Pharmaceuticals, Philosophy, and Pragmatism

“The highways are crowded with people who drive as if their sole purpose in getting behind the wheel is to avenge every wrong done them by man, beast or fate. The only thing that keeps them in line is their fear of death, jail and lawsuits.”
― Hunter S. Thompson

The world is a scary place, especially when you decide to diversify your life between normal people and people that decide that they need lots (and I mean “lots”) of medicine to stay sane. It’s not something that I was ready to sign up for when I decided to go into the pharmacy career, but at the same time, it’s a slap in the face. These people, these patients, these poor souls, they struggle daily to try to comprehend day to day existence. These poor people rely on these little packed pills to make them feel better…and I can’t say I’ve been any better.

By personal admission, I’ve been submissive to anti-depressants and other anti-anxiety medicines. I was promised that they were going to fix all of my problems. I was promised that every single reason that I was in the doctors office was going to be appeased with a simple round white tablet every single morning. I took it as fact, I accepted the fact that my brain was broken, and I took the prescription and went for it. I was on a crutch, I was under the assumption that I could never be a “functional human” without having some sort of drug in my system. Ironically, I had always been interested in the drug culture, just never the “legal” drug culture. Clarification needed, never have I ever tried nor wanted to try anything that was illegal, BUT, the curiosity was still there. What the heck were these people getting from these scary drugs? What was so incredible about something that could put you in jail or a coffin? I didn’t get it, but at the same time, I wondered.

Becoming a part of a pharmacy, I’ve been absorbed in not only the life of people, but the reality that is pharmaceuticals. I get confused, sometimes, at looking at people with similar ages as me. What has happened? What sort of high side have they hit that took them down a route that makes them need such assistance from a tiny pill? Is it some sort of genetic default?

“The front wheel was no longer being followed by the rear one”

-Hunter S Thompson

When do you realize that you’ve lost it, and more importantly, when do you actually realize that the “lost it” is actually a reality and not just a figment of your imagination created by the reality that you’ve created for yourself? My case, not to justify everyone elses, was that I put myself in a situation that could never, EVER, make me happy. I was in a constant black hole, and the promise of being able to take a little pill every morning to make me feel better (even though life wasn’t happy) was a great opportunity. I took that prescription, I filled that prescription, and I got hooked. I took it, it didn’t help, it just led to more “help”. I went from something that would make me fall asleep behind the wheel to something that kept me up for 68 hours straight. It was a roller coaster, but never once did I think it was a bad idea. I was promised it was going to make life more manageable.

Same thing sort of with the Hells Angels, they had a promise, they were part of something, they were a member, they were a bigger part of society than they were before. Besides being a one percenter, they were also a weapon on wheels. The attitude was there, they had the demeanor of a nasty snake, and to steal words “they were like a costume ball for demented children”. The angel has nothing different from the typical “depressed” person today, but the medication is different, the “angel” has a very personal way of dealing with some sort of deeper emotional distress, modern day we turn to the amber bottle of little pills to make us feel better. I read over old stories of not only the Hells Angels, but of other “gangs” of the time, current and previous. The whole aspect of this society, this brotherhood was that there was a sort of ego boost just being able to be a part of something. It is something that is missing today, we hide ourselves behind pills.

“No one raises horses to hunt opossums, and nobody raises dogs to run the Kentucky Derby”

-Hunter, yet again.

The problem in society, in the pharmaceutical world, in the physiological world, in the pragmatic world is that nobody knows their asshole from their belly button.

“Bikes don’t drift like cars.”

-Hunter (for the last time, I promise)

The scariest thing about comparing the Hells Angels with the common day pharmacy environment is that at least the rider on the two wheeled death machine knows what’s between his legs. The common person that picks up a prescription from a pharmacy has no clue what they’re getting themselves into. The bike will never be a sunning reassessment of a situation, you know if it’s wet, you adjust your speed, you know if it’s foggy, you adjust your sight range, fuck, you know when you’re on the interstate you’re nothing more than a piece of hamburger that an unobservant motorist will succumb you to. At the end of the day, it doesn’t even matter if you’re on a 1500 cc bike or a respectable thrasher bike that runs about 350 cc, it’s still a death machine, but at the same time, that tiny pill in the bottle is probably more deathly than that motorcycle.

