I never trust any defense of suffering that is unconcerned for those who are doing the suffering

Peggy didn’t at first see the little mammal step in front of our van, its mouth full of sword fern. As we examined its corpse, we realized that she (for it was a she) had been a rare animal known as a mountain beaver, a member of the oldest rodent species on earth, one whose humble ancestors witnessed the end of the mighty dinosaurs. In an instant, her bowels had been ripped from her body, her blood splattered on the ferns she had dropped in a final moment of panic. The excrement that lay atop her viscera suggested that she would have needed a bowel movement soon, and this plus the evidence of her nest-building, reminded me that she was more like us than not. Peggy was inconsolable, and I could but stand with my hand on her shoulder as she petted its broken body and apologized though her sobs.

We camped at 4,600 feet in a field of daisies from which the land fell away steeply on three sides. A snow-capped Cascade peak stood to our east, an unnamed mountain a mile to our south, and the Coast Range on the western horizon. Darkness found us enjoying stars, planets, and the faraway lights of Eugene. The next day, we walked through meadows filled with bear grass (see photo below), but thoughts of the mountain beaver were ever with us. Peggy spoke of it as a tragic accident; I as evidence that most of our choices are, at best, of doubtful morality. But what are we to do? I can easily argue that it’s unconscionable to kill animals for their fur, but to argue in favor of staying home so that I might avoid causing death on the road... 

When our schnauzer, Wendy, came out of the woods one day looking enormously pleased with herself, we soon realized that she had the still warm corpse of a baby rabbit in her mouth. It was a case of innocence killing innocence. I was eight when I killed my first animal—a robin—and I felt guilt rather than joy, so much so that I had my Granny cook the tiny bird for my supper so that its death wouldn’t have been in vain. When I was a teenager, my girlfriend and I often bought boxes of KFC and ate them under the post oaks at Brookhaven, Mississippi’s Exchange Club Park. By then, I had become almost as amoral as my schnauzer, a state that allowed me to enjoy that chicken with unblemished joy. 

I’ve swung back, but what am I to do? Even vegans must kill, but the harm they cause goes well beyond that. Truly, our species  paints the earth with blood, and there is no way out. Someone said that if I care so much about saving the lives of “animals,” I had best kill myself. No, I thought, I had best kill you and a hundred others like you who don’t give a shit about anyone’s misery but their own. Better yet, I should kill the CEOs of companies that profit from death. (I would not have you take this as a serious proposal because to murder in the name of a reverence for life would be no less absurd than to murder in the name of a loving God.)

This same critic complained that people like myself think we’re better than everyone else, but my thoughts are more complicated than that. First, while a great many people bring more misery into the world, they still manage to live in greater consistence with their values, while I regularly act in opposition to mine. Second, while I consider my values in this regard to be more rational and compassionate than his, I don’t assume that they make me an all-around better person. Third, I renounce the arrogance of exalting our species—or our group within our species—as being at the forefront of virtue, so I try to avoid it. Do I succeed every time and in every way? No, but I’m aware that to fail is to alienate, and to alienate is to harden people, and to harden people is to make the problem worse.

What I can
t do is the one thing that my critic demanded, which was to agree that the killing of animals is morally acceptable for him because he can do it with a good conscience. This honor diversity approach to ethics removes ethics from a foundation of  bedrock and places it upon a foundation of wind. Could there be anything more absurd than an ethic toward other creatures that doesnt take their welfare into account no matter how inconvenient doing so might be for us? Such a human-centric value system sees other creatures as little better than inanimate objects.

The honor diversity approach to ethics rests upon how a given person feels about a behavior, rather than upon the impact of the behavior upon nonhuman (and oftentimes human) lives. Its so heavily focused upon an individual's feelings and desires, that my critic didnt even think to refer to the feelings and desires of the animals he kills. And why should he? If non-human animals have few if any inalienable rights, they might as well be inanimate, and why should anyone mourn for what amounts to a furry toaster on legs, except—as their detractors portray them—for those perennially angry women whose shrill voices beg for kindness to animals while caring not a wit for the problems of human children; and for their equally squeamish, tearful, bookish, and anemic male counterparts, whose failure to shed unnecessary blood proves that theyre not real men, for a real man isn’t content to simply shoot a deer, he must bathe in its blood, while snorting Jack Daniel’s, the "real man’s whiskey" from the Tennessee wilds, no less. It is the only initiation ceremony that most American boys will ever receive.

