I don’t hate meth heads because they endanger entire neighborhoods with their toxic fumes. I don’t hate meth heads because they destroy the lives of abusers and their families. I don’t even hate meth heads because they made all the decent cold medicine disappear behind the Rx counter. I hate meth heads for one very intense, passionate, loathing, and entirely selfish reason… HAA—CHU!
I lived 27 years of my life oblivious to the hell of allergy sufferers. Now that I have settled down, bought a home in the desert, and started to grow roots, my world has turned upside-down. Juniper is my nemesis, and Albuquerque is surrounded by it. In an attempt to survive, I followed the same path millions of allergy suffers take: two months of Alavert (to no avail), two months of Claritin (complete waste of time), four months of Zyrtec (you’re joking, right?), and even three months of a self-prescribed cocktail of Benadryl and Sudafed, all of which proved pointless. These “remedies” might as well have been sugar pills. So, I went out on a limb and tried the “alternative medicine” tract. I tried Chinese herbs and acupuncture, I even dreadlocked my hair, burned strange candles, and prayed to my living room papa-san chair (I mistook Wicca for wicker). HAA-CHU!
I investigated allergy shots, but was quickly rejected as an ineligible candidate. To add salt to my wound, I am immunodeficient. When immune B cells and T cells are activated by an invader, they replicate into more antigen-fighting cells and something called long-lived memory cells. Long-lived memory cells are responsible for remembering exactly how the invader was destroyed, so the next time he comes around looking for some action—SMASH! WHAM! KABOOM! The long-lived memory cells knock him out of the picture. My immune system suffers from having “no anamnestic response,” or rather, no short-term memory. I lack the adaptive quality that healthy immune systems boast. My body cannot recall how to fight off the diseases and infections it has already conquered. So, every winter I catch a cold, take an unusually long amount of time to get over it, and then quite often catch the same cold again a week or so later. This same scenario is what prevents allergy shots from working in my body. The allergen is injected, my B and T cells do a little dance, and then…HAA CHU!
One blessed day, Providence led me behind the counter to something marvelous. Heralding angels rejoiced as the register tallied my bill, a $10.79 purchase of Drixoral. Schering-Plough Healthcare Products are the makers of Drixoral, an over-the-counter allergy and cold medicine that contains dexbrompheniramine (antihistamine) and pseudoephedrine (decongestant). Amidst the worst of juniper season, I finally found relief—as well as a little drowsiness (so what if I sleep from March until July? At least I can finally sleep). One pill allowed me to function in the world—albeit in a misty stupor. I was no longer sneezing. The irritated, itchy roof of my mouth went back to being unnoticed. My lungs also joined the land of the breathing, finding relief from asthma. Just like Moses and the Red Sea, my seemingly endless mucous parted, allowing my sinuses the forgotten sensation of inhalation. And, last but not least, the dark circles under my blood-shot eyes returned to a healthy pink.
All was fine and dandy until I took the last pill in my Drixoral package today. I stopped by Walmart’s local pharmacy on my way home from work and wasn’t worried that they were out of stock. I tried Walgreens—also out of stock, another Walgreens, then another and another. Six stores later, I realized Drixoral no longer existed within Albuquerque anymore—at least not in pharmacies (we have a rather large population of meth houses). The rumor circulating around town and beyond (my friend’s step-father is a pharmacist in St. George, UT) was that the Drixoral has been discontinued to prevent the illegal manufacturing of crystal methamphetamine.
A few startling quick facts about the people ruining my life:
1. One gram of their meth costs about $260, a price that has raised since last year’s $160 per gram…price gougers. Per pound, it costs $12,000 to $16,000 at the wholesale level.
2. It is a nationwide law that a valid I.D. and signature are required to buy cold and flu medications containing pseudoephedrine. Pharmaceutical companies compensated by introducing a string of new cold remedies containing phenylephrine instead, which can’t be used to make meth.
3. Some of the effects of meth abuse include: paranoia, brain damage, hallucinations, hypothermia, convulsions, cardiovascular collapse, and a condition called “tweaking.” Tweaking is when the abuser cannot sleep for days, is extremely irritable, and becomes violent without provocation.
4. A few of the warning signs that there is a meth house near you include: odor of solvents, blacked out windows, activity late at night, iodine-stained kitchen or bathroom, and excessive trash. Cleaning up a meth lab can cost the government up to $10,000.
Had I been privy to the memo forecasting the removal of Drixoral from the market, I would have loaded up on the product—even at the risk of appearing like a junkie myself. Is it fair to take such a needed product off the market because of a handful of drug dealers and producers?
So, I took to my next weapon—the internet—and searched for Drixoral for hours (this is a matter of life or death, you realize). I found nothing on Scherling-Plough’s website (http://www.schering- plough.com/schering_plough/pc/allergy_respiratory.jsp) claiming they were taking the drug off the market, but there were no links to order the product either. I finally decided to bite the bullet and call Schering-Plough to get the low-down on Drixoral myself. Straight from the horse’s mouth: Drixoral will be off the market for one year as Scherling-Plough relocates their manufacturing plant. I made them promise they would not discontinue the product. We spit on our hands and pinky swore…well, as best as two people can do over the phone. They took an oath and a Bible was involved. I think I promised the pharma company one of my future children... But, at least I know Drixoral, my saving grace, will return.
I guess I don’t have to hate meth heads anymore…