Sunday, September 30, 2012

But tell us what you *really* think

This hearkens back to spring, in honor of the just-passed autmun equinox and the winter solstice toward which time now seems to fly. And it sweetens the point of my beginning, lest you prefer to leave now and return to read on another topic. For while Eat Here Eatery is mostly content to leave matters of politics and public affairs to finer minds and more articulate voices, today's post will be a simple expression of the editor's view and yet likely to find a range of reception. So start off with a view of a spring birdbath, and finish with a bite of dessert. In the middle, with apologies to those who may be offended, here is this.

At the age of 45, Carrie O'Hare Hogan died of breast cancer. In her 50s, Helen Baker Christensen died of cancer. Vince Jeffs, far, far too young, died not long ago of cancer. You yourself almost certainly know someone whose potrait could be equally briefly sketched here. Even among our small circle of readers, surely the list would be too much for any of us to face without grief, and joy, memories and tales as plentiful and lovely as blades of grass. You will almost certainly remember the pain, from the smallest indignities to the agonies passing most human understanding. You will remember the bargains you would have been willing to make with God or the Goddess or the Universe or anyone to relieve the pain - some or all - or to take it onto yourself if even for a moment.

Perhaps you also know someone who lives or has lived, with a painful disorder for which there is a life sentence, no cure, and only a range of hopeful treatments. These can range from inconvenient side effects to horribly debilitating reactions. Perhaps fibromyalgia, MS, neuropathy...these and many other disorders or diseases may occur in the company of other troubles: diabetes, chemotherapy, organ failure; they may also occur on their own, idiopathically, as medical people say, meaning, We have no idea what causes this. And you will know that medical practitioners, bless their hearts, will try an endless list of possible remedies. They will combine and re-combine the best (and often breathtakingly expensive) offerings from pharmaceutical companies; they will fall back to older classes of drugs; they will try to get their hands on the newest things the FDA will let them use. (In our own family, we worked as advocates and partners with our dedicated family doctor to alleviate the symptoms of Alzheimers my father-in-law suffered. Because Medicare offered no prescription coverage at that time, our doctor often provided medications through the pharmaceutical companies themselves and for a time, there was some degree of relief.) In these situations, too, you may find yourself willing to make some of those same unthinkable bargains with the holy and the not-so-holy: couldn't I just be the one in pain for an hour, in her place? Could he have one day to run and work and laugh without the pain - I will take it for myself; please? Could she spend half her day without the sluggish fog this medication exacts in return for the relief of her pain? What if her illness were lifted for a day, an hour, a few moments? - to remove the heavy sadness and depression of this bleak prognosis? What if I might be able to prevent her temptation to consider suicide as she faces the rest of her life with this unalloyed pain? But the answer is always the same.

And now for the divisive opinion of which I warned at the beginning. If you've experienced any of those things, or if you've loved or cared about anyone who has, you must consider this. What if there were a way to make those little bargains of love? What if there were a way to, if not remove, at least relieve the feelings of pain, stress, anxiety and depression that accompany chronic illness and pain? What if the bargain was completely natural, simple, inexpensive and could be gathered as easily as the tomatoes and zinnias and nasturtiums you grow in your garden or on your deck to brighten summer tables? What it it could be ground finely and baked into zucchini chocolate cake to tempt even those appetites made reluctant by medication? What if it could be enjoyed with a cup of tea, and 45 minutes later followed an hour of peace, a smile blessedly untouched by lines of pain? You hear the expression "happy pill", as though your local pharmacist could just hand one over. There's no such thing, of course. But there is something that can bring such relief of symptoms and side effects that it might be called "happy", or called by any of a range of snide and silly other names, easy to tumble from the mouths of those who've never suffered hand-in-hand with a loved one. There is a simple, natural way to help. Why on earth would we withhold this? What puritanical ethos drives us to prevent or even temporarily relieve the suffering of our sisters and brothers?

Oversimplification? Deliberate blindness to the bafflingly complex legal ins and outs, the mafia, drug cartels, the regulation, the confusion, the taxation...all the things I'm pretending to be too obtuse to grasp? Maybe. But at every turn there's an obstacle. Don't ask, don't tell? In this state if you take legitimately prescribed narcotic medications, you're subject to testing. There's no possibility of "Don't ask, don't tell". There's hope in the voice of the people, as long as they speak. There's hope in the collective voice of the medical profession, should it continue to say, We have a medicine. It is not a drug. It is not the product of a laboratory. It can be grown in a corner of the herb garden, and it can be ingested as safely as the rows of lettuces and pots of tomatoes and nasturtium flowers you bring in from your own garden. It can. And for the life of me, I can't understand why we're not bringing it in from the garden.


  1. Michelle, I sorta knew you would, but wasn't sure you were still reading since I'm such a lameass that I only post once in a, well, blue moon these days. THANK YOU. Still sending love.

  2. +1. Perhaps one day, efficacy will outweigh the objections...

  3. Scott, thanks for the read and for the word: efficacy is perhaps the one-word precis for the whole thing.


Please share your thoughts. If you have trouble getting past the gatekeeper, email and let me know.