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Rocky Mountain High in . . . Texas? Not Yet (Redux)

25 Feb

 by Roger White

So I’m sitting, slightly askew, on the couch the other evening, wincing through the throbs of a pulled lower back, trying ever so hard to catch glimpses of “60 Minutes” in between intermittent stabs of electric pain. Note to self: It takes two people to move the wife’s giant potted sago palm. Big, green, aggressive bastard.

Lo, mi amigos, there on my favorite TV news magazine was a rerun of an investigative piece on the burgeoning business of cultivating and selling, shall we say, pungent herbs in states such as Colorado and California. And it hit me as I was watching this how pervasive the proclivity of pot production has grown since this show was first aired. As of this here writing, folks, the medical use of (cannabis…shhh!) is legal in 33 states, and the recreational use of (cannabis…shhh!) is legal in 10 states. Present state stubbornly excepted, of course.

starbucks potbucksA quick gander at the ol’ google-pedia shows that there are approximately 364 dispensaries of (cannabis) in the Denver area alone. Holy hash pipes, that’s more than the total of Starbucks and McDonalds outlets combined (111, for those counting at home). Talk about a budding industry. Rimshot. Applause, applause.

It’s interesting to note that although an air of legitimacy is lent to this state-sanctioned drugstore doobage—with barcodes on individual plants and white-coated THC technicians advising patients on characteristics and properties of each strain—that vestiges of the headshop hippie days still linger, specifically with the nicknames attached to different types of product. Some samples: Jack Frost, Blue Dream, Purple Haze, Skywalker Special, Accidental Tourist, Gracie Slick, Agent Orange—and yep, there is still Acapulco Gold.

Try as I might, I’m having a bit of difficulty envisioning an elderly glaucoma sufferer, say, an 85-year-old grandmother with a walker, toddling into her corner Hash-n-Dash. But here goes:

Eighty-five-year-old Grandmother With Walker: “Hello, Doctor Stoner.”

White-coated THC Technician: “Please, Mrs. Baker, I’m not a doctor, just a technician. Call me Moon Skye. How’s the glaucoma this week?”

old pot ladyEighty-five-year-old Grandmother With Walker: “Not good, Dr. Moonpie. I ran out of the Lemon Skunkweed two days ago and couldn’t get in until today.”

White-coated THC Technician: “Tell you what. We’re out of Lemon right now, but we’re having a special on Night Train Nebula.”

Eighty-five-year-old Grandmother yadda: “Oh, that Night Train makes me paranoid. Do you have any Blue Monkey Balls?”

White-coated THC blah etc.: “Sorry, Mrs. Baker.”

Eighty-yadda so on: “Oh, all right. Half-ounce Night Train then. And do you have any papers?”

White blah etc.: “Sure thing, Mrs. B.”

Eighty-yadda-zzzz: “Groovy.”

Pot Olive OilSounds hokey, yes, but this is big, big biz. As in the billions of dollars. It’s a green industry in more ways than one. And for those nonsmokers looking for relief, these pot practitioners make cannabis-infused cookies, candy, ice cream, sports drinks, pills, olive oil—you name it. If it can be ingested, it can get you toasted.

Yet, as I squirm here on my couch, twinging with what feels like lower back labor pains, I must settle for a measly couple of ibuprofen, seeing as how Texas doesn’t square with a great many other states’ views on pain-relieving plants and such. I know we’re the big, fat belt buckle of the Bible sash and all, but if cooler heads prevailed in the Legislature (get it? heads?), we’d see the obvious benefits—namely, crazy stacks of Benjamins in state coffers.

And don’t quote me on this, but I bet we’d see a reduction in violent crime and speeding offenses. In fact, I’d predict a spike in tickets and warnings issued for driving too far under the speed limit. And I imagine there’d be a quantum leap in late-night sales of Doritos and caramel corn.

Texas being Texas, of course, we could put our own brand on the business. The possibilities would be practically endless: Texas Tea, Lone Star Lids, Dallas Dimebag, Galveston Ganja, Houston Homegrown, Beaumont Buds…you get the idea.

guns n boozeMmmm, naah. I don’t see it happening. That sort of thing is viewed as just too dangerous here in the big state. Besides, there’d be no room for dispensaries amid the gun shops and liquor stores.

 

Editor’s note: As of this writing (2-25-19), there are three licensed dispensaries of marijuana for medical purposes in Texas. According to the Texas Tribune: “Though marijuana bills haven’t made a splash in sessions past, shifting politics and public opinion is giving lawmakers and advocates reason to believe the 2019 session might be different.” We shall see. But don’t hold your breath, so to speak.

