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dazed and confused
science v. nature
by robert a. melos
10.17.07
pop culture

I really wanted to get stoned tonight. I mean I really wanted it. The only things stopping me from doing it were the thought that if I actually got some real job instead of real estate, I'd be drug tested and would fail; and I don't have any pot. I looked. I used to have some, but I haven't smoked in a few years. I couldn't even find my old pipe. Yes, I'm an aging hippie, I guess.

I managed to get through the night, but I really wanted to do it stoned. I know I have the ability to get the effect of being stoned through simple thought. I've done it many times, but tonight I couldn't get the essential mind set needed to simulate mental incapacity. I truly am one of those people who can usually get high on life, but I just couldn't manage it tonight.

Either I've lost my ability, or life has let me down, or both. I know I feel life has let me down, but that doesn't mean I can't still find it within my mind and soul to get the natural high needed to feel good. Except I just couldn't manage tonight, and that's all there was too it.

Oh well, they tell me pot isn't good for me. Lately cable television seems to glorify it with Weeds, Californication, and Tell Me You Love Me, not to mention Six feet Under, Nip/Tuck, and The Riches (although in fairness The Riches dedicated an entire episode to the downside of addictions). Yet pot is considered bad.

I find this amusing when I consider the mental condition of my own mother after two and a half years of legal psychotropic medication therapy. I should explain that I view medical science like a religion. Some people believe in the pursuit of scientific discovery with the same level of belief that others have for their Gods. I don't believe in medical science. Yes, setting a broke bone is good, creating a manmade drug to alter the human mind for one reason or another is not a good thing.

I suppose pot is bad for you, is something that I shouldn't do or want to do, but I'd much rather get high off pot than have my mind turned to mush or be driven insane through the use of legal pharmaceuticals that the psychiatrists have admitted to me are not an exact science and just an experimental form of therapy in an attempt to control my mother’s Schizo-Affective Disorder.

Every day when I go to the nursing home to visit my mother, and see her sitting in her wheelchair, staring into space and compulsively repeating words or phrases, for hours on end (the nurses tell me she even repeats words or phrases while she sleeps, never actually stopping talking since she's been in the home), I am confronted with the results of psychotropic therapy that I consider to be a complete failure.

When I see this and remember what my mother was like before the doctors got hold of her and started pumping xanax, zyprexa, zoloft, and seroquel into her in massive dosages for two plus years, and think about how she wasn't delusional or delirious, or obsessive-compulsive on the levels I now see, before the introduction of these medications into her system, I sometimes sit down and cry. I also think. I think a lot.

I think about things like my desire tonight to get high, to escape reality, to smoke pot, marijuana, Mary Jane, weed, whatever you want to call it, and remember my past partaking of a natural substance as opposed to the manmade concoctions that have gripped my mother's mind, and realize pot never did much more than make me laugh and give me the munchies, and at no point did I hallucinate (my mother didn't either until the introduction of psychotropic medications into her system), or get paranoid, or have any reaction other than a feeling of temporary euphoria that eventually faded leaving me to face the misery of my daily life.

I don't drink anymore. I used to, but I stopped for two reasons. One: I was caring for my mother 24/7 and felt I needed to be sober at all times in case she needed me. Two: Alcohol always made me sick the next day. Not a headache. I would've welcomed a headache. No. Alcohol always made me vomit. Even a couple drinks burned my stomach and nausea eventually settled in, leaving me feeling horrible the next day. Pot never did that.

I suppose I'm advocating the legalization of marijuana in some way, shape or form, here. When I compare pot to alcohol I'd choose reefer over booze any day, if it were legal. When I compare pot to the drugs my mother has become dependent upon thanks to our medical industry and what I consider to be incompetent doctors experimenting on an elder woman to see the effects of psychotropic medications on an unresponsive 80 year-old, I'd choose pot every time. I honestly think pot would help her more than any of the drugs that are making her climb the walls, or sit and repeat words for hours on end, with the occasional lucid phrase breaking through her psychosis.

Her latest lucid phrase that burst forth during a long recitation of the word "bird” was this: "Doctor! Help me! Can't you see something is wrong with me and I need help?" After that outburst in the day room of the nursing home she went back to repeating "bird. Bird. Bird. Bird. Bird...."

My life has been changed because of outside influences, and my opinions formed by those same influences. Perhaps they aren't the opinions shared by the majority, or the opinions many who practice the religion of medical science want to see being expressed, but I've never been one to be quiet for too long. I respect the doctors right to practice their beliefs, but I don't want them practicing on me. It's too late for my mother. They got her hooked, but I'm still able to reject their religion and the pharmaceutical gods controlled by big business and profit margins.

I'd even go so far as to question whether some medications would even be on the market if they weren't profitable. If people rejected xanax or zoloft en masse, would they still be on the market? And I also wonder if it were up to me, if I had the power to brand marijuana legal, would I also want to make illegal all those drugs currently pushed by the pharmaceutical companies to increase their profits, or would I allow everyone the drug of their choice? Would I draw a line--a distinction--between natural drugs and manmade?

I don't want to play God, I just want to have my right to reject medical science respected and to walk into a store and legally purchase a joint if I so choose, and get stoned and live my life as I see fit. Somehow I don't think smoking pot will bring me to the same level of insanity the manmade psychotropic medications have taken my mother to.

Interestingly enough, I no longer have the urge to get stoned. I do have the urge to abuse plush stuffed animals, but I think that's for another column.


ABOUT ROBERT A. MELOS

Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

more about robert a. melos

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COMMENTS

lucy lediaev
10.17.07 @ 6:41p

Robert, I hear you loud and clear. Several years before she died, my mother was diagnosed with "dementia and acute psychosis." My normally bright, funny, and articulate mother had turned into a paranoid bundle of nerves who could no longer even figure out how to thread the sewing machine on which she had made the family's clothing for years.

