Friday, February 8, 2008

Thank Goodness for Pharmaceuticals

Many drugs that are obtainable only by prescription in the United States can be purchased over the counter here in Panama. Right now I'm glad of that.

Every two or three years my back gives out on me. I feel something slip at the very bottom of my lower back, and suddenly I can barely move for three or four days. The pain is intense, even when lying down. I've had this problem since I was in high school, and it's not always obvious what triggers it. It eventually goes away on its own, but in the meantime I'm practically an invalid.

Well, it happened again yesterday. Even with ibuprofen or acetaminophen I can barely walk. I remembered reading a discussion on the Panama Forum a few months ago about over-the-counter painkillers in Panama. Someone had said that a powerful painkiller called Tramadol (brand name Tramacet) can be purchased over the counter here. It's an opiate, like a mild form of morphine.

So I asked Laura to check the local pharmacy here in El Valle, and sure enough they had one small package in stock. I popped two of these tiny pills, and within 30 minutes or so I was warm, sleepy and pain free. I napped all afternoon long and when I woke up I was able to walk without pain.

What a relief! When you're healthy you forget what a gift and a joy it is to be free of pain. Thank goodness for pharmaceuticals when you need 'em.

P.S. Yes Mom, I'm being careful, getting plenty of rest, not straining my back. Laura rubbed in some "icy hot" for me. Don't worry, I won't become addicted to Tramadol.

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