 

Roger White is a dude abiding with his far-out old lady, a long-haired hippie dachshund, and a cat who digs Miles Davis. For, like, further adventures, man, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

My Uvula Has a Beer Belly

22 May

by Roger White

 

I understand about growing old, and I don’t mind it, really. No, really, there are a few perks that tag along with decrepitude. Like being able to take a nap any time of the day without having to explain yourself. Or the well-practiced art of feigning random episodes of deafness when the wife has her chore list out. Oh, another biggie is the ability to dodge zzzzzhelping the neighbors with any heavy lifting. That’s a personal favorite.

 

“Oh, look, hon,” says the wife one glorious Saturday afternoon. “That new couple across the street bought a new hutch. Go over and see what you can do. They need help getting that big ol’ thing out of their truck.”

 

The glorious day turns dark. “Yes, dear.”

 

I toddle over.

 

“Hey, there, young fellah,” I rasp, sounding in the terminal throes of emphysema. “Need a hand?”

 

“Well. If you think you can, sure!”

 

“Okay, now,” I wheeze. “I’ll hop up in the truck bed and push her your way.” I go to climb up in the truck and freeze, back bent double. “Uh, oh.”

 

“You all right?” the wary young couple inquires simultaneously.

 

“Darn it. Ol’ war wound.”

 

“War wound? Vietnam?”

 

“Yep. Battle of Inchon.”

 

“That was Korea.”

 

“Oh, yeah. Korea.”

 

“Well, look, mister. You go on home and rest your back. We can get this. But thank you, anyway!”

 

I toddle away as the gloriousness of Saturday brightly returns.

 

Alas, some very real maladies have visited themselves upon me with the piling up of the years, and these are the things that make me ponder my mortality. My weekly stab at playing tennis, for example, has been indefinitely curtailed because of some vague pain in my lower neck that feels like I have an angry lobster attached to my spine. I went to the doc about it; he felt around for a while, wrote me a scrip for steroids, and sent me on my way. Well, I have a big mat of chest hair now and I’m prone to wild fits of road rage, but roidsI’ve yet to feel any relief from the spine lobster. Doc thinks I’ve torn my trapezoid or something. Sounds like a circus injury, I know.

 

Another aging ailment (AA for short) that has come to squat upon my person is flab. Funny word, isn’t it? Flab. Flab is something I never suffered from as a kid, as a teen, or as a young man. If anything, I could have used a little extra body acreage. I was always skinny as a pipe cleaner—and about as shy. Yes, that is correct. Pipe cleaners are notoriously shy. Anyway, as the seasons have passed and I’m now in the autumn of my years, I’ve noticed my leaves turning brown and…wait, wrong metaphor. I’ve noticed a bit of girth round my midships. The wife insists my beer intake and stubborn sedentarianism are the culprit, but I cling to advancing age as the true cause. By the way, that’s a new religion I’m starting—Sedentarianism—but that’s for another column.

 

The upshot of this is: I’ve a bit of a muffin top, you see. Well don’t stare.

 

The thing of it is, it’s not just our outer bods that fall victim to flab. Noticing that I’ve been yukhaving trouble staying asleep for any considerable stretch lately, I’ve set myself up for one of those sleep studies. Wifey seems to think I have a flabby uvula. Sounds naughty, I know, but no, we all have uvulas, fellahs. It’s that dangly thing in the back of your throat. Mine is apparently sagging into my breathing passage and clogging me up at night. Yes, even my innards have grown old and tired. My uvula has a beer belly.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

Sours for Albert’s Mom

16 Apr

by Roger White

Day 1

Dr. Keys says I should keep a log about how I feel and react to the medications for the next fortnight, so here goes. You see, my gentle flock, living in Austin, as festive and cool and hipster casual as it may appear, comes with a price. I’m not referring specifically to the Venusian triple-digit summers or the wanna-be Stevie Rays hanging out smelly and rudely insistent on every corner—although that does get tiresome. All of south downtown carries a constant aroma of stale beer and lax hygiene these days.

But no, the harshest penalty for residing deep in the pancreas of Texas, for us of the hypeallergiesrvigilant immune system ilk, is allergies. Cedar fever, hay fever, molds, oak, elm, ash—you name it, we have it in spades. My suffering of late has grown beyond the reach of OTC meds and even my allergist’s happy hypodermic, so with doc’s cautious approval, I signed up for a 10-day medical trial of Lerjistan. Sounds like an outlaw country in the Caucasus region, I know, but it’s apparently the latest wave in histamine blockers and vascular inversion and other medico-technical jargon that I don’t even begin to understand except for the fact that Dr. Keys believes it may ease my slobbering, sneezing symptoms.

