Monday, October 19, 2020

Parkinson's update & where do they get those long drug names


(671 words)

My neurologist just prescribed me Amantadine to go along with my Pramipexole and Levothyroxine. Or as I call them, the little green one, the pink one and the medium tan one that tastes like the bottom of a farmer’s boot.

That’s three pills, 17 syllables.

The Amantadine is supposed to improve dexterity in my left arm, which Parkinson’s has rendered as useless as a deli window salami. Side effects include vivid hallucinations in 50 percent of the patients.

An Amantadine-taking friend of mine warned me of this. He has them. I asked him to describe what he sees.

“You see whatever’s most on your mind. With me, it’s roofers. We’re having new roofs put in on three of my properties so I’ve been thinking a lot about roofers.”

I wonder if I’ll start seeing naked waitresses bringing me trays of food and drink. That’s been a persistent fantasy of mine since puberty and the years have done nothing to diminish its potency.

Either way, I’m glad we don’t live in a house with a leaky roof.

There was good news from my neurologist. She says I’m beating Parkinson’s. Those were her exact words: “You’re beating Parkinson’s.”

“I can tell by looking at you you’re doing great. Still strong. Most patients at your stage (5 years since symptoms appeared) are showing significant struggles. You display none of those. That bodes very well for your future.”

I’m gratified, but I wonder if she’s taking drugs with side effects that include overly exuberant diagnoses to anxious patients.

I don’t feel like I’m beating Parkinson’s. Distracting it, maybe.

I know it’s one of those things that’ll be uppermost in my mind until the day I die, which leads me to fear I one day might transmit the disorder to all those naked waitresses I’m hoping will appear in my hallucinations.

I wonder how long it’ll be before the number of pills I take outnumber the number of fruits and vegetables I eat.

Or alcoholic beverages I guzzle.

I think every pill comes with prudent instructions to avoid alcohol.

To which I say, how the hell am I supposed to do that? I work in a building that has three bars lavish with booze. I daily stroll past two of them on my way up the stairs only occasionally succumbing to temptation’s pull. 

What am I supposed to do? Heave a grappling hook up onto the roof and scale the walls?

No. I’ll not let a little pill boss me around. I invite it into my body — my party — and I expect it to play nice with the other guests. 

I think I’ll begin to worry when I top 100 syllables in daily pharmaceuticals.

A big chunk of that could come if I’m ever diagnosed with melanoma. The skin disease is treated with Talimogene laherparepvec (tal IM oh jeen la her pa REP vek). I imagine the name hula hoops twice around the little pill bottle.

Then there’s OnabotulinumtoxinA, which sounds less like a treatment for debilitating motor skills and more like one of the brain puzzlers used to stump final round contestants at the National Spelling Bee.

Where do these names come from and do the smock-wearing namers ever try to name a pill Phil?

Well, it turns out the naming of a generic drug is highly regulated — and informative. Each syllable tells a story.

Reliable web sites — are there any other kind? — say “Pharmaceutical names are assigned according to a scheme in which specific syllables in the drug name (called stems) convey information about the chemical structure, action, or indication of the drug.”

So, conceivably, there are men and women who have committed to memory vowel-devouring words of up to 20 letters. I have no idea of how to identify these people by sight but if one day one them becomes my partner in a high-stakes game of Scrabble, man, you’re going to hear about it.

Because a rose by any other name is still a rose.

Same goes for Dapagliflozin.

Related …

So, okay, I have Parkinson’s

The suicide pill 

Prince & the Nation that pees purple

In the ring: fighting Parkinson’s with boxing

Deep sixing heart attack plans

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