Friday, May 22, 2009

Chapter 8, Part 1 - The Doctors

When old age hits, people usually experience a decrease in health and an increase in the number of ailments affecting them. Chronic ailments are as common to residents of Harbor View as chronic colds are to children in daycare. Some of the most typical ones affecting residents include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, bad knees, bad backs, and bad hearts.

With this increase in illnesses comes an increase in the amount of medication the elderly folks have to take. Popping pills is nothing to be ashamed of for residents at Harbor View. Being on medication is not something to hide as it may have been in residents’ younger days. When they were young, they probably wanted to keep the news that they were on medication a secret. Now that they are old, folks at Harbor View pop pills out in the open for all to see.

They pop them while eating out. Mom takes three pills before embarking on her evening meal, thus turning a three-course meal into a six-course one. Her friends Flo and Irv each take two pills after dinner, in addition to several more they each take at other times of the day. Dad is lucky to only have to take one pill a day, and he takes it at breakfast, in the privacy of his own home.

Others take their pills earlier in the day as well. Both men and women can be seen taking pills while sitting around the pool in the afternoon. In the middle of a discussion of tomorrow’s dinner, for instance, Mom’s friend Phyllis will overtly put a pill in her mouth, which will lead to a change in topic from the new menu item at Antonio’s to the latest medication. Some of these residents are so intimate with their knowledge of illnesses and the different medications used for those ailments that they throw around terms for diseases and prescriptions like they are doctors at a medical convention.

“So what are you taking for your osteoporosis? I hear most people now only have to take a pill once a week,” Mom says to Phyllis.

“I’m on the alendronate sodium tablets. I still do the once daily routine, though” Phyllis answers.

“You really should talk to your doc about getting a different prescription. Hardly anyone does the daily routine anymore.”

“Believe me, I know more about the options available to me than my doctor does; I’ve been on this medication forever. The reality is that I’m one of those few people who still has to take it every day,” Phyllis replies.

Still other people take their pills late in the day. Mom said sometimes she will be sitting at a show at the clubhouse in the evening when all of a sudden an alarm will go off, which will cause her to jump out of her seat. She will look around to seek out the source of the noise and inevitably, it is someone’s watch alarm. Mom says she always wants to scold the person, but then she will see the offender pop a few pills in his mouth, and she will nod understandingly.

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