Thursday, January 5, 2012

Dirty Little Pills

His hands shook as he unfurled the sack of bottles. He placed them on the examining table one by one. He looked at each label, and then shook his head quietly as if he was reaffirming his own good judgement. Much to his chagrin, I noticed the empty can of Jolt laying in the wastebasket. It hadn't been there a few minutes ago.

We talked a few moments before I tackled the supplement issue. I could picture a cigarette dangling from his brown stained fingers. His belly protruded over his waist and struggled to conform to his undersized pants.

He was working too hard, eating poorly, and spending little time with his family. He felt too nervous to quite smoking, but too lethargic to stop imbibing energy drinks. His business teetered from complete destruction to overwhelming success on any given day


Doc...why do I feel so bad?

Again he glanced over at the pill containers sitting on the table. While I knew the answer, I could tell that I wouldn't make much headway till I addressed the passion of his wandering eye. I reached over to the counter.

So what do we have here?

I mentally read through the list while I tapped away at my computer: Ginseng, vitamin E, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Multivitamin, folic acid, St Johns's wart, fish oil, aspirin, and chondroitin. It was a myriad off supplements costing hundreds of dollars a month.

I picked up each bottle as I explained why it was inappropriate. Vitamin E had never shown to be beneficial for almost anything. Vitamin D was unnecessary in a person who had healthy bones and was not deficient. Folic acid could be harmful. Aspirin was ridiculous in a thirty year old with no heart history regardless of some risk factors. He stared at me impatiently as I droned on about one pill after another. Eventually he interrupted before I could spit out the last words of my prolonged run on sentence.

But if I stop those, what are you going to give me to take their place?

I paused. I could either go with the hard sell or the soft sell. I wondered which would work.

You want to feel better?
Stop all pills.
Quit smoking and energy drinks.
Exercise, lose weight, and sleep better.
Spend more time with your family.

His head slumped down towards the ground and for the first time during the visit, his legs stop shaking. He looked up and our eyes met. For a brief moment, I thought that I connected. But then he opened his mouth.

Isn't there some pill I can take instead?

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