We suspect that her condition was the result of over-dosing on Vicodin for chronic pain. Not only did her doctor (whom I could have reported to the state medical board had my father not begged me not to so) prescribe huge amounts of the drug, she stockpiled supplies of it from different doctors.

After her diagnosis, she was dosed with psychoactive drugs that alternately made her anxious, restless, and itchy, or zombie-like. There seemed to be no middle ground with the drugs. The drugs either added to her distress or knocked her into a nether world where we could not reach her.

I've become extremely cautious about both OTC and prescription drugs. I believe that medicine is still experimental science; doctors and pharmacologists are still simply making best guesses based on their own experiences and those of other practitioners.

I'm sorry you have had to go through this with your mother. It's sad, confusing (sometimes my mother thought I was her mother, her sister, and even herself), distressing, and energy draining.

Good luck to both of you!

[edited]

robert melos
10.17.07 @ 11:02p

Lucy, thank you. The psychosis and schizophrenia have gotten worse with each day. The biggest problem is that she knows everything that's happening to her, and sees the added extra of hallucinations or the repetitiveness of obsessive-compulsive behavior. I get angry because of the overall situation, and my need to try to fix everything and make it all okay, and feel helpless most of the time. Everytime I enter the nursing home I wonder what condition she'll be in. I wonder if she'll know me, or if things will progress to a point where she doesn't know me or what's happening to her, and yet I realize that would probably be jsut as hard or harder, and then it's moot because the doctors have told me she does know what's going on, she's essentially gone crazy in a traditional sense of the word. They call it delirium, delsuional, dementia, schizophrenic, but they all boil down to insane.

I truly do blame the medications, starting with the xanax her primary physician prescribed to calm her down in 2003 when she was forced to retire due to compounded discs in her back. She went from 1 a day to 4 a day, to 7 a day when she fell in 2005 and permanently dislocated her left shoulder. That was also the point when doctors introduced zoloft and zyprexa into her system, and she changed almost over night. Seroquel is relatively new, having been introduced this past summer. All of these drugs seem to be making things worse, not better. The doctors admit the are experimenting to try to get the right dosages to help her, but tell me there isn't any one drug that currently exists that could cure her.

In the meantime I've dealt with her believing she was pregnant, and doing that labor screaming and breathing, and also believing she was giving birth to puppies and kittens, among other hallucinations. For the past two weeks she does nothing but repetitive speech, although the other day one of the nurses aides had her singing along with a CD of 40s and 50s music. Mom, along with being a nurse, was a music teacher for part of her life and has her degree in music. When I walked in and found her singing she was the most normal I've seen her in months. When the music stopped she went back to repetitive speech, with a few lucid phrases every now and again. The mind amazes me.

lucy lediaev
10.19.07 @ 1:38p

I've read that with dementia, music from a person's youth, may touch areas of the mind that seem unaffected by memory loss. I'm glad that the music was able to touch her for awhile.

I found that over time, I simply had to relax and join my mother wherever she was at a given moment. It was simply frustrating for both of us if I tried to pull her into our current time and place. My father had difficulty joining her in her special world, and it was very hard on both of them as he attempted, fruitlessly, to bring her back into his world.

Please feel free to drop me a private message if you'd like to talk more about what you are going through. Likely, your mother's condition won't improve, but you can modify how you handle it.

robert melos
10.19.07 @ 11:41p

Lucy, thank you.

Tonight I visited mom and she was very lucid. She told me she hated being in a nursing home, wished she was dead, and wanted to just go home. Then one of the other patients started screaming that she couldn't breathe, and that triggered my mother into repetitive speech. The place really had that asylum feel to it tonight.

Now I'm starting to deal with the county and Medicaid. It's complicated by the fact it is a different county than the one I live in, because the nursing home is in the other county. I'm not an authority figure type person, and I'm not intimidated by them either. It's all very complicated and annoying at the same time.

Topping it off, I was in Barnes and Noble and saw myself from the back on their security cam and noticed I have the beginnings of a bald spot. That brought on more anxiety.

sandra thompson
10.22.07 @ 4:26p

I, too, am sorry you and your mothers are having to go through this, Robert and Lucy. I've never actually seen a medication-induced dementia, only the "natural" kind, as in Alzheimer's in my Aunt Alice, and in just plain old senile dementia in my Aunt Grace, Alice's older sister. It's painful to watch those we love turn into different people, people we don't know and can't recognize. It must be doubly so when you believe it's been induced by the pharmaceutical industry! Good luck to both of you.

robert melos
10.23.07 @ 12:10a

Sandra, thank you.

I've watched the doctors play with the dosages of my mother's meds, and I can see a direct correlation between her decline and the introductions of need meds, or the increasing of a dosage.

For the past few days she is back into the repetitive speech. Yet when I go to the home and see her she seems to have recognition of me. The nurses insist she doesn't know what she's doing, yet yesterday I got the feeling she knew exactly what she was doing and was doing it to get as much attention as possible.

If all I had to cope with was this, I probably wouldn't be so on edge, but I have to deal with the state and Medicaid, and am facing financial problems because I kept my mother at home and took care of her without keeping meticulous financial records of the use of the equity of the house (a house I own half of and would've owned all of in the event my mother had died prior to entering a nursing home) I borrowed against in order to stay home and care for my mother. What I've learned from this is to get as far away from your family at as early an age as possible before your family becomes a burden to you. And went it comes to money, hide it in as many locations (banks, stocks, accounts that no one can find) as possible and do everything you can to keep the state out of your affairs becasue it is true that government will steal everything they can.



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