I’m eight pills old


You can tell the age of a tree by counting the rings on the trunk. You can count horses’ teeth. Scientists can even use carbon-dating to date rock and Uncle Harold. So, here’s my theory: you can tell a person’s age by counting the number of pills bottles in his or her medicine cabinet.

One pill: 1

Between ages one to sixteen, my one pill a day was Flintstone’s chewable vitamins. Actually, I started out on something akin to Lucy’s “Vit-a-Meat-a-Veg-a-Min.” Each morning, my mom would tackle me, pin me to the floor, and force a table spoon of Vit-a-Gag-a-Choke-a-Retch down my throat. Thank goodness for Fred, Wilma, Barney, and Betty! So, one pill bottle: one to sixteen years old.

Two pills: 16

At sixteen, my hormones waged war against my body and suddenly my face erupted into full-scale, thermonuclear acne. Add to the battle-scarred landscape 1970-style braces, and it looked like Paris had been bombed with the Eiffel Tower lying in ruins across the destruction. Fortunately, there were tetracycline pills which brought a bit of peace to my war-ravaged face. So, two pill bottles: 16 to 20 years old.

Three pills: 20

In my 20s, I discovered I had inherited my mother and grandmother’s arthritis in my neck and fingers. My grandmother’s fingers were so twisted she could pull the cork from a wine bottle with her pinkie. So, I added Extra-Strength Tylenol to the medicine cabinet. So, three pill bottles: 20 years old.

Four pills: 30

When I hit thirty, cholesterol was the medical menace du jour, so I had it checked and discovered mine was 307. That’s roughly the number for a three-hundred-pound couch potato whose diet consists solely of pork rinds and deep-fat-fried Twinkies. Since I weighed 150, rode bike, and tried to eat right, I was prescribed Lipitor and my cholesterol promptly dropped to 200. Now, four pill bottles: 30 years old.

Seven pills: 45

At 45 I was taking a multi-vitamin with 3000 percent of the daily adult requirement of the entire alphabet (A-zinc), Vitamin C to keep from catching colds, Ibuprofen for arthritis, glucosamine chondroitin to keep my fingers from turning into cork screws, a low-dose aspirin to prevent heart attacks, Lipitor to keep my cholesterol under the deep-fat-fried Twinkie level, and Zyrtec for living in northern Indiana: the pollen capital of North America. So, seven bottles: 45 years old.

Eight pills: 50

But it’s gotten worse at fifty. I now take Celexa to keep from getting depressed about all the pill bottles in our medicine cabinet. Between my wife and me, we have a pill drawer and, here’s the worst: I bought one of those pill boxes with the days of the week on each compartment! I might as well tattoo GEEZER across my forehead! So, eight different pills a day: 50 years old.

At nearly 80, my mom has more drugs in her kitchen cabinet than a meth dealer! She now buys her over-the-counter meds at Sam’s Club in the economical 55-gallon drum.

And, if you watch the evening news, you know it only gets worse: pills for impotence, incontinence, heart attacks, blood clots, gas, bloating, indigestion, hot flashes, feminine dryness, cramping, the forgetfulness of Alzheimer’s, and, well I can’t remember the rest. And have you noticed all those ads where the super absorbent material always soaks up blue liquid. Blue body fluids?! That can’t be healthy!

So, here’s my theory:

One pill a day, you’re ready for Kindergarten.

Two to three pills a day, high school and college.

Four to fiv pills, it’s time to move out of your parents’ basement.

Six to nine, you’re eligible to join AARP and Medicare.

More than ten pill bottles, you’re old enough for carbon dating.

But I am grateful for my anti-allergy, anti-blood clot, anti-cholesterol, anti-inflammation, and anti-depression drugs. Without them, my arteries would be clogged like a Drano ad and I’d be sitting in the dark writing poetry about pain, death, and post-nasal drip. Worse, someone else’s byline would have been on this column years ago!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, with all the stress of trying to make my deadline with Internet problems, I need my Maalox Plus bottle.

Arrrgh! That’s nine!

Copyright © 2005 James N. Watkins

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