Day 715: What a pill

I don’t like taking pills.

A new cardiologist I saw yesterday suggested that I take two new pills, as a possible way to relieve effects of my leaky heart valve and to postpone — or even avoid! — heart surgery.

Pills are a lot easier to take than heart surgery, right?

So why would I NOT want to take a pill?

Maybe it’s because

  • pill = illness, in my mind,
  • before I got my first cardiac pacemaker at age 10, the doctors gave me a terrible, horrible-tasting pill to speed up my heart, and
  • the word “pill” means, among other things, “a tedious or unpleasant person.”

I don’t want to be a pill about pills, but it does seem like pills are often used as a quick fix for a variety of ailments that, perhaps, could be relieved by other means.

For example, yesterday morning I did lots of exercise at cardio rehab and I felt great, without the use of any pills. I — along with many patients I see for individual and group psychotherapy — believe that exercise can be fabulous medicine for the heart, mind, and soul.

When I bragged to the cardiologist yesterday about how great I felt doing exercise, he replied that my feeling that good exerting myself does NOT necessarily correlate to my heart being as healthy as we’d like. If I didn’t think he was such a nice and competent doctor, I might say about that cardiologist:

What a pill!

… for giving me that kind of a reality pill when I was feeling so much hope.

Does that sound like I took a mean pill?

Maybe it’s time for a chill pill.


I found that chill pill here. I wonder if I’ll get into trouble for using that photo?  I might need another chill pill about that fear, now. But if I use another stock photo of a pill, will I be afraid of the consequences of that, needing yet another pill?

Is this an endless feedback loop?

floops_loops (1)

(I found that image here.)

Speaking of endless feedback loops, I was talking to somebody in a therapy session, yesterday morning, about breaking the seemingly endless negative feedback loops of self-criticism, fear, and anxiety. How?  By doing one small thing differently.

Maybe, just maybe, my taking the different, new action of swallowing an extremely small pill today will help my very unusual heart (despite my negative thoughts about taking pills).

Another thought about pills:  yesterday, right before I left work for that doctor’s appointment,  I suggested to another patient in a therapy session that she use a helpful thought as if it were a pill.  I prescribed her the phrase “good enough,” to take frequently as an antidote to perfectionism.

I like telling people to take non-medicinal items (like exercise, helpful phrases, the company of animals, the company of kind human beings, etc.) as if they were pills.  I often say, “You can take that as often as you like, without side effects.” If you’d like to take some (I hope) easy-to-swallow previous posts about non-medicinal antidotes, you can find them in my blogging medicine cabinet here, here, here, and here.

Take those and call (or comment) me in the morning (or whenever you like) about how they work, including any side effects.

Speaking of side effects, the new pills prescribed to me today may cause some side effects, including light-headedness.

As if my head weren’t light enough already.

To lighten the mood around here, I’m going to show you some photos I took yesterday, as  medicine for myself:

IMG_3638 IMG_3640 IMG_3642  IMG_3644 IMG_3646 IMG_3648 IMG_3649 IMG_3650 IMG_3653 IMG_3655 IMG_3657 IMG_3658 IMG_3637

Now, perhaps to cure what ails you, I prescribe the following song:

What else is in store for me in the days ahead, besides popping new pills? Seeing my old pill-jockey,* Dr. Salem. We’ll see how much of a pill he is (and I am), on Wednesday.

Thanks to all pills and non-pills out there, especially you (of course!) for taking  any medicine you could find here, today.

* That’s new slang I just made up, for doctor. Do you have any particularly medicinal ways of describing the doctors in your life?

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 32 Comments

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32 thoughts on “Day 715: What a pill

  1. So… what’s the opposite of a hasslefree rose?

    Am I being a pill by asking that question? Oh dear. No pilliness intended!

    I wonder what your heart thinks of another pill — or does it just wish your mind would be quiet and let it swallow its medicine in peace? 🙂

    Yup. Definitely being a pill this morning – I love how your thinking isn’t at all related to being a pill!

  2. Hope the remedy is just what the doctor ordered! I think I’ll follow your lead on the idea of a “prescription” to counteract perfectionism. Many of my patients are perfectionists, some with full-blown OCD. They also tend to take many pills for health issues. Sounds like a good plan, doc!

  3. Kentucky Angel

    I have a phobia about taking pills. They all have side effects that always seem to act up all over me. I also have a habit of reading all the side effects, and for most of my pills one of the side effects always seems to be death. HUH? Okay, I never expected to get out of this world alive, but really, having a doc prescribe pills that could kill me? I think I would rather take a huge dose of Huey Lewis three times a day, or maybe PRN. I definitely think I would need that at least every hour.

  4. Pill-jockey. Love it! Also loved the photos.
    Tomorrow I again disappear into Mexico where I have minimal Internet at best. One of the signs I love along the road is “HASSLE-FREE ZONE”. I find it very confusing when I get to the end and it says “END HASSLE-FREE ZONE”.
    Does that mean I should expect to be hassled?
    And if you don’t buy hassle-free roses, will you be hassled?

