The Perils of Aging…and Folic Acid

Aging has many perils and I don’t like any of them.  Just so you know.

I recently had bloodwork drawn, and week before last, the doctor’s office called and said I had low blood sodium and the doctor said to eat more salt.  What?  Did I hear this right?  This must be the first time in history that a doctor said to eat more salt rather than less.  So I said, well I guess that won’t be hard to do!  The nurse said, I hear you.  I spend all my time trying to eat less salt.  I wish someone would tell ME to eat more salt.

But guess what?  It IS hard to do.  Once I thought about it, I realized it wasn’t going to be that easy.  I already use salt on my food.  If I added more, it would be inedible. So I did a little informal survey on Facebook, and got two interesting suggestions.  One was, take salt pills. I thought that was a little extreme, but it may be the route I have to take.  The other suggestion was, eat a lot of potato chips.   Well, I don’t hate potato chips, but I don’t like them that much either. How could I eat them every day? So, so far, I’m not doing anything about that advice.  Which is not really a good idea.  Limited research on my part tells me that normal blood sodium is a very good thing to have.

At the same time we had the sodium discussion, the nurse informed me I also had a low red blood cell count, though not enough to count as anemia, and they would get back to me.  The doctor had ordered more tests, fortunately on the same blood.  Because pigs would fly before I went back to give them another sample.

So last week they called to give me the results of the further testing, which revealed that I have low folic acid.  Really?  What the hell is folic acid?  The only bell it rang for me is that I remembered pregnant women are supposed to have a lot of it.  But whatever it is, the doctor wants me to take 1 mg. a day.

So of course, I looked it up.  It turns out folic acid (aka B9) helps in the production of red blood cells.  Aha.  Among many other good things it does.  So I decided this was advice I would take. (Actually, I would take the advice about sodium too, but I just don’t know how much is “more”.)

So  on Friday, I get to the pharmacy section in my home-away-from-home, Publix grocery, and the only size folic acid they have is 400 mcg.

So I take it to the counter, and I lucked up and got the little spiky-haired, Buddy Holly glasses-wearing, never-smiling pharmacy technician named Josh.  Josh is a technician because he is a pharmacist-in-training. He gets to wear a blue lab coat like the real pharmacists.

So why, you may ask, was this lucky?  Because I like him.  Behind that wry, stoic exterior is a guy with a great sense of humor who is trying to stifle it in the interest of being serious and professional.  I recognize a kindred spirit when I see one.

Once I went there to pick up a prescription and Josh said, Hi, Ms. Fakename, what can I do for you?  I said, NOOOO.  This is really bad when the pharmacist recognizes you.  He said, Really?  Why?  I said, it means I’m here too often, and must be taking too many medications.  Actually I only take three, but they all seem to expire at different times so I feel like I should get frequent flyer miles for the number of times I’m at the Publix pharmacy counter.

On Friday, I said, Josh, I’m here to pick up a prescription, and also, I need a math lesson.  He ALMOST, almost smiled.  Setting the bottle of folic acid on the counter, I said, how much of a milligram is 400 mcg?

He said, 0.4 mg.  So you need 2 1/2 of these.  Do you have a pill splitter?  (Good little salesman.)  I do, I said, but it basically sucks.  So he showed me the model they for some reason hide behind the counter.  (Razor blades!  Danger Danger!  But the ones they have on the customer side of the counter have razor blades too.  They all do.  I don’t get it.)  So I bought one, but by the time I left the store I regretted it.  I had already decided I was only taking two of the pills a day (800 mcg.)  That is just going to have to do.

I’m just not anxious to add to that three-medication total. But it’s inevitable that I will have to.  There is only so much I can remember and pay attention to.  And I absolutely draw the line at one of those pill boxes where you put all your medications for a day.  The day I can’t remember what I’m supposed to be taking and when is the day I give up and join the zombies.  I am not ready to be a zombie.



2 responses to “The Perils of Aging…and Folic Acid

  1. For more sodium, try pickles and soup.

  2. I have little compartmentalized pill boxes, morning and evening. That way I get to open the little bottles (calcium, vitamin, prescription stuff, etc) once a week instead of every day. It’s not that I can’t remember what to take when – it’s a labor-saving strategy.
    Plus I use a pill-splitter because one of the OTC things my doctor recommends does not seem to come in the small dosage suggested.

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