I am firmly in the camp of the critics. To repeat: our relationship to other animals is almost universally premised upon the belief that other animals have no significant rights, which means that the morality behind killing them hinges upon how a given person feels about killing them, and that no consideration need be given to the creatures that are being killed. My view is that some behaviors are always and everywhere shamefully and abominably wrong no matter how many people approve of them. For example, rape, slavery, gender and racial discrimination, the use of steel-jaw traps, female genital mutilation, the individual accumulation of unlimited wealth, killing in the name of God, over-breeding animals and destroying the excess, permitting the poor to die for a lack of healthcare, and the wearing of fur coats as a fashion statement. These things are all wrong all the time without exception.

While I don’t doubt that many people do many things with a perfectly good conscience, having a good conscience doesn’t make it okay to oppose dignity, freedom, and the right to live life as one thinks best. For a meat-eater to demand that a vegetarian say that killing animals is okay for those who think it’s okay is no different than for a Moslem to insist that, while mutilating the genitals of young women might be wrong in my culture, it’s okay in his, and he wants me to respect that. In the case of my meat-eating critic, I doubt that the cows he kills are interested in whether he kills them with a good conscience, and I
’ve yet to hear of a young girl who joyfully had her genitals mutilated so that her husband wouldn't have to worry about her having an affair.

Would I not be happier, though, if I was an up-with-people kind of guy and could go back to my KFC-in-the-park days? Yes, but what kind of person would wish to believe things that he honestly considers wrong? Here is how I see my species:

We are a singular species in that, except for those microorganisms that might evolve to the point that they threaten our existence, we rule the earth. So far, we have been able to survive all
that nature has thrown at us. I think that our degradation of the environment might change this, but it has been true so far.

We interpret dominance to imply superiority. Our attitude as a species is similar to the attitude of the U.S. as a country. In short, we could kill all of you foreigners. Sure, our culture and education is dropping ever deeper into the toilet, but, by god, we have more bombs than the rest of you put together. Hell, we could wipe the Middle East off the globe today if we wanted. Hence, we feel superior even though we keep losing wars. As we see it, we are God’s chosen nation, which is similar to how the human species regards non-human life. Because we have creative minds and opposable thumbs, we imagine that we are superior to every other life-form on earth. By exalting our gifts—both real and imagined—and deprecating the gifts of other species, we become as arrogant as a species as the U.S. is as a country.

Once we regard a species, a race, a gender, or an ethnic group as inferior, we can trample over their rights with a good conscience. I have a racist book—that I bought from a black preacher no less—entitled The Negro, a Beast or in the Image of God? The author’s answer could be found by looking at the many drawings of stooped, tuxedo-clad, ape-like black men with lechery in their eyes who were marrying refined, straight-standing, Aryan-looking white women. We take the same track with other species. We alone are in the image of God, therefore we can dispose of everything else without compassion. Too many unwanted dogs? Kill the mongrels even while breeding genetically inferior pedigrees. Bears and mountain lions forced to the outskirts of ever-expanding suburbs? Track them down and shoot them, or else tranquilize them and move them to the backside of the wilderness (which is pretty close to what white Americans once did to Indian Americans). 

By dismissing the worth of other people and species, we can bring untold misery into their lives with a clean conscience. March for civil rights in the morning and eat steak in the afternoon. Hear about justice and compassion in church, and go clothes-shopping for products made in sweatshops by yellow-skinned foreigners whom we regard as inferior to ourselves because they are yellow-skinned and work in sweatshops.

How is it that so few people make the connection between our unfair treatment of other species and our unfairness toward other humans? Life is life, and to imagine that our species, or our group within our species, is more worthy of life than all others is to  ignore facts that don’t serve our purpose. What I wish for us is that our eyes would open so we could see ourselves for what we are. What are we? We are the only species that can—or needs to—rationalize, and this enables us to live in a bubble of illusion that has grown so big as to threaten our existence. 

