The wine flows freely around me, riding the wave of murmured conversation. Shaky hands leave red crop circles on white linen table tops. I’d lap it up, but the little white sticker on my pill bottles tell me not to. I haven’t had a drink in… actually, I don’t remember the last time I had a drink. It must have been back when Plaquenil was the only weapon in my Lupus fighting arsenal.
Ah, Plaquenil. A different “P,” certainly not evil, but a steadfast and enduring part of my body’s chemical make-up for almost 9 years. It has been the only constant in this crazy medical experiment of mine. It has always been with me. It has always been in me. And that, one of my keepers stated emphatically, merits a blog post.
Plaquenil is an anti-malarial drug that can be used to treat rheumatic diseases like Lupus. No one knows why it is effective in decreasing damage to the tissues of the joints, skin and other organs in the body. It just does. And for a while, it did for me. When it wasn’t enough, I convinced myself it was because I didn’t want to take more medication. I’ve been on it since my first big flare-up, when my heart was getting squished by the swelling tissues of it’s lining. I was on it through years of Costochodritis (chest wall inflammation), yellow extremities, swelled up joints, limping, brain fog, Lupus headaches, nausea, vein inflammation, fatigue, months without appetite, and manic Lupus Cerebritis brain inflammation. These days, Dr. H. keeps Plaquenil around because it’s always been around, although I wonder if it’s doing anything at all. I mean, what exactly was it doing when my body was falling apart? No offense “Constant P,” but you did a pretty shit ass job the last few years.
Yah, okay, FINE… I did a pretty shit ass job of taking care of myself, too.
What can one pill really do against a ravenous, hyperactive immune system and a stressed out, rest-hungry, in denial, overworked (by choice), ridiculous woman? Constant P needed help a long time ago. I needed help. There’s only so much you can do alone.
I scan the room, past the glint of wine glasses, open mouths and the petaled crowns of flowered centrepieces. I see the outlines of people who received my Lupus Cerebritis-laced letters, who heard the manic stories, people who hadn’t seen me since. Two of my keepers flank me on either side, their warm smiles reminding me not to care. We raise our glasses in a toast – red to my left, white to my right, and my orange punch sloshing happily at the centre. We toast to general awesomeness, to “us,” and I gladly bring my non-alcoholic beverage to my lips because really, when you think about it, mine tastes just as good.