My wrists and hands had seized up, I couldn’t type, and I had to meet an article deadline.
Time to see my caring MD.
Doc Jones whacked my wrists with a reflex hammer. The sensation approximated that of Godzilla bashing them with the trunk of a Giant Sequoia, and my scream rattled the doctor’s coffee cup in its saucer. “Hmm, tiny bit sensitive, eh? You need WHA––Wrist Hand Action. They’re capsules.”
My hands dangled like pieces of raw codfish. If they stayed that way, the only jobs open to me would be treading grapes, Irish dancing, or kicking drunks from bars.
Trembling, I asked, “Any bad side effects from WHA, doc?”
“Funny you should mention that. My drug rep took me to a six-course dinner last night, and by the time we got to our fourth brandy, he mentioned how absolutely terrific WHA is. He’s reliable one percent of the time––and that’s good for a drug rep.” He handed me a prescription. “Enjoy!”
I went to the pharmacy, got my vial of capsules and instructions, went home, and read: SIDE EFFECTS.
GENERAL: Tiredness, gas, headache, drowsiness, sudden weight gain, constipation and unexplained depression.
I get these all the time, so I skipped that section.
SLURRED SPEECH: If you get this side effect, call for help immediately.
Oh sure! I’d phone and say, “Shi’ve guts slorred speesheeps. Conneeyoo shur-shelp?” Anyone on the receiving end of this would hang up. I mean, wouldn’t you?
MEDICAL EVENTS: A medical event isn’t a banjo jamboree for urologists, or a bungee-jumping contest for suicide counselors. A medical event is when your body is imploding and exploding at the same time and no matter how quick the ambulance is, it will always arrive too late.
DANGEROUS SIDE EFFECTS: These include (but are not limited to) facial swelling, blisters, burst intestines, kidney failure, a hole appearing [didn’t say where], liver disintegration, heart failure . . . .
The list went on. So if I take WHA, any body part or organ of mine could explode, fall off, go on strike, swell up, and as a grand finale, kill me. In fact, a well-trained dangerous side effect in top condition and fighting fit could kill me so fast it would leave the Grim Reaper cursing because he missed me.
I stared into the mirror to check if my brain had burst from its skull or if black slime flowed from my eye sockets. I tore off my clothes to check if my skin had blisters, rashes, or hedgehog spines. And I hadn’t even opened my vial of capsules, never mind swallowed one.
I needed to meet my deadline, so I had to risk taking WHA. I wrote my farewell letter and left it on my computer screen.
To Whom It May Concern:
If all that is left of me is a pile of rotting meat, or if I went supernova and there is a black hole where I used to sit, or if my body parts or organs are dripping from the walls and ceiling, don’t cry for me; IT WAS ONLY A FATAL SIDE EFFECT. On the whole, though, I’ve had a good life.
P.S. If you ever have to take WHA, be prepared: carry a body bag around with you.
I picked up my vial and in one go snapped it open. I looked at the capsules and wished I were doing something safer––like playing Russian roulette. Of course, seized-up hands and wrists are nothing compared to a medical event or death . . . wait a minute, had I said NOTHING? I’d removed the vial cap with no pain. NOTHING. Ditto typing the e-mail. I wiggled my hands and wrists. They’d never felt better. Then I knew. Whoopee for reading about those side effects! THEY’D SCARED ME HEALTHY!
So that leaves me with only one question.
Would anyone out there like thirty WHA capsules?
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Michael John is a freelance writer.