A major period of mass extinction is in progress, and the fact that we are to blame makes our imagined superiority absurd. We live by an un-falsifiable premise, namely that we are superior to all other species, no matter what we do. Just as Christians attribute goodness to God despite cancer, mosquitoes, malaria, Alzheimers, and the rape of children by clergymen; we attribute goodness to ourselves despite slavery, poverty, sex-trafficking, endless wars, denial of medical care, and preventable starvation. We imagine ourselves to be in the image of God, not because we are good, but because we want to surpass the criminally insane God of the Bible in terms of power, knowledge, and immortality. After we reach "his" exalted state, we can relegate him to the sort of second-rate comic book superhero that prepubescents discard at adolescence.

As for those strange-looking people who work in sweatshops, what is their dream but to come to America where they can be as exploitative as we are? We are not a good species; we are a species that has a largely unmet capacity to do good things. If we were a little more evolved, perhaps we could be a blessing to the earth, but as it is, we are a curse.


Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

Today I cringed while a rabbit was crossing the road at the same time a car sped by crushing it. Lots of sad ends in nature but it and your beaver died quickly and without much anticipation. So much sadness in the world, for cute furry animals and for humans. For self preservation, one must look away.

How did that bluebird taste? Good for your adolescent self knowing that what you did was wanton.

What are those beautiful white plants that you pictured?

Elephant's Child said...

'My view is that some behaviors are always and everywhere shamefully and abominably wrong no matter how many people engage in them.'
Yes. Emphatically yes. And no matter WHICH people or peoples engage in them.
I strive to do the best I can, knowing that I fail often. If I give in, I will fail more often.
I am not certain that we could be a blessing to the earth, but agree that we are currently a curse.


First, I would like to state that I do enjoy occasionally a shot of Jack Daniel's... This said, my own feelings of disgust toward our species match your concerns. You said it right, the arrogance of our species. And the ethics that come with will be our demise. But you occasionally meet some homo sapiens that seem to have some redeemable qualities, giving perhaps a glimmer of [false?] hope. I find myself humble in this world and pray to no god. But I aim to do right as much as I can. It is little for all that needs to be done, but if one person, and then another, und so forth, start doing it, perhaps not all is lost. But the way things are going, much will be lost and I wonder what will be left in the end. Us? Not so sure. Maybe a few, turning into mutants living on what, cannibalism and polluted resources like air and water, even the soil. One big wasteland. We have no natural predators, except ourselves. Viruses are all that could wipe us out. Is it desirable? Not for us, but for the planet and the other inhabitants? Maybe.... I went to see a friend out of town last week and saw some roadkill by the side of the highway. Couldn't quite tell what it was. Felt sorry for it though. I still eat meat, occasionally, as I've not develop sufficiently my skills as a vegetarian cook, and it is a bit hard to undo what I learned at a younger age, but I'm changing. It is my wish to change. The old ways make no sense to me. Killing for meat and fur, etc... fossil fuel, and so many other things need to be left behind, in the 20th century. Our world is scarred beyond recognition. But as long as people, corporations and governments fail to acknowledge this, we will continue to spiral down. And one of those idiots will say one day: Oops!!! But it'll be too late. It's no reason to grab the .38 special. Just put it away. For now, at least. You'd be missed, not just by those who agree with you.

Stephen Hayes said...

It's sad to think that hallmark species like elephants, rhinos and tigers will soon disappear because of humans. The only animals that there are too many of are humans. We'll learn this the hard way.

kylie said...

I agree with all that you say here and of course you remind me of my own failures in my attempts to lead an ethical life.
All I can say in my own defence is that, if only we all would try as hard as I do, if only we all could be as mindful and aware as you are, we would still be a destructive force but there would be so much less destruction.

I am currently working for a family who live an entire hours drive from me and I spent some time regretting that I contribute to climate change in every trip. And then the idea came to me that if I believe myself to be doing what God requires of me, He probably did some greenhouse gas calculations in the planning stages. Which leads me to the idea that maybe the earth could recover from humanity's disastrous impacts if we would just drop the self serving activities we all indulge in.

Does intent count, or only the activity?

I'm so sorry about the beaver, I would have been heartbroken if it had happened to me.

Charles Gramlich said...

