Saturday, April 30, 2011

Goodbye, my friends and enemies

Today was the DEA's National Take-Back Prescription Drugs event. I knew it was coming, as did Frank. He wanted me to clear out the Cabinet of Pharmaceutical Delights, now that the only prescription medication I take is hormones.

What Frank doesn't comprehend is that I've been keeping those medications "just in case." In case it all happens again. In case my brain implodes. In case I want to kill myself. Mostly, I was holding onto all of those medications in case I decided to kill myself.

Last night, Frank asked me what I was going to get rid of. I told him that I had to think about it. At about 11:00 last night, I held a meeting with The Cabinet of Pharmaceutical Delights. I lined up all of the bottles (about 35 total) and explained that not everyone was going to be able to stay.

All combined, the medications would have made a fabulously lethal cocktail guaranteed to grant me a painless exit from this world. My plan has always been to wait for a night with sub-zero temperatures, heavily overdose myself on everything on hand, and then go and lie down outside (out front, in front of the porch, so my body would be convenient and easy to move), and just die from either the drugs or hypothermia. My stash includes an anti-emetic to help guarantee a successful exit.

When I saw all of the bottles lined up along the counter, it brought a sad realization about how hard I have tried to find relief from my brain, from my thoughts, and from my physical discomfort. So much money, so much science, so much disappointment.

It was time to cull the stash, at least enough so Frank would feel I was sincere about getting rid of "dangerous" drugs. I started.

  • Lyrica: gone. It made me fat and stupid. I estimate I had about $800 worth of pills.

  • Lexapro: gone. It made me live in a severe mixed state.

  • Wellbutrin: gone. It made me super-manic and sent me into the stratosphere.

  • Trazadone. Hmmm. I never took it. It was prescribed for sleep, actually, but when I read it was an anti-psychotic for schizophrenics, I was so embarrassed and frightened, I refused to take it. I heard it could be lethal in an overdose, though, so I kept refilling the prescription anyway. I decided to keep it. I'm not convinced I won't need it some day.

  • Vicodin: gone. Makes me throw up relentlessly.

  • Baclofen. Keep.

  • Ambien. gone. Mostly, it made me hypno-shop online. It also made me cry relentlessly.

  • Lamictal. gone. Unnecessary.

  • Hydroxyzine. Keep. Prescribed to alter nerve activity, it failed at that but it does wonders when my allergies don't respond to anything else.

  • DriTuss. gone. It was old, and if I get pneumonia gain, I'll get something current.

  • DuraTuss. gone. See above.

  • Bextra. gone. Useless.

  • Celebrex. gone. Useless.

  • Diclofenac. Keep. A fabulous NSAID when ibuprofen can't get it done.

  • Oxycodone: gone. It was, like, 10 years old.

  • Lithium. gone. I do not have bipolar disorder. It also made me fat and screwed up my thyroid, so it deserves the incinerator.

  • Xanax, four different types. I kept all of it. I like it for when I can't sleep. It's out of my system quickly and doesn't seem to have side-effects.

  • Lunesta. gone. I swear it's a placebo.

  • Valium. Seriously? Keep.

  • Elmiron. gone. It did not cure my bladder of bad behavior.

There were others, nothing very interesting, most just way past their prime. I had forgotten they were in the house.

I dropped off my medications at a local hospital. That was the designated spot for my area. As I approached the drop-off area, I could see a couple dozen pharmacy students trying to prevent reams of pamphlets from blowing off a long row of tables. Ahead of me, a large group of police officers and DEA agents waited at the curb. I hadn't thought about this. I mean, I knew the DEA was sponsoring the event, but I thought the students would be greeting us as we pulled up. That was a benign image in my head throughout the process. It hadn't occurred to me I would have to be around cops. I took a deep breath and waited my turn in the drive-by drop-off.

I had a fairly large plastic bag of drugs on the seat next to me. I pulled it into my lap. When I was first in line, a smiling cop came to the window, extended a bright green nylon bag to take the deposit, and asked, "Do you have any questions? Would you like to talk to a pharmacist today?" I told him that, no, I was pretty up-to-date on my medication knowledge.

Before I could pull away, a young Asian man in a starched, white lab coat leaned in and handed me a pamphlet. He said, "Here's some information for you."

I glanced at the title, "Talking to your doctor about pain." I didn't know whether to laugh or throw it at him. Instead, I said, "That's timely. I'm in excruciating pain, but trust me, there is no pharmaceutical way to address it."

