Tuesday, 18 December 2012

On the fringe of madness

There are various ways of defining madness but if the latest episode from the Klinik Kesihatan Seberang Jaya is anything to go by, this must be the latest addition to the ever-growing list of definition.

As one grows older, the chances get higher that sooner or later we will be inflicted with the most common of ailments such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. Some people are more unfortunate and succumb to even more serious health problems. I've been fortunate: most of my health problems are mainly the blood pressure and sugar and for many years already, I've been on daily medication.

About three years ago after my retirement, I decided to switch my consultations to the KKSJ. After all, why should I pay something like RM100 monthly to the private clinic (for a person who is out of work, this is a strain on my pockets whether I like it or not) when I can still get my supply of the same medicine - or its equivalent - for only RM5 per visit to the government clinic once every three months?

So for years, I've been going to the KKSJ. Over the course of time, the doctors there had added medication for cholesterol to my needs. But my cholesterol level is not high to warrant taking this medicine, I had protested then. You see, I'm a firm believer of taking a capsule of Omega-3 fish oil every morning and my cholesterol level is still within the accepted range.

"Nonsense," the doctor told me, "at your age, it is better to start some control now before it suddenly shoots up without notice." Then he added lovastatin to my list of medication. "Don't worry," he tried to assure me, "this is the minimal dosage, just 20mg every alternate day."

The bastard, I thought to myself, I'm going to have a big problem trying to remember which day I had taken the medicine and which day I had not. Maybe I should just cut the tablet into two halves of 10mg each and take one half every day. Which was what I've been doing consistently ever since.

Then on Monday after my latest visit to the government clinic, the pharmacy there issued me with this strip of eight 40mg Simvor tablets.

"You'll have to cut it into two," the lady behind the counter told me.

Strange, the word bastard sprang into my mind again without any prompting. Split the pill into two, I muttered to myself. Heck, more likely, I shall have to split it into four.

So here I am today with my pill cutter all ready at hand and trying my best to cut the first pill into four pieces.

But first, this is the pill in my palm, see? Notice how big it is? No matter, if I have to cut it, then cut it I shall. So I positioned it carefully in the pill cutter, making sure that the blade would come down neatly on the dividing line in the centre of the pill.

Darn, the blade must be misaligned a bit when I looked.down at my first attempt. One of the halves was bigger than the other. Never mind, what's done is done. Now to slice up both halves into quarters.

After another moment's work, I ended up with four pieces. But that wasn't the end of the story. Suddenly, I thought to myself that maybe this wasn't right.

Perhaps I should have eight pieces instead of four. That's taking leave of my senses, you see, basically because by this time I was rather enjoying the work of cutting up my medicine. Chop, chop, chop.

So finally, I ended up with eight uneven pieces from one big pill.

Unfortunately, what a mess I've made. Oh well, silly me, I can't be level-headed all the time, right?

But seriously, why can't the government clinics issue me with their normal supply of cholesterol medicine? There have been absolutely no problem in the past one year or so. Why the sudden change in the medication?

I'm lucky because I know how to read and reason (although not always without hilarious consequences) but this constant changes in government medical supplies is probably why some senior people get confused after they visit the government hospital and clinics.

My mother-in-law is one such hapless victim of government inefficiency. After every visit to the government clinic, she would come home with a big bundle of medicine and invariably, one or more of her medication would be packed differently. The dosage is still be the same, the pharmacy would assure her but the fact that one, she is illiterate and two, the blister strips or the medicine cartons are differently packed or presented means that she is absolutely confused every time.

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