Lucy in the Sky

I was born in 1957, which put me pretty much smack dab into the middle of high school when it was cool to be a hippie. I didn’t let the grass grow under the platitude of “peace, love, sell some incense”. I ate it up. Long hair parted down the middle, abalone shell necklace on a leather thong, natural wool dyed hats, Joni Mitchell, hairy legs…bring it on.

I had just missed the drug induced 60s (“if you remember the 60s, you weren’t there”), but there was still plenty of pot and things around in my world. A “lid” of pot was about $10 and smelled mainly and suspiciously of lawn clippings. Never was my deal and still isn’t. (MS bonus = medical marijuana, but despite the slight, yet coveted, “bad girl” image it invokes, I just can’t go there.)

So along comes MS. Early symptoms around 26, final diagnosis at 43. My hippie persona was well behind me (six figure salary, BMW, Prada perfume, $100 haircuts, W Hotel).  I had luckily survived the music industry during the crazy 80s and 90s and my drug of choice was now a solid  $30 bottle of Pinot Noir.

Welcome Copaxone. Ew. Are you fucking kidding me? A DAILY injection? As I’ve chronicled here before, it’s an uncomfortable, lumpy, burny, creepy, bummer. And it’s like, wow, a MONDO drug. Not only that, but to be 100% honest here, I still really don’t have a clue what the heck it does or how it works after 12 years (that’s well over 4,000 shots). It also now costs over $4,000 per month (thank you health insurance and co-pay assistance!). Huh. I haven’t done the math before….holy cow!!! I had gone from sanctimoniously turning away from lawn clippings, to daily injections of drugs I imagine are more expensive than the finest grade of heroin.

But back to my hippie roots. I’ve discovered that since I’ve had to quit my high powered, super fun, big dollar, high pressure job and been forced to slow down and nap, hirple and read all day that I’m starting to pull out the Joni MItchell, quit dying my hair, and only occasionally dabbing on some left over Prada. I’m now reduced to $10  boxed wine – mainly because of financial issues, but also because it is much more eco friendly……

The proverbial drug cat got out of the bag though. My doctor has given me valium to take when the spasticity is bad or I’m feeling a little too anxious. I take a statin for high cholesterol as I can’t exercise enough to get it down naturally. I take a nightly dose of antibiotic to counteract UTIs caused by catheterizing. You get the idea.

I’ll continue to recycle. I’ll continue to conserve energy. I’ll continue to eat organic. But, I think a little chemical help is warranted and welcome thanks to this interloper – MS.

Illustration by Hizza Siller

 

Back in the saddle, sort of…

I spent 5 days in NYC couple of weeks back. I was working a convention and had this genius idea that it might be good to get out of Javits and enjoy some fresh, crisp, October air by walking back the 6 blocks to the hotel. Six Avenue blocks. Six l-o-n-g, hot, avenue blocks. Six Oh My Stars what kind of fresh, crisp, hell have I just conscripted myself to blocks.

By the time I staggered into the hotel lobby like a piece of flabby meat jewelery on my boss’ arm, I was almost in tears. Mark, my boss, bless his heart suggested we sit and have a glass of wine and a quick bite to eat before starting on the evening line up of 2 client hosted parties. After a half hour and a nice cool glass of wine, a big glass of water and some bruschetta, I felt almost as good as new. Almost.

Cab downtown. No problem. Listen to some nice, mellow music through a world class microphone. No problem. Hydrate with lots of water. No problem. Get a cab back uptown. No problem. Stop at the corner of 59th street. Problem.

The cabbie says “Get out! Is only one block!”. Mark says to the driver, “No. My friend can’t walk. Take us where we need to go!” We are summarily cursed out in Sanskrit or something like it, as the driver throws the car in reverse, steps on the gas, and runs into a bicyclist. This being Manhattan, everyone from the pedestrians, the cyclist himself, and people at a bus stop are all screaming “Can’t you drive you fuckin’ idiot!?”” Watch where you’re going!” “Wassthematterwithyou!?” until the cyclists wobbles off after a few more choice words and some good smacks to the roof of the cab.

Surprisingly, this doesn’t put our driver in any better mood and he reiterates “Is only one block!”. Our resolve is strong though, so he mumbles further under his breath and puts on his blinker. Now remember, we are in Manhattan. Corner of 59th and 8th. What did he do? What anyone would do ~ try to pull a U-TURN across 4 lanes of traffic at a stopped intersection. And guess what!? Shocker ~ we were t-boned by another cab. Well, this other cabbie who hit us was not nearly as calm or pleasant as the guy on the bike. More cussing and name calling (in Swahili now I think) until our driver turns to us and says “IS ONLY ONE BLOCK!”.

At this point, I decide I might be able to walk the one block after all. After Mark asks him for a receipt (I kid you not ~ our company is tight about these things!) we make it to the next event. By now, it is almost 9:00 pm, close to the end of the party. I grab a nice big glass of wine (because by now I’m ready for a drink), and start snacking on cold crab cakes, soggy asparagus wrapped around prosciutto, and mushroom caps stuffed with substance (unidentified). That bruschetta seems a long time ago.

So here’s the set up: I’m really tired from being on my feet all day. I can’t really stand because I had to enjoy that crisp, fresh, October air and walk until I was crippled. I’ve had a big glass of wine. I’m kinda rattled from the cab accident. I’ve been eating nothing but appetizer dregs. So when the last man standing at the party suggests we smoke some weed, I think it’s an excellent idea. Pot is supposed to be good for people like me with MS, and I smoked some like 7 years ago, so figure I’m due. Yes. This definitely seems like just the ticket.

Fast forward 15 minutes. It’s time to head back to the hotel, since there is no one left but the catering staff, me, one other guy and the pot man. I think I gracefully twirl into the room from the patio, then think I do a perfect pirouette, and then know I land on my ass. I’m laughing so hard I’m crying, and who should I look up to see lending me a hand, but my client.

This is when I love the business I’m in. My gentle client has a laugh with me, sends me home in a cab and then tells me the next day to pretend it never happened. Much as I’d like to, I kind of think it’s better that I do remember it. I must remember that the 6 block walk killed me for almost a week. Maybe I should smoke some pot….?

October 19, 2009

La Crescenta, CA