Thursday, December 23, 2010

Roid Rage

In response to my wife’s chronic sinus maladies, we finally broke down and decided to consult a specialist. He spent an hour or so giving the misses a once-over and decided that she needed a strong round of Prednisone to clear up any remaining intranasal inflammation. For those of you unfamiliar with this wonder drug, it is a steroid that suppresses the immune system to reduce swelling and inflammation. In our case, my wife was given double the normal adult dose. Partially because her condition was somewhat severe and partially because the prescribing physician is not married to her and knew her return appointment was scheduled for well after the effects would have worn off.

I had taken Prednisone before to somewhat dramatic effect, its euphoric highs being balanced out by long philosophical soliloquies that usually ended with me crying on the couch. I silently prayed that Ashley did not suffer a similar fate, but it was not to be.

At first, the effects were negligible; but after several days a change began to overtake my spouse and I became a man living in fear. Rudderless anger was the most conspicuous side effect and it would erupt with no warning. Something as innocuous as a misplaced hand-towel or the asymmetrical arrangement of periodicals on the coffee table would lead to a heated confrontation.

One particular evening I had gotten home from work early and was sitting on the couch when I heard the familiar humming of the garage door opener. Sweat began to adorn my brow as my eyes swept the living room for points of contention. Were the television remotes arranged by button quantity? Was the ottoman askew? Were my soiled boxers still adorning the entertainment center?   I felt like the kids in Jurassic Park staring hopelessly at the glass of water as the T-Rex approached to devour them. Unfortunately, seven years of marriage had taught me that lying motionless on the couch did not prevent my wife from seeing me nor did such behavior mitigate her anger.

Oddly enough, her contempt was not limited to waking consciousness. The tiny pills also produced what I referred to as “violent insomnia” in which she would grunt and flail wildly at the slightest noise or mattress vibration. One night as I lay motionless in a fit of paralyzed terror, she kept yelling at me to stop “jiggling around” although I hadn’t moved in ten minutes and my heart rate had dipped to dangerous levels. Had the sink started dripping, I feared she would have to be sedated and restrained. I remained motionless until she huffed the words “finally” (although I hadn’t shifted for the duration of the episode) and she fell back into a fitful slumber.

That is not to say that unbridled wrath was the only result. One particular day, after we had spoken a few cross words about the arrangement of the mail, I retreated to my man cave to gather my thoughts and plan the easiest way to slip her a barbiturate. However, after about ten minutes had passed I heard uncontrollable sobbing from the living room and immediately emerged expecting to be informed that all of my in-laws had perished during a Harry Potter screening. I hadn’t seen my wife that distraught since the matrimonial debut of my “dance of seduction.”

Between the violent bursts of tears I was able to discern only a single word: “Wolfie.” I quickly racked my brain searching for a childhood friend or distant relative who could have acquired such an unusual moniker but could produce nothing. It was only minutes later, after finally regaining her composure, that she revealed the source of her heartbreak. 

It turns out that “Wolfie” was the heroic canine who had just been shot on a stirring episode of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. This chilling act of poorly-scripted animal cruelty had sent my wife into an emotional tailspin. I instinctively changed the channel (to avoid any other ill-timed frontier hijinks) and began consoling my wife by assuring her that Wolfie’s sacrifice had not been in vain. She seemed to accept this, and for the remainder of the evening I made sure to only approach her position at perpendicular angles.

After two weeks of chemical enhancement, my compassionate loving wife was returned to me and I was able to shift positions in the night without having a pillow firmly placed over my airway. In the future, I may stipulate that any physician wishing to prescribe Prednisone to my wife be required to board her for the duration of treatment. 

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