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I am not ashamed to admit that I take some prescription drugs because my doctors have told me I need them. There is Solve-It-All, which makes me able to move without nerve pain pulsating throughout my limbs. I love my Solve-It-All. It’s nice to be able get out of a chair, off the toilet, off the treadmill without screaming anymore.
But to be honest, Solve-It-All doesn’t really solve it all. There are other pills for other issues, including allergy medication so I can keep two kitties in my house, work outside in my yard, and breathe the icky Phoenix air. If I don’t have my allergy meds, the tiny winged monkeys who lie comatose in my lumbar region awaken and fly into my face, causing my eyes to swell up, my nose to run, and post-nasal drip. The only thing I like about post-nasal drip is that it reminds me of my dad, who I constantly miss.
He has post-nasal drip too, and the best part of that (for me) is the memory of when he would clear his throat in church. You’d think God Himself had arrived: “UGHARGUGHARGUGHCUKCUKARGUGHWHINGRRR.”
God the pirate, booming, echoing throughout a shrine to somebody else.
If I was already in church, seated with my family (the Original Seven) in a pew, this outburst from my dad would simply bring peace to my heart, because I knew he was near. That was just his special noise. If for some reason I ran late to church—maybe stuck on the toilet that Sunday morning, or unable to find my good shoes in time before everyone else left—I would run through the neighborhood and stand at the back of the packed church, waiting for my dad to clear his throat. As soon as he did—and it echoed through the air, drowning out the priest—I knew where I belonged.
I would make a beeline towards that roar, embarrassed to be late but climbing over seated people to get to my family in our pew. I would squeeze between any two older siblings—eight inches of the tiny width of me in a dress and stockings—and we would start the pantomime for Kleenex.
We couldn’t talk in church, but we knew how to signal for a Kleenex, a sign that would be sent down the row to Mom, who would pull out a somewhat new tissue (maybe with lipstick on it) from her purse, and pass it down to whatever kid needed it, usually me.
The good old days, a family working together.
I’m a grown-up now and have to order my own prescription drugs and buy my own Kleenexes, and tell people “sorry” all the time in the morning because no matter what, I still have post nasal drip, and they can’t understand me.
“Arugula,” I’ll say on the phone to my niece at 6:30 a.m.
“What?” she’ll say.
Cacklelaughsnortickhmmmick. Pig snort for good measure.
“How are ya?” I’ll say, repeating myself without the snot in my throat.
So I found myself standing in line yesterday at Walgreen’s, trying for the fourth time to get my allergy pills…the fourth time because I didn’t want to pay five million dollars for a prescription that normally costs seven little ones. Everything is different now—not just in my life, but in the world of my school’s health insurance program—and I was still trying to get a two week’s supply of Breathe-Easy to tide me over until the big package of Breathe-Easy came in the mail. My allergy doctor had to pull a fast one and submit a new prescription for pills of a different strength to circumvent the system, which she had finally managed to do.
My face so full of allergies, my eyes so swollen and stinging, I paid and grabbed and ran out to my car, just wanting to breathe easy again. I opened the bottle of allergy pills and saw that they were the size of nickels. They rivaled the size of my calcium supplements. They were as thick as horse’s hooves. While my allergy doc had meant well, she had prescribed a fourteen day supply of hockey pucks for me.
I laughed for the first time in days—hot in my car, eyes swollen shut, sweating like a pig on the first day of September. I took those puppies home and carefully broke them in half and then in quarters with my meat tenderizer and a kitchen knife. Tap tap, tap tap, now small enough to get down my throat. I thought of all the old people out there splitting pills, anybody like me who has a hard time even holding tools like that, and all the good doctors trying to help their patients through the system.
I’d pay two million bucks to hear my daddy clear his throat to let me know where he is right now, and if I’m heading in the right direction as I get old like him. It was so much easier to follow his sounds, so much more difficult now to follow his silence.