Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Lucretia Borgia 'n me

When the nasty gastroenteric invader I wrote about in the last post refused to budge, even when assaulted by a tiny bland diet and regular salvos of Pepto-Bismol (O sweet yet odious pink goo, so gagging in the throat, so soothing on the innards), I betook myself to the doctor. An initial blood test revealed nothing unusual, suggesting merely an ugly virus, but a few more tests (on blood and... the obvious) are underway in case something more exotic is lurking within. In the meantime, the doctor sent me off with a prescription to calm the inner storms.

I had it filled immediately, and the pharmacist did the usual counsel. "It is a bit strong," he warned, saying that some people became a bit drowsy when taking it. Then he added in a hushed, by-the-way voice, "It is a controlled substance."

Oh. Spiffy. Exiting the pharmacy, wondering about the street value of my prescription, I expected the magical medicine to be an opiate of some sort. The pharmacist hadn't given a specific name, and I knew they'd been used often in the past for their constipating effect. I think at some point my son, as a very small child, had taken some such potion.

Then I read the label: "Diphenoxylate/Atropine."


The botanically-trained regions of my brain sat up, alert. Atropine. Vegetable alkaloid. Belladonna. Deadly nightshade. Toxic.

Oh, my.

I felt like Lucretia Borgia, walking around clutching my vial of vegetable poison.

The tiny white pills, each smaller than a paper match head, did the trick, quieting the smooth muscle contractions (as one web page on the substance said it would) and stopping the "intestinal distress" dead in its tracks after the third dose.

Because the other ingredient is a narcotic, the pills have a tiny "wheee" effect. Not enough to seriously impair, but enough that one doesn't want to drive a car an hour or so after taking a dose.

The overdue manuscript is done and submitted. The next book in the series is underway. The revisions of the book edited by committee will get done when they get done. And dissertation research continues.

I may have lost my three-day weekend, but life goes on.

So long as Lucretia doesn't throw anything stronger my way.

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