Rather than being rose-coloured, my New Year glasses are a pale, duck egg blue. Innocuous Little Blue Pills have recently replaced an ever-increasing array of pain killers so effectively that the world itself looks new. But, dear reader, I am loath to discuss my Little Blue Pills with you. I’m striving to understand my utter distaste of this topic, and several possibilities come to mind:
I dislike medicine.
Reliance on pills seems to me to be frail somehow.
I take Panadol behind closed doors, such is my embarrassment.
The whole idea of a chemically supported life irks me as much as a mechanically supported life – a thought that does not bear scrutiny well.
Nonetheless, I am resolved to tell all. I can’t maintain a blog dedicated, as my banner says, to: “Honesty & Faith: my experience of life as a Christian with a Motor Neurone Disorder” if I start withholding. So, here we go……
One Little Blue Pill
“Endep is an old style, tricyclic antidepressant.”
“Is this a trick?” I interrupted with foreboding panic, “Are we back in the loony bin again?”
“But”, my local neurologist continued, unperturbed by my outburst, “taken in very low doses it has a remarkable effect on nerve pain”. (Apparently it blocks the signals of pain whereas painkillers merely suppress it … somehow…)
“I want you to try one tablet, and then a couple of weeks later two, and so on till you get to four or five tablets. I think you will find it helps a lot”.
And it does indeed! Within a few days most of the dozen other daily tablets prescribed the doctors in Melbourne were unnecessary. It’s a strong drug: in the mornings your eyes detach from your brain for an hour or three, pursuing their own independent interests, and your mouth is as dry as the proverbial sandwich. It must be strong stuff: I felt alive again. I made longer bus trips away from home, and – astoundingly – I noticed my voice returning just a little.
The ante-pre-penultimate dose…
A week or so later the effect wore off, but two Little Blue Pills did the same job and more. My Favourite Wife and I heard Handle’s Messiah performed in Melbourne; a wonderful weekend that I had honestly feared for weeks. We had taken a break three months earlier which didn’t go so well, but armed with Little Blue Pills I was fine and dandy.
The pre-penultimate dose…
Christmas came and went, and once again the prescription wore off. Three Little Blue Pills, however, took us up to Sydney for our annual holiday; and what a beautiful time that was. With Three Little Blue Pills I rediscovered the voice amplifier which had lain disused for some five months. I even dug out my old elbow crutches – the subject of my first ever blog – and made a gradual trek from back door to beach sand! Incredible.
The penultimate dose
Four Little Blue Pills; and I have recommenced a daily walk to the letterbox and back; a distance of about forty feet perhaps, which takes me – oh – ten minutes? I stopped this daily regime of exercise before mid year; and so, as you can see, these pills are quite miraculous, the closest thing to a wonder drug that I have ever seen.
The ultimate dose?
Five Little Blue Pills is the target the neurologist set. When with the ultimate dose arrive? And what if they wear thin, just as one, two, and three Little Blue Pills seem to have done? Strangely though, this is far from the only question troubling my mind. I routinely make a mountain out of nothing, but indulge me in this:
Firstly, it’s harder than you might imagine aligning your thoughts to improvement when decline has been slow and unremitting for several years. Improvement is causing my thoughts to swing erratically between recovery and demise. In a recent daydream I saw myself enrolling once again at university, graduating with honours and then setting out in a brand new career! On other days I cannot see beyond another cold Victorian winter.
Secondly, it challenges my faith. Just as I wonder why the good doctors didn’t suggest Little Blue Pills 12 months ago – and goodness knows I’ve asked for help – so I wonder why the good Lord didn’t suggest them sooner too! I wonder about the nature of miracles; about the interplay of divine intervention and science; I wonder what healing really means; I wonder about the meaning of life, and the purpose of suffering. From Little Pills, Big Questions grow!
This is my conclusion: I don’t know.
I cannot know why a certain thing happens now rather than then; any more than I know now what may happen when. The miracle-working Christ was curiously harsh on people who looked for miracles: “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign”, (Matt 12:39), perhaps because the true miracle is life itself. If I analyse the miracle of life too deeply I become a one-man inquisition; inevitably rejecting both God and hope. The art of living is to enjoy the miracle of each day with gratitude, shedding the entanglements of doubt and fear.