Day 3

Scary thing is that this trial involves sequestering myself away in this sanitarium-like dorm for the entire 10 days, while men and women in white antiseptic attire, under the watchful eye of the gangly and bookish Dr. Daniels, take my blood pressure and my blood and walk around smiling a little too sincerely. But heck, I actually get paid for my guinea pig services, so I figure I should relax, take the oblong red pills with my meals and catch up on my Andy Griffith shows.

There are five other men in the facility with me, five others desperate for relief or rent money. Regardless of the motive, we all receive the same regimen, and we’ve all been given the same caveat: though the expected efficacy of Lerjistan is high, initial side effects noted in earlier trials may necessitate tweaking of its chemical recipe. Mental side effects, The Friendly StaffDr. Daniels said. Hence the signing of copious waivers, generous compensation, and the carefully monitored quarantine. Everyone’s friendly and professional, but I keep expecting Nurse Ratched to come around any corner. Symptoms have already begun to ease, but I do feel oddly stimulated. Almost giddy at times.

Day 7

Albert, the guy rooming with me, is an odd duck. Heavy and covered with a permanent sheen of forehead perspiration, he hoards just about everything he gets his hands on: ketchup packets, creamer, sugar, napkins. They’re stashed in his bedside drawer like treasure. He buys packages of cherry sours from the vending machines in the cafeteria and stuffs them in his drawer. He never eats them. He has at least thirty packages of Sourscherry sours. They’re for his mom, he says. She loves them and can’t find them anywhere in town anymore. “Truth is,” Albert said today, “I don’t even have allergies. Lied about it. I need the dough, man. My mom’s kicking me out of the house if I don’t get a job soon.” I asked Albert if he feels strange at all when he takes his pills. “Yeah, a little,” he said. “Like I’m speeding my ass off.”

I have discovered, from information gleaned from four outstanding medical and pharmaceutical web sites, that Lerjistan contains a ketamine alkaloid derivative. Ketamine, in its pure form, produces an out-of-body-like experience and heightened brain wave patterns. Interesting. Allergy symptoms have all but disappeared, and I feel strangely powerful. Alive.

Day 9

Time has ceased, but what is time but a manmade construct? I can explain only by degrees, for only by the most minuscule of degrees is the veil lifted for me. I have immersed myself in the Great Red Spot of Jupiter, and I now know that the astronomers and scientists are mistaken. It is not by winds aloft that this magnificent vortex operates. This awesome spiral, as large as the Earth itself, manifests from below, spawned from a tumultuous whirlpool of the nitrogen-methane sludge that comprises the ocean-like surface of this titan planet. I’ve inspected the moons of Saturn, upon two of which Life thrives, unlike Life at all that meets our egotistical definition. Baby steps only, my friends. But I must start somewhere. The galaxy is rife with puzzle pieces that, in full context, fit in the answersuch spectacular perfection. Then, of course, the Universe itself. Pointless to explore, for it is one of a billion billion such constructs, all connected in a grand Mobius strip of creation that simply leads back to point of origin. To be correct, there is no point of origin – like holding a rubber ball and attempting to divine the beginning. There is no Universe; there are no sprawling oaks outside my window; there is no window. Albert has no cherry sours. Everything and everyone are but specters – thoughts in the great mind of That Which Is All. I don’t use God; it is inadequate. And the word conjures religion, and religion is useless. Crowd control only, means for power, gain, self-serving rationalization. Similarly, there is no death. Death of the human form, absolutely the same as a green leaf plucked from its living branch, merely moves the inhabitant life force on to that Mobius strip, where further experience, greater knowledge, takes us closer to That Which Is All. This that has been revealed to me is preface only. There is a vast store of which I’ve yet to comprehend. The great Truth I glimpse now I can scarcely recount, the enormous majority of which I know I lose when I return to my dormitory room. Unfathomable revelations are brought forth with every journey, yet for reasons beyond my grasp they are veiled from my consciousness. They are placed deep in my soul, as they surely are in everyone and everything, but they are curtained for this time.

Day 10

Whew. Strange dreams I’ve been having. They took us off the pills yesterday, and I feel shaky but back to normal. Dr. Daniels said they’ll likely play around with Lerjistan a bit more before deciding on its general release. Probably wise. Damn, my allergies are coming back. I bought a pack of sours for Albert’s mom, but doc told me he was gone.

