"Dear Prudence" by Amanda Grieme

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dear Jesse...Disappear

3/26 - Disappear

Dear Jesse-
It’s one of those days, today, one of those days that I would like to fold up neatly, and tuck into a tightly-sealed drawer somewhere. You know the kind of day I mean? Yesterday, I went to see Dr. Freedman and he asked me about Lithium side effects; I told him that I feel like I have an impending urinary tract infection at all times.

“What do you mean,” he said. I told him that I have to pee constantly. He immediately spun around to his desk and scribbled down a lab prescription, spun back around toward me and said, “That isn’t good. We’ve got to have your kidney function tested, today.” “Kidneys,” I scowled. “What next?” I left with my lab report and an incessant urge to pee in my pulsating urethra, and head on down the highway in search of a lab, all the while thinking of a conversation I had with Frieda, my cognitive therapist, earlier in the week.

“Frieda,” I asked, “Since you are the holistic side to psychotherapy, and you teach the tools to overcome behaviors, what is your take on herbal remedies, as opposed to all of the chemicals that I am swallowing daily. Do you think that they work?” Frieda leaned back in her chair, brushed her blonde curls away from her forehead and cautiously said, “Why, are you taking them?” “No,” I said emphatically, but my question is why am I not taking them. The other day I went into the health food store to pick up some vitamins, and an older German man with smiling brown eyes, and a thick accent greeted me at the door, and sort of followed me around. So I asked him a question about the whereabouts of a specific supplement, and he smiled and took both of my hands and said, “let me take a look at you.” Strangely, I wasn’t taken back. He was very kind. He stared into my eyes, and told me that I needed to drink water with lemon, to clean out my kidneys. Then he said, “and your liver is working very hard, are you taking medications?” “Yes,” I confessed, “I’m taking lithium and Prozac, among other things that I am weaning off of. “Ah,” he said knowingly, “for...”
“bipolar disorder,” I said.
“Ah, you cannot tell from your smile,” he winked. ‘He then lead me over to a book, and opened it to a page entitled, “bipolar disorder.” There were several cocktails of herbal remedies listed, one of which was a natural, unprocessed form of the salt, Lithium called Cudweed. He pointed to that and said, “it has the stabilizing effect of processed lithium, but it is in its raw state, so it doesn’t cause the adverse side effects. Take this with you and read it,” he smiled. So I did, happily.

Frieda smiled seriously and said, “there is no doubt in my mind that natural remedies work ...nature is where all of our modern meds were extracted from, but the problem that I have with them is strictly that they are not regulated. If you are taking 20 milligrams of Prozac here in the US, you know that what you are swallowing is really 20 milligrams of the drug, whereas you can’t be sure when it comes to natural medicinal remedies, because there is no government regulation if 20 milligrams of St. John’s Wort is actually 20 Milligrams. It could be 5, mixed with 15 milligrams of filler.” Then Frieda chimed in, noticing a wave of disappointment wash across my eyes, “although, the only country other than ours that does regulate their natural remedies is Germany. Their measurements are international units.” All I could think of was the German man who read my irises (Iridology); maybe he was on to something.

I pulled into a small town lab, and found my way in. I was greeted by a five’ nothing, slim-hipped technician named Rosie who should have been home enjoying her later years. She had brilliant dyed red hair, a grandmother’s charm, and a set of knockers on her that defied gravity. She was straight out of a pulp fiction magazine; she would of been Rosie the waitress, who was more wise than everyone that she encountered, and used it to her tip advantage. She spoke to me in a raspy voice, “hi hon,” she smiled, red lipstick on her front tooth. “You need lab work done, dolly?” “Yes,” I smiled, silently wanting to grab an afghan, and curl up onto her lap to be rocked to sleep. “Follow me sweetie. You ever been here before?” “No, I haven’t.” “Well,” she smiled, “ I’m going to put you to work then. Okay?” She handed me a pile of legal documents to sign, etc., and she was eating a chocolate candy, turned to me and said, “You’re fasting, right?” “Not intentionally, but yes. Unfortunately all that I have had today is a cup of coffee.” “Good,” she grinned. Then she leaned over like it was our little secret and whispered, “I’ll give you some chocolate on your way out!” I laughed.

She smelled like baby powder, mothballs and Jean Nate. Remember that after shower splash that you could get at K-Mart, or Ames, or any variety store like that? It came in a plastic bottle labeled cologne, and was advertised as a “splash” of sexy fragrance for women? Man, I didn’t think that they still manufactured it. Who knows, maybe she stock-piled it in the 70's, or maybe every one of her grandchildren had wrapped it up for her for Christmas for every year between 1978 and 1988, and she had filled her linen closet with it. Maybe that was her “scent,” like Shalimar is my mom’s scent, and my Aunt Suz’s Scent, and Samsara is your scent. Who knows.

She tied the rubber band above my elbow, and slid the needle into my vein, seemingly as easily as she poured coffee in my Pulp Fiction fantasy, “Needles don’t bother you,” she smiled. “No. I find them fascinating.” She looked at me strangely, “Not in a weird way or anything,” I reassured her. I didn’t want Rosie to think I was masochistic or something. After all, my lab report did say check Lithium levels. She inserted another tube into the needle, and I watched it fill with my dark red blood. She pulled the needle out and pressed a piece of gauze to the tiny wound and taped it to my arm. I imagined a red blood cell holding up a stop sign and whistling beneath the surface, dressed in a crossing guard’s uniform, to stop traffic from moving outside of my arm.

“Okay dolly,” she said reading my lab request, you’ve gotta pee in a cup for me. He’s got to check your kidney levels.” “Do you know anything about that,” I asked Rosie. “Well,” She said, “I’m not a doctor, but I’ve been doing this a long time, and medicine sometimes messes with your kidneys, so you’ve got to be sure.” She looked at me, handed me the cup, and instructed to wipe front to back with a castille soap towelette and to catch the pee mid stream in the cup, and then she smiled reassuringly. I slipped into a memory of my college nurse instructing me to do that, but not as kindly, when I was placed on disciplinary probation for drugs.

I walked out of the bathroom and handed Rosie the cup. “Good,” she remarked, like I had done a good job. I loved Rosie, like a loved my second grade teacher, Mrs. Coppola. When I was leaving, she handed me a baggy of chocolates. “Bye sweetie,” she said knowingly. “Don’t worry, it will get easier,” she said, then tapped me on the back. I refrained from hugging her, but I wanted to.

So why is today tough? Well, I woke up hung over. It was my own damn fault, I drank five pints of Guinness last night while watching Jack perform at an open mic. He was fantastic, and I was really enjoying myself. But I forgot how detrimental alcohol is to your body when your taking meds. Secretly, I enjoyed the dizzying effect because I felt more human; I almost felt like I was flying high again. It was intoxicating (no pun intended). Wow Jesse, I woke up today with a ten-car pile up in the frontal lobe of my brain, and I’m not supposed to take anything to relieve it. It caused me to sleep until 10:00 am, when I should have been making progress toward my move; I have to be out of that apartment in three days. When I arose, I was a bit discombobulated. I had asked my landlord for some paint to touch up the spackle marks that I had made while filling nail holes, so I decided to make up for lost time and quickly run around the living room and touch everything up. So I did, and before I left to escape that place for a while, I kept looking at the large white blotches on the wall, praying that they would dry to the right shade of white. When I left, the walls were still multi-tonal. I fear my return to pack more up this evening. I go in the evenings because I don’t want to be seen; I’m afraid that someone might attempt to strike up a conversation with me.

In the dark, I feel safe.
Love, Ana

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