The drugs

Man, do I hate the drugs.

Tomorrow it’s eight months since my cellphone rang just as I settled on the couch, snuggly winter jammies on, to (unusually for me) do some work. Mozart was playing on the iPod hi-fi connection.

Since then, after  some rejection while still in hospital, the detante between myself and my new liver has been cordial, even genial. The drugs?


For the last few weeks my skin has been super-dry, and it crawls. My neck is incredibly itchy. I struggle to sleep, although during the day when I am busy it’s OK.

Last night I went to have blood tests that I hope will lead to my doctor reducing my drugs dose. There is always the chance that I am wrong and there is some other problem, but this is exactly how my skin felt late last year when the drugs dose was too high. I am pretty convinced it’s the drugs’ fault.

I do wonder what makes the dose go too high. I mean, I am not that much thinner (I lost about 4kg). Maybe my body is just getting increasingly efficient? Maybe going back to yoga and walking made it so? Perhaps the digestive bacteria I started taking means I absorb more? I’m not a medical expert, so I have no idea.

All I do know is every post-transplant problem I have had has been thanks to these necessary evils, the drugs. I hate them. I resent taking them, but I know I have to.

It’s drugs that, in part, got me in this place in the first place. Some of the tumours found in my liver – benign ones – were related to the contraceptive pill. I should have known. I never found one that suited me. Taking the Pill was an endless round of migraines, “women’s troubles”, nausea and diminished libido.

What’s amazing is I am lucky. The drugs people had to take 15-20 years ago, perhaps even 10 years ago, had far worse side effects. For me, if the dose is optimal, I am actually without side effects (that I know of). I also live, however, with perpetual anxiety over what these drugs are doing to me while I live oblivious. You pay for life with death, and I wonder if it is the drugs that, in the end, will kill me!

I have a friend who has a congenital pancreatic condition, and diabetes. We share whispered commiserations at the office water cooler. He is my example of “You never know how lucky you are” (Dr Seuss book). I am most certainly far better off than he.

One of the commiserations we share, often, is this -the drugs he has to take also give him grief. (Lovely South African phrase, that).

Yes, the drugs – can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em.

For me there is far more joy than not in life, but these drugs are a bitter pill to swallow.


2 thoughts on “The drugs

    1. Sadly, Antoinette, I can’t live without these drugs. They dampen my immune system, which allows my body to accept my new liver. Your body, through your immune system, rejects alien organisms, and without the drugs I would reject my liver.

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