The Call of Normal, with a Pill Switch Chaser


The Call of Normal, with a Pill Switch Chaser

(From the Community Caregiving Journal 3-word prompt Call, Switch, Normal.)

It happens suddenly, after months and months: one of the three of us puts out a call via email: "Hey you two, we need to get together some time! Want to try to set a lunch date?"

The other two of us jumped at the chance.

We live a fair distance from each other. We meet at the same restaurant each time, which means that each of us drives about 35 miles one way, give or take. Our meeting time is early enough so that we miss the lunch rush and can just pop into a booth.

On Wednesday, I spent a few hours in the land of Normal -- for the first time in about a year.

My two friends and I had last gotten together for lunch about a year ago. That was the last time I had enjoyed a social outing where it was just me getting together with friends to shoot the breeze.

We commandeered our booth for about three hours and then moved to the bar for another half hour before we finally went our separate ways. During that time we caught each other up on our lives, our creative and research projects, people we know. We had done events together in the past -- that's how we had all met in the first place, and my two friends are still doing events -- so we also shared various forms of shop talk.

We vowed to do this more often. I felt as though I had found an oasis in the desert and spent a few hours in a jewel blue pool, rejuvenating myself for a return to the dunes. Normal conversation, with normal people! Or, in our case, "normal" in quotes because as creatives we are a rather eccentric bunch. :-) But it's our normal.

When I told my partner -- because I'd be gone for about half a day -- that I was meeting a couple of my friends for lunch, she said she felt excluded. *sigh* I tried to explain that we've done it this way in the past and that their spouses weren't coming, either. That maybe we do this two or three times a year (or, in the case of this past year, once).

She accused me of being defensive.

I felt I had to draw a line. My partner didn't like it, but she resigned herself to it. We'd had a busy day on Tuesday. When it came time for me to leave on Wednesday morning, she was still asleep.

On Tuesday my partner had a routine checkup with her primary MD. Her bloodwork is fine for the most part, but -- and this surprised me -- her thyroid is underactive. My partner can awaken starving in the middle of the night. Going for eight hours without food for a fasting blood test is torture for her. We can't take a walk without her needing to stop somewhere to eat. So I always thought that her thyroid, if anything, was overactive -- because to me she seems to have the metabolism of a jackrabbit.

Shows you what I know. The MD gave her a prescription for the lightest dose of Synthroid to start, and my partner gets another blood test in about three months -- non-fasting, thank goodness. (That means no 15-mile drive to the hospital and its 24/7 lab in the middle of the night.)

After the MD she needed food. We got take-out at a great little Filipino restaurant in town, then stopped at the natural foods store for the muesli she likes. Then to the park, where she ate the take-out. Then to Lowe's to check out space heaters. Then to the PO Box for mail. Then to CVS, where she dropped off her Rx and shopped for vitamins; and finally home and more food.

My new e-reader was a wonderful patience enhancement tool. I could get right back into reading Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle while I (a) waited for my partner to get ready to leave the house, (b) waited at the doctor's office, (c) waited as she ate in the park, (d) waited as she painstakingly examined all the space heaters, before deciding that she couldn't decide whether to get one, and (e) waited as she inspected all the vitamins at CVS.

We had left the house a few minutes after 3 p.m. and got home around 8:30.

After I returned home from my lunch on Wednesday, we went to pick up the Synthroid, along with her estrogen replacement. My partner said she had a question about drug interactions, because the two different pills can interfere with each other's effectiveness if taken at the same time -- so I thought she was about to ask the pharmacist how far apart she needed to take them.

Instead, she asked about the pill coatings for the Synthroid. Because if a pill coating contains Aluminum Lake, she scrapes the coating off. She doesn't want to ingest any kind of aluminum at all.

The pharmacist warned her that the pill dosage was only 25 micrograms -- it's a little pill -- and if she scraped off the coating she might not effectively have anything left to take.

I pictured a raccoon with a sugar cube. ("If you give a raccoon a sugar cube, it will first try to clean it (as raccoons clean all their food before eating it). It will wash it and wash it until the sugar cube finally dissolves to nothing." -- Bradley's Animal Place)

My partner was adamant.

I told her that she had been tested for aluminum, and that the MD hadn't said anything about the result being out of the ordinary.

"Why do you think that is?" my partner asked. "That's because I take all the pill coatings off!" Like this:

And that's for big multivitamin pills. As I had written back in August, "My bet is that her aluminum level will be fine, which she will credit specifically to her removing the vitamin coatings. (See? It worked!)"

Now she wants to switch her prescription to the 50 microgram dosage because it has no Aluminum Lake in its coating -- and then cut the pill in half for her 25 micrograms.

I gave her a printout of this info about Aluminum Lake, which she wholly rejected. No surprise there, but I had to try.

As for her other question (which I ended up asking), if she takes the Synthroid in the morning and her estrogen in the afternoon, she should be fine as far as the pills are concerned. I've been looking at websites where Synthroid is discussed in conjunction with MS and what I read there has so far been encouraging.

However, potential side effects seem to match much of what she's already experiencing with her MS. So, we'll just wait and see.

That is, if she has anything left once she takes the coatings off.

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Thanks, Denise! We haven't scheduled the next get-together yet -- we'll see how well we do! Both of them know about my caregiving role and our situation here, so I spent a few minutes bringing them up to speed. Then we got onto more fun subjects! :-)


Thanks, Kathy! Big box hardware stores can overwhelm me, too. My partner also has very particular requirements. She doesn't want anything with a fan. Nothing that runs on oil or gas. That leaves ceramic heaters, which need room to operate (another sticking point). Then she has thermostat requirements... :-)


Thanks, Trish! I'll take all the validation I can get! :D\r\nMy partner has decided not to take the Synthroid for now and wants to get a second opinion from an endocrinologist. Might not be a bad idea. I've asked the MS support group for recommendations.


I LOVE your headline.\r\n\r\nYour get-together with your friends sounds absolutely heavenly. I can hear how much you enjoyed being with them. I also hope that you'll schedule the lunch as often as you can. (Have you scheduled the next get-together?)\r\n\r\nHow much did you share with your friends about your role as a family caregiver? Or, did you decide to really take a break and simply be without explaining how you be at home? :)


I can understand your reluctance, especially with your mom refusing to use a walker! I'm very glad that you can overcome your fear and get to the clubhouse.\r\n\r\nOften my partner will express a wish to go somewhere or do something, but then her need for sleep wins out.

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