Now that the weather is turning cold, arctic cold, as it started to this past weekend, and it appears as if it will edge into next week with no real end in sight…

By Christopher Green

I Have become what is essentially a prisoner in my own home.

Granted, a 42” flat screen TV hooked up to the AT&T Uverse with its hundreds of channels of diversion just a click away makes it a little easier to deal with as does the lightning fast internet access that comes with it, but still, at the end of the day, I can’t really go out in this kind of brutal, winter weather, north coast style; I can’t go out and mingle with humanity.

Looking at the long-term predictions, I see temperatures only reaching toward the mid twenties with a 30 lurking at the far end of the ten-day projections to give us any hope at all.

So, it looks like I will be a shut in for the better part of the month of January. 

An aside. I was raised Catholic and they use to broadcast the Sunday morning mass. Called it “The Mass for shut-ins”. I use to kid my dad by asking him if the people watching turn off the show after communion like you leave by joining the mass movement of people up and down the aisle going to or coming from getting the gift of Jesus whether you carry the host or only look as you do.

If you are not a Catholic, you probably will not get that last paragraph.

The reason it is difficult for me to get out in this kind of weather is that the cold wrecks havoc on the mucus that collects in my lungs every day. It actually gets thicker and so harder to get out via coughing. If it is not getting out of my lungs, it stays there, festering (love that word) and thus acting like a communal hippie pad for all the way. Ward bugs migrating from person to person. It is also the changing temperatures all day long, going out, coming in that really gets the mucus flowing.

That is not what I need.

Even though my most epic illness occurred in the summer months, the bulk of my hospital stays have been during the months between October and February. This is not good since I am an accountant and that is when all the business takes place. I have to stay as healthy as I can. I owe that to the clients who have remained loyal over the decades.

To combat the boredom that is there until February starts and the tax returns begin arriving, I write and also get down to the business of exercising. Right now, I am in my third week of lifting weights again and can now snap off three sets of different sit-ups that come out at around 475 all together. Not bad for a 53 year old guy with the lung capacity of a healthy hamster.

It also gets me to cleaning and organizing. I attacked the storage conglomeration that was centered in one cabinet, but threatening to mount an assault on the adjacent cabinets.

Last week, when it was nice out, I thought ahead while at Costco and purchased a 28 pc set of Tupperware. For twenty-five bucks, I bought a case of resolve that was going to make our storage for food a work of art.

Got on that task and I am proud to say we have completely streamlined the storage process by getting rid of lids with no matching container, containers with no matching lids and a whole lot of stuff that came into our lives from God knows where.

We sorted out everything: what was recyclable and what was trash stuff and, after a long discussion about our carbon footprint, I convinced Laurie that we had to dispose of all this excess clutter, the closet of Fibbermagee and Molly came to mind, and I did mention, in a rather cavalier way, that all this stuff would kill me.

I do not think she believed me, but she was in a placating mood so three cabinets, which were the repository of things seldom, if ever, used or perhaps once since we moved in back in 1992, are now clean and organized with useful methods of storing leftovers. We even vowed, again, to take our own containers when going out to eat, so that we would not bring anything else into our house that may or may not be recyclable.

The Greens are Green, if nothing else.

This is also the earliest in at least ten years that I have been able to get my tax program up and running.  I have to run through some of the catch up stuff in order to be sure I am aware of all the new provisions that are kicking in this year, but I feel confident that I will succeed. I also ordered an extra print cartridge, a case of paper and enough folders, envelopes and mailing packets to make sure I can handle the February Rush.

The good news is that our handy man extraordinaire, Tobi, is finishing up and almost completes makeover of our home. This guy does great work for very competitive rates. For anyone in the Cleveland area just needing some handy guy stuff or even a guy who can do the actual building, contact me via the blog. When he is done, I will put up before and after pictures, so you can see the transformation. Just send me a message and I will put him in contact with you.

So now I am in that time of year, the dead of winter, I suppose, waiting for the customers to call and feeling rather trapped inside my own home.

Therefore, while whiling away the hours until the taxman cometh, I started to take note of the extraordinary amount of medicines I have ingested over the years. For instance, I have been taking this drug Theophylline now since I was diagnosed asthmatic back in 1988. So three doses per day, 365 days a year and 22 years between then and now, I have ingested something close to 30,000 doses of this particular medicine.

