‘Roid Rage

     When the cure adds a vile new dimension to the disease, maybe it’s better just to be sick.
     I stopped taking a prescription steroid this week because it made me mad at my puppy.
     He was wandering around the house, acting like a dog, and it was pissing me off. …
     No wonder professional athletes are such buttheads.
     I have a lung disease of uncertain provenance that makes it impossible to breathe. I am wracked with coughs – I love that phrase – and haven’t had a night’s sleep in 3 weeks.
     But U.S. medicine today frowns upon a) antibiotics and b) painkillers, so a succession of doctors, who diagnosed my problem as 1) “insult to the lungs, with complications,” or 2) bronchitis, or 3) tracheitis, or (I like this one) 4) “90-day cough” (I don’t really like that one) – as I was saying, these doctors thought that antibiotics was not the way to go.
     And painkillers – heavens, no.
     Codeine, of course, is the only thing that whacks a cough smartly on the head, but as I understand it, codeine may lead to cessation of pain, so that’s out.
     A week of coughing until I puked, however, persuaded a doctor to write me a prescription for codeine. It came in a cute little bottle such as Junkie Barbie might stash in her filthy purse, with directions to take 1 teaspoon “by mouth” (thanks) at bedtime.
     What is wrong with these people?
     In my lust for pleasure, I took the codeine during the day. I ran out of it, of course, and dragged my sorry ass back to the doc to beg for antibiotics.
     This time I got a prescription for an antibiotic and a steroid, Prednisone.
     Side effects of Prednisone include insomnia and irritability – and that’s putting it mildly. Prednisone reduced my sleep from about 4 hours a night to 2, and boy, did it make me cranky.
     A friend of mine who kicked field goals for a big university told me about ‘roid rage. The trainers shot up the team as they lifted iron. You had no choice about it if you wanted to play college ball. This kicker was a little guy, about 160 lbs., good-natured, likes to work with children. The steroids got him so pumped up he picked up a linebacker and threw him against a wall.
     Did the same thing to me. The phrase “simmering rage” describes it precisely. I lived at low boil, constantly on the verge of … something.
     After a week on steroids, I did not like one damn bit the way my puppy was acting. Strolling around the house as if he owned the place. He stood here beside me on Tuesday, looking out the window in the most annoying manner.
     Finally I realized what was happening.
     ‘Roid rage. I never hit my puppy, or even yell at him. I was merely becoming insane. So I tossed the steroids.
     That night I did not sleep at all. I hacked and wheezed and groaned and finally said to hell with it around 1 a.m., got up and edited this page, in a rage, from 1 to 9 a.m.
     It’s so noisy and stressful during those hours, in a little town in Vermont.
     Two days off the steroids now, and I’m settling down. Still sick, but not insane.
     So far as I can tell.
     I’ve had some vile diseases: dysentery, hepatitis A, pleurisy and pneumonia. But those were decent, hard-working bacilli and viruses. They were honest about trying to kill me.
     This steroid tried to kill me while claiming it would cure me. It was like living with a Republican Congress.

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