Medicine Closets and Old Folks……..

Unless you have moved a lot, or are a wannabe hoarder, as you enter the golden years you acquire a lot of stuff. Most of us are old enough to have cleaned out a dear relatives house after they have gone to their reward. These efforts are usually accompanied by wide eyed amazement at the stuff they have accumulated and, importantly, what in the hell to do with it. I recently came into possession of a set of very nice belt buckles from a dear Patrol widow, as she no longer had any use for them. I was fortunate as many Patrol employees collect such things and a home was easy to find. We tend to not dwell on such matters unless we are needing something not in daily use and stumble on a cache that would make a cocaine importer green with envy. We have moved around a lot, still I am concerned from time to time the county health inspector is going to show up. If you are smiling at this point, you know exactly what I am taking about.

In the last 15 years or so, I have established a relationship with a number of health care providers. I have always believed in preventive maintenance, and the practice of medicine is pretty well the province of specialists these days. On my “team” is a great podiatrist, who has been collaborating with me in the care of arthritic feet that were abused in early life until and through the vacation in Vietnam. I stopped in yesterday for a minor procedure, one that requires a little home care to see the project through. This necessitated a trip to our medicine CLOSET, which has long since replaced the medicine CABINET of the younger generation who generally keep a bandaid or two and bottle of Advil in their otherwise empty cabinet. I was shocked…..

Sharon is well organized and I am certain that she can immediately find any kind of bandaid, compress, wrapping, tape or antibiotic that has come out in the last 15 years. Rx medicines are yet another embarrassment. We take a few (well below the national average according to AARP) but docs are fond of changing and adjusting dosages. After paying our share of the drug costs, it is hard to pitch bottles of Squibs best out the door or down the porcelain throne (not good for the environment, I know). Every surgical procedure over the past years has resulted in a new RX for pain control, resulting in a few, or many as the case may be, left over heavy hitters in the opiate class. I could treat the aftermath of some terrible calamity, if I knew what I was doing. I don’t, which begs the question yet again, why do you keep this stuff? We are able to take a temperature a variety of ways (grandchildren for the curious!), measure blood pressure in about thirteen body parts and turn the average adult into a mummy museum piece. We have heat pads and ice packs. Over the counter analgesics, check. We have it in brand name and generic form, for the less discriminating. Ate something bad, we can cork you up. Ate too much of something good, we can increase the urgency to find the throne. Now let’s move into flu and cold. There is not a patent medicine, decongestant, vaporizer dope or antihistamine that we do not stock. The problem today is that a sneeze sends you scrambling for the long Q-tip up the nose to make sure you don’t need to make arrangements with the nearest funeral home. We have pillows, neck braces and two kinds of back wraps. Somewhere in the attic we even have a walker for those of us that dive off ladders with a running chainsaw in their hands. (That is a whole other story). We have around 30 toothbrushes, vomit trays in multiple colors, water jugs that measure your intake and cute little plastic containers to measure your output. If you need to stick it, swallow it, smear it on or drink it, we have it. We can make you cough or stop you from coughing.

By now, you see the point.

No explanation needed.

I remember the days on a farm in rural South Carolina when the outlay in medicinals was a bottle of merthiolate or mercurochrome for the less sadistic and a bandage torn from a piece of old bedsheet. If the injury was serious, you got the strip of cloth dipped in the fuel oil barrel. Seemed to work fine, and the mosquitos left you alone. For everything else, it was a dose of castor oil or paragoric.

I have come to the conclusion it is easier to run out and buy a new tube of Polysporin than look for one in the closet….unless the inventory specialist, Sharon is on duty. To those of you laughing….I can guarantee you are laughing with me and not at me!

Have a great week!


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