I’m a self-medicator. I always have been. My trust for doctors and the entire “health for profit” way of American medicine is practically non-existent. I believe the system sets us up to die and that corporations help us do it. There are things in our food that we know nothing of. These things make us sick, forcing us to turn to the professional medicators. The professional medicators know how to suck your insurance dry, if you have it, rendering you addicted to medicine that may have deadly side effects or may be nothing more than a placebo that your brain thinks you’re hooked on. “Naked Lunch,” anyone?
I’m also a conspiracy theorist. I’m also pretty sure I’m right. I say these things because it has become even more clear lately that I’ve got a few things wrong with me.
I’m over forty. My body is starting to rebel, coming up with more disgusting and bothersome things to do every day. I wake up and play connect the dots with the new skin tags I find. Yesterday, I made John Bonham’s symbol from the fourth Led Zeppelin album. There’s a certain loss of control involved with this body derangement and I’m not willing to give it up quite yet. Perhaps, I think, I am growing into something amazing and heretofore unseen. Perhaps I am the next stage of human evolution. Next stop, telekinesis and parts of my body that snap off and take on lives of their own while my body simply regenerates and makes me crave marathon sessions of deviant sex. “Rabid,” anyone?
I am also appreciative of the fact that as I am making small steps to get better, my body has found new and fascinating ways to get worse. It’s impressive.
You probably know by now that I’m a gluten-free human, having learned the hard way (read that: repeated bouts of anaphylactic shock) that gluten does terrible things to my system. It makes me stop breathing, which makes me pass out and I spill my drink and the whole thing just freaks out my wife, so that dietary change was made. Okay. Fine. I miss pizza more than I miss beer, oddly enough, and buttered toast more than either of those.
It’s been almost exactly a year since I stopped being a Wheatie. Hooray for good health decisions.
Oh, I quit smoking, too! That was a big deal, because I was a professional smoker, with over thirty years of experience. That doesn’t look as good on a resume as you would think. You don’t get merit pay for that. Cootie got us electronic cigarettes. Hers is more for fun. She quit smoking when she was eighteen and only picked it back up on a social level. I, on the other hand, would have happily started on a fabulous career of competition smoking, if such a thing existed. You could have seen me on ESPN 8 (The Ocho).
The smoking made my asthma kick in, the asthma I didn’t know I had until the gluten allergy started kicking in, and with so many things kicking in at the same time, it made the kicking smoking pretty simple. The electronic cigarette is an amazing invention.
You know what else is cool?
Lungs. That whole breathing thing, no matter how much you talk it up, is still underrated.
When it became obvious Thanksgiving night that I was also allergic to sulfites, my lungs — which you would think would grow tired of being the center of attention all the goddamned time –once again were strained beyond their normal lungosity.
Well, I can’t drink beer anymore, so what the fuck was I supposed to? Not drink? What are you, a Federalist? I quit beer and started drinking wine. It is cold, sweet and good. You can buy it for less than twenty dollars a gallon. Sweet tangy sangria and the ever mysterious elixir known simply as “sweet red” aren’t dry like those snobby expensive wines that people just sip at dinner. Who wants to sip? I’m alive, godsdammit. I’m gonna drink something, not pucker-smack away at it like some impotent toddler playing with a straw.
Sweet red wine, though it may delight the senses and make old Greydon Clark movies even more fun than they are under unaltered circumstances, is also chock full of sulfites, some naturally occurring, some unnaturally occurring. Sulfites are a form of sulfur, the main ingredient in hell. They act as preservatives, keeping mold from forming in red wine, which doesn’t even seem possible given the high alcohol content, but I’m not a scientist. What do I know?
So, to make a long story just about un-fucking-bearable, Cootie is wonderful. She cooked some gluten-free macaroni and cheese for me. She also made me a gluten-free pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, using a new baking mix we hadn’t tried. If you don’t have food allergies, then you have no way of knowing how much you miss simple things like pie. I hadn’t had a pie in a year. I also haven’t really had a sandwich in over a year. Imagine that.
Anyway. Thanksgiving was awesome. Cootie’s mama created a meal with a lot of things that I was able to eat without my central nervous system shutting done, for which I was truly thankful. I also got to joke around with my wife’s family, who are all really funny people. I don’t get to do that enough.
At home later that night, we were snacking around. Like you do. I had another piece of pie, because holy shit, pie. We were also going through a bottle of Sutter Home sweet red pretty fast. Within about ten minutes, it started.