I never feel good about killing any living creature. Some I kill quite willingly, such as roaches, or stinging insects that might kill my tremendously allergic wife. Most other insects I catch and put outside. Of course, that doesn't save them. There is no saving any life from nature for ever. I eat meat. I don't feel guilty about it. I enjoy a good steak or some fried chicken. I neither expect nor care whether another person shares my thoughts on the subject. All any of us ever own is ourselves.

PhilipH said...

"My thought is that if this is what God and man says is good, then fuck both God and man, and send me to hell, for that's where I want to reside. Have I not make myself clear? If this, what we have now, is the word of God, then fuck you, God. Rot in hell, God, you son-of-a-bitch, you asshole for I had rather burn than to folllow you."

OMG you really ARE angry Snowy my dear friend. Things upset us now and then. Not much we can do about that. It's leteife.

I get really uptight and furious when little ants suddenly get into the house. I try to kill them all, no compunction. I'd do the same with a rat. Doesn't bother me at all. These creatures will probably survive a nuclear holocaust, I would not.

This comment contributes nothing but I offer it anyway.

Snowbrush said...

“Lots of sad ends in nature”

Yes, but getting hit by a car and being eaten by a fox are very different things. I guess your rabbit at least died quicker than had it been killed by a fox, but on the road, it’s death served no purpose, and I should hope it would cause people to ask themselves whether a given trip is worth the life of a rabbit. I think that our attitude toward animals in general is well-exemplified by our attitude toward them on the road: If they want to live, they need to get out of our way.

“How did that bluebird taste?”

There wasn’t much to it, as I recall (after the passage of 58 years), but it didn’t taste bad.

“What are those beautiful white plants that you pictured?”

Beargrass. Not every plant blooms every year, but for some reason, this year saw a bumper crop.

“My view is that some behaviors are always and everywhere shamefully and abominably wrong no matter how many people engage in them.’ Yes. Emphatically yes. And no matter WHICH people or peoples engage in them.’”

And you an atheist! So often atheists are accused of not only lacking in absolutes but in not even having standards of morality, yet here we are.

“you occasionally meet some homo sapiens that seem to have some redeemable qualities, giving perhaps a glimmer of [false?] hope.”

I’m a pessimist, so I prepare for possible disasters and try to think before I act so that I might avoid disasters that I didn’t anticipate. Yet, I know that we all come to a bad end, and as for my species, I think it will too. One thing about it is that once we individuals are dead—and everyone reading this soon will be, probably within three to five decades—what happens next in this world will be of no concern to us.

More later…

Snowbrush said...


I just realized that this post contained things that I didn’t write, so I’ve removed them. One of those things was quoted by Philip. For someone such as myself who makes an effort to avoid gratuitous offense, what he quoted me as saying would be an absurd bit of raving, although I can’t say that it was alien to my thoughts. I mention this to suggest that I might not have been hacked, but that a worse problem might be to blame.

Within the past week my memory has weakened so dramatically that I can’t be completely certain that I didn’t write the offensive passages (although one of them was most certainly alien to my thoughts), and then forgot that I did it. Surely, this would indicate not just a loss of memory but a loss of restraint, decorum, and propriety.

The memory part of my problem first became evident last Monday when I, someone who is good with directions, was unable to find my way to a doctor’s office that I had been to repeatedly (I first went to the wrong building, and then to the wrong office within the right building). I had taken Ambien the night before, and although I’ve never had a problem with it, I knew that it could have caused the problem, so I resolved to give it up. On that same trip, I felt so wasted that I was very much in fear of having an accident, although I hadn’t taken any drugs since the day before.

Now, Peggy is expressing such grave concern about my memory that she wants to get the earliest possible appointment and go to the doctor with me. My first suspect would be drugs, but I’m not taking any new ones, and I haven’t increased my dosages of the old ones. So, do I have Alzheimer’s, or am I losing my mind? I don’t know. Something pretty serious is going on, but I don’t know what. For now, unless she can get me in sooner, I’ll just watch and wait until I go in next week for my yearly physical. With luck, the problem will resolve by then.

Snowbrush said...

“I find myself humble in this world and pray to no god. But I aim to do right.”

Most atheists and agnostics are like you. I’m ever shocked by the gap between what we’re like and how we’re perceived.