Theophylline is used to prevent and treat wheezing by relaxing and opening air passages in the lungs, making it easier to breathe.             

                http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000522

The side effects, which can also be found at the above link, but are basically covered by this collection of maladies and discomforts; upset stomach, stomach pain, diarrhea, headache, restlessness, insomnia and irritability.

Then there are the little vials of Alburterol that I inhale at least 2 times a day and many times, up to 4 times a day. I have been doing these treatments since 1992. It also comes in a hand held inhaler device that is the inhalers you probably see people sucking on when they are having an asthma attack. Alburterol opens up the airways on contact so I can catch my breath.

Going in with the fact that I often take two treatments per day (this does not included the rescue doses), I have taken somewhere in the ballpark of 13,870 doses of Alburterol.

                http://www.drugs.com/sfx/albuterol-side-effects.html

Dizziness; headache; nausea; nervousness; sinus inflammation; sore or dry throat; tremor; trouble sleeping; vomiting.

More information at the above Web Site. This is great because how can they expect people to read information that comes with the drug. They print them on such tiny tiny font size that it is almost impossible to read them.

Next up, Cyclobenzaphine, which is a mild muscle relaxer. This one stems from the busted up hip I have as the result of a bad car accident out in the wilds of northwestern Ohio. The best thing that happened because of that accident is I got a chance to ride in one of the medivac helicopters.  It cost $ 3,000 bucks, but since I was not under sedation, it was cool. They had to cut deep to repair my hip and so the muscles are damaged which cause me a deep aching that never quite goes away.

I have supposedly been taking Cyclobezaphine three times a day for about 12 years now. Actually, I take about 12 doses a week because they make me far too drowsy to take every day. I simply could not be able to function on a full dosage.

Some of the side effects are diarrhea; dizziness; drowsiness; dry mouth; fatigue; nausea; nervousness; stomach pain or upset.

I can attest to the dry mouth stuff and the drowsiness.

Since 1998 when I was first prescribed Cyclobenzaphine, I have taken about 8,100 of these little pills.

Next up are the drugs that I once bought through the pharmacy and now buy over the counter in Bulk. Guaifenesi, or in its best known form, Musinex, is basically taken to help break up the mucus that gets trapped in the lungs and thus creates a breeding ground for inhaled bugs such as pneumonia.

I have been taking this drug since the mid 90’s.  The main side effects are headache, nausea and vomiting.

You can learn more about Mucinex here:

                 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000696

I calculate that I have taken over 10,000 doses over the years.

There have been all sorts of other drugs that I was prescribed over the years that I remember taking but the names are lost to me. After my hip was shattered, they gave me some codeine, which did the trick, but after about six months, they stopped, leaving me in deep pain with nothing of any strength to take the pain away.

For a while, there I was on the Celebrex, the notorious arthritic drug, but it gave me tightness in my chest, so I guess I took less than 250 pills before I jettisoned that one.

I went out and found another doctor and he told me the pain was caused by my one leg, the one they operated on, being a half-inch shorter than the other one. He gave me a three-dollar lift for my shoe and within two months, the pain was all but gone and could be managed with aspirin or Tylenol.

Of course, every time I was hospitalized for pneumonia, five times from 1993 to 2001, I was given all sorts of drugs, mostly anti-biotic. It was not until the big one hit in May of 2004, the one where I spent 33 days in the hospital, that I ramped up the amount of drugs I was taking.

Coming out of that ordeal, I was put on several inhaled medicines and one more pill.

First the pill. Azithromycin, or as the kids call it, ZPac, is a prophylactic antibiotic. The drug is designed to treat a number of bacterial threats ranging from my lung problems to sexually transmitted disease and even to treat acne. (I wondered why my skin has been finally clearing up.)

This information about the side effects is spelled out on this web site:

 http://bacteria.emedtv.com/azithromycin/azithromycin-side-effects.html

I just want to mention that this drug can cause constipation and diarrhea. How is that possible? Anyway, I take Azithromycin every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I calculate that I have taken about 975 pills.

