Pills, Vitamins & Spinach

When my sister and I don’t feel well, whom do we call? After each other, we check in with dad.

“Did you call daddy,?” My sister  Madeline will say if I call to complain about a particular ailment, anything ranging from an arthritic ache to a zealous zit.

Our father isn’t a doctor. But he acts like one.

He’ll “prescribe” ointments and pills and often supply them for us.

He’ll scrounge among the apothecary that has pervaded what once was their bathroom. In place of a traditional medicine cabinet,  is one closet with three deep shelves crammed with prescription and over the counter remedies, some dating back at least 30 years. 

At each end of the tile counter, my parents have their own “stash” of drugs.  And my father, who uses a plastic shopping bag for his traveling toilet kit, has several of these tucked under the counter.  To remind him of each drug’s use, long after the prescription label has faded, he writes a key word—“feet”, “eyes”, for example, on the cap or box.

We jest about their drug habits, the gargantuan containers of  Advil, and the outdated medications. 

We tell them you can’t take each other’s meds when one prescription runs out.  But hey, they’re 81 and 83; it works for them.

But my parents aren’t alone in finagling how they take pills.

“Nearly three in four Americas do not follow doctor’s orders for taking prescription drugs… One in three patients never even fills the prescription.” Tara Parker-Pope’s “Well” column in today’s New York Times  (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com)  tells how FICO, a credit score company has developed a medication adherence score to predict who might not take medications as prescribed. They suggest that doctors and insurance companies telephone these people once identified.  Not taking proper dosages, skipping dosages, taking pills at the wrong time, combining pills, and so on can result in unnecessary deaths.

I know I’m guilty of the same behavior.  Once I feel a bit better, why bother taking more pills?

The use of multivitamins is also under scrutiny. Melinda Beck’s “Health Journal” in today’s Wall Street Journal (  http://online.wsj.com)   explains how these vitamins are lightly regulated, have no standard formula, and may not be necessary. Healthy eating, many believe,  negates the need for multivitamins.

Funny, that’s what my mother always said.  


About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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5 Responses to Pills, Vitamins & Spinach

  1. Wendy Lapham says:

    Love the picture with the old yellowed bottle of iodine! I think my mother has the same one in her closet/medicine cabinet!!!


  2. Looks just like my mother-in-laws old medicine cabinet ( and a little bit like ours too) Greet to see the photo of your folks, Lisa!


  3. Nathan says:

    Ha ha, I think Grandpa’s confidence in medical prescriptions stems from his agricultural experience with chickens. I feel the same way, having worked with bacteria in the lab, once you’ve dealt with one living organism you kind of feel everything translates…


  4. Madeline Taylor says:

    “To remind him of each drug’s use, long after the prescription label has faded, he writes a key word—“feet”, “eyes”, for example, on the cap or box….” What you forgot to mention was he writes thos words in YIDDISH so pitty the fool who tries to decipher without being properly schuled!
    Ah the medical archives; only to be vested by the food archives. Naaah. It’s a tough competition. Both have been harbored and nurtured long before I was around. I guess the medical archive wins out as we (our siblings, Daddy, you and I) are more inclined to periodically glean the food archives – we do afterall, have to make room for new food in the fridge so the jars of pickle and beet juice and the lumps you can no longer “just cut the mold off” of lose out.
    Products of refugees and products of the depression, my parents were among the original line of recyclers and reusers. But I must say. they might not have the ultimate braggin rights here. A handful of years out of college, I was standing around a kitchen somewhere one night with old college friends and we were all comparing the frugal habits of our parents and/or grandparents. Paul Brown’s grandmother might have the Klein’s beat; He said his grandmother has a box in her closet that is ACTUALLY LABELED: “Pieces Of String that are too short to use.” Too short to use but clearly too good to throw out!
    i don’t get it. Mom and Dad do.


  5. Pingback: Goodbye Green Super Sludge | cyclingrandma

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