Patching Things Up

Have you ever used a transdermal patch?  It’s like a George Foreman grill for the body: Set it and forget it!  When you slap on one of those babies, you can passively self-medicate for hours or even days without a second thought.

If you’re not familiar with them, here’s how they work…gluey plastic patches, laced with substances (medications, hormones, vitamins, etc.) slowly release their contents through the skin and into the bloodstream.  You can patch it and forget it.

I have had two experiences with transdermal patches.  The first was 10 years ago; I bought nicotine patches to help me quit smoking.  The warning label was very specific about two things.  First, users are strongly cautioned against smoking while wearing the patch.  Second, users’ sleep might be “disrupted” by wearing the patch to bed.  However, this could be avoided by removing the patch at night and reapplying it in the morning.  Hmm, I wondered.  What’s that all about?

NIGHTMARES!  That’s what.  The first night, I dreamt that I was on a chain gang working the coal mines.  There I was, shuffling along, covered in soot, chipping away in the gloomy, soul-sucking blackness.  But that wasn’t the scary part.  In the dream, the light from my miner’s cap revealed that I was smoking!  The directions clearly stated that you must not smoke while wearing the patch.  As an obsessive rule follower, this transgression made me more upset than being forced to labor in a dark and toxic mine shaft, shackled to the dregs of society.

Never one to give up easily, and not wanting to take my patch off (lest it not work as well), I wore it to bed on the second night.  Also, I am stubborn and sometimes not too bright.  This time, my dream turned me into a remorseless monster.  I stood over the dead body of a complete stranger, a smoking gun in my hand. “Dream me” didn’t feel one bit sorry that I’d taken a human life.  But I was all in a tizzy over flouting the rules again; a cigarette dangled from my gun-moll lips.  I awoke in a panic.  What a relief to discover that I hadn’t actually smoked.  Oh yeah, I was also glad I hadn’t actually killed anybody.

For the record, the patch worked for me, and I successfully kicked the habit.

My second encounter with patches is much more personal, but I will share it, because we are friends…


As we all know, there comes a time in a woman’s life when things begin to change.  The medical community calls this menopause.  Women have other names for it: mean-o-pause (because the mood swings are swift and legendary), men-on-pause (because the only thing less interesting than sex would be sitting through a Steven Seagal film retrospective), mental-pause (because you find yourself staring into an open refrigerator until you remember you’re looking for paper towels).  Me?  I called it total and utter living hell (no explanation necessary).

I was still in my 30’s when the process began, so none of my friends could relate.  Some actually thought it was funny, while others suggested I was exaggerating my symptoms.  Well, now they are all relating (not so funny anymore, is it ladies?).  The hormone replacement patch was the best thing I did for myself (way better than cranking up the air conditioning in December or storing my jewelry in the freezer until it was time to wear it).  Those little sticky squares saved me from going off the deep end.  By the time I stopped using them, the worst was over.  The patch had gotten me through the hardest part.

That made me think, what if there were patches for getting over other hard parts of life?  Break ups.  The first year of marriage.  Your children’s teenage years.

Those patches don’t exist, but there’s always duct tape.

So, when someone breaks your heart, you can maintain a healthy weight (by taping your refrigerator shut to prevent eating raw cookie dough in your pajamas at noon).  Or use it to maintain positive self-esteem (by covering the buttons on your smartphone.  You won’t be able to obsessively stalk your ex on Facebook or drunk dial).   When your teens turn on the sassy backtalk or complain about nothing to eat in the house, you can patch out (by placing tape over your ears).  And that first year of marriage?  What can stop you from saying things you don’t mean, while your buttons are being pushed or your last nerve is being pinched?  Yup…duct tape.  And you know where to put it.