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

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
September 4-6, 2015
Louis Proyect
Migrating Through Hell: Quemada-Diez’s “La Jaula de Oro”
Charles R. Larson
Class and Colonialism in British Cairo
September 03, 2015
Sal Rodriguez
How California Prison Hunger Strikes Sparked Solitary Confinement Reforms
Lawrence Ware
Leave Michael Vick Alone: the Racism and Misogyny of Football Fans
Dave Lindorff
Is Obama the Worst President Ever?
Vijay Prashad
The Return of Social Democracy?
Ellen Brown
Quantitative Easing for People: Jeremy Corbyn’s Radical Proposal
Paul Craig Roberts
The Rise of the Inhumanes: Barron, Bybee, Yoo and Bradford
Binoy Kampmark
Inside Emailgate: Hillary’s Latest Problem
Lynn Holland
For the Love of Water: El Salvador’s Mining Ban
Geoff Dutton
Time for Some Anger Management
Jack Rasmus
The New Colonialism: Greece and Ukraine
Norman Pollack
American Jews and the Iran Accord: The Politics of Fear
John Grant
Sorting Through the Bullshit in America
David Macaray
The Unbearable Lightness of Treaties
Chad Nelson
Lessig Uses a Scalpel Where a Machete is Needed
September 02, 2015
Paul Street
Strange Words From St. Bernard and the Sandernistas
Jose Martinez
Houston, We Have a Problem: False Equivalencies on Police Violence
Henry Giroux
Global Capitalism and the Culture of Mad Violence
Ajamu Baraka
Making Black Lives Matter in Riohacha, Colombia
William Edstrom
Wall Street and the Military are Draining Americans High and Dry
David Altheide
The Media Syndrome Between a Glock and a GoPro
Yves Engler
Canada vs. Africa
Ron Jacobs
The League of Empire
Andrew Smolski
Democracy and Privatization in Neoliberal Mexico
Stephen Lendman
Gaza: a Socioeconomic Dead Zone
Norman Pollack
Obama, Flim-Flam Artist: Alaska Offshore Drilling
Binoy Kampmark
Australian Border Force Gore
Ruth Fowler
Ask Not: Lost in the Crowd with Amanda Palmer
Kim Nicolini
Remembering Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes
September 01, 2015
Mike Whitney
Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse
Michael Schwalbe
The Moral Hazards of Capitalism
Eric Mann
Inside the Civil Rights Movement: a Conversation With Julian Bond
Pam Martens
How Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts, Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy
Jonathan Latham
Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
Fran Shor
Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders Campaign: a Case of Historical Amnesia?
Joe Paff
The Big Trees: Cockburn, Marx and Shostakovich
Randy Blazak
University Administrators Allow Fraternities to Turn Colleges Into Rape Factories
Robert Hunziker
The IPCC Caught in a Pressure Cooker
George Wuerthner
Myths of the Anthropocene Boosters: Truthout’s Misguided Attack on Wilderness and National Park Ideals
Robert Koehler
Sending Your Children Off to Safe Spaces in College
Jesse Jackson
Season of the Insurgents: From Trump to Sanders
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People