It began innocently enough. Doesn’t it always?
I got into my car after working out at the gym. Still a little breathless and all hopped up from the “natural high” of the endorphin afterglow from exercise, I reached into my backpack to extract the vitamin supplements that I take after working out.
That was my intention anyway.
But my mind played a trick on me, see? It was a mistake I tell you.
Somehow I reached for the wrong bottle, took out a pill, and tossed it into my mouth. Then I took a swig of water and swallowed.
Then it hit me, “Oh my God, I’ve overdosed on my blood pressure medication!“
I am supposed to take one pill a day and I took one before I left for the gym. (I don’t want to stroke out on the elliptical machine now do I?) Now I had taken one after my work out as well.
Just an innocent mistake, I swear it!
My mind raced, “What to do?”
“Induce vomiting,” came back the reply. That’s what it says on all the labels!
I leapt from my car and ran back into the gym.
“Can I help you?” asked the chipper young woman behind the reception desk.
What is the best way to induce vomiting? What do all the warning labels say?
“I need mustard!”
“I need mustard!”
She looked around behind the desk in an attempt to be helpful. “Sorry. I don’t have any mustard. I have a Powerbar, would that help?”
“I don’t think so…” I replied.
I gave her a panicked look and ran to the men’s room.
I stuck my finger down my throat. Nothing happened.
I tried again. Still nothing.
I should have known my lack of gag reflex that serves me so well in certain situations would come back to bite me on the ass one day. I simply could not make myself vomit.
I guess I can scratch bulimia off of my list of potential weight loss plans.
There’s nothing to do but face the fact that soon I will be tripping on my blood pressure meds.
Somewhere in the twisted recesses of my brain the song White Rabbit by the Jefferson Airplane begins to play.
One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small…
I return to my car. I need to quickly drive the quarter of a mile to my office before the meds kick in. Those drug warnings don’t caution against driving or operating heavy machinery for nothing!
I lock myself in my office and sit down. Got to think! Got to think! Once the drug kicks in no telling what will happen!
I know! I’ll just keep the door closed and locked all day. No one will notice. Except…. Damn me and my “Open Door Policy!”
What was I on when I implemented that cockamamie idea?
Maybe I should just admit to everyone that I accidentally took an overdose of blood pressure medicine. But who would believe me? Accident? I can hear them scoffing now.
No. I have to somehow maintain and pretend that nothing is out of the ordinary…
But can I function while I am tripping on blood pressure medicine? I have visions of people asking me how I am today and me responding in a strangely slow voice, “Oh man, my blood pressure is so low…“
What is it about overdosing on pharmaceuticals that makes me think of the 1970’s?
7th grade Health class: I was hoping the class would be more about sex and not so much about the dangers of cigarettes and drugs. I get it! Drugs are bad. Now can we see pictures of naked people? But no, the teacher just wants to talk about topics like “gateway drugs” and such.
Gateway drugs?! What was it she said? Something like marijuana is a gateway drug to heroin…What if blood pressure medicine is a gateway drug to something else? Like maybe cardiovascular drugs?
I start abusing this stuff and then I’ll be wanting antithrombotic drugs, maybe even something antiarrhythmic. God forbid I start using that antianginal stuff—Nitro glycercerin! Then things start blowing up—just like those meth labs I read about in Time magazine.
I am starting to feel…something. Am I getting “high”? Or, considering the nature of the drug I have taken, am I getting “low”?
What if after today I have a craving to get “low” everyday? I’ll start doubling up the dosage. Then I’ll develop a tolerance so I’ll have to add a third and fourth pill to my sinister vasodilator cocktail. Then I’ll go through my prescription two or three times as fast. When Walgreens won’t give me a refill I’ll have to start getting my blood pressure drugs on the street!
