Those little brown pills

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Here we go again! No matter how much of a good time you’re having, somehow, something will always try to throw a wrench your way.

When I was on vacation, some of us were relaxing in our motel rooms in Atlanta, Ga. after leaving Dr. Martin Luther King’s burial site, I took a moment to catch up on one of my favorite soap operas. During the commercial breaks, a newscaster appeared long enough to make the following promotional announcement: &uot;Just when we thought that we had heard enough bad news about hormone replacement therapy, there is something else to report. Tune in at 6 p.m. to hear more about this report.&uot;

So much for a worry-free vacation….

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After hearing the newscaster, I jumped up and declared my plan to stop taking the hormone. &uot;I’m going to get off these things for good.&uot;

I had already decided that I was going to continue to take the estrogen until we got home so that I wouldn’t get overheated and sick while I was so far away from home. However. I soon got swept up in our next scheduled activity to visit the Underground and forgot about that announcement.

When we arrived back in Suffolk early Monday, I never went to bed. Instead, as I washed my laundry, I happened to hear a briefing on the news about the HRT study, which merely repeated previous reports that HRT causes more occurrences of breast cancer.

The report was stating that now estrogen alone was a risk, but not as large a risk as the combination HRT Progesterone and estrogen combined.

Just as I promised myself, I quit taking Premarin on Aug. 11. When I tried this once before, I suffered immensely. This time, I decided to add Black Cohosh Root to my daily intake. I was OK and felt pretty good for one week, but now I am experiencing an estrogen shortage.

I looked at the bottle of Black Cohosh Root. It said three tablets a day. Since I hate popping pills I was hoping the one pill would work along with the estrogen substitute tablet that I am taking in the place of Premarin.

I was only taking one tiny little brown Premarin estrogen tablet. That one pill took care of all of my discomfort and made me feel great while four medium capsules and one medium tablet are taking their time to even come close to that.

Here is another fact: I’m paying more for these medications with little relief. Black Cohosh, with 100 capsules, cost about $7.99 a bottle at three a day. That cuts the dosage down to about 30 days. The substitute HRT has about 30 tablets at $15 a box.

Here’s the thing: I am beginning to realize that instead of taking HRT, I am feeling HRT (hot, roasted and toasted) most of the time.

And I’m taking to heart some wise advice from my doctor and friends.

My physician told me during my last appointment: &uot;There is some risk but it is very low because you are on a low dosage.&uot;

And a doctor in an Aug. 11 new article: &uot;It isn’t the quantity of life but the quality of life.&uot;

And what my co-worker, Barbara Allen, told me yesterday makes a lot of sense. &uot;If God had intended for women to live without estrogen, He wouldn’t have put it in our bodies.&uot;

My good friend, June Bowers, a two-time cancer survivor, also said to me, &uot;Evelyn, you do what you have to do to feel your best and then ask God to protect you.&uot;

I am now sitting here in this office staring at this long, green substitute estrogen tablet and wondering if this is my second or third one today.

Oh shucks, you figure it out. I’m going home to find that beloved bottle of little brown pills.

Evelyn Wall is a staff writer and regular News-Herald columnist. She can be contacted at 934-9615 or