow truck. Oh. Here comes the tow truck. Somebody must have called a tow truck. But is it the tow truck I called? Should I call off my tow truck? Screw it. They’ll figure it out.

It’s time to go home. I shouldn’t be driving. But I want to go home. My socks are wet. How did my socks get wet? Now my feet feel all clammy. Cough.

Yay. I made it home. The dogs are happy to see me. I feel like I’m in the eye of a puppy hurricane. I’m not sure, but I think one or two of them even levitated for a minute there. I let them out to do their business. I’m glad someone is taking care of business.

My husband is off finding us a replacement car for the one that got totaled a few weeks ago by an unrepentant idiot. I should be helping. I can’t even seem to help myself.

I let the dogs back in, and I head for bed, peeling my wet socks off my feet along the way. No human being can hug you as good as your mattress can. Finally, I can go to sleep.

Except, no. I can’t. I have to pee. Groan.

I get up. I head for the bathroom. I trip over one of the dogs and land flat on my face in the hallway. It’s the only thing I’ve done all day that doesn’t seem to be in slow motion.

My back. I wrenched my back. God, but it hurts.

Fuck my life.

I get up. Slowly. Carefully.

The dog refuses to apologize.

I go into the bathroom. I pee. I decide to take a leftover pain pill from a previous klutzy escapade as a preemptive strike for the back pain that’s headed my way. It’s hard core. It’s heavy duty. Don’t try this at home.

I crawl back into bed and sleep overtakes me.

Gently down the stream…

My dreams are the stuff of a Dali painting. But I don’t care. I’m asleep.

Until about midnight, when I hear my husband letting the dogs out. I’m sure he’s been home for many hours. I get up.

My back feels okay. My feet are dry. I’m warm. I’m home. I’m not as dizzy as I was. I still have the cough, but hey… progress. I’ll take it.

I putter cautiously into the kitchen, where my husband stands at the door, waiting for the dogs. I snuggle into his arms.

“Is this a dream?” I say, sleepily.

Because everything is so good. I love my life now. I love my husband. I love my dogs. I love my house. I love my job. Everything is just so freaking good.

“No,” he whispers. “You’re awake.”

“Thank you for being real.” I say. And I go back to bed.

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream…

Now, if I could just get past this cold.

row your boat

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Environmental Meddling

Anyone who lives in the Southeastern United States is familiar with kudzu. This amazingly insidious vine was introduced to this country by the Japanese at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, and since then, according to Wikipedia, it’s been spreading at the rate of 150,000 acres annually, which seems really intimidating until you realize that that’s roughly equivalent to the amount of rain forest that’s chopped down every day.

A great deal of time and money is spent attempting to keep the kudzu invasion in check, and nothing seems to work. It has been known to suffocate acres of trees, pull down power lines, and crush abandoned houses under the sheer weight of its proliferation.

Like it or not, we need to accept the fact that kudzu is here to stay. And since that’s the case, we should try to turn this negative into a positive. Most Americans would be surprised to know that kudzu is edible. It’s a great source of starch and is eaten regularly in Vietnam and Japan and other parts of Asia. It also makes great grazing fodder. Goats, in particular, love it. The vines can be used in basket weaving, and its fiber can be made into cloth and paper. Some people use it to treat migraines, tinnitus, vertigo, and hangovers.

In light of this, I say, why not let kudzu run rampant? Help feed and clothe those in need, and reduce the cost of feeding grazing animals. Even better, if we really let it take over, think of the time we’d regain by never having to maintain our lawns again. Each time we fertilize our lawns, more harmful nutrients are entering our water table, causing algae blooms in our rivers and doing untold amounts of damage to the environment. Kudzu is the perfect solution for that. All we’d have to do is cut new holes where our doors and windows should be every few weeks, and voila! No fertilizing, no other yard work.

We wouldn’t ever have to paint our houses, because no one would be able to see them. Also, as our ozone depletes, skin cancer is on the rise. Kudzu would greatly reduce this problem because it’s an excellent source of shade. In fact, if given half the chance, kudzu would ensure that we never see the sun again.

I also have a theory that if we introduced kudzu to the moon and mars, they’d both be lush and green and producing oxygen within a year. All thanks to a pretty little plant that never should have been here in the first place.

We humans are just sooooo good at fiddling with the planet. Why not go for it? What’s the worst that could happen?

kudzu

Yes, that’s a house.

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Kudzu gone wild. Every Southerner in the US has seen this somewhere at least once in their lives.