“Viruses are all that could wipe us out. Is it desirable? Not for us, but for the planet and the other inhabitants? Maybe….”

Some things would miss us—viruses, as you mentioned—but also bacteria, lice, mosquitos, some rodents, the plants and animals we’ve bred that couldn’t survive on their own, and no doubt others, most of them parasites. Aside from those, I imagine everything else on earth, slowing coming out of their burrows or wherever, looking about cautiously to be sure we’re really gone, and then having a month-long party.

“It's no reason to grab the .38 special. Just put it away.”

Please read my comment that has “IMPORTANT” at the top.

“The only animals that there are too many of are humans.”

Some of the plants and other critters that we’ve transplanted are a problem too, but as for mammals, I’m sure you’re right.

“the earth could recover from humanity's disastrous impacts if we would just drop the self serving activities we all indulge in.”

Many species will die in the coming disaster (this is assuming that the climatologists are right, and my money is all on them rather than on evangelicals and political conservatives), others will change, and new ones will be created. I would be surprised if all humans die, but I wouldn’t expect what we call civilization to continue.

“I neither expect nor care whether another person shares my thoughts on the subject.”

You read, you think for yourself, and you can still be friends with those whom disagree with you. I am especially grateful right now for those who can do this, having lost two friends over my posts about animals. You would think that atheists would be more tolerant of disagreement than most, but some are as dogmatically inflexible as anyone, so they simply can’t abide anyone who fails to mirror their opinions.

“OMG you really ARE angry Snowy my dear friend.”

Please read my comment labeled “IMPORTANT,” as I didn’t write what you quoted. Either that, or I didn’t know I wrote it.

“I get really uptight and furious when little ants suddenly get into the house. I try to kill them all, no compunction. I'd do the same with a rat.”

I used to put spiders out, but then it hit me that they either got back in or built webs outside for me to knock down. Now, I just kill them. I would do the same with ants or other invaders, but at least we don’t have roaches here. Roaches were so common in Mississippi that even hospitals got them, so I assumed they were everywhere. Well, they’re not here. I have no idea why, but I’m glad for it.

...At this point, I wouldn't be surprised by any damn thing that appeared in this post or anywhere else on this blog, so if something doesn't sound like "me" to you, let me know.

ellen abbott said...

One summer, my younger brother and a friend caught a toad and forced it through the hole in a bird house that had a wasps nest in it to be stung to death. I was powerless to stop them and horrified at the cruelty they were gleefully committing and ran to our parents who, much to my disappointment, just shrugged it off. I taught my children and grandchildren that you do not kill just because you can. you don't step on the bug just because it is there in front of you. Every form of life is an equal expression of life and if you are a religious person, and equal expression of the godhead. every living thing deserves it's life. when my daughter and son in law moved into our other house next door he and I had to have a 'come to Jesus' talk about indiscriminate killing of things in my sphere of influence, the use of poisons, and that everywhere inside the fence that surrounded the properties was a no kill zone. today, he is a different person in that regard. as to the arrogance of the human species, I don't know if that is something that is inherent or something we adopt. I don't think every human culture is/was that way. I think that definitely christianity has imbued western culture with that arrogance. it says so right in their holy book that their god gave them the planet, lo all of creation, to use and abuse. it always struck me as stupid that 'science' claimed that animals were little more than robots, functioning on a set of genes that made them do things without any understanding of why. that they did not think, did not remember, did not understand, were not conscious, had no language, could not communicate, had no self awareness much less intelligence, etc. and so our science backed up the claims of religion. that we are destroying the world and all in it has never seemed to occur to anyone. that our supposed superiority and arrogance is polluting the very water, air, and earth we need to survive. I have always contended that humans will be the least successful life form produced by this planet in terms of how long we survive and when we finally wink out we will have only ourselves to blame for it. hopefully enough other life will still survive to repopulate the planet with new and myriad forms of life.

rhymeswithplague said...

I don't know, it sort of sounded like you if you were really drunk...but what are you saying? Someone sneaked into your house and blogged in the middle of the night? Peggy finally found her voice? I was thinking Philip made it all up, but then you said you had removed them, which means they must have been there at some point, although they were gone by the time I came along so I can't be sure. This dilemma is making me sound like Billy Ray Barnwell. Or, worse yet, Putz. You do remember Putz, don't you?

