The Midlife Vitamin Shop

My medicine cabinet looks like a nursing home has been secretly stockpiling drugs in my bathroom. Aside from all the necessities for a hangover (the 3 A's---Aspirin, Alka Seltzer, and Advil) and the usual creams promising to de-wrinkle skin as leathery as a catcher's mitt, I also have tons of supplements on my shelves. In fact, there are so many supplements that I have to use a second medicine cabinet just to fit them all in.

Each morning I lay out all my pills in a neat row like little soldiers. Other than black cohosh for menopause, almost everything else is for heart health and my immune system. Other than extreme hot flashes, irritability and an appetite that could rival Genghis Khan's, I'm pretty healthy, but very paranoid. So I take supplements to supplement my other supplements. If I continue on this path of collecting every pill Dr. Oz recommends to promote longevity, I might have to buy stock in Walgreens or CVS just to supply my habit. 

You name it, I've got it: garlic pills, fish oil, flaxseed oil, magnesium, cinnamon, CoQ10, Vitamin D, baby aspirin and a multivitamin. The biggest problem is the flavors do not mix well - 10 minutes after I take them I'm bloated and burping garlic cinnamon fish and have to wash it all down with a cherry antacid followed by a cup of green tea. God only knows what that weird combination looks like in my stomach. Luckily, I take fiber supplements too, and you all know what THAT is for!

As if two medicine cabinets are not enough, my husband and I have two more "special" drawers of medicine. This is where all the gross stuff is hidden in case someone nosy uses the bathroom and wants to root around in the medicine cabinet. We should probably put a lock on these drawers because no one wants to know that one of us actually uses this stuff. And it's not me, I swear - these ones belong to my husband. Gas X, A & D Ointment, Lamisil, Immodium, Bengay and Preparation H. I’s a party on the geriatric ward, and everyone’s invited! 

There are other weird tubes in there too - scary stuff that dates back to 1992, and even, Dear Lord, an enema kit. Why is the couple on the outside packaging smiling? Who wakes up in the morning and says, "Wow! Can't wait to eat some egg whites on dry toast with black coffee and an enema on the side!!"

My multivitamin promises to boost my energy level so that I can fold a month's worth of laundry into neat little squares, organize my spice rack alphabetically and do jumping jacks at 2:00 am without needing a wink of sleep. So why are my eyelids drooping down to my chin every day after lunch?

Before menopause I had crazy amounts of energy. Everyone was always asking me if my morning coffee was administered through an IV drip. People looked at me as if I was a Chatty Cathy doll on speed. Now I'm more like sluggish Sammy on sleeping pills. Forget a measly cup of coffee - I need to carry around the entire pot in a hip holster or use an industrial size thermos large enough to serve 10 burly construction workers. 

I tried energy drinks for a while but I started getting those strange looks from people again, and besides the kids were sneaking cans for themselves. So like a true addict, I had to hide my stash. Problem is the kids always found it, so I started counting the cans left in the case (yes, I bought my energy drinks by the case load) and leaving sticky notes all over them: "DON'T TOUCH!"...."DRINK AND YOU WILL FACE MOM'S WRATH!"..."YOU'LL BE THE VICTIM OF A SURPRISE COLONOSCOPY IF YOU TOUCH MY DRINKS!" I've since learned to limit myself to 2-3 per week, but I still hide the cans in places the kids will never bother to look, like the bottom of their dirty laundry hamper because God knows they never go in there.

Sometimes all the pills and ointments get confusing, and if I don't have my contacts in, it can get really interesting. I once squirted nail strengthening serum in my eyes because the bottles looked similar. Recently my husband started to squeeze a line of A&D Ointment across his toothbrush. I suppose it would have kept his teeth from chafing.

What I don't get is how people can actually buy prescriptions with dangerous side effects. I see it all the time on TV. Hair loss? Take a pill. Depression? Severe indigestion? There's a pill for that too. Overactive bladder? Erectile dysfunction? Nail fungus? Insomnia? Just one quick phone call and there’s a pill for that! Then the announcer mumbles of list of side effects masked by soothing music accompanying a gorgeous couple playing frisbee on the beach at sunset. Why would anyone want a pill that may cause stroke, heart attack, blurred vision, suicidal tendencies, hair loss, rashes, acne or having to wait for a bowel movement that never comes?

I don't want to wake up some morning bald with a third thumb growing out of my elbow. No thanks. I'll just stick to my supplements and catch the next bus out to the senior citizens center.

This post was originally published at The Menopausal Mother.


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