MY APOLOGY TO DRUG ADDICTS
by Mark Scheinbaum
American Reporter Correspondent
New York, N.Y.
October 31, 2009
NEW YORK, Oct. 31, 2009 -- Full disclosure requires the author to reveal he is currently whacked out on drugs.
While longtime friends might wonder how this differs from my usual whacked out state, this time the behavior is really special. It will cause me to actually apologize to blowhard Rush Limbaugh, and numerous members of the NBA, NFL and jazz quartets.
There seems to be a reason why people become drug addicts: They are addicted.
Whoa, Nellie! Let's back this baby up to the loading dock a minute.
As an old fart set in his ways, I now have three definitive, public apologies for totally misguided pronouncements and philosophies for most of my life as a citizen, parent, writer, and broadcaster, it shakes my self-confidence a bit, but facts are facts. I was wrong about:
The first one is easy. After debating the ills of college athletes who take cars and trips and bribes from boosters, I used to rant and rave that college sports needs to produce educated, genteel men of the world, all playing for free.
Fugeddaboud it. For about the last decade I have changed over to the idea that college football and basketball are entertainment. Big time stars produce money for schools and their public relations image. An athlete should be signed to a school that becomes like a minor league team.
If the Lakers want to draft a freshman the school gets a piece of the take. Kids get stipends and cars and insurance and the same perks a young executive trainee would get. If we need a crumb to education, the student upon signing gets a 30-year or lifetime ticket for a bachelor's degree. They could go to school after their sports career.
Clear the air, call it what it is: sports business, not education.
Alcohol addition attitudes changed for this observer when a zillion diets, trainers, nutritionists, and warnings failed. It took bariatric surgery to make me admit I was addicted to food, bad food, good food, all food.
Especially to carbs. To fast forward the catalyst for good behavior, a surgeon to gave me this choice: "You now have the stomach the size of the egg. Here is the diet for the rest of your life. Your lifetime intake of alcoholic beverages, carbonated beverages, and in fact any beverages with your meal is zero. Shovel in the old crap and the nut-raisin Cadbury bars as usual and if you're lucky you'll puke, or gag, or have horrible pains, or start hemorrhaging. If you're not particularly lucky you'll just die. So, follow the program now or die. The old way before surgery you would just die of a stroke or a clot, or diabetes or something in a month or a year or a decade. Play games now and you'll probably cut the process down to a few minutes or a few hours. Your choice, good luck, see you every six months forever."
An alcoholic is never "cured." A food addict is never cured. It took not a family-cozy, fuzzy intervention but a surgical intervention to get me to realize that my addiction to food and concomitant behavior is little different from a boozer's to the bottle. I thus make my mea culpa to all people who regularly get bombed or blasted or call themselves "social" drinkers.
An apology to Rush Limbaugh is tougher. Recreational drugs for the wealthy, addictive drugs for the once healthy, etc., seemed to call for tough love:
"Don't tell me that a poor addict could buy three hundred or three thousand pills a months.
"Don't tell me that 20,000 pills in a month are just for 'personal use', put these people in jail," I remember dictating to a national radio audience, many of who agreed in their calls to the show. Boy, was I wrong.
After big-time surgery last week that made the bariatric procedure in January seem like having a wart removed in comparison, I awoke with these instructions from a Hungarian-born angel of mercy:
"We've loaded you up with some stuff for the pain, but if you need more pain killers just press this button a few times."
She pressed the remote clicker into my palm, smiled, and left the room.
The little clicker made me happier than a kid handed the remote switch foe the Jumbotron screen at Yankee Stadium.
Through the night every few hours, click click click, drip drip drip, sleep sleep sleep. When another angel appeared late the next morning and said, looks like you are feeling better and we'll remove the IV and the button in about an hour and she kind of winked.
My hand-button coordination was accelerated in that hour. Discharged from the hospital with a bag of drugs I studied the one container labeled: Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen 5mg-500mg.
The Rx said to take one or two pills every four hours as needed but not to take more than eight in one day.
The first two days out of the hospital I took one pill before going to bed. I did not take the sleeping pills they gave me. The next two days I took nothing.
Now, keep in mind the bariatric surgery meant no aspirin, ever, even the prophylactic heart-healthy kind. In nine months I perhaps have taken two Tylenol or Advil for a pain or strain.
Around 4 A.M. what I will politely call, well, er, "catheter pain" hit. No rearrangement of pillows or position helped. I took a pain pill, no relief.
About an hour later I took another pain pill. Things started feeling better, so three hours later I took two more, and now feel totally calm, relaxed and pain-free.
I don't mean to be a smartass or poetically cute, but apparently the main trouble with drugs and addiction is that the good stuff that works is both addictive and tolerated fairly well. In booze terms, the bourbon old-fashioned quickly gives way to throwing down double shots of Jim Beam.
The Website Addictionsearch (what else would you go to?) says: "The major concern with the use of oxycodone and its derivatives is tolerance and physical dependence which can occur after several weeks to months of use. Oxycodone has effects similar to morphine ,and thus appeals to the same community who abuse morphine and heroin. Reports of pharmacies being broken into for oxycodone are not uncommon.
My closest friend, who through many a year of serious study and hard work in that direction has become my expert on street scum, beach bums, and sleaze balls, pooh-poohs my pills and says the stuff the hospital gave me is the "mild form" and "not that strong. "The really good stuff could fetch $80 a pill on the street," he says. "Your stuff is just jacked-up Tylenol."
Okay, that's actually making my point.
Joe Blow, who is addicted to nothing more than White Castle and any form of legal sex, is in a car wreck. Or he trips on the ski slope. Or he forgets to bend his knees lifting the rebuilt InterState battery into his truck. Or he gets out of his car the wrong way and twists his spine.
Or he wakes up one morning and every bone in his body hurts and the doctors say, "Ummmmm we all concur, it is non-specific. Take four of these daily" as they scribble on the Rx pad.
Rush, you are a big guy. Almost as big as I was last year.
Could the pills that allowed you to function at four a day today require 14 a day next week? Or four an hour next month? I don't know, I'm not a pharmacologist and I don't play one on tv. Yet I surely think it is more plausible than I did a few months ago.
When people are in pain but still need and want to function or earn a living, or make excuses for their real problems, things that work for them become a necessity.
So, to the NFL draft pick who never finished college and can't read the Wendy's menu; to the social drinker who picks up a case of Tecate every night enroute home; and to Rush Limbaugh, mea culpa.
Longtime AR Correspondent Mark Scheinbaum is recovering from surgery last week for prostrate cancer.