Monday, July 11, 2011

Does Size Matter?

This post is in response to a prompt on Eric Krause's blog,

It's not that I ever wanted to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Nor did I ever consider entering an Olympic high jump or pole vault competition. All I really wanted was to be able to reach the top shelf at the grocery store without standing on my tippy toes, standing on the bottom shelf or, if necessary asking another shopper or store employee to grab a box of FiberOne granola bars. (Why do they always put them on the top shelf?)

While browsing Facebook one day, I saw a link to an article in the Wall Street Journal about a new designer drug that could put a particular drug company back on track. Multiple lawsuits against the company had resulted from TV commercials claiming that birth defects may have resulted from taking any drug they had ever made and the stock had dropped considerably. This new medication, taken in liquid form, could actually cause a temporary growth spurt of up to six inches which would last as long as 24 hours. According to studies, it wasn't recommended that the drug be taken daily, but on an occasional basis it was shown to do no harm in monkeys whose growth was stunted through heredity. Could I possibly be like one of those monkeys? Although my mother was considered short at 5'2", my sister and my cousin were the exact same height as me--4'10-1/2". It seemed worth looking into.

The day after reading the article I made an appointment with my physician to discuss it. Well, actually, I don't see a physician. When I have a medical problem I go to the physician's office and see the Nurse Practitioner. In five years I have never once met the doctor who owns the practice. Although he's a General Practitioner, he and his wife specialize in cosmetic procedures and work together in the office adjoining the one I visit injecting Botox and fillers into wrinkles for baby boomers who are tired of hairstyles with bangs to cover their creasing foreheads and wearing turtlenecks to hide their newly wattled necks. But I digress.

A few days later I went to see the NP and asked her about this new drug. She had read the same article but didn't pay much attention. At a height of 5'8" it didn't interest her in a personal way. I explained to her that I'm terrified of ladders and asked her if she could prescribe it to me so that I might be able to clean the tops of my cabinets while just standing on my little step stool and perform other such tasks that she probably took for granted. After looking over my medical records, she saw no contra-indications and within 30 minutes I was on my way to the pharmacy to fill the prescription.

The next morning, I carefully measured the prescribed dosage and swallowed it in one gulp, like a shot of flavored vodka. I hadn't read the warnings that accompanied the bottle in pharmacy bag but I felt confident I had nothing to worry about. Surely the NP would have told me if there were side effects so I headed for the shower. Daydreaming about what it would be like to have to raise the shower head, I could feel some tingling throughout my body.

Now that I was squeaky clean, I dried my hair and went to get dressed. I got out my favorite jeans and when I stepped into them I found that I couldn't quite pull them up over my thighs. I dropped them to the floor and ran back to look in the bathroom mirror. There was no question that I was taller although I couldn't estimate by how many inches. The horrifying figure that I saw, however, was also wider!

Naked and barefoot I sprinted to the kitchen to read the side effects and there it was. "DO NOT TAKE WITHOUT FOOD. This medication may cause an increase in height up to 6" but when taken on an empty stomach, it may also cause an equal increase in width." With tears in my eyes I returned to the bedroom, put on an oversized tee shirt and yoga pants and waited for the effects to wear off and wondered what was I thinking? Does my short stature really matter that much to me?

Next time I read an article about new medications in the Wall Street Journal, I'll remember they are referring to stock prices of the pharmaceutical companies, not effectiveness or safety of the drugs.