Heartburn and the Unseen

Last night before bed I had a wicked case of heartburn. For whatever reason, I get heartburn a lot. Thankfully, ranitidine doesn’t just make me feel better. It makes the simply heartburn go away. It cures it. I find this amaing, and I’m very grateful for it. (Regular antacid is simply not enough.) A few times recently, when I’ve been away from home and didn’t have my pills, heartburn has completely destroyed my sleep, leaving me fatigued and aching all the next day. Until recently, the drug required a prescription. But now a bottle of ranitidine can be had at WalMart for $4. There are 65 pills in a bottle, each one–worth about $.16–a small salvation from misery.

Perhaps my heartburn is a symptom of a stressful modern life. Or perhaps I’m approaching my middle years. Either way, the problem is as good as solved. But the hellish nights and dragging days I have not slogged through are not something I notice–not something that ordinarily enters into my estimation of how good I have it. But it is a part of how good I have it. A world of comfortable beds, shoes that fit, basic indoor climate control, and $4 bottles of ranitidine is a world of massively reduced low-grade suffering. We would do even better if we would spare a moment now and then to reflect on the wonder of this, to allow ourselves to feel gratitude for all those things that give us the comfort to be aggravated by distant injustice and overwhelmed by a superabundance of possibilities in life.

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