Hi, my name isn’t important, and I’ve been a Remicade junkie for 6 months. I don’t know; it just kind of started as a desire to relieve pain. Not any kind of existential pain, just the kind of pain that occurs in your joints first thing in the morning and throughout the day until late at night. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t get through the day, I couldn’t think straight at times. Now I’m here. I hit the pipe every two months. I am willing to let somebody I don’t even know stick a catheter in my veins and inject away. I’m not even sure if this works, but I’m willing to try anything at this point that has about the same effectiveness as a dozen ibuprofen and three shots of vodka a day. I’m hoping, wishing, praying, threatening nobody in particular that this better work.
I think it may work, but like everyone else, the one thing I wasn’t ready for, that nobody is ready for is…SIDE EFFECTS.
Every drug (and I mean EVERY drug) has side effects. Even if the side effect is to kill an infection, it’s still a side effect. However, in today’s wonderful world of pharmacopeia, it must be noted that some medications have really unusual, bizarre, annoying and occasionally deadly side effects. Let’s start with my nemesis, Remicade. These are the side effects as stated on www.drugs.com:
“Serious and sometimes fatal infections may occur during treatment with Remicade. Remicade can lower the blood cells that help your body fight infections. This can make it easier for you to bleed from an injury or get sick from being around others who are ill. Using Remicade may increase your risk of developing certain types of cancer such as lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes) or autoimmune disorders (such as a lupus-like syndrome). Oh, and it can also cause malignant cancer.”
I’ve discovered a few “anecdotal” or unofficial side effects as well. For example, since I’ve been taking Remicade, I noticed that I have a really strong craving for ketchup and condiments containing vinegar. No kidding. That should earn this drug a black label lest the entire world be deprived of Heinz 57.
Another side effect is insomnia. I have trouble sleeping through the night, but I can’t stay awake during the day. I keep getting vivid dreams and nightmares. Of course, nights of insomnia can get rather hazy, so I’m not sure if I’m actually having nightmares, or just remember hours awake at 3:00 a.m. watching this bullshit:
Wasn’t this guy arrested for beating a hooker? You’re gonna say “Wow!” every time you smack dat ho down, bro.
I also seemed to have developed a sense of smell akin to that of a bloodhound. Now, this sounds like it would be neat to have. I mean, who doesn’t want super powers, right? WRONG. Just try walking through the supermarket when the person who attempted to end it all by drowning himself in Axe body spray or the woman who sincerely believes there’s no such thing as too much $4.99 Opium knockoff is there. I groom my dog every two weeks, and I swear she starts stinking like a dog approximately 15 minutes after I’m finished trimming her. And don’t even get me thinking about the food scrap recycling bin. I need my keyboard to be fresh, clean, vomit free and sparkling, thanks.
Remicade is not alone in its insidious quest to wreck your life one side effect at a time. There are a million drugs on the market, and each is like a special little snowflake–a special little toxic snowflake. At the very least you’ll always get a headache. At worst, if you’re an American, you’ll pay what amounts to $In-fucking-sane for a drug that may not actually work. Remember Zettia? Remember Vytorin? Here, maybe this will jog your memory:
These two aren’t the only culprits in this category. The newer cholesterol lowering statins are proving to not be all that effective unless you’re a white male over the age of 50 who’s had a previous heart attack. Wait, I thought you were supposed to take the damn Lipitor before you had the heart attack. The whole white male of retirement age is a really limited demographic. Did the manufacturer just happen to overlook the fact that maybe, just maybe, a woman or person of color may want to lower their cholesterol without throwing a $40 co-pay down the crapper every month? Forget the black label; maybe we could put a more appropriate warning on useless meds:
Now back to side effects. I’m a big fan of full disclosure, and believe me, if the doctor told me the drug he was about to prescribe would eventually cause cancer, I’d probably pass. Of course, I will need to wait a few years to see if I get a zillion skin tags and/or melanoma. The poor folks on SSRIs get instant gratification on their side effects.
I’ve taken my share of happy pills, and I can tell you the electrical shock sensations that fry your brain every 30 minutes or so are no picnic. I also know that these things also mess with your sense of smell, give you a fat ass and make you completely indifferent to the world around you. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t sad. I was just…there. I mean it’s great that somebody can hammer a nail through your hand and not faze you at all. On the other hand, dude, somebody is hammering a goddamn nail through your hand you’re just sitting there for Chrissake.
I think happy pills need an extra special label, and there’s only one person who can get the message across. Let’s bring this guy out of retirement:
He just about sums it up. Please call 9-1-1 in the event of an actual overdose or accidental ingestion.
Maybe all this talk about depression and pain has got you down. It makes you want to chug a fifth of Jack or step outside for a cigarette to calm your nerves or something. What? You’re trying to quit? Well, you may want to avoid this one too:
Let’s bring the good folks at www.drugs.com back for a second round:
“Chantix can cause drowsiness, which may impair your thinking or reactions. You may also have mood or behavior changes when you quit smoking. Until you know how Chantix and the smoking cessation process is going to affect you, be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be cautious and alert. Stop using this medication and call your doctor at once if you have any mood or behavior changes or if you feel agitated, hostile, depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.”
It’s bad enough trying to quit cold turkey. Imagine if you tried to quit and the only thing it achieved was you trying to kill yourself. On the flip side, this makes you wonder. Maybe this is what the manufacturer intended. After all, if you kill yourself, what are the chances that you’ll be able to light up again? Yep, just bury me in my coffin with a Virginia Slim between my fingers and a nicotine patch on my forehead. I think the funeral-goers should have full disclosure too. Besides, I could never get through a viewing or a funeral without needing a drink, or a smoke or at the very least my crazy drunken relatives making the least appropriate comment about the deceased at precisely the most awkward time imaginable.
I think the most evil side effects of all the medicines we take has to be their social cost. Americans don’t have universal health care, don’t want universal health care, don’t need universal health care and clearly don’t mind paying the most money for health care in the entire world. The worst side effect of over-priced medication, repeat doctor visits, blood tests, more doctor visits for refills and eventual rehab:
BANKRUPTCY, HOMELESSNESS, DESPERATION
More Americans go bankrupt from outstanding medical bills than job loss, too much credit card debt, the McMansion they couldn’t afford or outstanding student loans. My current cost for each Remicade treatment, with insurance, is around $4000 a piece. You don’t know how important health care reform is until you’re here in the trenches. Maybe some day we will get it.
He’s not the only one, trust me. Some day we may all be there. In the mean time, there’s no reason to mess with a perfectly fucked up system. Only in America will you gladly shell out a $40 co-pay to voluntarily make your life miserable.