December 13, 2002
I'm not sure when it happened, but someone
sneaked into my house recently and replaced my bathroom cabinet with
the medicine chest of an old person.
Not that long ago I boasted that my
medicinal intake rarely rose above six aspirins a year. The only
things in my bathroom cabinet were a toothbrush, tweezers and a
bottle of very expired cough syrup. I was the picture of health,
waking up clear headed even after a night out with the boys, and
immune to the colds and flu that friends and relatives did their
best to pass on.
I've always been the kind of person who
drives the major drug companies nuts. No matter what miracle cure
they've invented, I don't have it. I don't even have the diseases
the drug companies make up just so they can sell you the cure.
I probably got my distain for medications
from my grandfather, whose first aid kit consisted solely of a
bottle of Bactine. No matter what injury you came to him with, the
solution was always to squirt the affected area with Bactine. Cut?
Bactine. Scrape? Bactine. Arm cut off? Bactine (two squirts).
Then again, Grandpa was a hale and hearty
guy who wrestled, played football and can be seen in the back of
every wedding picture holding one of the guests over his head. When
he was having trouble breathing later in life he finally went to a
doctor to see why his nose was so clogged. He admitted that he had
broken his nose three times playing football. "No - I can tell
you've broken it at least five times," the doctor informed him.
Grandpa hadn't noticed the other two times. He also had a blue bulge
on the back of his hand that he claimed was a nail head that got
stuck there by accident in the 1960s and he never bothered to have
But when I cleaned out the bathroom last
week to give it a new coat of paint, I needed an extra big box to
hold all the jars and bottles I now keep in my cabinet. Sorting
through them I realized I'm turning into an old man. Maybe not
Howard Hughes "hiding in my room with foot-long
fingernails" old - but I'm definitely no spring chicken
anymore. These days I'm requiring far more drugs, creams, lotions
and pills to keep my body functioning.
First of all there are all the things you
take to feel better after a night out - the big jar of antacids and
a slightly smaller jar of aspirins. For some reason I have a lot of
moisturizers and face creams. I don't use any of them, but people
keep giving them to me. Maybe they're trying to send me a message.
When you get older you lose your patience
for being sick - you want to be well right away. That's why I
apparently now own a half-finished box of every cold remedy under
the sun. They cover cough and headache, cough without headache,
headache and runny nose, headache and stuffy nose, hacking cough,
wheezing cough, cough with fever, and my favourite - knock me out
until Spring. Of course none of them work, but it makes you feel
better knowing there's a medicine box for every combination of
symptoms you can imagine.
The only thing I have in my medicine cabinet
that still makes me feel young is zit cream. And it's a cruel trick
of fate that I occasionally still need it even though I'm starting
to get gray hair.
I would have been nice to have at least a
week between adolescence and old age.