It’s a particular vein that runs deep with me. I was in my mom’s belly when I got my first motorcycle ride. I got my second motorcycle ride when I was about 12 with my Uncle Stan. Time passes, and I always wanted a motorcycle, but at the same time I was told no. Finally I was connected with someone that believed in me enough that I was encouraged to get a motorcycle, take some classes, and ride on my own, which I fucking did, and pardon my language, it was fucking awesome. I had nothing but a 250 cc Nighthawk, but to me it might as well been the biggest Harley on the market. “Max” the motorcycle was my monster, it made me happy, it gave me confidence, but most importantly, it gave me a sense of accomplishment. Something that had been holding me back for years was finally conquered, I was riding a motorcycle, I was on my own, Max and I, we were on the road.

We weren’t Hell’s Angels, we weren’t bad ass, but we were part of the One Percenters, we were outlaws in my eyes.

Then there is the parallel to the pharmacy.

“Spreading like piss on concrete”….

(never mind where it came from, just suck in the mental picture)

You get set up with a sort of motorcycle, and typically you’re always looking for the next hottest, fastest thing. You start with a simple Honda and all of a sudden you find yourself on  Ducati tearing up small mountain communities. For me, there was none of that, I was happy with my maximum speed of 70 mph, the pharmaceuticals, however, I was convinced that there was always something better. There are so many other people that have that same thought it’s scary. What once worked perfectly fine now is obsolete, the thing that worked was broken, and all of a sudden there is some sort of search for the next best thing.

With motorcycles, there is a limit, you can only go so fast for so long until you explode.

With pharmaceuticals, you have to push scary limits that lead you down dark alleys that you’ll never want to see again.

Although there are zillions upon millions of research that has been put into what makes a “drug” functional, you still get the disclaimer “people with depression might experience higher levels of depression and be at risk of suicide”.

What.

The.

Fuck.

This means, in simple terms, that the guinea pigs that were used in these tests. These people, they have no idea that they could be taking their own life into their hands trying to save the lives of somebody else. How many people, I wonder, does it take for the companies to realize that these people can actually die from something that is supposed to help them. Same with a motorcycle, you never actually think about the fact that that two wheeled machine can kill you quicker than a bullet that comes from a dark corner somewhere. You’re blown away, and that’s all.

Same thing happens with medicines, be it a sleep aid, a antidepresssant, to some sort of heart medicine, you never know exactly what’s going to happen to you until it’s too late. You’re taking a sleep aid and find yourself in a terrifying insomnia that you’re trying to avoid in the first place replaced with hallucinations and paranoia. You’re almost to the point that you realize that you’re trying to fix a gunshot wound with gauze. You’re screwed, you’re trying, but you’re out of control. Just like a high side on a motorcycle, you’ve screwed up, but there isn’t anything you can do except ride it out.

“We’ve all been over the high side baby…That’s what you call making a classic get off, baby” -Unnamed Hell’s Angel

The high side, not only for motorcycles anymore. Walking blindly into a doctors office with a vague description of what your’e ailing from is just about as reckless as riding a motorcycle in a bikini. You might as well accept the fact that pain and fear are going to be interred, but it’s you’r decision as to if you actually want to submit yourself to this. I can’t explain the number of times I’ve had terrified people come to my pharmacy with bad experiences, and the sad thing is that I feel for them. They want relief, they got more pain.

In a grand perspective, is reality really as bad as the altered reality a little pill can give you?

I’m done. greenmachine

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One thought on “Pharmaceuticals, Philosophy, and Pragmatism

  1. Nice bike! Been a rider (non Ducatti, as I value my life) for 44 years, and I, too, am a fan of Hunter S. Thompson.

    But your understanding of drug development is likely imperfect. Clinical depression is an awful disease, with a fairly high mortality rate, including by suicide (as for the truly clinically depressed, death is far preferable to the ongoing pain of chronic depression). A fair portion of severely depressed individuals experience psycho-motor retardation; profound ennui and the inability to act on any impulses. For some of them, as their depression is improved by an “efective’ therapy, they see resolution of their psyco-motor retardation symptoms while still retaining the impulse to end their life to escape the horrors of chronic or recurring depression. Some of them, after improvement, act on these impulses and kill themselves.

    Virtually any treatment that effectively lessens depression will carry a low but real risk of “causing” suicide in rare individuals. But it is likely more a reflection of their underlying disease, rather than a true “side-effect” of the treatment.

    Just saying……

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