He handed me a tissue and a small bright orange box. As I wiped my eyes I tried to focus on the label; I was amazed that someone could put together such an obscure combination of letters to create a name. I pulled out the foil insert.
“Zinacoxoquil?” I said as I fingered the plastic bubbles that covered fourteen round orange tablets.
The doctor never looked up as he spoke, “Yes, it has been very successful in treating depression with anxiety. I am going to give you eight weeks of samples and write you a script to fill if they work well for you.”
The tagline under the name read, Your daily dose of sunshine. I scoffed and mumbled, “Mother’s little helper, eh?”
“What about therapy? Can you refer me to someone that I can talk to?”
“Sure, I can refer you, but I don’t know if your insurance will cover it. I’ll have the nurse check…”
He continued to write in my file, and I stared at the orange box of manufactured sunshine. I thought of my friend who told me that I just needed to lean on God more. At that moment I was positive of one thing, I needed to lean on her less.
“Do you ever wonder if it’s cheating somehow? Ya know, using drugs to zero out all the bad feelings?”
I saw his eyes scan to the top of my file, as if to remind himself of my name and add sincerity to his next statement, “Moyra, if you broke your leg, would it be wrong to cast it? Or to give you crutches while your body heals?”
I considered this for a few moments. He returned to his scribbling.
“But, if I never took the cast off, wouldn’t I atrophy? Don’t most people who start these types of meds take them indefinitely?”
“Some, but not necessarily all,” there was a knock at the door, and the nurse squeezed her head through the gap and gestured for him. “Excuse me a moment,” he got up and shut the door behind him.
“Why am I here?” I wondered out loud.
That question catapulted me back to the incident—the reason I made an appointment. I had been spiraling for weeks to the point that it felt like an ugly alien was wearing my skin...
“Mommy, can I have a pretzel?” Charlotte asked from the kitchen gate.
“Fine, here’s one for you, and one for your sister…now go play while I finish making supper.”
She vanished for thirty seconds and returned, “Mommy, Mommy…Mommy!”
“Two pretzels, please.”
“No. Supper’s almost finished. Go.”
“Mommy, I am hungry…” she drew out her garbled three year old dialect with a sustained whine.
“Shush, you’re whining is killing my soul, child. Now go play before I come unglued!”
Our ridiculously unintelligent Labrador began to bark incessantly. Beyond annoyed, I peered out the kitchen window to see her hopping on her hind legs as she frightened the Metamucil out of our eighty year old neighbor. Since he walked like molasses in winter, it drew out the barking fit for an eternity. I swung open the back door at full velocity, “Zoe! Leave him alone and get in her before I kill you!” The canine genius tossed me a half a glance over her shoulder, and then resumed her tirade.
All the while, the toddler whine fest continued, “Three pretzels, Mommy! Cookie, Mommy! Mommy, two cookies, Mommy! Mooommeee!”
I turned the burner off and dropped the spatula. Orange tomato basil sauce splashed across my shoe, speckling the front of the maple cabinets. I clutched the back of a kitchen chair, and pointed my face to the ceiling. In a frantic, booming voice I shouted, “Father God! In the name of Jesus! Give me patience, Lord! I can’t take it anymore! Help me deal with these kids, and…”
A fragile, non-whining voice interrupted, “Mommy? Are you praying?”
I leveled my eyes to hers and exploded, “Yes, because you are driving me crazy!”
Charlotte began a long, mournful sob. The look on her face cut me to my core, and I ran to her. I scooped her up and clutched her to me, “Mommy’s so sorry, baby…so sorry...”
The nurse opened the door, and I wiped the fresh tears with my hand. She extended a glass of water to me and a little plastic cup holding two orange tablets.
I thought again of my Charlotte’s sweet face, and chose the lesser of two evils.
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