Tuesday, 17 April 2012
I’ve never liked taking medication. The idea of swallowing tablets to remedy some assumed biochemical imbalance has always seemed silly to me. Thinking back 35 years to my biology classes at school, I’m sure I remember the science master telling us that one of the wonders of the human body is its inherent ability to restore balance; as soon as it detects that there is too much (or too little) of something inside us - be it a hormone, a salt or an enzyme – this biochemical miracle that we all inhabit immediately responds to restore the status quo. So it seems to me counter-productive to take tablets of any kind as it must disrupt this natural process.
Throughout the first four decades of my life I generally succeeded in avoiding these toxic chemical intruders. OK, I did imbibe copious quantities of alcohol (just to be sociable) and I assume that, as a child, the docs must have injected me with anesthetic before surgically removing my tonsils, but I did manage to avoid pills of any kind. I even refused to take over-the-counter painkillers for a headache, and goodness knows I suffered many of those.
But age is a sneaky bastard! The rot set in during my early 40s when cold and flu-like symptoms seduced me into more than occasional use of paracetamol in the form of blackcurrant-flavoured “Lemsips”. Shortly after, years of alcohol abuse took its toll and I developed excessive stomach acid that only a daily 10 mg dose of Omeprazole (or Losec) could quench.
And then the hay-fever struck. For 49 years on this planet I showed no sign of this common allergy. But Age, in all its wisdom, determined from this point on that my immune system should view harmless tree pollen as if they were al-Qaeda terrorists. So each year, come March and April, I am afflicted by light-headedness, my nostrils streaming like two soda siphons and my eyes resembling those of a vampire after feasting on a fulsome virgin. Also, much to the annoyance of Mrs Jones and my two grown-up children, while sitting in the lounge watching TV my recurrent sneezing is extraordinarily loud and accompanied by my legs slowly rising into the air on the inward “Ah” breath only to flop onto the floor on the outward “Choo!”. Unlike my family, I typically tolerate these symptoms, but last week they were accompanied by a general feeling of malaise and loss of concentration (an unhelpful combination when you are at work) and I reluctantly sought the aid of medication.
I took the anti-histamines on two consecutive days. The inflammation of my throat, nasal cavities and eyes noticeably eased. But I suffered a disturbing side-effect, one that there was no mention of in the accompanying leaflet: my willy shrivelled! Sadly, I’m not blessed with the biggest manhood to begin with, but after taking these anti-histamine toxins I was virtually concave. This medication should come with the warning, “Side-effects may include dry mouth, drowsiness and a tendency to invert the male genitalia.”
I am participating in the Dude Write Starting Lineup this week where you can find some excellent posts by bloggers who happen to be dudes: http://dudewrite.blogspot.com)
Monday, 2 April 2012
My two children used to need me. For long periods of their childhoods if it wasn’t for me they would not have eaten, they would have suffered the agony of ulcerated groins and buttocks caused by prolonged contact with soiled nappies/diapers, and they would have had no means of transport to ferry them in “dad’s taxi” to football practice/sleep-overs at mates’ houses/school discos etc. Now aged 18 and 21, they are both young adults and, despite not yet having left the family home, the direction of dependency is beginning to change; I need them to rely on me, at least some of the time, for me to feel useful.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an overprotective dad who strives to control my kids’ lives or to deny they are now grown-ups. On the contrary, I bristle with pride when I bring to mind my accomplishments (OK my wife may have also made a contribution, but allow me to claim the credit in my hour of need) in fathering two children, nurturing them through each and every day of their childhoods, and enabling them to become the two contented and decent human beings they are today (granted, my son can sometimes be an obnoxious bastard with both me and Mrs Jones, but he’s yet to bring the police to our door!).
Anyway, last Sunday evening an image caught my eye that screamed, “Your children don’t need you anymore!” On Sundays I always cook the evening meal for the family (who said I wasn’t a modern man?). Traditional fare, of course, comprising a roast joint, Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes and veg. As always, I’d prepared enough grub for four and dished up around 6.30 pm. In response to my text prompts that the meal is ready, my 21-year-old son texts back to say he’s still in pub and to put his in the oven so he can eat it upon his return. Simultaneously, 18-year-old daughter phones to inform me that she had recently returned from a spontaneous visit to McDonald’s with her boyfriend and wasn’t hungry, but she may have it later. So just I and Mrs Jones sat to eat at a table set for four, the symbolism of the two vacant seats taunting us that things will never be the same again.
But the image that resonated deep into my psyche confronted me four hours later. At 10.30 pm I entered the kitchen en route to lock the back door as a prelude to retiring for the night. As I glanced to my left the oven light illuminated the picture, framed by the square oven door, of two plated meals (each covered by another plate to prevent drying up) one above the other, like flying-saucers in outer space, each a zillion miles from home with no hope of returning to base. I sighed, turned off the oven and went to bed.