Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I opened the tamper-proof bottle, poured the two white tablets in the palm of my hand and stared at them. Flashback to the gym. In the morning, my body had said, “I’m not anywhere near twenty years old, so go easy on me,” and my mind had replied, “fuck you, I’ve got energy, and I’ll do what I want.” So, I pumped too much iron, burned up the spin bike, and now, I was paying for it big time. If I didn’t want to walk like a zombie for the rest of the week, I’d have to swallow those two pills. I should take them, I thought hesitating. I need to get rid of this pain. In the past, before my third liver/kidney transplant, I’d relied on painkillers to make it through the day. That didn’t work out too well for me. One must learn from ones mistakes at some point in time…at least one would hope one does...

20 million Americans take prescription painkillers daily. Every year, 70 billion over-the-counter painkillers are sold. Advil, Aleve, Anaprox, Aspirin, Anacin, Ecotrin, Excedrin, Motrin, Nuprin, Voltaren, Celebrex, to name a few, are all NSAIDs or Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs. There are more commercials for painkillers in the United State than in any other country in the world. Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard of these drugs and have probably taken one or the other. Here’s what’s going on in your body when you do.  

First, what’s pain? Pain is the result of chemical messengers (prostaglandins), which alter the make up of your cells wherever you hurt yourself, have physical damage, or develop a headache. This change in your cells alerts the nerves and spinal cord and they send an electrical signal to the brain. Voila! You’re in pain! Chances are, according to statistics, you’ll grab one of the above-mentioned pills, just like I had.  

Meet COX 1 and COX 2 (cyclooxygenase). These enzymes promote fever, inflammation and pain, which is a good thing because they’re our primary alert and defense systems. COX 1 can be found in most of our tissue. Besides bringing about the things we dread, this enzyme helps make mucus, which protects our digestive tract from its own (battery acid) juices, thus making sure the flora and fauna, so to speak, in our stomach and gut is healthy. COX 1 also manages blood flow in our kidneys, which keeps them working properly. COX 2 is responsible for inflammation (arthritis, menstrual cramps), but also manages our platelets so that they don’t clump together and cause high blood pressure or put us at risk of a stroke or heart attack.  

NSAIDs are COX blockers. Well, not exactly, but pretty close. They’re COX inhibitors. When you take a couple of Advil, it impairs all of the COX 1 functions. Much like bringing your little sister on a date, it stops you from having…pain. It also diminishes kidney function and mucus formation in your digestive tract. When you take Celebrex, currently the only COX 2 inhibitor still on the market (Vioxx and Bextra are no longer available), you’re targeting inflammation without impacting kidneys, stomach or gut. However, there is a potential for high blood pressure, stroke or heart attack because your platelet protection is suppressed right along with inflammation.

But fear not. If you only take NSAIDs when you really need them, none of the side effects matter. The astounding machine, which is our human body, bounces back. It continually seeks balance because that’s what it’s programmed to do. Take it from a pro that has unbalanced her body more often than I care to remember. Hell, I’m well acquainted with both my digestive tract juices and the effects of too many NSAIDs, but you’ll have to read the book (coming in September) for those stories. I’m not alone though, because every year over 100,000 people are hospitalized for NSAIDs related gastrointestinal problems.

Like all NSAIDs, Aspirin is harsh on the stomach, but it has stood the test of time. Probably one of the oldest medications ever, It’s been around since 400 BC. Hippocrates (you know, the one from the doctors’ oath) gave women willow leaf tea, a plant that carries the pain-killing component, after childbirth. Aspirin later became folk’s medicine, and then evolved to be a painkiller. In 1897 the German pharmaceutical company Bayer patented the current form of Aspirin (they added the component, which makes it less harsh on the stomach). Aspirin, among all NSAIDs, is unique because it’s the only one that keeps platelets nice and loose and prevents them from clumping together and causing a heart attack.

