Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Dr. Chaffin Crashes-- Briefly, We Hope?

I had planned upon our return to have refills of my most needed medications in the mail from Canada, namely my antidepressant, Cymbalta, and my pain medication, Celebrex. To my horror and surprise, neither had arrived, only an old telephone message that both had been "back-ordered" from Europe. "Both?" I said, calling back. "Solly, one wasn't weady yet and dey don't like to ship dem together." Cheap bastards, I thought. I urged them to get them to me ASAP, whereupon the Hindu pharmacist said: "Den you would accept generic?" Of course, you bubble-headed booby! I thought.

I try to keep such thoughts to myself today, because uttering them doesn't help anyone. In private with Kathleen these past two-and-a-half weeks on the road, I have often sat in a motel bed and said, "I hate everyone! I hope they all die!

"Bite your tongue and ask for forgiveness," she would say, especially if I mentioned a family member by name. So I would do what she asked, but the prayer always sounded disrespectful with the lisping effect of teeth on tongue. Nevertheless I did comfort myself with the knowledge that all would die, if not soon enough to suit me.

Why these near nightly rages on the road, I don't know; they were not manic, just a feeling of general anger towards everything, cheap motels, fast food, ungrateful children and obtuse others, all the while suffering pain, emotional and physical, while on limited means on what seemed an interminable road trip to Long Beach, CA, even if no major snafus occurred.

I wouldn't have missed my baby's graduation, but I wouldn't do it again, either.

I think my anger may have been warning me about my grief, particularly over the fortunes of my eldest daughter of late, whose care on the trip exhausted me. But I'll keep her secrets for now, even if she is fond of broadcasting them. Every time I think I have come to accept her as she is, she finds some new hot buttons to push. She's gifted that way. Yes, she's the redhead in the picture at the top right of the blog.

Back to the meds. When I had no Cymbalta for two days I sank into a depressive episode, weeping for half an hour, struggling not to let any verbal equivalents enter my brain, as in "You're worthless. You suck. You've never done anything. You despise your own children." No, I didn't let the lies of the frontal cortex insinuate themselves into the vortex of my lizard brain, thus was proud I could recognize my depressive seizure as just that, an uncontrollable outpouring of emotion unrelated to any specific thing. I also had the wherewithal to call my doctor for a short-term supply until the cheaper meds from Canada arrive; I got these yesterday afternoon and then proceeded to twitch so badly I had to sleep apart from my wife. This is an early side effect of some antidepressants, but thank God, it means they are starting to work.

I sometimes think that part of manic-depression is a complete disconnect, in time, between the emotions one should naturally experience and a safe time to let them out. So, for example, I could go tight-lipped through a funeral and weep at a video arcade a month later. Once I even thought I had come closer to integrating my emotions better in regard to circumstances, but I fear for us bipolars this is a chimera. It's as if we build up mountains of rage and chasms of grief of which we are consciously unaware, and one day we smack into them and all hell breaks loose. Chemically, from the standpoint of the actual illness, this likely holds little scientific truth, but it is a useful metaphor for conceptualizing how the phenomenon sometimes feels. In the end manic-depression is really just bad genes and bad luck.

In the face of yesterday's weeping seizure, I found a poem by Fred Pluto that spoke to me of the matter:

The Fever Marches On

There can be no refund
for your parents or your children,
no jeweled compensation
for their liver-piercing defects
though your hepatic perforations
leak like Christ’s wounded side.

But if you were the Christ
would you suffer any more?
And what about the spikes
you drove into their palms
you thought justified,
now long forgotten?

Your hands are not uncontaminated.
Think what infections linger.

Now it wasn't entirely my fault that I was out of meds, but first a cautionary note: if you respond to an antidepressant and go off of it, your chances of responding to it a second time are much reduced. Since Cymbalta was the only thing I responded to after a year's misery, even missing one day was inexcusable. But that's all I missed. So whoever reads this post, remember to take your medications faithfully, especially if you suffer a mood disorder.

Thine as ever,



  1. Your local bubble-headed booby8:49 AM PDT

    Amazing! Didn't think one could discern someone's religious persuasions from their accent alone, but then you obviously can.

  2. There are more Hindus in India than Muslims or Sikhs or Buddhists, so I was just going with the percentages.

    I always feel conflicted when I use the word "Indian" as an American.

    But of course your remark is en pointe.

    On the other hand, you can usually tell a Pentecostal preacher by the cadence of his delivery before he starts talking about tongues. ;-)

  3. Anonymous10:36 PM PDT

    The brain is a wonderful makes wonderful poetry and it can wreak havoc...I agree with you advice to never miss your meds...we have found even changing meds, reducing them or upping them, often gives us a flurry of seizures. The brain is a sensitive thing....we love the beauty tht comes from that sensitivity, but sometimes pay the price. If we, as the so-called gretest power in the world, had Universal Healthcare, you would not be ordering drugs from Canada, suffering the consequences of them failing to arrive on time. Many think two days of drugs missed is no big thing, to some of us it could be fatal in a little hospital in Fort Bragg.

    Glad you are home...looking forward to seeing you both on Saturday.


  4. Anonymous10:40 PM PDT

    Sorry for all those old gardening hands are weary. : )


  5. Good to hear from you, O anti-invasive warrior. After digging thimbleberry and blackberry roots until my bad back went belly up, I finally resorted to an herbicide--may all the organo-fanatics forgive me.

    BTW, I'll be playing music at the festival from 2:30 to 4 PM.

    Glad you understand the importance of meds for some of us with abnormal brains. Lifesaving, truly.

    See you Saturday,



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