I’m sickly now. I wasn’t always. It’s a cross I now have to bear. We all have one. I have to take a lot a pills, like a grandma. When I was without health insurance for two months, I signed up for a prescription plan with a drug store like the old people do. I saved six hundred dollars each month by selling my demographic information to them in exchange for my goddamned medicine. That’s how much medicine I take. Five kinds every day, plus two others occasionally (I took them all today!).
Side effects have included and do continue to include:
Weight gain. Sixty pounds in two months. That sucked. The stretch marks aren’t an angry red anymore, but they’re still there for anyone who doesn’t believe I was over two hundred pounds to see, on my hipbones, and my inner and outer thighs. They’re shiny now. Like the veins in marble, or granite. I kept it on for about two years.
Weight loss. Seventy pounds in four months. Want everyone in your life, no matter to what tangential degree, suddenly up in your business? Start losing weight. Lots of it. Quickly. Acquaintances, friends, people’s parents, your mother’s gardener, everyone will want–nay, demand to know what is happening to your body. Are you okay? Are you sick? Are you dying? Do you have an eating disorder? Do you have The Virus? Are you based out? Let’s talk about it! Let’s talk about your rapid weight loss. I have told the more intrusive people I’m on chemotherapy. It’s technically true, and it shames them. It makes them realize how far up in my personal life they really are, and how inappropriate and intrusive it is. I mean, what if I’d been pregnant, and had a miscarriage? Not cool. Mind your own.
Lowered white blood cell count. It took me about eleven years to know this happened to me. I just thought I’d become sickly over the years. No, I have a lowered immunity now due to the drugs I’m on. So I have minor colds a lot. I’m sick usually one week a month. I’m a little sick right now, with a head cold. It’s just snot up in the pipes of my head. Gross, and irritating, but no biggie.
Lowered creativity. It’s like thinking through a block of styrofoam. Everything is muffled a little bit. It’s slow in my head. I can’t make connections like I used to. The thoughts don’t have the same pitch when hit with a tuning fork. They feel cheaper. Cafeteria made. Look at me, mixing metaphors. And I’ll do it again, you just wait.
Sleep disturbance. I sleep 10-12 hours a night now. I can’t help it. When I fall asleep, too, I’m told I don’t move all night long. Just lie there like I’m dead. I don’t wake up well, either. It takes me about an hour to get up. I don’t remember conversations I’ve had in that first hour or things I’ve done.
Appetite disturbance. This is why I’ve lost weight. I can’t eat that much. I know, poor baby. But it fucks with my lifestyle. I’ve gone down four sizes. I eat two meals a day. Food rots in my house. What’s more, people get into my business, which is upsetting. They really don’t leave me alone. They don’t like me to talk about it. They just want me to eat. Mind you, I’m not at an unhealthy weight. I’m 5’6-1/2″, and I weigh about a buck thirty. This is plenty. But my eating habits are one reason someone close to me cut me off recently. Person didn’t think I ate enough. It was part of the control issues we had with my life.
Food blacklist. And I can’t fucking eat grapefruit. I can’t ever eat it again. It speeds the metabolism of several of my medicines. I love grapefruit! I used to eat them instead of oranges. Fucking meds.
Cognitive disturbance. I can’t spell anymore. It’s very strange. I use groups of letters that are homophones. For example, I often type “ee” for “ea” and vice versa, and switch the letters “c” and “s,” so I’ll type “cee” for “sea” and then see the mistake. I’ll catch it before I’m a word in, but I do it far more than I used to. This is because of the Acnefy. I also switch letters that look alike (bs, ds, and ks are common), and generally switch the letters around in words. I am closely related to a severe dyslexic, but the only learning disability I’ve ever displayed is aural. (I can’t understand people very well when I first speak with them. It’s kind of like everyone I meet has an accent, and I have to get used to their speech patterns. Talking to people on the phone for the first time can be nightmarish. I only found out this is a legitimate learning disability a few years ago.) I swear this is new, and I developed it after I started a new drug.
I’m also a little bit stupid now. I’m just not as smart as I used to be. I make stupid mistakes, and can’t see obvious patterns and connections. I have to add and re-add numbers many times. I can’t multiply or figure the check for a group of three without a calculator.
I also notice in my writing that English doesn’t always seem to be my first language. I use strange word order that is perfectly grammatically correct, it is just a construction no normal native speaker would ever use. No one would ever say, “The red, big balloon.” You’d always say, “The big, red balloon.” It just makes sense that way. I find after I write my sentences that I’ve constructed them…oddly. Red, big balloonish.
Acne. I know I’ve complained here about this before, but it’s really disgusting. On my face, chest, back, scalp, in my ears and behind them. It’s everywhere. The dermatologists at my HMO tell me to just go off the medication. Thanks for your help. I love doctors. So I’m trying some other shit with mixed results. It hurts my self-esteem, and tells me how vain I really am. At least I look a little younger.
Tremor. I have a tremor, not as bad as it used to be. My feet have a slight spasm now, which makes it very difficult to get a good pedicure.
Dry mouth. I have to use special toothpaste and mouthwash. Otherwise–you know the white stuff you sometimes get in the corners of your mouth? I get a layer of it inside of the entirety of my mouth. And it grows back after I spit it out.
Dry eyes. My eyes are just parched now. I need to use eye drops.
So yeah, I’m a fragile old lady with the complexion of a fourteen-year-old.
Still all this shit is better than being fully symptomatic. I’m pulled ten feet back from the cliff. That’s ten feet I desperately need and will take.