A cast of characters, minus one

I’ve had this snazzy little grouping of prescription drugs on my kitchen counter for months now. Yes, the lids are pink, because my Walgreens had them for the pinkwashing that comes every October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Cute, huh?

These are the drugs I take every day, like a little old lady. My old standbys. The usual cast of characters.

There are the two big stars sharing top billing, Bactrim and Minocycline. My darling antibiotics that course throughout my body twice a day, every day to kick some mycobacterium butt. I would be lost without them. Or perhaps I would lose the all-day morning sickness feeling without them, but that’s just wishful thinking. Maybe I’d be dead without them, who knows? There was a time when I was almost sure I was dying from them, but I got over that.

Next we have the Florastor, the one thing that besides coffee that keeps me upright every day. I’m forever indebted to Susan Christopherson for turning me onto this probiotic that helps restore peace and order in one’s digestive system after said system has been under attack by the slash & burn tactics of an antibiotic regime. There have been a few times over the last 6 months of living under this regime in which I’ve either forgotten or willingly neglected the Florastor, and I paid dearly for that mistake. It’s not a prescription, but is kept behind the pharmacy counter for some reason. I don’t have to show my driver’s license to buy it, though, so I guess you can’t make meth out of it.

There’s the Ferrex iron supplement, since I’m a bit anemic and because I need uber-healthy blood vessels to harvest during reconstruction. Because I don’t eat any meat, I need a little help getting my iron; I get some from all the dark, leafy greens I eat, but not as much as my carnivorous friends ingest. My sweet, Peruvian oncologist can’t for the life of himself understand why someone would willingly forego meat. He shakes his head and looks at me a little funny every time it comes up, and he tends to bring it up every time he sees me. I’m done expecting him to compliment me on my plant-based, cancer-fighting diet. It didn’t help much, anyway, so I guess everyone is free to go on ahead and eat a big-ass, nasty, extra-rare steak. Might as well add some fries, or a loaded baked potato. You can see how far the healthy eating thing got me. Harumph.

Then there’s Tamoxifen, my daily cancer-battling bad-ass. It makes sure that there’s no estrogen flowing to feed any remaining cancer cells. While the side effects are troublesome (early menopause, hot flashes, leg cramps, decreased fluid in the joints, to name a few), I like the idea of starving those bastards. Tamoxifen is my first line of defense against recurrence. It makes me feel like I’m doing something every day to keep this beast from re-entering my life. It’s a daily pill that I’ll take for 5 years, then reassess to determine if I should stay on it or switch to another, similar drug.

And today I stopped taking it.

Yikes.

That scares me. More than a little bit. But since Tamoxifen can promote blood clots, it’s counterindicated with surgery. So I stop taking it for 3 weeks and hope that nothing goes haywire with my bloodflow. No clots, no bloodletting, no drama. That sure would be nice for a change.

Although I’m subtracting one prescription from my snazzy little grouping, I still feel like a little old lady whose life revolves around her meds. Ya know the old wisecrack issued when someone asks what time it is, and someone else smarts off, “Why? Ya gotta take a pill?” In my case, the answer is yes, smart ass, more than one pill. So zip it and get me a big glass of water so I can choke these guys down. While my life may seem to revolve around my meds, I refuse–I mean, dig in my heels and refuse–to get a plastic pill organizer. I’m all about accessories, but not that. 


7 Comments on “A cast of characters, minus one”

  1. Ed says:

    That was always my dad’s line when someone asked the time. I guess me being a smart ass is genetic. I wish you were done with one of your pills for good, but at least getting closer to surgery means getting close to recovery. Damn that’s lame. I wish I had better.

  2. A few years back my Mom bought me a croc-embossed case for my pills. It’s still the same ugly plastic thing inside, but it’s at least pleasant to look at. Something like this,
    http://www.goldviolin.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=91058FL&Click=70922

    I am on Femara (post-menopausal Tamoxifen since I had to have a hysterectomy last year). I feel the same way…it’s my daily reminder that I am bigger, stronger and smarter than my cancer. And it makes me feel like I’m in control of keeping the beast away.

    Had no idea that you were a vegetarian too. See, I do need to go back and read more. Are you vegan or do you do dairy and/or egg? I’ve been a veg*n since I was 15…so much for a healthy, plant-based diet. My Chinese Medicine doctor told me to cut waaaay back on the dairy. Hurump. I miss my cheese.

    Anyway, keep posting. It is a delight to read.

    • I’m not vegan but mainly bc I’m not willing to work that hard! I could be if not for the cheese. I too have been advised to eschew dairy, and I have cut out most everything, but every once in a while I really need a grilled cheese sandwich! I use almond milk in my oatmeal, but can’t put it in my coffee so I still use a splash of organic fat-free milk.

      • Keith says:

        I know aged cheeses are significantly different than fresh dairy. I don’t know the reason they are recommended a cut back, but I wonder if aged cheeses would still be ok (still, no feta for the Greek girl).

  3. Yes – please do keep on posting. Love the no nonsense approach. I’ll keep you posted on where we are in this whole ordeal – you know where to find me.

  4. Fantastic Article, You are a really great writer , thanks for sharing.
    Bye Christiana

  5. […] that’s right: I used the “A” word. Antibiotics. […]


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