I am eating a lot of pills right now. I could be taking more, but I’m kind of administering them selectively. Most the time it is working, but when I’m off, I’m really off and I pay the price.
I’ve never been big on taking pills, but this is a completely different scenario than I’ve been involved in before. You need to take pills to kill the pain. And then you have to take pills that counter the side effects of the other pills. I feel like Richard Virenque who after denying taking anything in the Festina Affair, admitted under oath he took something like 1000 injects that year. That seemed like a huge number to me. And now, after the surgery, I have a huge number of pill bottles laying around here.
I’ve only recently started understanding how many different medicines that are prescribed here in the United States. It is unreal. But, that isn’t what this post is about. It’s about trying to get common medicine, at least for us, in other countries.
I went down to Brazil to race a Specialized Catus Cup back in the late 90′s. I took Trudi with me and Todd Tanner, then a downhill rider, went too.
A couple days before the race, we went out to the jungle outside of Sao Paulo to do a photo shoot with a Brazilian MTB magazine. When we got done with the shoot, we were driving on a dirt road and came upon a woman that was walking by herself. We had this translator with us, his name was Arturo. He was was a strange dude, sort of a modern day Renaissance guy. He told the driver to stop and asked the woman if she wanted a ride into the city, which was a few miles away. She said yes instantly.
She got into the car and Arturo asked her what she was doing. She said that she was walking into this very small village to get some Aspirin for her sick kid. The child had a fever for the previous 3 days. This was all in Portuguese, so I had no idea what they were talking about. Arturo out of the blue asked me if I had any aspirin with me. I had my toilet kit and happened to have a medium size ( for the US) bottle of aspirin. He told the driver to stop driving and we went back to my bag and got the aspirin. It was a bottle of 250 or so I’d probably bought at Walgreens for 2 dollars.
Arturo said she would like to buy 10 from me and offered me 10 Brazilian Real, which was just about one to one back then. I thought, what is she talking about. Everything was much cheaper in Brazil then. I told her that I would just give her the aspirin. After thinking about it for a second, I took 10 aspirin out of the bottle to keep and gave her the rest of the bottle.
That is when it started getting weird. She said that she absolutely would not take the bottle of aspirin. I could tell by the tone of her voice that she was adamant about it. I told Arturo to explain to her that these pills were very inexpensive in the United States and that I really didn’t want to fly back with them. He explained, but it was no use.
I can’t remember exactly how it turned out, but she paid me money for some aspirin. I think I maybe convinced her to take a handful and she gave me the 10 R$. The was nothing I could do to not except the money.
I’ve thought about this woman and the encounter lots over the years. I sort of understand it, but probably will never completely understand all the reasons that this woman was too proud to except free medicine from a stranger. And, I’ll never understand why these important pills/medicine, was so expensive for a poor Brazilian woman. Out of all the experiences I had on that trip, this stands out most.