Pataday Keeps the Doctor Away

January 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Joy and Temperance and Repose
Slam the door on the doctor’s nose.”

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This bottle of Pataday, an ophthalmic antihistamine, has been expired since May. I’ve been aware of it. Unopened, it has sat in my bathroom mirror cabinet for months. It’s not that I haven’t had use for it, I certainly have. I am a contact lens wearer who suffers from Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis (GPC), a non contagious condition where the inner surface of the eyelids becomes inflamed and uncomfortable. Growing up around and later working in my father’s optometry practice before my current job, I know better. Drops at night, cold compresses, etc. But I’m busy, I’m young, I’d rather be on my computer, reading a book, running on the treadmill, or anything else rather than take care of myself because it’s not THAT bad. Perhaps I fear the un-lived life.

Subscribing to that attitude can become a slippery slope. GPC is not degenerative, it just creates discomfort. The worst that could happen is that I could lose the ability to wear contacts for a time. However, ignoring prescribed orders or alluding simple steps  to heal is dangerous territory.

For example, a 30-something member of my family has had unexplained chest pain and heart palpitations for years. Left unchecked, the condition got worse under exercise and increased daily stress. Out of sheer necessity this individual only recently had it checked. Even amidst all of this talk about health care in the U.S., most of the people I know who have good benefits don’t take advantage of them when they should. It’s not an issue of affording their co-pays or possible prescriptions, it’s idleness or repose. Or is it fear of the diagnosis? For the fortunate, has readily available health care been taken for granted? Why do we wait until a symptom or an ailment becomes worrisome and impossible to ignore?

As one who as been guilty of this in the past, I’ll try to answer my own question: No one wants to consider their expiration. I think we all want to believe in our youth, vigor and invincibility. But for some of us, having an illness, or an ongoing symptom is a sign we’re fallible beings–a topic to be ignored.

Like this Pataday box, we all have an invisible expiration date stamped on us.  If we ignore its approach and remain unchecked, we’ll end up rotten in a dark bathroom mirror cabinet, a complete waste.

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