The Cocktail Hour

Nick’s specialist has copied us in to the letter he sent to the GP with his recommendations for the change of medications that we had discussed at last week’s appointment. The GP will then prescribe the medicines to the pharmacy. The recommendation was to increase the medication to help calm Nick’s movements, and also to add a new drug to reduce anxiety and aid sleep. In time, this should replace the anti-depressants that Nick has been taking for years but that will require a gradual tailing off.
So yet another pill has been added to the list and it’s quite a substantial cocktail.
I find it a bit frightening. Isn’t that a lot of different medications and won’t some of them have side effects when mixed together like this? And what about their effects when mixed with alcohol? Like…a lot of alcohol?
Nick still airily says to health professionals that he enjoys one or two glasses of wine most evenings. I think they now know from his case notes to add a prefix of  twenty”. 
The specialist was non-committal; frankly, he said, it was impossible to say. It was a question of damage limitation. Not exactly reassuring words, but then, what else could he say? Drug companies test on a massive scale but I doubt any of them would add that amount of booze into their reckoning.

I once saw a piece of art commissioned by the Wellcome Trust to demonstrate the typical increase in medication for the average man and woman from birth to old age. Each one was represented by a long strip of fabric embellished with pills and tablets. After a sprinkling of childhood inoculations, inhalers and cough treatments, not much decoration appeared for several decades, though the woman had a more steady pattern of intervention, from painkillers for periods in adolescence to HRT later on. 
But by the late 50s and 60s the fabrics for both sexes were punctuated with pills, patches, potions, poisons, the works. Not so much of a cocktail as a walking pharmacy, rattling all the way into the grave. 
It looked beautiful, laid out tenderly under lights like a rare Oriental textile; but its message was horrific and I always remembered it. As I remember it now, walking to the chemist to collect the next package of meds.
What effect are they having and what effect can they have with all that wine in the mix? I’m not sure I am happy about it but I trust the specialist and simply have to hope for the best. I think that’s about all any of us can do under the circs.