  5. I feel for you and your questions about pills Ann. I have the same questions and reluctance… 😀
    Diana xo

  6. Having lost my brother due to his heart issues, I can’t understand your reluctance to take something that even has the slightest possibility of helping, but we went through pacemakers, LVADs and RVADS and then graduated to Echmo, so my journey is obviously different from yours! We would have taken a pill over surgery any day! Of course, the day he mixed up his Ambien with his Coreg was a day we weren’t happy with pills! LOL.

    • I am taking it, Kate. Part of my reluctance has to do with my getting mixed opinions from different doctors, because my heart condition is so rare. And, believe me, i would rather take a pill over surgery too. It’s just unclear what’s going to help.

  7. I take a bunch of pills, Ann. So far, two eyes, two legs, two arms … and over the hill sure beats under the hill.

    Seriously, the newest meds, which replaced older meds, have one that make me feel more light-headed in certain instances, which my pill jockey warned me about when prescribed them a half-year ago. But that feeling passes quickly, and the benefits win. (So far.) Is your heart monitor (ah, your label is better, mine here is too ambiguous) being a wet rag with his pronouncement? I think he should have told you that the spirit-lifting benefit of your exercise adds to its good work on your heart, which also needs the following … blah blah blah what he said.

    Have a great day, Ann. Hey, both of us good be feeling scraped raw like that car windshield in that photo of yours if we let ourselves, but we choose not to be pills about our pills. 🙂

  8. yeoldefoole

    always a delight you are!

  9. I love your idea of prescribing helpful thoughts. I’m going to try that. (It’s okay to self-prescribe those, right?)

    And I’m very sorry to hear that you have to take a pill that will make you light-headed and perhaps have other side-effects. I hope that it improves your energy and heart-health.

    Happy Chanukah!

  10. Ann,
    I take a small handful of pills in total throughuot the day. The trouble is not taking them, but rather, as I’ve gotten older, remembering to take them.

  11. Sunshine Jansen

    I think I will now carry a little invisible pill box with me (invisible but such clever workmanship!) and it will contain a never-ending supply of “good enough”… Ah, but I share your apprehensions about those real, tangible pills. Sometimes on a Sunday night when I go through the ritual of filling my Monday-Sunday pill box with everything I have to take the next week (some in the morning, some in the evening) I stand there thinking about how unreal it feels. However did I come to be performing this strange activity, at 42, while my 86 year old mother-in-law (who of course doesn’t have MS) doesn’t pop so much as a vitamin? And what would happen if I just left that pill box empty, and lived my life, and let nature take its course? I might find out one day, but not just yet. I wish you luck, Ann!

  12. I understand your anxiety about taking a pill or two. To this very day i have to separate the word, “pill” from the word, “drug.”

    It took years of theraphy to understand that my medication was not, “drugs” but treatment for condtions i have very little control over, manic bipolar disorder and asthma. This year a pulmonologist and gastroenterologist introduced a few more meds to my vocabulary. I contracted bacterial pneumonia/fungal pneumonia. In the midst (or rather blur) of all of this excitement i gave up feeling overwhelmed by the numbers of medications needed to put me back on a path to health.
    Take your pills, Sweetie. Get yourself that pill(s) so if and when you need surgery,you have the knowledge of being proactive on your jouney.

  13. In your special case it’s clear that doctors don’t, can’t, know all the answers – not through any fault, but because of the rarity and complexity. It must be very uncomfortable making decisions yourself. I really hope that this pill works better than you are expecting, and takes away the need for surgery.

    • Thank you for this perceptive and empathic comment, Hilary. Thank goodness I do have Dr. Salem, my lead cardiologist, whom I trust so very much. (After speaking with him today, it’s looking like surgery is probably in my future, but we’re still figuring things out. ) And thank goodness I met you here.

  14. Dear Ann !! There are so many ways of replying to many of your posts. As to “medicinal” words for other doctors and therapist or doctors offices. hmmmm I have no medicinal words, more *^#(&@$&)@* words after over 40 in ten years, still less than a dozen whom help, that includes two great surgeons and physical therapist who made me bionic. My only problem is that I do not know I am NOT super woman and need to stop falling or falling on my head. Ironically, some of us are safer around horses and on their back than my own two feet. As to the family stuff and what you watch, the only thing we have in common is Boston and therapeutic stuff. But you are indeed very interesting, genuine and engaging! Thank you for reminding all of us of the human side. My mission should you join, is putting Human back into Humanity. And I wish many doctors get a clue about their inflated egos (as I told one dr. recently) I do wish you well – and joy ;D Cheers

    • It’s so wonderful to get the medicinal healing of a comment from you, MicheleElys! You’re a super woman to me.

      • LOLOL you never cease to put a smile on everyone’s face!! Super women is one who has children, needs to deal with doctors who equally interrupt, works, writes a daily blog. My hat is tipped to your corner each day. Cheers ;D

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