“Gone? You don’t mean…”

“Yes. Gone. He checked out early. And swiped our coffee pot, the bastard.”

“Oh.”

So I ate the candy. My head hurts.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

I Feel Funny. No, Not Funny Ha Ha.

23 Jul

by Roger White

Gentle readers, you must pardon me if this installment of my periodic, oft-nonsensical missives unto you appears somewhat professorial, pedantic, and/or prosodic. I must warn you from the start that in my ever-vigilant endeavors to explore the bounds of subject matter for this whimsical journalistic discourse—with precious little regard for my personal safety and body fat content, mind you—I sometimes cross the line between investigative reporting and life-endangering folly. Not unlike intrepid chroniclers before me, such as George Plimpton, Terry Southern, and Henry Cabot Henhouse III, I must at times insert my very own self into the dark heart of the topic at hand.

Therefore, be advised, then, that I am penning these words with the assistance and/or interference, as the case may be, of 200 milligrams of the analeptic monoamine-releaser modafinil. In other words, I’m all hopped up on a tab of prescription Provigil, the latest “wakefulness aid” to come down the off-label pike. And I must say at the outset that moment by moment, my intramuscular energy levels are increasing at an astonishing rate, while my cognitive abilities appear to be coalescing, dare I say multiplying, as I type. Note that I am also scrubbing the kitchen floor grout with a toothbrush, learning Mandarin Chinese via iPod, and performing a mental audit of our family’s previous three years of Form 1040 Schedule A itemized deductions. Piece of cake, really.

Just as this generation of moms has discovered that dipping into their kids’ Ritalin stash has rendered running the household a veritable breeze, folks who were recently prescribed Provigil tablets for narcolepsy or other sleeping disorders have found that a daily off-label popping of one of these minuscule motivators transforms them into super-functioning cerebretrons. Now, we had our own forms of Ritalin and Provigil back in the day. We called it speed. Except if you consumed enough of this heart-squeezing substance, say, to stay up all week during college finals, you could very well end up speeding right into the emergency room.

However, according to a recent ABC News segment on the growing crowd of Provigil partisans, this new wonder drug has no adverse side effects they can detect so far. Let me underline the so far. So far. There. I’ll italicize it, also: So far. I mean, they’ve been studying this stuff how long, a year maybe? How tragic (or comic) would it be to witness a hefty portion of the population go running to their doctors claiming a sudden onset of narcolepsy so they can all leap onto the Provigil Express only to gradually mutate into half-stallion, half-cyclops people in five years’ time?

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not have many of my neighbors and friends become half-stallion, half-cyclops people. This isn’t Arkansas.

The great dearth of longitudinal studies notwithstanding, Provigil sales have skyrocketed. Prescription sales have reportedly increased 73 percent in the last four years—to approximately $1.5 billion in 2011. That’s billion. With a buh.

One guy, a Mr. Dave Asprey, who runs a billion-dollar (with a buh) Internet security firm, told ABC News he starts his day at about 4 in the a.m. Get this, Asprey once bounced out of bed, worked out for a couple of hours, flew 20 hours to Australia with no sleep, and then delivered a series of speeches that were so inspiring they were featured in the local newspapers.

How are we supposed to compete in the workplace with a Provigil Pete? I believe that employers should screen for Provigil in the same fashion athletes are checked for steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs. How on earth am I going to be able to justify my afternoon siesta when Pro-V Patty is in the next cubicle cross-referencing the company archives back to 1862? And what about all those Salesperson of the Month plaques that decorate your friendly car dealer’s walls? I say if they discover that any of those guys were on Provigil that an asterisk must be placed by their names. The asterisk of shame.

Anyway, back to Mr. Asprey. As an experiment, ABC took the guy off the drug for several days, and he did admit he felt a bit “off.” He even admitted his speech was altered! Hmm.

All I can report to you personally is that as I have been writing this column (and scrubbing the kitchen floor and learning Mandarin Chinese and self-auditing my tax returns) I have experienced a certain mental expansion. 官官話官話, 國語 官官? No?

I also believe this is in large part due to the locus of the monoamine action of modafinil, which has also been the target of studies identifying effects on dopamine in the striatum and nucleus accumbens, as opposed to the noradrenaline in the hypothalamus and ventrolateral preoptic nucleus, as well as serotonin in the amygdala and frontal cortex. But you knew that. Duh.

Otherwise, I feel no adversefafctcts shatsoevr, infact I hav neveer flt btetr in…  in.. 9 … 1…….1

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.