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Still Waters: Drug’s not the worst four-letter word

Posted: Friday, Jan 18th, 2013

“You’re here to renew your medication?” the intern at the clinic asked.

“Yes please.”

Every year for about nine years now I have gone to the clinic to renew the only prescription medication I take regularly. I am grateful I do not have to take a lot of medications yet and I am very grateful for this anti-anxiety pill I take every day. For a long time I took the Lexapro brand and now am able to obtain a generic form of it.

It was a decade ago or so when the symptoms appeared, and for about a year I tried to just deal with it on my own without medication. I can pinpoint exactly when the anxiety began, when I was covering a court trial and during the closing arguments, in close quarters and a packed courtroom, I thought I was going to faint, lose all bodily functions or run screaming from the room.

Ever since then, I have had problems with packed rooms, close quarters and other anxiety-causing situations. I always tried to find the seat on the aisle and know the shortest route to the restroom. Sitting in the middle of a car seat, courtroom or church pew was unthinkable.

The Lexapro, and now its generic form, has taken the edge off the anxiousness. I still try to find the aisle seat if I can, or at least leave room between me and the next person, and there are still places and events that I am glad to leave, but I can get through these experiences now, where I could hardly do it before.

It’s not a euphoric or numbing drug, but Lexapro, for me, helps keep me sane in anxious situations.

Side effects? There are always side effects. Fortunately, I have experienced very few side effects and none I would trade for the problems I had without the medication. I have a bit more nausea but generally don’t notice it until I’m on an amusement park ride, and I experience a bit of fidgeting, for lack of a better term, but nothing major.

The intern asked me a series of questions, probably to determine if the medication was taking away my desires and interests in life.

“What hobbies do you have?”

“I work a lot, so I don’ t have too much time for hobbies. I like to spend time with my dogs and I like to read.”

“Anything else?”

I wanted to say, “Is taking a nap on Saturday afternoon a hobby?” but I didn’t think this young man had that much of a sense of humor.

I’ve never been handy, so knitting, crocheting, sewing, beading, woodworking, painting, needlepoint and watchmaking are out. I don’t have the dexterity for it.

Writing is my gift, and I am grateful for it. Other hobbies? Not so much.

Am I out there running circles around the room because I have so much energy? Not hardly.

I don’t think that’s because of the medication, though.

It might have more to do with being 50-plus years old, working long hours and possessing a NON-Type A personality. Would that be a Type Z personality?

I don’t know if the intern was completely satisfied with my answers, but he finally changed the subject, and I ultimately got my prescription renewed for another year.

The intern then tried to get me to get a flu shot, and I dodged the needle, at least for the time being. He also talked to me about a mammogram, which I am over due for and agree it’s time for the big squeeze again; a colonoscopy, given my family history of colon cancer, which I also agreed would be a good idea, although the prospect of someone scoping out that part of the anatomy doesn’t sound pleasant; and a female exam, which I am also over due for. But the young male intern is NOT going to be performing that procedure. I would sooner have him give me a flu shot.

Like most people, I have strong aversions to needles, medical scoping equipment, any type of probing, intimate examinations and skimpy hospital garments.

Even Lexapro doesn’t make that stuff easier.

I know most people also have an aversion to seeking help for mental-related illnesses and often physical illnesses too. They suffer, when there is something they could do about it. I am proud of folks who get help when they need it, whether it is a medication or a counselor.

I have come to believe if there is a way to alleviate the pain, then why not do it? Why suffer needlessly?

Sometimes, as it was for me, we have to get to a point where we simply can’t stand the misery any longer. We are desperate enough to seek help.

I am grateful there are folks and medications available when we reach that desperate moment. We do not have to continue to suffer, and we do no have to continue to suffer alone.

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