Kerry said...

Hey Snow, I hope that the memory issues get resolved. Not every memory screw-up is Alzheimer's.
You are one of the most moral and consciously ethical people I can think of. The fact that you can still empathize with Peggy's pain over the accidental killing of the mountain beaver is a good thing. Other people would just...forget about it and go on living without thinking about it.

I don't know if it helps to add that mountain beavers are not endangered, and that their populations are stable. That probably is beside the point that you make. The fact that those little guys can be legally hunted and trapped actually makes things even worse.

Snowbrush said...


I want to write more about what I mentioned further up the chain. I’ve been having some remarkable mental problems for a little over a week. They started last Monday when I couldn’t find my way to a doctor’s office that I had been to repeatedly. On that trip, I felt extremely nauseated and so out-of-it that I was gravely concerned that I might have an accident, yet I hadn’t taken any drugs.

Then came yesterday’s post that contained things I didn’t remember writing and wouldn’t have chosen to put online even if I had written them because they were way too intense, off-the-wall profane, and unrepresentative of my feelings. Before putting the post on line, I had already take out entire paragraphs that were so garbled that I couldn’t even make sense of them, and had no memory of writing them. One such paragraph started as follows: “I had no hkieel I as prolomolactgl the war issue anymre that then i did with them man i Illled, an d I might ever knowable under i n wucu ha a..wa.” I have no clue what I was trying to say. I briefly wondered if my computer had been hacked, but that seemed less likely than that my mental fuzziness was increasing. Still, I wasn’t prepared for the two totally off-the-wall paragraphs that I discovered on the blog this morning, but, given everything else that has been happening, I think I wrote them. Sad to say that I had them in me, but drugs don't only bring out what's inside a person, they mutilate what's inside a person.

During all of this time—since Monday of last week—I’ve felt loopy, nauseated, and have repeatedly dropped things and knocked over things. For instance, I knocked over a full glass of juice yesterday, cleaned it up, poured myself another glass, and, without taking my first sip, knocked it over. This post was very hard to write because I kept losing my concentration. Peggy has become quite upset about me forgetting things I had just done, and sometimes thinking that she had done them. For instance, she and I took a trip last week on which I bought a souvenir glass honey-bee to hang in my room. A day later, I went into my room to find it hanging from a piece of electrical cable, something that I knew I didn’t do and that I couldn’t imagine her doing because she wouldn’t have known where to find the wire, wouldn’t have been willing to go to the attic to get it if she had known, and wouldn’t have wanted to use it to hang anything. It looked awful. When I nonetheless thanked her for hanging it, she denied doing so and insisted that I had, and added that she hoped I planned to buy a suitable hanger. My first thought was that she was joking, but I just as quickly realized that she wouldn’t have done something so ugly. I could go on and on and on because my life has become one stupid thing after another all day long.


Snowbrush said...

I’m supposed to see a doctor next week for an annual physical, and Peggy asked that I have our friend, Jackie, go with me since she couldn’t do it, and there’s no way she would trust me to remember what transpired. While she was talking about this, I was googling “sudden onset senility,” and thinking that it might be just as well to go to the doctor sooner anyway, so she got an appointment for tomorrow. At this hour, I had planned to drive to the lumber company to buy boards for a fence, but I’m weak, mentally dull, and nauseated, so I think I’ll stay close to home.

I hate going to a doctor for anything mental because when doctors start thinking you’re too screwed-up to be responsible, they also start thinking about whether it’s necessary to take away your rights—for starters, your right to drive. I’m also worried that if the doctor thinks that the many drugs I’m on might be the problem, he’ll take me off all of them, yet I wouldn’t know how to manage the pain without them. So, I’m looking at all aspects of this situation with a jaundiced eye, and I also have it in the back of my head that, if this is an organic problem with a downhill trajectory, I’m unwilling to stick around for it because the thought of there being nothing left of me but a body that bears a vague resemblance to the person I used to be is more than I am willing to endure and more than I am willing to subject anyone else to.

