Friday, December 5, 2014

Bitter Powders

If you saw a similar display of my counter there would be mostly tablets.

Bitter Powders

Recently I lose
myself in the dozing mists
brought on by the pills
they make me take to
thin my coagulations.
I have too many
thicknesses, they say.
Sometimes I fight hard staying
awake at the edge
of my thickened life,
buried in bitter powders,
swimming in their grit.

October 20, 2010 1:10 PM

This poem comes from my real life. I take ten different drugs daily. I had a blocked artery that feeds my heart muscle. While it was not so blocked as to seriously damage my heart I did receive the angioplasty to clear the blockage and the stent to keep it clear. Ever since then, I have taken first three and now two blood pressure pills to keep my blood from clotting. I also take a dangerous anti-coagulant. Even though my cholesterol was always in the safe range, still I've been directed to take an anti-cholesterol pill, one of the dreaded statins. Because I have diabetes at a low level, I take metformin. And I suffer from BPH which gives me two more daily pills to help my plumbing out. I am grateful that pharmacy is there. I have no doubt the pills do the necessary things for me. I am not one who thinks I am over medicated. However, there are consequences. A certain amount of my energy has been lost to accomodating the foreign chemistry in my body.

You see, I had a different kind of heart event too, and now I live with irregular heart beats as well as veins which want to clog up even when my cholesterol is low. Both of these problems are sources of stroke.

I can't imagine risking the removal of the cholesterol pill because there is at least one site in my body that wants to build cholesterol clogs. The same with the anticoagulant which is by far the worst pill I take for side effects. I have turbulent blood flow that stagnates too because the atrial fibrillation does exactly that. I have had a bed side effect, losing sight in my left eye to a subretinal hemmhorage. But if I stop the anticoagulant I risk stroke which I am probably going to die of anyway but later rather than sooner if I take the anti-coagulant. Hobson's choice. One kind of stroke comes from blockage. Another kind from bleed.

My mother died of a massive bleed after a major blockage in her brain blood supply. I figure I am most likely to have that happen since I have followed my mother in so many ways.

The two prostate meds are absolutes in my life. If you have suffered blocked bladders as I have a few times you too will do most anything to avoid that issue. I have never had a urinary catheter I haven't hated after the first few moments, never had one that even worked that well.

The drs so far have made the heart meds essential because they know what happens without them. When they were driving my blood pressure down to its amazingly low present level which they think is fine it took three different types to do that. After a couple years I asked if I needed all three and they took one away. That worked but it obviously took all three to get it down.

Oh yes. I am forgetting the worst ones. The diuretics. Because my heart doesn't pump that well I get fluid backup in various locations. My lower legs and feet are the most noticeable and are uncomfortable but the worst is in the lung tissue and around the heart. I say the legs aren't so bad, but that is only if I don't get a wound. Any wound heals very slowly and may require hospitalization for infection. So daily I need to drain myself, forcing fluid out of me. This means organizing my life around bathrooms and cleanliness beyond anything I remember in my childhood and adult life.

Believe me, this is minor compared to the other ways elder life plays out for other people. I am rarely in severe pain and while no longer agile, I can still think and be creative. Best of all my fingers and hands still work fine. I get to keep my music and my poetry. So what if nighttime sleep is only a few hours and I depend on my daily naps. So what if I don't have much money. I don't need that much and the remaining stash is mainly for paying insurance and covering other catastrophic medical bills that may occur. I have animals in my life to fill out my emotional life and there are people in this house who matter to me and care about me.

I recommend getting at least a dozen years of living expenses for end of life. These days with extended life paths, more is better. If your life includes travel and stuff like that, even more than more is much better. Running out of money is not fun.


  1. Oh dear.... i could say all sorts of things. What i will say is that you mean a lot to me. And as you say wasn't it for the pills, i am then also very glad for them.

    1. I would let the pills go if I were recovering from my medical problems but they only slowly get worse, never better.

    2. And this was going on for a year when I wrote the poem since my heart trouble started in 2009. In 2011 I had another problem arise and that added a couple pills.

  2. Oh, Christopher!! I am glad you are able to write and think and reflect and be with us, and your poem and commentary touched my heart. I am in the after effects of chemotherapy and am learning how to live with neuropathy and GI distress (my new normal) as well as recent developments in loss of procedural memory. My drugs have lessened.... whew. I am also grateful to be here and in my life and expressing my self in the world of words. You are brave and noble. I want you to be around for many many years.

    1. Harlequin, I am sad to hear of your challenges. My neuropathy is there but minor enough to overlook as a complaint. I guess I have 50% of the feeling in my feet but nothing hurts or is even totally numb. Every once in a while I have stabbing stinging pain in one or another foot but this is by no means the norm. Thank you God. And that other thing you mention is in me a quiet and functional zone. Also thank you God. And my breathing is good enough too though I rely on a CPAP machine enthusiastically. The bad news I need one. The good news I have one and it doesn't disrupt my sleep as it does so many.

  3. Thus do we write out of the bodies that we live... I am grateful that your writing is in the world. I love reading. I am also glad that you are managing the many challenges of your complex body. Your attitude is great!!


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