And the ones that mother gives you
Don’t do anything at all…
I flash on an image of myself in one of those seedy neighborhoods with drug dealers on every corner you see in anti-drug commercials. As I walk slowly down the sidewalk, the dealers who loiter on the bus benches and under the lampposts mutter in my direction,
I lock eyes with the steely eyed dealer.
“Oh, the dude wants to get low,” he says with a knowing chuckle.
I shudder in an attempt to shake off this prophetic image. It is just like they taught me in junior high school. I should have made more of an effort to pay attention.
Go ask Alice
When she’s ten feet tall…
I remember the book Go Ask Alice. All the kids in my junior high read it. It was supposed to be the real diary of a high school girl. Later I learned it was actually one of many novels written by an adult named Beatrice Sparks as a cautionary tale for teens and then marketed as a true story.
A few years ago James Frey took that same concept and applied it to adults. Look where that got him–a television tongue lashing from Oprah.
Meanwhile Go Ask Alice is still in print and is still taught in schools as “a true story.”
There’s a lesson here: make up whatever you want, just don’t piss off Oprah.
The Movie of the Week version of Go Ask Alice came out in 1973. The movie includes the memorable line:
He’s getting high just talking about getting high, and you’re getting high off of his high, and I’m getting high
off of your high. And it’s one big contact high.
In the movie, William Shatner (after Captain Kirk but before T.J. Hooker) plays the clueless father of the protagonist—a girl named Alice. When Alice’s grades start to slip and she starts hanging out with glassy eyed kids who look like refuges from Woodstock, it never occurs to her parents that their daughter might be experimenting with drugs.
It is safe to say they are the only parents in 1973 that wouldn’t have leapt to that conclusion.
All of the parents I knew at that time were extremely paranoid about their kids doing drugs. If you so much as looked at your mother sideways she would start in with the “Are you on drugs?” If you looked sad, happy, mad or tired, one of your parents would inevitably query, “Are you high on something right now?”
Not so William Shatner and his made for TV movie wife. They didn’t figure anything out until it was too late.
When logic and proportion
Have fallen softly dead…
Still, Alice’s drug problem wasn’t really the fault of the parents. It all began when someone slipped LSD into Alice’s soft drink at a party. From there life spiraled out of control—more drugs, promiscuous sex, drug dealing boyfriends, running away from home and living on the streets. All from one Acid-laced glass of soda pop.
Let that be a lesson to us all.
After hitting rock bottom Alice seeks assistance from a priest played by Andy Griffith.
She’s lucky he didn’t throw her in the drunk tank with Otis.
Andy reunites Alice with her parents, she kicks her habit and things start looking up. Then someone slips her drugs (again!) while she is babysitting. When Alice feels the stuff kicking in, she locks herself in a closet in order to protect the baby.
For a moment I wonder if maybe I should lock myself in a closet. When I remember that Alice in the movie freaked out and hurt herself trying to claw her way back out of the closet and wound up in the hospital, I think better of the closet idea.
Where’s Andy Griffith when I need him?
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen’s “off with her head!
After getting out of the hospital, Alice really cleans up her act. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there. I don’t want to spoil the ending in case anyone wants to rent this or read the book but let’s just say Go Ask Alice has a sad ending. (Spoiler alert: Alice dies of a drug overdose.)
That ending seemed a whole lot sadder when we all believed Go Ask Alice was a true story.
Go Ask Alice, like Reefer Madness before it, is intended to scare kids straight. It actually worked on the kids I went to school with—no one at my junior high used drugs.
Everyone waited until they were in senior high school. Some even waited until college.
Remember what the dormouse said…
I guess by now you’ve figured out that I did not die from my reckless overdose of pharmaceuticals since dead men do not blog.
Despite the all of the warnings I received in junior high school, I did what so many children of the 70’s would do—I turned to another drug for help.
I decided coffee was the answer.
If caffeine elevates blood pressure then I figured drinking more coffee would give that extra pill something to do. Apparently it worked.
Let this be a lesson to us all.
Feed your head!
Feed your head!
Feed your head!