He insisted I talk to a pharmacist. Right then. I pulled over to the curb and waited a second. A man in his sixties approached my car. He shook my hand and introduced himself as the dean of the pharmacy program at the local university. Wow.

We chatted about my options--how I think I don't have any and how he believes I just haven't found the right doctor (yeah, no kidding). He suggested opioids, and I thought, "Buddy, that is the last thing I should have in my possession. That would make exit way too easy."

I smiled and thanked him for the information, while shingles neuralgia made it impossible for me to lean back in the driver's seat. As I pulled away, tears started coursing down my cheeks. I immediately regretted getting rid of the drugs I had hoped would help me, and then had kept on hand so they could kill me. I had just committed myself to a harder way out, if out was what I eventually chose. I had finally admitted that there was no better living through chemistry. My moods and brain blips were going to be all mine to bear, as were my physical pain and nervous system malfunctions.

I cried the whole way home. Ten point two miles.

Again? Seriously??

I have shingles again for the third time in three years.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

You may be an asshole, but you're saving me money

Dear Dr. Asshole, A year ago, you called me a nutjob and said that my issues were obviously somatic illness. Of course, you had only known me about ten minutes at that point, but who am I to argue with someone who has a big medical degree and who works in a distinguished field such as cardiology? (I probably shouldn't mention that my primary care doctor said cardiologists are largely arrogant, egotistical pricks with a god complex).

In the year since that meeting, I have managed to essentially eschew all healthcare. Oh, I still go to the dentist, but that's it. A pretty smile matters when you work with people, as I do.

You see, at first I was angry, but then I realized you gave me permission to be set free. If I die from an illness, we can say that I may not have been a nutjob who did not have somatic illness after all, and we can also acknowledge that I accepted my life the way nature intended me to live it. There's something Zen about that, right? More people should do it.

Now that I don't have to pay any medical bills or deductibles, I can enjoy my earnings. That's a positive right there. We're currently interviewing landscapers and Pilates instructors.

I am free. I am unburdened by medical advice and other usually erroneous bullshit.

As my 50th birthday approaches, I have given myself permission to opt out of looking for trouble. It feels wonderful to be in charge with no egomaniacal but clueless doctors telling me what to do. Oh, I still have more pain and discomfort than I ever did, but now that I know it's apparently coming from my psyche (according to you), I pay it no mind. Unless I see blood (and that could just be the miracle of stigmata, right?), I see no reason for concern since you saw no reason for concern.

Yes, as 50 looms on the horizon, I celebrate the discomforts I do not suffer. I take no medications except the one that spares me having a period! No gynecological exams! No colonoscopy! No annual physical! No mammograms! No inane forms to fill out!

Free at last! God almighty, I am free at last!

Friday, April 1, 2011

No privacy

In 2001, I set up a Yahoo! email account because my home account went all kaflooey for awhile. When I opened the Yahoo account, I set it up under a fake name, with corresponding fake personal information from birthday to home location. I never closed the account, and I still use it occasionally to answer questions on Yahoo Questions, and I get some newsletters that I've just never migrated to my regular account.

Today it appeared that my Yahoo email account had been spoofed, so I logged in to change my pasword. What I saw next was not only appalling, but it actually caused me to break out into a sweat. All of my real personal information was in my profile--my real name, my home address and telephone number, my personal email address, my work email address, my current city and state, and more. I clicked on a tab for something called "Y! Pulse," and it appears to be very similar to Facebook. Listed in the Pulse was something akin to an RSS feed showing an "update" every time I posted on this blog, and clearly labeled as "my" blog. Except this blog and the Yahoo email address are not linked in any way. At all. That I know of. This meant that anyone who had a "Yahoo Connection" to me could see these updates and then see my real identity as a blogger.

I thought I was going to be sick.

It took me about 20 minutes to delete all of my personal information in my profile and to undo any identity connections Yahoo had made on my behalf. Essentially, I returned my account and profile information to what it had been when I first set up the account and set all permissions for viewing even that information to "no one." How it all got changed in the first place is still a mystery to me, but now I can't stop stressing over who all saw that information and how long it might have been visible. Part of the reason I'm writing this post is to see if it shows up as an activity update in the Y! Pulse thing that I certainly never agreed to be a part of.

I still feel kind of sick to my stomach.