Jagged Little Pill

So it’s five days into my dosage-reduction experiment, and everything is going fine—I don’t think my brain has caught on yet, and the only side effect is being less sluggish in the mornings (which is exactly what I was hoping for). Yeah, there’s the late-night wakefulness, but as I said yesterday, this is not new and it’s unrelated to my meds anyway.

That’s the easy part. The hard part—besides cutting a pill that’s the diameter of a pencil eraser into fourths—apparently is getting them down! First, you’ve got to make sure that teensy little quarter of a pill is in your hand (it’s REALLY easy to lose sight of it in the midst of nine other tablets), and then you’ve got to get it down. Well, I managed to aspirate one of ’em last night, and I like to never got my breath back.

My first mistake was trying to toss all of my meds in at the same time. As I’ve aged, I’ve noticed that trouble swallowing crumbly foods and thin liquids has sort of crept up on me, and while I can get six or seven pills down in one gulp, I’m pushing my luck trying to do them all at once. I take them with a thick fluid like tomato juice or buttermilk, which coats everything and helps it go down easier, but even that doesn’t prevent dumb things from happening.

My second mistake was chatting with Will as I attempted to slug down the assorted capsules and tablets…..and that jagged little one-quarter pill got stuck somewhere in my bronchial tubes.

“Let me show you this new picture Mindy sent me of little Mackenzie…..GAAAACK!!! COFFCOFFCOFFCOFFwheeeeeeeeeeze!” It felt like I’d just inhaled a Cadillac. I hacked and gasped for what felt like an hour, until tears sprung from my eyes and my chest heaved with the effort to catch my breath. My lungs felt like raw hamburger; my nose ran like a faucet; my ribs began to ache.

“Are you OK?” asked Will, alarmed. It was on the tip of my tongue to say something along the lines of sure, I’m just hawking up a lung for the hell of it, but it wouldn’t have been a very gracious response; besides, I wasn’t breathing well enough to make a speech. I could feel that tiny pill in there, irritating the airway like a burr under a saddle, and it took a couple of hits off my asthma inhaler to calm things down a bit. Finally, the damned pill dissolved and I was left with a very tight chest and a persistent mild wheeze, but the worst was over.

Lesson number one: don’t talk when I’m going about the very serious business of taking my meds. Lesson number two: pay attention to where that quarter-tablet is when I toss ’em back. I can sock away a fish-oil capsule and several other pills in one shot without a problem; it’s the little ones that get hung up and try to go down the wrong pipe. Or, in this case, into one of the itty-bitty airways, where it can cause a great deal of distress and indignity and turn a strong, middle-aged woman into a purple-lipped blob of Jell-O.

Oh, well, it’s always something. LOL.



Published by bpnurse

I'm a retired registered nurse and writer who also happens to be street-rat crazy, if the DSM-IV.....oops, 5---is to be believed. I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder at the age of 55, and am still sorting through the ashes of the flaming garbage pile that my life had become. Here, I'll share the lumps and bumps of a late-life journey toward sanity.... along with some rants, gripes, sour grapes and good old-fashioned whining from time to time. It's not easy being bipolar in a unipolar world; let's figure it out together.

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