Now for all the inhaled drugs.

First up, Tobramycin (tobi) which is an inhaled antibiotic. The drug was developed to treat lung infections in patients with cystic fibrosis. There are several side effects from the drug ranging from ringing in the ear to tightness in the chest. These side effects are tame when compared to some of the other drugs I take. You can check out more about this drug at the following web site.

http://www.drugs.com/mtm/tobramycin-inhalation.html

From my experience, I  have only had a little dryness in my mouth. well, and then there is having to deal with the boredom from having to sit sucking on a nebulizer for 35-40 minutes twice a day. But, there is a a good side effect. I have been able to spend a lot of time playingmy guitar and have become pretty good, thank you very much. You can check out some videos over at YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/WCGreen?feature=mhum

Next up, Spiriva. This inhaled drug comes in a capsule that is pricked by a handheld device that lets the patient easily inhale the powdered drug.

Spiriva is an Anti cholinergic agent. It works by enlarging the airwaysto allow easier breathing. It comes as a capsule containing dry powder, which is inhaled through the mouth using the disposable  Handy Dandy Hand Held Device.

Spiriva is used to prevent bronchospasm (narrowing of the airways in the lungs) in people with bronchitis, emphysema, or COPD.

http://www.drugs.com/spiriva.html

Side effects are mild compared with some of the other drugs I take, the worst being tongue swelling, sores or white patches in the mouth.

One dose per day since July of 2004, I have inhaled about 2,500 doses or about the same amount of powder that Tony Montana inhaled in the movie Scarface.

Then there is Adviar. The purple disc that we see and hear about every day on TV and Radio. It has become the drug of choice for most doctors’ turn to in order to treat pulmonary disease.

Advair contains fluticasone and salmeterol. Fluticasone is a steroid. Advair prevents the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation. Salmeterol is a bronchodilator. It works by relaxing muscles in the airways to improve breathing.

http://www.drugs.com/advair.html

You can get the skinny on Advair at the above link.

I take 500mg twice a day. So in the 7 years or so I have been on the drug, I have taken roughly 5,100 doses.

This list does not include a lot of the drug I took for small spurts.

Now I am taking Hydrocodone for the pain management. It seems that the metal in my hip is not interacting well with the shift in my bone density. I also do not include Amlodipine and Simvastatin, which I know take after my heart cath last summer discovered a little blockage. The former is to manage Blood Pressure and the later is to keep my cholesterol in check.

They also gave me Plavix but you can refer to the summer post all about my adventure with that particular drug.

FYI, ever since I started eating Yogurt every day, all the digestive relative side effects have gone away.

I like to kid people by introducing myself as the profit margin for many of the big drug companies in this country.

Seriously, I do not know if I could survive without taking all of these drugs. And since some require refrigeration, it is not possible to stock up on doses in case society crumbles, as some on the far reaches of the political spectrum seem to believe is impending.

Hell, I do not have it in me to survive just for survivals sake. I mean, what is the point in that. Beside, even if I could be kept alive, what could I offer in a crumbled society more dependent on brute strength than wit or guile?

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7 Responses to Now that the weather is turning cold, arctic cold, as it started to this past weekend, and it appears as if it will edge into next week with no real end in sight…

  1. Chrys Pfahl says:

    You are a walking pharmacy! I promise to quit complaining about 5 pills and 2 injections a day. I am so glad that all these meds are there to help you keep going. Fifty years ago, or even less, we would probably have lost you and that would diminish (sp?) the lives of those who know and love you. So, keep on swallowing, inhaling, whatever… and keep writing.

  2. MissP says:

    You have much to offer us, your friends. Perhaps you are so caught up in your battles with your illness and the resultant fatigue that you cannot see how much good you bring us. It would be a mistake for you to underestimate your worth.

  3. Joyce says:

    Wit and guile are what help crumbled societies rebuild!

  4. lauri picc says:

    Wow! Ican only imagine… I have an illness that disables me in many ways! I stopped MOST traditional meds and have gone with “Wheatgrass” which can improve a variety of bodily funtions along with acidopyllus for colon health, and herbal teas put together by an herbalist! Great wit about you ! By the way you probably witnessed my mom at the Roxy!

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