Still, my best guess is that the problem is medication-related because I do take a lot of drugs that can all mess-up your head. I’m forever going on or off them, varying dosages and combinations, and so forth, but aside from all that, what the odds of it being organic? Of course, Alzheimer’s comes to mind, but I can’t find anything to suggest that it hits a person out of the blue like a ton of bricks.

Hey, thanks for caring, as I know that many of you do. I also want to apologize for being behind in visiting blogs. Summer makes blog-visiting harder, but for every moment I don’t spend visiting, I spend many more thinking about visiting, so it's not like you're not in my thoughts.

kylie said...

my bet would be that you have had a stroke. I dont know the system over there but here I would get to an emergency department right away. run, dont walk

Snowbrush said...

“my bet would be that you have had a stroke.”

I’m thinking Ativan, which is a tranquilizer that my pain specialist prescribed to complement the narcotics. My theory is that the two of them combined with high doses of Neurontin (another kind of pain pill) and Ambien (a sleeping pill) knocked me on my butt so hard that I didn’t even know what was happening. All of this had been very strange and regrettable (due to some of what I posted on this blog), but also very interesting. We like to think that our minds are within our control, and to find that mine wasn’t certainly puts me in touch with my fragility and mortality. I have no more security than that mountain beaver. Give me the right combination of pills, and I’m bonkers. At least that’s what I think happened. Interestingly, my symptoms fit mad cow disease perfectly. 300 people a year (in America) get it each year, and everyone of them dies a horrible death, most within seven months. It’s another reason to avoid meat.

lotta joy said...

IMPORTANT: Six years ago my doctor was so concerned about my xanax that he asked me to take myself off slowly and I did. It took three months, and he gave me Ambien. It was wonderful to fall asleep almost immediately. In spite of the hallucinogenic nightmares (I've ALWAYS had horrendous nightmares, but these bothered my mind into the following day). The second night I "dreamed" I was in the bathroom cutting and styling my beautiful hair. (I've never had beautiful hair) and when I got up the next morning, Joe asked "What did you DO?"

I made an immediate appointment and was sitting in the exam room when the doctor came in reading my chart. I remained silent until he looked at me and said "OH MY GOD! You're going back on xanax."

I had cut HALF my hair on my right side down to the scalp. The left side was it's normal length. I couldn't help but wonder what might have happened if I had "thought" I was cutting my eyelashes, or giving Joe a "shave" with the scissors. So it could undoubtedly be the Ambien.

In Florida there are rare black bears that wander into the land of superior humans, and the battlecry has gone forth and been answered. There will be 10 days allocated to shooting these creatures as they walk through streets, causing no harm, but because of no space left for them.

The next idea was to allow humans into the protected STATE PARKS where bears had sanctuary and caused no problems. These are bears acquainted with humans, but have never had contact with them. Like shooting animals in the zoo, or fish in a barrel.

The signup sheets were filled immediately, without any knowledge whether these people are even good shots, or if the bears will be brought down through numerous wounds. Personally, I can only hope a few humans experience some of these erratically aimed bullets. It's only fair, since the HUMANS are the cause - not the bears.

Roadkill is one thing, but seeing tire tracks leading OFF the highway, onto the side just to kill innocent life is often the case. NO ANIMAL has ever caused the grief that humans cause with abandon.

I've had humans in my life dead set on causing me as much pain as possible, physically as well as emotionally, be they friends or family. I even have to hide my peaceful atheism due to the damage they would cause me for my lack of THEIR beliefs (which have not caused them to value life OR allow peace for others).

Helen said...

We do care, please (if you wish) share the outcome of your appointment yesterday. After caring for my mother who had Alzheimer's and Lewy Body dementia, plus several years of volunteer work in memory care, I know a myriad of diseases exist under the dementia umbrella. Hopefully you are dealing with medication issues as you suspect. Whatever is going on I hope it can be diagnosed and managed. It's nice knowing you are there ~~ on the west side of the Cascades! Hot and dry here today, low humidity which makes things bearable.

Snowbrush said...

“he gave me Ambien.”

