FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Research Objects

by MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE

“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect-like creature.” ~~Franz Kafka (The Metamorphosis)

The human condition is absurd.

Ten hours into 2014, I’d broken the only resolution I made: to give no advice.  I shrugged with an “okay, nobody takes it anyway.”  Even when they ask for it.

He’d cyber’d, “Thanks for encouraging me to_________ “ It doesn’t matter who or what I advised. Only that after this expression of gratitude for my advice, advice he took briefly, he then detoured, hurting people, throwing pain into a world already submerged in it, adding insult to insult, injury to injury.

Later, opening email, I saw a name in my inbox. At first nothing registered. Suddenly, it did. Because I’d opened the OTHER side of the story. There’s always more than one side—he said/she said, you know. Witnessing the butterfly effect, I imagined someone’s pulling the wings off fragilities. The man who’d thanked me for encouraging him had become a microcosm of Empire, like US foreign policy in its self-fulfilling prophesy.

(As Missy Beattie awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, she found herself transformed in her bed into a gigantic insect-like creature.)

I made a new resolution. I will stop climbing the walls in anxiety. When I feel the familiar alert, the change in heart rate, the hyperhidrosis, I’ll visualize a STOP sign, a popup—to remind me of absurdities.

Two-thirds of the Sisterhood drove to St. Simons today. Laura and Erma loaded their Lesbaru with the cats, cat carriers, workout equipment, groceries, suitcases, beach chairs, computers, and myriad other STUFF. This leaves me to work the resolution alone. Okay, Laura NEVER worries. Laura will not wake up, transformed in her bed into a gigantic insect-like creature. Erma’s on my angst-card.

All these years, my anxiety has been productive—yes, producing acid that scalds my esophagus, which led me to take a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) for over 10 years to check said production.  Little did I know the PPI was depleting my body of vitamin B-12, and perhaps contributing to depression, nerve damage, and dementia. Those who take a PPI for more than two years are at risk. Earlier findings linking PPIs to bone fractures and impaired vascular health are enormously alarming, and so is this latest research.

PPIs are big business, one of the largest classes of drugs sold in the US with sales in the billions. Drug companies may minimize or dismiss the findings about their use. Those who take these medications must weigh the benefits against the risks—really, a prudent measure for any decision.

Some months ago I met friends for lunch in DC. One is Charles’s former colleague, a physician and scientist. Another researcher joined us. When they discussed drug trials, I asked about the length of these studies. My friend’s colleague said he’s interested in long-term follow-up observation. He gave the example of a drug that was removed from the market because those using it had increased risk of strokes and heart attacks. And then he said that a significant number of people who took this drug now have Alzheimer’s. Obviously, short clinical trials can’t test for effects that occur years later. (Hmm, now there’s a connection, circling back to giving advice, taking it, or not. Advice one gives or takes in the short term may have unexpected consequences years later.)

When Charles was sick, I Googled Parkinsonism etiology and found that research supports both genetic and environmental factors. Later, someone mentioned my husband’s exposure, as an anesthesiologist,
to anesthetic agents. I dismissed this, thinking that more anesthesiologists would have Parkinson’s. Wouldn’t this link be established?  I don’t know. I considered many things, his hobby before we met, photography development. The chemicals necessary.  And that he operated the nuclear reactor at New York University.  So many variables.

We want to find something, some cause, that we can limit contact with or avoid.  I say to my children. “Don’t eat that meat with all those antibiotics and Mad Cow prions.” I’ve inflicted my don’ts on them so many times they no longer take me seriously.

Some of us die worse than others. I’d like to exit this place without a diagnosis of dementia. Certainly, I prefer not to be Frankenmammal, a neurologically impaired byproduct of pharmacology. It’s that I have these rules, a plan—about end of life choices, the right to choose time and place. We cling to life though, even when it isn’t really living. Is this innate? I don’t know. I just hope I have the courage someday to say, “I love you, goodbye.” Before I’m a burden. My children are funny. If I read this to them, they’d say, “You’re a burden now.”

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Baltimore. Email: missybeat@gmail.com.

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
February 12-14, 2016
Andrew Levine
What Next in the War on Clintonism?
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Comedy of Terrors: When in Doubt, Bomb Syria
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh – Anthony A. Gabb
Financial Oligarchy vs. Feudal Aristocracy
Paul Street
When Plan A Meets Plan B: Talking Politics and Revolution with the Green Party’s Jill Stein
Rob Urie
The (Political) Season of Our Discontent
Pepe Escobar
It Takes a Greek to Save Europa
Gerald Sussman
Why Hillary Clinton Spells Democratic Party Defeat
Carol Norris
What Do Hillary’s Women Want? A Psychologist on the Clinton Campaign’s Women’s Club Strategy
Robert Fantina
The U.S. Election: Any Good News for Palestine?
Linda Pentz Gunter
Radioactive Handouts: the Nuclear Subsidies Buried Inside Obama’s “Clean” Energy Budget
Michael Welton
Lenin, Putin and Me
Manuel García, Jr.
Fire in the Hole: Bernie and the Cracks in the Neo-Liberal Lid
Thomas Stephens
The Flint River Lead Poisoning Catastrophe in Historical Perspective
David Rosen
When Trump Confronted a Transgender Beauty
Will Parrish
Cap and Clear-Cut
Victor Grossman
Coming Cutthroats and Parting Pirates
Ben Terrall
Raw Deals: Challenging the Sharing Economy
David Yearsley
Beyoncé’s Super Bowl Formation: Form-Fitting Uniforms of Revolution and Commerce
David Mattson
Divvying Up the Dead: Grizzly Bears in a Post-ESA World
Matthew Stevenson
Confessions of a Primary Insider
Jeff Mackler
Friedrichs v. U.S. Public Employee Unions
Franklin Lamb
Notes From Tehran: Trump, the Iranian Elections and the End of Sanctions
Pete Dolack
More Unemployment and Less Security
Christopher Brauchli
The Cruzifiction of Michael Wayne Haley
Bill Quigley
Law on the Margins: a Profile of Social Justice Lawyer Chaumtoli Huq
Uri Avnery
A Lady With a Smile
Katja Kipping
The Opposite of Transparency: What I Didn’t Read in the TIPP Reading Room
B. R. Gowani
Hellish Woman: ISIS’s Granny Endorses Hillary
Kent Paterson
The Futures of Whales and Humans in Mexico
James Heddle
Why the Current Nuclear Showdown in California Should Matter to You
Michael Howard
Hollywood’s Grotesque Animal Abuse
Steven Gorelick
Branding Tradition: a Bittersweet Tale of Capitalism at Work
Nozomi Hayase
Assange’s UN Victory and Redemption of the West
Patrick Bond
World Bank Punches South Africa’s Poor, by Ignoring the Rich
Mel Gurtov
Is US-Russia Engagement Still Possible?
Dan Bacher
Governor Jerry Brown Receives Cold, Dead Fish Award Four Years In A Row
Wolfgang Lieberknecht
Fighting and Protecting Refugees
Jennifer Matsui
Doglegs, An Unforgettable Film
Soud Sharabani
Israeli Myths: An Interview with Ramzy Baroud
Terry Simons
Bernie? Why Not?
Missy Comley Beattie
When Thoughtful People Think Illogically
Christy Rodgers
Everywhere is War: Luke Mogelson’s These Heroic, Happy Dead: Stories
Ron Jacobs
Springsteen: Rockin’ the House in Albany, NY
Barbara Nimri Aziz
“The Martian”: This Heroism is for Chinese Viewers Too
Charles R. Larson
No Brainers: When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail