Greek-American Stories: I’ve got a Drug Problem

Αssociated Press

(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Yup! It’s true! Let me explain. When I came home after shopping, I saw that my husband Bill was in bed, covered up to his chin, and his eyes half shut. It was noon. “What’s wrong?” I asked. He looked up over the covers and said in a voice just above a whisper, “I’m sick! It may be my last.”

“You always say that, Bill. But, you’re still here.” He didn’t laugh. That’s when I realized, he was really sick. I got the thermometer and gave it to him. It read, 99.0. “You’re not that sick, Bill.” That ruffled him. “That thermometer must be broken.” So, I used it and it read, 98.6. Normal. It’s not broken.

“I ought to know how I feel. Call the doctor!”

So, I did. He said to bring him in. That ruffled Bill further. “If I could I go to his office, I couldn’t be that sick. I’m in bed and can’t get up. Tell him to prescribe something.” So, I did. He sent a prescription to our pharmacy, and I went to get it. While I was there, I picked up a bottle of aspirin, just in case. Once home, I read that he has to take one pill in the morning and another at night. It was still noon, so, I decided to give him an aspirin until the night time dose.

That’s when my problems started. I remember a time when you bought a bottle of aspirin; you’d open it up and took a pill or two. Not anymore. Now the bottle has a thin, tight layer of plastic wrapped around the cap. My nails couldn’t rip it off. So, I used a knife. On the box I read that the bottle was sealed to prevent kids from opening it. I can’t think of one kid who’d like to eat an aspirin. The next step is trying to open the cap. It said to match the two arrows evenly and then press down and twist counter clockwise. But the cap was green, and so were the arrows. It took me a while to find the arrows let alone match them up. Then, I pushed down and tried to rotate the cap. Nothing.

Bill moaned. “Where th’ hell’s th’ medicine? I bet my fever is over a hundred by now.” I told him it’s coming. “Just be patient, Bill.” When I realized it was unlikely I’d get the cap off soon, I went to the basement to search for a wrench in Bill’s hardly ever used collection of tools. I tried to pry it by tightening the wrench around the cap, but it wouldn’t budge.

Just then, Nicko, my grandson dropped in. He asked what I was doing. I explained. He took it and gave it a twist and, voila! It opened. So, it was really just yiayia-proof. The directions should read, “if you can’t do it, get some kid to do it.”

Unfortunately, Nicko left and I now had to get the taut seal that was located under the lid. There was no extension piece so that I could pull it off. The wrench was useless. So, I took a long, pointed knife and stabbed it. Inside, there was a huge wad of cotton; enough for a woman in a village in Greece to weave a rug. Finally, I got to the aspirin. But, by now it was almost time for the prescription pill.

Bill, now raging for his life-saving drug, was sounding desperate. But, the prescription bottle was no easier than the aspirin. Bill, impatient, said, ‘Give me it!”  He had it open in seconds. I handed the pill to Bill with a glass of water, and then read the paper enclosed in the prescription package aloud. “Listen to this! It lists the side effects, Bill. It says, if you experience swelling of the tongue, eyes or lips, feel nauseous, hallucinate or feel suicidal, please stop the medication immediately and call your physician. How do you feel, Bill?”

He looked down at the pill in his hand, then gazed up at me with cocker Spaniel eyes and said, “Know something? I feel a lot better, somehow. I’ll just take an aspirin.”