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Where does your medicine come from?

December 06, 1997

Where does your medicine come from?

I've been editing a lot lately, which means I get to read all kinds of interesting stories that come across the news wires. A lot of them don't make it in the paper - some because there's not enough room, and others because they are totally disgusting and/or smack of lewdity.

(Lewdity rhymes with nudity. It has a nice ring to it. Therefore I use it. If there is no such word, forgive me.)

Other stories that are pretty disgusting but have redeeming value do make it into the paper, as a service to our readers.

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Whether or not they make it, many of these stories are, if not socially acceptable, interesting.

Such was the case with one recent story that particularly intrigued me. The story said that the kind of estrogen I'm taking to prevent brittle bones, hot flashes, migraine headaches and insanity (due to menopause) comes from horse urine.

Ahhhh, horse urine. Yes. Just what I want to ingest every day. Horse urine.

The story made me think. It made me think about the fact that horse urine is, contrary to popular belief, useful to mankind. It made me think about how this important health resource is gathered. It made me think about how I might want to stop taking estrogen.

That last thought quickly dissolved in my age-addled mind, when I realized I have no desire to die in a pool of night sweats brought on by hormone imbalance. Neither do I want to spend the rest of my life trying to see through zigzagged neon lights flashing in my field of vision.

I do not want to walk around worrying about which bone will snap next. I do not want to go berserk and have all my worldly goods (a gathering of dust motes, a litter box, some feathers, stones and driftwood), placed in control of a court-appointed lawyer.

So, after brief but deep thought I made a decision: Horse urine it is.

It was shortly after this thought that I had another. It was about my brother. That seemed somehow appropriate.

I thought about a discussion I had with him on the phone before my last neck surgery to remove a cyst the doctor told me grew as a result of a birth defect. It was the second primordial lump to grow there, and the doctor couldn't guarantee there wouldn't be more.

Why I thought about this conversation I don't know. Perhaps it was a flashback induced by post traumatic stress brought on by the fact I was forced to grow up in the same house with my brother.

Whatever the reason, I thought about this conversation. I had called Ralph about something else, but he brought up my impending surgery. He seized on the subject as if he had lockjaw (a warming thought). It's a subject he can't seem to let go of.

"Hey, I hear you've got another one of those weird lumps," he said. "Birth defect, you say? No doubt about that ... . So they're getting ready to slice and dice again, huh? They're going to carve another lump outta your neck ... . Did you warn the surgeon. I mean, he's going to be looking at something coming outta your body. I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't gag him."

"SHUT UP, RALPH!!!!" I said.

"HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA," he continued.

He was at my mom's house in Ohio at the time of our conversation. I asked to speak to her while he was incapable of speech due to uncontrolled laughter.

"Hi honey," mom said. "Maybe they could just leave a permanent hole there."

"Where?" (I was confused.)

"In your neck," she said. "That way they could pull 'em out as they grew, instead of having to cut you open every time."

"Mom, can I talk to Ralph again?"

"Are you sick, honey?" she asked.

Ralph got back on the line.

"I was just thinking," he said. "If I'd a hair more ambition I could have ruled the world ... . Just think of it!!"

"I'd rather think about my surgery," I said.

Or horse urine.

Terry Talbert is a Herald-Mail staff writer.

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