My primary care doctor is awesome the way she writes down everything I say and offers such good solutions. Three years ago she wrote me a prescription for Ambien that I was too chicken to fill. I sent her an email the day before yesterday. Could she write me another one now, I wondered, adding a good 200 words of unnecessary blah-blah about how This didn’t work and That didn’t work and how I had Tried All Else and was ruining my marriage with all this sighing and turning over and sighing some more.
Her response was brief:
“I’d be happy to do this for you.”
So now I’m here sitting on the edge of the tub with all 14 of my 10 mg Ambien babies, each one to be cut in half and the whole lot of them meant to last until June. (That’s fine, that’s cool. I won’t need this stuff more often than once every 14 days I figure.) And I’m reading the 10,000 words of warning that come with any drug these days.
Is it just me or are these not the oddest few paragraphs ever composed by the medical community? They sound earnest and panicky both. They sound like they were written by a 15-year old is what they sound like. Read on, starting with the first part with its echoes of the Baltimore Catechism:
“Q. What is the most important information I should know about Ambien?
“A. AFTER TAKING AMBIEN, YOU MAY GET OUT OF BED WHILE NOT BEING FULLY AWAKE AND DO AN ACTIVITY THAT YOU DO NOT KNOW YOU ARE DOING. THE NEXT MORNING, YOU MAY NOT REMEMBER THAT YOU DID ANYTHING DURING THE NIGHT. YOU HAVE HIGHER CHANCE FOR DOING THESE ACTIVITIES IF YOU DRINK OR TAKE OTHER MEDICINES THAT MAKE YOU SLEEPY.”
It goes on:
“With Ambien reported activities include:
· Driving a car (“Sleep Driving”)
· Making and eating food
· Talking on the phone
· Having sex
“Call your doctor right away if you find out that you have done any of the above activities after taking Ambien!
“1. Take Ambien exactly as prescribed. Do not take more Ambien then prescribed. TAKE AMBIEN RIGHT BEFORE YOU GET IN BED, NOT SOONER.
“2. Do not take Ambien if you: (a) drink alcohol; (b) take other medicines that can make you sleepy. Talk to your doctor about all of your medicines. A doctor will tell you if you can take Ambien with your other medicines: (c) cannot get a full night’s sleep.
And then under the heading “What are the possible side effects of Ambien?” is this:
“Serious side effects of Ambien include: GETTING OUT OF BED WHILE NOT BEING FULLY AWAKE AND DOING AN ACTIVITY THAT YOU DO NOT KNOW YOU ARE DOING. (See “What is the most important information I should know about Ambien?)”
I don’t know, maybe it isn’t all that funny but I just liked it. Down there in the small print is the usual list of grave side effects, “aggressive behavior, confusion, agitation, hallucinations, memory loss, anxiety, dizziness, diarrhea, a ‘drugged’ feeling” and so on, but it’s mighty clear that the main one they’re worried about is the idea of you popping out of your little trundle bed to do something that you and the makers of Ambien will regret and that you might even try suing them for, even in spite of the fact that we TRIED to tell you, using all the capital letters in the alphabet!