My ability to breathe went down about seventy percent. I was gasping and sweating, and confused as hell because I knew I hadn’t eaten anything with gluten in it. I stood up, trying to stretch out my midsection, hoping it would somehow increase my lung capacity. It didn’t help. I leaned over on the bar, breathing as well as I could (not very), and waited for it to pass. Happily, it only lasted about half an hour. I’ve had fits in the past that lasted up to five or six hours and ended with vomiting or uncontrollable shitting.
Hi, my name’s X. I see we’ve just met. Let me tell you a little about myself.
Pretty quickly, we narrowed the culprit down to sulfites. Not only was I had been drinking literally every night chock full of sulfurous by-products, but the new baking mix also had some sulfites in it. We also learned that pumpkin is in the same family as watermelon, which I’m also allergic to.
It was a perfect storm of allergens. Oh, and dig this, young’uns. According to the American Academy of Asthma, because why wouldn’t there be such a thing, as many as five to ten percent of sulfite reactions in people with asthma are fatal.
They use the word “fatal” when they talk about things that make you get dead.
I nibbled on some pie, I drank some wine and upped my chance of becoming dead. That’s untenable.
Sulfites are also found naturally in eggs, potatoes, tomatoes, maple syrup, corn starch and asparagus. I don’t eat a little of maple syrup because I can’t really eat pancakes, but I eat that other stuff pretty regularly. Yes, even the asparagus. Love it. And corn starch is in just about everything.
Yes, yes, yes. The point. I know.
I don’t trust doctors because I think that even the young idealists who enter med school with some kind of vision of saving the world soon turn into bean-counters, more concerned with Medicaid packages than actual doctoring. I think it’s going to become worse once the National Health comes into play, because I can see that system being an absolute playground for pharmaceutical companies offering “bonuses” to medical practitioners who find themselves not making as much money as they used.
It’s a business. Your sickness is a commodity. The longer you are sick, the more money you are worth. Well people are not profitable. Understand it now and understand it quickly. They want you sick, or believing that you are sick, until you are dead. You are a cage-free, range-free, living, breathing defecating piece of meat.
If you believe you are sick, do your own research. The internet is yours to explore. List your symptoms (all of them, even if you believe them to be insignificant) and start digging. Don’t just go to a doctor and say, “I’m not sure what’s wrong with me.” You wouldn’t go to a mechanic, hand him the keys and say, “I don’t know, dude. I think there’s something wrong with engine. Or maybe the tires. See what you can find.” Have an educated (or at least, informed) idea about what’s wrong with you before you talk to a health care professional.
I am hunting around for a nutritionist. I would also see a naturopath. I’m the kind of guy who believes in mind over matter and that things can be cured by simple, rational means. I think diet adjustment will get rid of my allergies. Weight loss will get rid of my asthma. That will allow me to finally learn how to exercise because I’ll be able to breathe normally. The exercise will expand my range of motion.
These are all things I need. I want them, too. What I don’t want are diet pills, rescue inhalers and cortisone shots for my fucked-up grinding knees.
We’ve forgotten how to heal ourselves. That’s some pretty shitty witchery, isn’t it? We can make a love spell, we can banish lousy boyfriends, but we can’t figure out how to get away from synthetic medications? Balls. I refuse to believe it.
I know my allergies are serious. I have no intention of making my fabulous entrance through the veil any time soon.
I also know what steps I have to take in order to get to where I need to go. Hopefully I’ll be able to find someone who won’t attempt to bleed dry the wallet of a struggling novelist. I sure could use the help.
But if I can’t find it, fuck it. I’ll do this shit myself. Cootie will help me.
Just watch your asses, people. There’s a cycle. It starts with manufacturers putting weird shit in our food. They count on the fact that we are too stupid and sheep-like to care. Then obesity rates tise and the government says, WE NEED HELP. The pharmaceutical companies say, WE CAN HELP. And it’s all a big cartoon, with one guy providing all these voices that sound different, but it’s still the same guy. We’re trusting Maurice LaMarche and Michael Winslow with our health. Beep beep, zip bang, Pinky!
Fuck that guy. Be your own guy.
Or, don’t. Hell, I could be completely wrong and Big Pharm is the new Saviour of humanity. Make up your own mind. Fuck me. Be you.
Just make a decision. I’ve made mine and I’m sticking to it. What are you willing to do?
PS — If you still think I’m wrong about the whole connection between medicine and you staying sick, guess what they put in most asthma medicines to “maintain medicinal integrity?”
Keep that five to ten percent fatality rate in mind and ask yourself why.
For more information on how Big Medicine is trying to keep you sick as long as possible, check out this series from Gordon White on his blog, Rune Soup. He’s done his research and it all amplifies everything that I originally thought to the seven billionth degree.