The Use of Drugs
Donnie, Aldie, and Dr. Goodspeed

I have had an allergic reaction to something for over a year. I went to Dr. Garritson, my dermatologist, who has tried various drugs, all of which mitigated my reaction but didn’t cure the problem. During that time, she did two biopsies. The first one came back as spongiotic dermatitis with eosinophilic spongiosis. The second biopsy, a couple months later, came back as superficial perivascular inflammation with eosinophils.

I had no idea what either diagnoses meant. Dr. Garritson assured me that they were essentially the same diagnosis and that it wasn’t life-threatening. The biopsies were simply that I had a simple case of eczema, or what most people would call an itchy rash. Finally, after trying all sorts of drugs, she started me on 300mg of Dupixent. My first treatment consisted of two injections of Dupixent: one by the nurse and the other by me. Since then, I administer one shot every other week and have for a couple of months.

Four syringes arrive every other month. This is Ginger with the first supply.

I don’t know whether Dupixent will be the cure all. It is easy to do the injection which is about as painless as it could be. Also, I have no reactions to the drug. For the time being, the most obvious benefit of Dupixent is that I have several dozen small bags of ice, which came with each delivery of four syringes.

I kept the small bags of ice just in case the electricity went out during a lightning storm. Interestingly, the day before I wrote this article, we had an awfully bad lightning and rainstorm, which lasted for several hours. I thought that I was glad I kept all the ice so that I could put a dozen or so in the refrigerator if I lost power. I went to bed that night without having to use any of the ice.

Today dawned sunny, warm, and bright. Spring in Crown Point was very cold. However, today was the first day anyone turned on their air conditioner. The temperature reached 90 degrees. I was inside writing this essay. The last thing you would think that would happen today would be a lightning storm. However, during this bright and warm Sunday, the lights went out. And they were out for four hours or more. The first thing that I did was to move some of Dupixent’s ice bags from the freezer in the garage to the refrigerator. I had two more shots for June that I didn’t want affected. Therefore, I am good to go for another month.

This giving myself injections is occurring in my late 70s. At the beginning of my life, I lived with my grandparents due to my father being in the South Pacific during WWII. My mother’s next oldest sister was also married and living there. She had a child a couple months younger than I. He called me Aldie, and I called him Donnie. Essentially, we were brothers. When the war was over and our fathers returned home, Donnie was diagnosed with diabetes. I can’t recall how old we were, but his parents taught him how to inject himself with insulin. I was fascinated as I watched him giving himself a shot. Interestingly, I am doing the same thing at the other end of my life.

Each time I administer my Dupixent, I recall watching Donnie do the same thing. I also remember another person, Dr. Stanley Goodspeed played by Nicholas Cage, giving himself an injection in The Rock. At the end of the movie, he saves Sean Connery and the rest of the world from devastation, but he had to first administer a shot.

So, in varying ways, each of the three self-injections stories address our sense of mortality. In my earlier essay, Atul Gawande deals with the question of the quality of life vs. merely existing. This essay addresses living life to the fullest. We have no means of knowing how long we will walk down our yellow brick road of our lives. Things happen that change my calculus. Accidents occur, medical issues can arise, and pandemics happen.

The coronavirus has radically changed the global metrics. No one living today has ever gone through such a devasting event along with all humankind. We are all facing a similar event that happened a century ago. As you look back further a couple of millennia, there have been other times like today.

No one is familiar with the new familiar. We lack the experience of previous times of dealing with other pandemics. There hasn’t been a global rehearsal for COVID-19. Amid this global pandemic, a serendipitous event occurred. I bought a pair of loafers from Amazon; that wasn’t the great revelation. While I enjoy my shoes, the one thing that affected me was the postcard inside the shoebox.

In these times of uncertainty, that haunting postcard expresses how I feel. We are dealing with COVID-19 while Trump’s inane response to it has resulted in tens of thousands of American that didn’t have to die.

We are facing the most devastating medical and financial occurrence throughout the world. Our Quack-in-Chief wants to take a disinfectant to clean out his body of COVID-19. Nevertheless, he has taken a daily dose of his miracle drug, hydroxychloroquine. What a combination. Americans are facing the worst pandemic and the stupidest president at the same time. I am fully aware that I can’t change the mindset of our fake president. However, I can control my life and enjoy the precious time that I have.

I use the guy standing on the top of the crashed airplane as a role model. When facing catastrophic times, you and I have but two choices. We can sit back and bitch about life or live life. Defiantly face the onslaught. Act. Respond. Do something to improve the world in which we all live.

The individual atop the crashed airplane is the way that I will address the problems that I meet on my yellow brick road of life. Others, before me, have come up with similar defiant statements. “Cowards die many times before their deaths, the valiant never taste of death but once.” Carpe diem. “Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State! Sail on, O Union, strong and great! Humanity with all its fears, with all the hopes of future years, is hanging breathless on thy fate!”

Live life to the fullest and enjoy every moment. I am aware that planning for things is critical. Plan them. Then enjoy living your life. I went back to see my family in Myanmar during winter break a couple of months ago. I did what I wanted to do. In fact, those three weeks were the best weeks of my life. Enjoy your journey. The end of our yellow brick roads will end all too soon for each of us.