Saturday, November 7, 2009

as if being sick wasn't bad enough!

so today . . . i am trying to take a new medication for my cough--but it isn't easy . . .

i have issues with swallowing pills. when i was younger and had to take a pill, it was quite an ordeal. it took two teaspoons, the medication, water, and sugar. for some reason i just could not swallow a pill. so i had to crush each tablet in a teaspoon, then add sugar (to disguise the taste) and water (so it would flow down my throat) and it was still a problem. and no matter how much sugar i added, i could taste the bitterness of the pill. it was disgusting.

i couldn't figure out why pills would not go down my throat. my younger brother could swallow multiple pills at once. when i was a teenager, i decided that this was unacceptable. so i found the tiniest pill i could find--it was a decongestant and was a tablet about a quarter inch in diameter. i practiced until i could swallow those things. i would put the tiny pill in my mouth, fill my mouth with water, tilt my head back and shake it from side to side (which i apparently thought would move the pill to the back of my mouth,) and then swallow it all in one big gulp. nine times out of ten, after all that, the pill would still be in my mouth. dissolving. so i would spit it out and try again. (see, you were worried about all those pills i was swallowing, weren't you. the truth is, i wasn't actually swallowing very many . . . )

when i was in my early thirties, i discovered why this was such a difficult task for me. i was at the dentist one day and they were taking xrays and i was complaining about the pain. they shove those little cardboard squares into a person's mouth, and then say, "now bite down and don't move!" this always caused major discomfort in the roof of my mouth as the corner would press in. i would do my very best to "bite down," but it was nearly impossible because of the pain. then one day, my dentist heard me. he came in and said, "it shouldn't hurt to have xrays," and looked in my mouth. "oh," he said. "that explains it."

it seems that i have some sort of cartilage growth near the back of my throat. i knew it was there--i just didn't know it was unusual. but the dentist said that only a small percentage of the population has this big bump on the roof of their mouth. so i started looking in people's mouths whenever i got the chance. and it was true! i have only seen one other person who has this unusual condition! maybe i am just not looking in the right mouths, but clearly i am special.

i think this is why i have such a hard time swallowing pills. instead of the pill sliding along the roof of my mouth and down my throat, it slides along until it hits the bump, and then it falls onto my tongue which then presses up against the roof of my mouth when i swallow, trapping the pill. that explains how i can swallow all the water, but leave the pill in my mouth.

while it is comforting to know that there is a reason for my handicap, it doesn't help me when i have medication to take. i have developed a technique that works about 80% of the time, if the pill isn't too large. the trick is to get it to slide along just above my tongue and down my throat. but if it is too big and heavy, it won't get off my tongue, and i inadvertently trap it against the roof of my mouth when i swallow. yes, it is a curse.

so yesterday, there i was at target, looking for mucinex (which sounds so disgusting!! you would think they could have come up with a more appealing name . . . ) the doctor seems to think it will help my cough. but there were about twenty different formulations--expectorant with cough suppressant and nasal decongestant, expectorant with cough suppressant alone, or just expectorant. extra strength and regular strength (seriously?!?!? are you really going to choose regular strength when there is an extra strength available????) store brand and name brand. four hour or twelve hour (again, who is going to take a pill six times a day when they could take one only twice?!?) after perusing all the choices, i decided on expectorant with cough suppressant in the twelve hour formula--less pills to swallow. i paid and left the store.

when i got home and opened the package, there were 14 of the biggest pills i have ever seen. ever. and i have taken a lot of pills since i learned to swallow them. i just stared at those pills and thought, "there is no way those will go down my throat. i'm just going to die with this cough." and i popped two more delicious cough drops into my mouth.

i have been popping cough drops a couple of times a day for the last several weeks. they help temporarily, but nothing is curing whatever is causing my cough. i didn't see that i had a lot of options though, so i had another cough drop.

by 8:00 last night, i decided i needed to at least try to get one of the gigantic mucinex pills down. i wrestled one out of the security packaging (which is something a sick person should not have to do!) and got some water. i looked at the enormous thing and tried to psych myself up to swallow it. "come on," i said to myself, "you can do this! you have given birth--28 hours of labor--you can do anything!!!" i mentally went through the procedure, envisioning a successful ending. and rainbows and unicorns . . .

and then it was time--i couldn't put it off any longer. i popped that pill into my mouth, took a medium sized swig of water, relaxed my tongue and tipped my head back just a bit--and it went down! ha! i thought--those icky mucous monsters were about to be evicted from the comfortable home they had made in my lungs. i did it!

of course, it wasn't over. i have to get one down every 12 hours until . . . well, i'm not sure exactly how long i am supposed to take them. i just hope they work . . .

. . . because i am pretty sure if i have to swallow anything bigger, i will probably die.

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