My first thought when I couldn’t find my way to a doctor’s office that I had been to several times was the Ambien. I’ve taken it for years without a problem, but I know what it can do. Now, I think it was more likely the Ativan, either alone or in combination with Neurontin and oxycodone. The longer I’m off it, the better I seem to get, although I’m still in a bit of an altered reality. I had the thought yesterday that I felt weirder than I did on acid, but I kind of like that feeling too. Peggy is so afraid of anything mental that if she had experienced what I’ve experienced of late, I think it would all but put her in a panic. I was concerned, but, despite it all, I still manage to trust my basic stability. As for your dreams, if they’re that vivid all but themselves, I wonder what they would be like if you were on Neurontin because I know of no better drug for causing dreams so vivid that you can’t tell once you’re awake what really happened in your life and what you dreamed, and the dreams that it inspires are nearly always good.

“Personally, I can only hope a few humans experience some of these erratically aimed bullets.”

I know the feeling. I saw a PBS show not long ago about museums that sent people out to shoot passenger pigeons as they neared extinction. These museums wanted to be sure they got a specimen before it was too late. I’ve no doubt but what if it were possible to sign-up to shoot the very last individual of some species, it would be as it is in Florida.

“We do care, please (if you wish) share the outcome of your appointment yesterday.”

I cancelled it yesterday morning, mostly because I felt like I was coming back around, but also because I don’t want to go to a doctor about such a malady unless I have to because once that kind of thing is in your chart, it’s there forever, and you never know what might come of it. I’ve long suffered from depression, and I’ll tell a doctor about that because everyone and their cat is depressed, but when it comes to the really weird stuff that might make a doctor question my ability to handle my own affairs, I simply don’t have the trust to talk about it unless it’s clearly necessary. Even if it turns out to be drug-related, I don’t want it known, not due to shame, but to fear of a system that can take away my right to run my own life. I wouldn’t even confide such things to a shrink, not that you would catch me going to a shrink simply because I don’t trust them, and I don’t have any faith in them. Call me paranoid, but I know something of how fast things can move once some “caregiver” decides that you need “intervention.”

Helen said...

I understand ... please take care.

Kerry said...

I hope you continue your upward spiral. This was scary. If going off the combo of drugs you've been on has made the difference, then I bet you've found the issue.

Sparkling Red said...

Wow, that's intense. I have an appreciation of how one's brain can fall apart or hang together based on chemi-kill influences, having been reliant on paroxetine for three years now to keep me sane. It is definitely terrifying when one experiences reminders of how delicate the balance truly is.

For your own peace of mind, I would recommend creating a directive that names your caregiver in case you do become temporarily or permanently incapacitated. At least that way you can make sure it's Peggy, or someone else you trust, rather than Uncle Sam. I don't know how it works where you live, but in Canada it's called "Power of Attorney for Personal Care". My husband and I have those documents in our safe, and have given copies to my parents too, just in case. You never want a state-assigned "caregiver" if you can help it, that's for sure.

All my best wishes are with you.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Drugs can cause the brain to write jibberish. I was given ritalin for ADD in the '70's. Combined with stress related to a sawdust allery (saw dust was placed on the arena floor) i managed to write an English exan that was much like your "computer" hack. Sadly I was given a failing mark back then. These days one maybrewite if medication issue is verified by an MD.
L et's hope you recover soon.
By the way Alheimer's does not present itself so suddenly. Monthd of forgetting comes before the getting lost on the road part.

Snowbrush said...

“I would recommend creating a directive that names your caregiver in case you do become temporarily or permanently incapacitated.”

I’ve done everything I can to insure that Peggy has complete access to all of my medical information and complete control over my care (this takes a Medical Information Release form for every doctor you go to, and a Medical Power of Attorney). Even then, the medical establishment could step in and ignore my express wishes, but I doubt that it would. I also have a primary care doctor who is sympathetic to suicide when one’s condition is hopeless, and he has even told me that he plans to do it himself if he is ever in such a situation. Since this doctor is my age—66—I worry about him retiring, but he says he never will. I also worry about him dying because he’s an avid bicyclist, and he tells me of his wrecks and near wrecks. I tell him that I rarely bike anymore because my body take anymore wrecks, and that all cyclists seem to have them

“ i managed to write an English exan that was much like your "computer" hack. Sadly I was given a failing mark back then.”

I bet you could have successfully appealed the failing grade, but when we are young, we don’t necessarily think of such things.