Is this like it is?

When he sat down, I could see from the way his grey-blue eyes sat in the eye sockets, white on three sides, the iris slightly to the top of the eyelid, that this man was very toxic. He was dressed in an executive way. White collar, tie, dark  trousers,  neatly  polished,  black  slip-on  shoes.  His  greying  hair  cut  short,  parted  on  the  side.  His  ashen  grey complexion,  even  his  lips,  eyes,  appeared  unnaturally  white,  further  indicated  toxicity.  The  skin  looked  dry  and lined.  His  hands,  well  cared  for,  held  either  side  of  the  wingback  chair  in  a  relaxed  manner.  He  sat  back  into  the chair, holding his body like someone who was used to being in charge of situations. I waited for him to speak.

“I  will  say  it  like  it  is”.  His  voice  was  firm,  familiar  to  the  sound  of  words,  nuances,  utterances,  silences,  to communicate his opinions. “I want to know from you, is it really that dangerous to use painkillers daily?” His eyes had  now  shifted  into  a  “So,  now  you  know”  look,  observing  my  reaction  to  his  question.  Depending  on  how  he judged my response, he would choose his reaction.

“My doctor does not seem to be too perturbed. I have regular blood checks to determine kidney and liver function. I don’t  drink  alcohol  and  I  do  not  smoke.  I  try  to  eat  well.  I  regularly  go  to  gym  for  workouts.”  By  now,  there  was  a mixture of defiance, concern, and pleading in the well modulated voice.

“What painkillers do you use and how many per day?” I asked in a voice as neutral as possible.

His gaze shifted slightly to the right, coming back to meet my eyes. “Depending on my headaches, I will take 2 or 3 as I wake up. Then, through the day I will usually take a few more.” He was uncomfortable to tell the full extent of his addiction.

“How many pills a day, and what type?” I asked again. He flashed a quick look at me, “Per week more or less 100 to 150 pills”. Now his eyes had naked fear pouring from them. “Sometimes I can get it down to 50 or 80; my body seems  to  cope.  But  I  am worried  what  will  happen  at  work  if  they  find  out.  I  am  a  bank  manager  and  work  under great  pressure.  My  addition  is  getting  worse  –  it  is  all  I  can  think of  all  day  long.”  His  pleading  voice,  his  rounded shoulders,  showed  his  anguish.  Gone  was  the  self-assured  man,  replaced  by  the  will-less  defeated  addict.  This man’s story is not unique. People can become addicted to many different substances and behaviour patterns. What is of concern is just how prevalent it is.

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