Thursday, September 07, 2006


Part of the Rx from my doctors, after my trip to Cleveland Clinic, involves upping my salt intake as much as possible. The Florinef is going to be increased, and the Florinef is a corticosteroid which means I'm going to be that much hungrier and consquently, rounder. As it is I'm starting to feel like one of those balloons that hover over the floats in the big parades.

I know that's an exaggeration, but still.

What they said to me was, salt pills couldn't hurt, so go ahead and try them. And keep drinking the water, as much as you can, because that will bring your blood volume back up faster than anything. You have to stay hydrated, honey, you and the begonias and Phyllis Diller. You just do.

In fact, they said, go ahead and eat some potato chips. Right now! I know that sounds terrible, they said, laughing a little. But seriously, you need the salt. The salt, and the water.

H20 and NaCl. I feel like I'm back in high school chemistry class. So everything in life at some point does reduce to formula. I always wondered.

I read the report from the Clinic, myself. It reads like a stock market report with all the silly numbers and acronyms. I did read words like "decreased" and "accelerated." These are words that, loosely put, could define a NASCAR race. Only I'm not a car, and if I were, I'd be low on oil with a bad camshaft. Do you follow me?

So I hung up the phone and went to the pharmacy to see if they had sodium supplements. I made the mistake of asking the guy who was filling in at the pharmacy, not my regular pharmacy guy, but a new guy I've never seen before, if they have those on the shelf.

He actually stopped what he was doing and came out of the pharmacy area to stand there in front of the shelves like a security guard, or a policeman. Like if I got testy and wanted to wrestle him for it, he'd throw down on me in a big way.

"What's wrong with you?" he said. He sneered. I swear he sneered.

"Nothing," I said defensively. He still just stood there. So I said, falteringly, "I have low blood pressure."

"Must be low, if you think you can take a salt pill for it. Salt pill's going to raise your blood pressure."

"I think," I said carefully, "that is the general idea."

"That's an old-fashioned remedy anyway," he says to me. "Doctors don't even use it anymore."
"That's funny," I say back. "My doctor just got off the phone with me telling me to use it."
"Your doctor," he says. Like I wasn't clear.
"My doctor."

"It's not like you work in a steel mill, or anything like that," he goes on. "Those are the only kinds of people who ever need it."
I just looked at the floor. I didn't feel like helping him out on this.

" you faint? Is that what you do?"
Give me a break, would you? "Yes."

The guy crossed his arms. He crossed his arms! And he wouldn't budge from his position in front of the vitamin supplements, like I was a crook and might try to steal something.

Then he said, not very nicely!: "If you need salt so bad, why don't you just eat it?"

I'm so tired right now. I don't know how to communicate this. I'm tired. I've had an awful lot of testing and jumping through hoops and giving blood and losing blood and getting IV's and radioactive injections and lying still under collimators and enduring the half life of adenosine. I know more about cardiac indexes and hypovolemia and hyperkinetic circulation and pulmonary transit times than any human being without a medical degree should know.

So all I want --right now -- is to be able to walk into a pharmacy and pick up what the doctor prescribed for me without having to fight someone for it, or launch into a long-winded explanation of how I need it and why, or even have any kind of conversation about the whole damn thing at all. Just smile and give it to me and tell me to have a nice day like you do everyone else. I'm not a freak, I'm not in a side show, I'm not a junkie trying to crash a government-funded methadone clinic for just one more hit.

I nearly cried, but I didn't cry. I just turned around and walked toward the door. It was another employee who overheard the conversation and ran to catch up with me before my hand touched the doorknob, letting me know -- breathlessly -- she'd put in an order for me, it'll be here tomorrow, no worries, okay?

Thank you, I said, and I meant it, my relief was palpable. I still wanted to cry, though, regardless of the fact that I finally got what I wanted. Not everything should have to be so hard all the time. Really, honest to God. It shouldn't.