Jun 7, 2006

Chapter 8.5

You've got mail. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

There are some people who object strongly to the angry tone of Chapter 8, and they want it to be known that there really is such a thing as addiction to gambling, and some of these drugs, such as Mirapex, somehow crank them up to actually do it - they actually fly to Vegas and spend their lifetime savings, and then they suffer a lot and get divorced or commit suicide, and so they want to be compensated because they were not warned. They were warned about the pickled herring, and don't drive a car, and don't stand up fast or anything, but there was no specific warning that the drugs might take away whatever it was that was inhibiting them from flipping out in Vegas.

I recognize that some of these people have suffered much. But, hey, at least you had some fun. Parkinson's Gambling? Here is Parkinson's Gambling: in the early days of a certain type of brain operation for Parkinson's, the first five patients died. (Or, in another version of the story, 50% of them had died, 50% had benefited). Either way, this guy in Montreal went to his neurologist and said, "hey doc, you know that operation you told me about where the first five guys all died on the operating table? Yeah, do that. Either kill me or cure me." And he not only survived but went out and played golf.
But why would he take such a gamble? Would you take such a risk? For him, it was better than the alternative. Now that is Parkinson's gambling.

People have suffered much, and yes it is hard, and yes it is unfair. But very few people even really know what Parkinison's is -- it is not a popular disease - and it is distressing to see that most of the people who know about Parkinson's are suing each other and smashing the furniture and everybody feels victimized. So pay those people compensation, I don't care, that's the American way, and then the reptilian predator lawyers can move on to the next disease. Or maybe you can sue your dance teacher, if you fall and break a leg. Me, like I said, I'm going to sue the estate of John Lee Hooker.

There is no war against Parkinson's. There is appeasement. It's a condition that requires understanding and the brochure is titled, "Living with Parkinson's" and everybody in the pictures is smiling confidently into the sunshine, with wisdom and contentedness, and then they say ask your doctor about the new Levadopa in patch form. Two hundred million dollars a year goes into Parkinson's research in America alone, and after five years of clinical testing, we get the same drug in a new package. It's not funny. They are teasing the spastics - showing what dummies we are. I can't wait for the Mirapex in cherry-flavored bubble gum format. And they have coupons, like, for really neat gifts and stuff. All the cool spastics are switching over to the tranquilizer in patch form. It's the in thing to do in Parkieville these days.

The National Institute of Health's new five-year plan to fight Parkinson's does not contain any mention of words like "dance" and "music". But after further research we will know if the pickled herring dilemma is because of the herring, or the pickling. Because the latest study showed that some spastics can eat herring if it is not pickled, or pickles with no fish involved, but combining the two - the pickled and the herring - for sure drives Parkinson's patients hog wild.

This is the complaints page. Send in your complaints and maybe get a response.

To be clear: the pharmaceutical companies make huge profits. Therefore they attract hundreds of billions of dollars of investment money. From investors who care only about making huge profits. So they attract hungry and aggressive salesmen and marketers. And some of them have no hesitation to make any claim or hide any evidence or lie through their teeth to make a fast buck. But they do employ thousands of extremely good scientists. And sometimes they come up with some really good results. Provided it is something they can patent and market and profit from.

They are part of the scene. As Chou-En-Lai told Richard Nixon: "We don't care what color the cat is, as long as it catches mice."

Maybe the eradication of Parkinson's will come from a non-profit research group; maybe from a university; maybe from some isolated genius; maybe from a country with socialized medicine; maybe from innovative research launched by the Michael J. Fox Foundation; maybe from dance experts; maybe from adult stem cells; maybe from the University of Calgary and the mirror clinic in Shanghai; maybe by international co-operation; maybe by humanitarian socialist left-wing do-gooders; maybe by greedy capitalist pig-dogs who are running lackeys of the bourgeoisie.

I don't care as long as the cat catches mice.
And the eradication of Parkinson's from the face of the earth will happen. In the not-too-distant future. Maybe too late for me, maybe too late for you. But it will happen, and we see the researchers zeroing in on it, more and more. If they win a Nobel Prize and make billions of dollars; or if they present it to the world as a gift and humbly go on to the next project; they are all part of the solution, not part of the problem. And you can bet on that. When they announce the cure, everyone with Parkinson's should fly to Vegas at the same time, and blow every cent we have got. Just, you know, to have a good celebration. But even if it is cured, could I please still have Mirapex and the sticker on my car that says I can park in the handicapped spots? I mean, these are acquired rights, aren't they?

Letter received:
You are totally lacking in compassion for those whose lives have been ruined by gambling caused by Mirapex. People have died because of the Drug From Hell. You do not know what you are talking about. Listen to the stories of those who have gambled their lives away - it is not drug addicts and losers, it is nuns, accountants, bank managers, school teachers. Listen to the stories of those who have suffered. Your lack of empathy for them is what we notice.
Anon,

Dearest Anon: They deserve empathy from their loved ones. That is not my job. My job is to tell them to smarten up. Stop behaving like a poor lost spastic. Nuns, accountants, losing their suburban superiority and falling into vice and depravity? Oh yes. It's another side of Parkinson's Apathy, not caring what happens to you, as the Beast robs you of the thing that made you known: in the case of the nuns and accountants and school principals who ended up in Vegas - Parkinson's took away your middle class respectability. The one thing you were really sure of. And that is just as cruel as anyone else that Parkinson's has robbed.
So do you want to fight this disease, or do you want to use it for an excuse everytime you have to show the world who you are? You got free will? Yes or no? A bottle of gin will send me off to Vegas. The drugs alter your perception. And it is entirely your own personal responsibility. Every morning when you look in the mirror, you agree to be that person. If you are going to defeat Parkinson's, it will not be by crying about your helplessness and that no one warned you about the fainting spells. No one warns you about being hit by a meteorite either.
And Vegas - hell - Greyhound has a one-way special this week. Party-time !

July 29, 2008, Anonymous sends this e-mail:
THAT IS THE STUPIDEST THING I EVER READ.

Well, Anon, at least I got that done for 'ya.
You don't gotta read no more stupid stuff, 'cause you has already read the stupidest.
Next we gonn'a teach spastics to dance the tango.
That's a really stupid idea. But we gonn'a do it anyways.

TRADE SIDE EFFECTS FOR CASH
Mirapex jackpot justice
by Ted Frank on August 19, 2008
Gary Charbonneau had a gambling history, including substantial wins, which devolved into compulsive gambling in 2002. He blames this on his Parkinson’s disease medication, Mirapex, which he started taking in 1997. Mirapex changed its warning label to include reports of a correlation while Charbonneau was taking the drug; Charbonneau’s doctor kept prescribing the drug. Nevertheless, Charbonneau was able to persuade a jury that the failure to warn was what was responsible for his $200,000 gambling losses (much of which came from gambling illegally) and resulting marital troubles. The jury verdict awarded $8 million in punitive damages, giving a whole new meaning to jackpot justice.

Post-script: for a change of tone, check out Chapter 21.

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