Rheumatoid Arthritis and Swallowing Pills

Seth Ginsberg Health Guide
  • I try not to take things for granted in this world. Out of all of my friends, I seem to be the one who is always most thankful for the little things and big things alike - from the weather to subway efficiency to (relative) world peace, and everything in between. Yet, the other day, I realized one thing I have taken for granted for many years, and it mortified me.

    I can swallow nearly anything.

    Yes, it is conceivable that saying something like that out loud could come out horrifically wrong, but in this case I'm speaking in terms of pills and vitamins. All I have to do is throw 'em back there and gulp down a sip of water and as many as seven (a personal record) pills go down at once. This occurred to me when I noticed a nifty pill cutter on a friend's counter-top the other day. I asked if she was doing the trick where you get an Rx for twice the dose, then cut it in half, to save money (your doctor will be impressed with your frugality if you suggest that to her). She went on to explain that she cuts pills in half because she can't swallow a whole pill at once. Which, in that moment,  surprised me.

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    Then I thought about it for a minute and realized that I have been swallowing pills since I was 14 years old. The first year I was diagnosed with arthritis I had never swallowed a pill before, so I was prescribed the liquid form of the medicine. This had two specific ramifications on my life, even to this day. The first is that I quickly learned how to swallow pills, because the taste of the liquid was so terrible! I can still faintly experience the bitter, wrenching, car-battery-esque taste of that awful stuff. I began practicing with M&M's (under supervision of course) and caught on pretty quickly, well, as quickly as I could muster the courage to teach myself how to swallow -- it's rather frightening at first.

    The second ramification was that as a result of that liquid medicine I took as a child, I also effectively became immune to the taste of tequila or any other hard liquor as an adult. What great irony! I remember the first time I swallowed a pill in the corner of the kitchen growing up. And, as it turns out, I also remember my first shot of tequila. While everyone else was wincing, I was saying "you guys, it's really not bad -- you should taste the crap I grew up sipping."

    So now I no longer take swallowing pills for granted. I'm really lucky I know how to do it right -- with a full glass of (non-alcoholic) liquid.

Published On: July 20, 2009