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.


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. 

Crazy lady on aisle 3

I went into Randalls yesterday, a grocery store at which I rarely shop, and came across the strangest, angriest, kookiest lady I’ve ever seen.  I’m still wondering if this really happened, or was a crazy-train dream.

Here’s how it went down: I was behind Ms. Crazy in the checkout line. Her roast or whatever cut of red meat had dripped bloody juice all over the floor where I needed to walk, and was also all over the conveyer belt of the checkout area. I didn’t say anything even though, as a non-meat-eater I was sicked out big time.

Ms. Crazy noticed it on the conveyer belt and griped at the sweet elderly cashier to clean it up. Hearing how she talked to this service provider was the first clue that Ms. Crazy is, well, crazy.

When Pat the sweet elderly cashier rang up Ms. Crazy’s assorted box of individually wrapped cookies, Ms. Crazy complained in a loud & ugly way that the store flyer advertises that product for $2.99 but it rang up for $3.99. Ok, mistakes happen, and I’m pretty sure sweet Pat isn’t the one responsible for programming the sale prices into the cash register, so back off Crazy Lady.

Pat consulted the flyer and found that yes, that product is on sale but Ms. Crazy got the wrong variety or wrong size or something. Ms. Crazy’s response was to bark at Thomas, the bag boy, to go get her the right kind of cookies.

Yes, ma’am.

He came back with what he thought was the right variety, but it wasn’t the assorted box, it was all Chips Ahoy, and Ms. Crazy and her family need the variety and excitement that only Chips Ahoy, Nutter Butter, AND Mini Oreos can bring. Did I say they need the variety? Pardon me, they deserve it. She didn’t say that, but I could totally tell that’s the kind of person she is.

So Ms. Crazy sent poor Thomas back to the cookie aisle to do her bidding. While he was gone, she looked at me, waiting ever so patiently behind her hot mess self. I was making an effort to be patient, for once, and didn’t huff or look at my watch or otherwise complain. But when Ms. Crazy rolled her eyes at me, as if to suggest the Randalls employees were disappointing her high expectation of — and God-given right to — exemplary service, my patience quickly evaporated.

That was when Ms. Crazy noticed the bloody juice all over the floor. She asked me, Is that blood? I said, I don’t think it’s blood but juice from the meat you’re buying. Again, I didn’t say one word about how disgusting that is, or what a potential health hazard it is, or inquire about her feelings toward the innocent cow that gave its life to appear in her shopping cart or lecture her in any way about all manner of evil represented by that styrofoam tray full of flesh & muscle.

Not one word.

Fat lot of good all my restraint did me.

When Thomas had yet to appear with the holy grail of cookies, I jokingly told Ms. Crazy that I would give her a dollar if it would help speed up her checkout. She didn’t think I was one bit funny, and told me to, and I quote, “Shut the F*%# up.”

Yes, you read that right. She told me to shut up AND used the F word. In the grocery store.


That is some serious insanity.

I was stunned, for sure. I kept my cool and told her that she had no right to speak to me, or anyone else, like that. She replied in a nasty sneering way, “Oh  no! Did I offend you? I doubt it.”

Ok. Right. I’m not even sure how to respond to that, so I took a step back and said, ok, back off, I was just joking anyway. She yelled something about how Randalls needs to fix the computer and correct the price right because what’s going to happen when the next person comes along and has the same problem? I told her I’m not real concerned about the next person, because hopefully by then I’ll be home and have my groceries unloaded and be on to the next task.

Well, Ms. Crazy didn’t like my answer one bit. Not one bit. She screeched at me (yes, she really screeched), “You’re in your Sugar Land bubble and just want everyone to hurry up, get out of your way because you’re next.”

I’ve often joked about the Sugar Land bubble, where all the kids are above-average thinkers, the moms all have perfect figures and keep a perfect house, the dads all have high-paying jobs and coach Little League and everyone drives a gas-guzzling SUV. God Bless Sugar Land.

But I’ve never suggested that the “Sugar Land bubble” entitles me to preferential treatment.  So there, Crazy Lady.

After she screeched at me, I held up my hands as if to say, Ok, whatever, and to signal my official disengagement. Thomas had returned with the offending cookies by this time, and it was time for Ms. Crazy to pay for her cartload of processed, trans-fat-laden crap. And she didn’t even have her credit card out, ready to swipe.

I swear, some people. Sure lady, hold up the entire line so you can get your cookies and be unprepared to transact business. Egads.

But that’s not all — when Ms. Crazy finally got around to digging her credit card out of her wallet, she suggested my shopping cart was in her way. And she said, “Move your cart or I will move it for you.” Wow, again. I asked her if she was threatening me, and she said it sure sounded like it. So I decided to treat her like the child whose behavior she was modeling and said, “As soon as you ask nicely, I will happily move my cart.”

Ms. Crazy clearly doesn’t like people who establish boundaries. She told me to move my f-ing cart and then she shoved the cart a little bit. Pathetic.

I really wondered about the right parting shot. I chose to let it lie and didn’t say anything, but I kinda wish I would have told her how sad it must be to be her. Or that it’s not nice to talk to people that way. Or that there’s lots of good mental help available, even without comprehensive insurance.

After she left, Pat the cashier apologized to me, and Thomas said the Ms. Crazy comes in there all the time and is always like that. I joked to them both that if she was waiting for me in the parking lot, I was going to call the police. They took me seriously, though, and Pat made sure I had my cell phone and asked Thomas to walk me to my car!

And people say nothing exciting ever happens in the suburbs.