Sunday, January 18, 2015

Life: A Rant

I'm on antibiotics twice a day for five days. My lack of joy is so un-exuberant I can't find the words to express it. But, I'm grateful. Grateful for antibiotics. Without them I'd be quite the misery muffin. No worries out there, it's nothing serious. With medical care, this is no big deal. Without medical care, it may have been a whole different story.

With antibiotics, however, come certain side effects. It's only day two and my stomach is already preparing to go on strike. Yogurt is the best medicine for it. I hope the stuff in the fridge is still good, because it's on my to-nom list.

Medicine for medicine. It seems that's how the world goes 'round.

I have this worry about the world, especially the western world. Worries are useless, you do realize. Worrying does nothing. Worrying is that thing people do when they're helpless to do anything about something. Waiting for their kids to come home from a date. Watching international negotiations over nuclear weapons. Reading reports about searches for plane debris.

I worry about medication use. Overuse of antibiotics has gotten a lot of publicity, and I think most people paying the least bit of attention understand that they shouldn't take antibiotics without a positive diagnosis of a bacterial infection (not viral! antibiotics don't help with viral infections) and then, if they do end up on antibiotics, they must be very faithful about taking every dose exactly on time so that there's less of a chance of bugaboos surviving through weak or incomplete dosage regimens. Those survivor bugs have a chance of becoming an antibiotic-resistant strain, and those are very, very bad news.

But that's not what I worry about the most. What I worry about the most is the entire pharmaceutical mentality, most especially in the United States. I think it's linked to the litigation-happy society Americans live in . For example: I recently delivered a bookshelf to a woman's car. While she lowered the back seat to make room, she made the comment that the first time she lowered the seat, it just about knocked her out, and that the manufacturer was crazy because 'someone's child could be hurt and then they'll have a lawsuit on their hands.' First of all, I think it's been so long since she's had any kind of conk to the head (if she ever has) that she probably has no idea about what it feels like to actually be 'almost knocked out'. I'm sure it was very unpleasant. She may have even fallen and whacked her elbow and/or knees in the process. It may have even been the fault of the seat. But I strongly feel that the world is not a safe place and not everything in the universe must be turned into a Disneyland version of a functional device to limit the manufacturers' liability claims. Don't take away my sicklebar mower because it might mow a child's feet off. That's on me. My responsibility to make sure my child is under control enough to keep them safe. And if they do run in front of the mower, or release the seat catch and get smooshed (harmlessly, most likely) by the seat and cry, that's called an accident (fueled by the child's inexperience and lack of understanding). That is not the fault of the car manufacturer or the sicklebar mower. Period.

In court, the jury has this whole concept of 'reasonable' to look at in multiple ways. Reasonable doubt. What a reasonable person in a similar situation would do. Where is the reasonable-ness in safety? Putting poison on or into toys is unreasonable. Being forced to create a so-called child-proof latch and/or a super-slow release hinge to spare clumsy or inattentive people a bit of a padded blow to the noggin is not reasonable. I'm sick to death of such things. If people got hurt more often, they'd be less likely to get killed doing something stupid. Think about that. Pain is a great teacher. Without it, we quickly become oblivious, bumbling idiots bouncing from lucky encounter to lucky close call until we blunder in front of a bus and end up under it. And the bus driver is taken to court.

It's the same with medications. So many medications attempt to make people feel normal, happy, and completely well. There seems to be no allowance for the idea that if you're sick, injured, or otherwise damaged, you will be in pain and you won't function as well as someone who isn't sick, injured or otherwise damaged. I'm not saying make people suffer when they don't have to. But this impossible goal, and the extensive medicating that happens in an effort to reach that goal, is expensive and insane.

A lot of people I know are resistant to taking any kind of medication. I think that's a good thing. The body is remarkable and it does a better job of fixing most things than pharmaceuticals could ever hope to do. I don't think it's doctors. This seems to be driven by the patients and their expectations. Not only of what medication can do for them, but what they themselves have to do and/or live with.

The doing is the hardest part. So many people come to the store and park in the handicapped parking space when they can function so much better than Gary, victim of a massive car accident that permanently damaged his short-term memory abilities, and barely gives him the ability to hobble with the use of a cane through the store. He fights for every step. He'll never get any better, but do you know what? He won't get weaker and weaker and weaker as his remaining muscles atrophy because that amazing bastard fights to keep what he has. And it's hard. And it hurts. And it's no fun. And yes, people who haven't been in an accident, or who are old, or who have cancer do not have it as easy as people who are young and in perfect health. I want those handicapped spaces there, especially for those really, really bad days when it's a struggle just to get out of bed, but damnit, they need a can of soup and some bread and they're going to rally and shop. That fighting spirit leaves me in awe. It doesn't have to be exceptional. So many sunsets are breathtaking ... and normal. That's what human life should be like. The miracle of a garden in springtime is created through the battle for space, light, moisture and nutrients by every plant that sprouts there.

I don't know what's going on with a given person. I do my best not to judge those who do whatever they do on a given day, because I don't know them or what they're going through. Yet, over time, patterns emerge. The woman who claims to be in too much pain to pick up something off the bottom shelf at the store, but runs, waving her arms, screaming at someone because they parked in the handicapped spot and they don't look like they need it. Seriously.


What risks, and what pain and suffering can we live with, if we truly understand that it's not the destination, but the journey itself that makes us strong and makes the world a beautiful and wonderful place? What if everyone understood that feeling healthy is a gift, and that feeling awful is normal. That's right, normal. It doesn't always need to be fixed. A lot of times it can't be fixed, and the mitigation is worse than the symptoms not just because a medication makes you feel dull but because you stop fighting and let something else take control. Sometimes, not always but sometimes, illness just has to be battled in our own bodies on our own if we ever have a hope of coming out the other side as free beings. How less screwed up would our society be if people admitted that yes, this sucks, but you're not alone or abnormal in some way? Stop Googling new treatments for your friend's disease and f***ing appreciate the time you have with them and encourage them to keep fighting. Because it's exhausting, and sometimes the best medicine is to vent, or go to the movies, or to have a cheerleader hold your hand to get through the really, really bad stuff. Read the book Gimp sometime. Or The Fault in Our Stars. Fight. Live. Not to be normal. Just, to be all that you can, and to attempt to achieve what you want most to achieve. There are no guarantees, no promises, no happy endings, but that's ....


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I personally thought that, "The Fault In Our Stars", was quite a good movie. :)
- Azar Hassan