‘SO WHAT APPEARS TO BE THE TROUBLE?’ asked the doctor.
‘It’s like this doc,’ I replied. ‘I’m sleepy most of the time. My hands are shaking, I feel dizzy, my heartbeat is rapid, I have a dry mouth, I’m sweating excessively, putting on weight. My speech is slurred, I am aggressive and I have a congested nose.’
‘Hmmm’, replied the doctor. ‘Anything else?’
‘Well, now you mention it,’ I said, ‘I am quite often confused and easily agitated; I have sexual problems, feel thirsty, there’s a numbness in my arms and legs and my pupils are dilated. I am fatigued, I think I have a low sodium concentration in my blood and I suffer from occasional urinary tract disorders.’
‘Is that it?’ asked the doctor.
‘More or less’ I replied. ‘But I do occasionally have difficulty sleeping, suffer convulsions, tinnitus, diarrhoea, vomiting, get a skin rash, have trouble passing water, can feel eyeball pressure , sense I am about to collapse and there’s a liver function impairment’.
‘And how long have you been suffering these symptoms?’
‘Let me see, doc. They seem to have started on August 15.’
The doctor looked at his records.
‘Hmmm. How strange. That’s the day after we put you on your latest medication.’
‘Good heavens, doc! Could the two facts possibly be even remotely connected?’
My doctor laughed out loud. ‘You realise what you are suggesting, Mortimer?’
‘Well, I just thought there might be the slightest chance that. . .’
’You are suggesting that the medication, provided at great expense by the National Health Service having been developed at even greater expense by some of the largest and most prestigious pharmaceutical companies in the world might possibly be DOINGyou more harm than good!’
‘Well, no, it’s not that, doc, it’s just that. . .’
‘Do you realise just how many beneficial contents there are in that pill I prescribed for you?’
‘No, I’m afraid I don’t, doc.’
‘Well, maybe should be made aware.’ He took out and unfolded a small leaflet and began to reel them off.
‘Microcrystalline cellulose (E460) maize starch, colloidal anhydrous silica,’ he read, pausing only to take in my stupefied expression. ‘There’s also magnesium stearate, hypromellose (E464) titanium dioxide (E171), macrogol’. He paused to draw a deep breath before continuing. ‘The 10mg tablet also contains indigo carmine (E132), the 25mg tablet also contains talc (ES53B), quinolone yellow (E104), iron oxide (E172) and sunset yellow(E110).’
Phew! He was out of breath. ‘Thank you, doc,’ I said.
‘Now are you possibly suggesting that there is anything among those contents that could be anything other than purely natural for the human body?’
‘Well, of course not,’ I said with a sneaky smile. ‘They all sound just as natural as clear running mountain water or a freshly peeled orange’.
‘All right, Mortimer’, he GROWLED. ‘If you insist on being a troublemaker, perhaps you might like to try the following prescription?’ He tore a sheet from his pad and thrust it into my hand.
‘But doc, there is nothing written on this!’
‘Precisely. Nothing at all! And that is what I am suggesting you take from now on: nothing at all! Just see where that gets you!’
‘You mean that from now on I should rely on the likes of clear running mountain water or freshly peeled oranges?’
‘Yes,’ he beamed. ‘And while you’re at it why not go the whole hog with those health freaks who have obviously brainwashed you? Walk every day and exercise regularly!’
I made my preparations to leave. I was feeling nervous at the prospect of not swallowing a handful of pills every day! What on earth was I letting myself in for? Could the whole thing be cataclysmic?
As I moved towards the door, the doctor took hold of my arm. There was a strange look in his eye, one of almost wild, barely suppressed high anxiety.
‘Do it, Mortimer,’ he begged. ‘Please do it. Someone has to. You have no idea what. . . what. . . I . . .’
And at that he broke off, closed the door behind him and left me to my new, pill-less state.
The quoted side effects are taken verbatim from a leaflet enclosed with the prescription medication Amitriptyline.The three categories of effects are (in order) listed as very common, common or uncommon.