When I was fifteen, my dad was admitted to the hospital. He was forty-seven.
When he came home, he was on tons of medication: teensy pills, horse pills, white pills, orange pills. I didn’t know what they were for. All I knew was he needed them. I could’ve asked him what they were, but the truth is I didn’t want to know. I wanted his sickness and everything that came with it to go away.
It wouldn’t go away though. His pills began to slowly invade, assault and take over our normal lives. First they lived on the kitchen counter, then in the bathroom and finally in the corner cabinet that held our drinking glasses. No matter where I was, there was a bottle of pills in my face and I began to hate them. They signified everything about my dad’s sickness that I loathed. Strange thing was, a week prior I equated medicine with health. If I had a headache, I took an Aspirin. If I got a cold, I took Sudafed. They always made me better.
I asked my dad if he needed to take all of those pills daily. His answer: if he wanted to live. Something clicked inside of me the moment he said those words and I knew he would be dependent on pills for the rest of his life. This was the point when I started to dissect what I was doing and eating. I realized I could make myself healthier. I began cleaning up my body by running, cutting out soda pop, going vegetarian and never smoking or drinking. Of course, I now realize that was my naivety talking. Sometimes intention and action don’t coincide.
Nothing I did in my teenage years or my twenties could prepare me for what was to inevitably come in my thirties. As much as I tried to control my health, I couldn’t. I won the lottery.
Winning the disease lottery is a game that nobody wants to win, but sometimes you don’t have a choice. It took me a long time to realize that sometimes diseases strike at random. It’s not a punishment.
As luck would have it, I now have to take a pill a day. I’m not angry. It is what it is. I’m convinced there isn’t a single person that wishes to be dependent on a pill for the rest of their lives, but you gotta do what you gotta do. I always ask myself this question to clear my head: what’s worse, a pill a day or impending death? I would say the latter, but that’s just me.
I just filled my pill case for the week. Sometimes I leave it in the kitchen. Other times it’s in my bedroom or the bathroom. Maybe it too has invaded my life. Sometimes I feel like I am turning into my father. Sometimes I think I finally know how he feels.
I used to have this gym teacher in grade school who always said, “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.” He doesn’t know how right he was.