Back to the two pills in the palm of my hand. Tylenol (Acetaminophen). The only over-the-counter painkiller I can take. A wonder drug. No really, scientists wonder how it works. This one-of-a-kind pill isn’t a NSAID. It’s not a COX inhibitor either, and it doesn’t impact the kidneys or the stomach. They think it works with the central nervous system but the debate is ongoing. Tylenol has one drawback: it’s quite toxic for the liver.

I stood there, weighing the pros and cons of swallowing the pills in the palm of my hand. Yes, I’ll feel a lot better, but if I don’t absolutely need it, why bother? Then I realized: one had learned something after all. One had learned that one mustn’t turn to pills for ones own fault by overdoing workouts. I placed the pills back in the bottle, and walked over to my computer…like a zombie.  

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Like a tree in the forest, he’s fallen from very high. The case, the handling of it, and its players leave us with more questions than answers.

First, there’s the man. DSK was Professor of Economy at Science Po in Paris, the prestigious Political Science university, and sister school to Harvard. He became Minister of Economy when Lionel Jospin of the Socialist Party was president of France. Oddly enough for a socialist, during that time DSK privatized, among other things, France Télécom, the main telecommunications company.
He sought but lost the Socialist nomination for the presidency to an unwed mother of four, who believes in women’s rights, abortion, condom use, gay marriage, equal pay for women and plenty of other things that should be taken for granted (Ségolène Royal, you rock in that respect).
In 2007, the 27 European Union countries voted him managing directors of the International Monetary Fund. Not that there were any other candidates (Russia pushed for some Czech guy but he didn’t really have a chance).

With respect to the Guinean chambermaid, things aren’t as clear. My feeling is she’s done no more or no less than the average immigrant, to get that all mighty green card. Whatever it is she wrote on her application, it can’t be that bad. I know many people who ‘marry’ for the green card. Every time they go with their ‘spouse’ for an interview, they’re lying. If she claimed refugee status but really wasn’t, well it seems to have worked, that’s what counts. I neither advocate nor disavow the practice of lying on any application, but to point the finger at her when it’s commonplace, seems hypocritical.
Telling her incarcerated boyfriend that “she knows what she’s doing” and that “he (DSK) has money,” well, surely both statements are true. Does this mean she wasn’t raped? I wasn’t in the room so I don’t know.

And now the Perp Walk. There’s a history, especially in New York, for such dramatic action. Apparently, J. Edgar Hoover began the practice. It’s meant to be a proud moment for the boys in blue, an expression of triumph for catching the bad guy. The police let reporters know when the ‘perp’ (short for perpetrator) is going to be led in or out of a location. Once the reporters are all gathered, the police proudly parade the person through a crowd of flashing cameras. These perp walks haven’t always ended well. One gentleman who was led out of his office in handcuffs and in tears, allegedly for insider trading was eventually let go for lack of evidence, and therefore lack of a case against him. His life was ruined. We all know what happened to Lee Harvey Oswald when he was taken handcuffed from the garage. Jack Ruby shot him.

DSK in handcuffs surrounded by law enforcement, appeared guilty before proven innocent to many, which is the very opposite of our justice system, or so they say. The French, more than the Americans, were appalled at the way DSK was disrespected. The sight of one of Frances, and indeed one of the world’s most powerful men being humiliated in this fashion, was more than the French could bear. Especially since it’s an unproven accusation.

So we have the accused, the accuser, and the police department. In my opinion, three shady sides to a shady case; the perfect example of a bad human tragicomedy. It’s fair to say that DSK isn’t without fault. He fits right into the formula: Male+Power+Female=I can do whatever I want i.e. Arnold Schwarzenegger, J.F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, to name a few. Should the case here in the States fall appart, a likely scenario as things stand, DSK’s troubles aren’t over by a long shot. Tristane Banon, another woman, has come forward and accused him of attempted rape. The French prosecutor is investigating.

As for the Guinean woman, the way I see it, she hasn't got a chance. She’s black, poor and a foreigner...who lies. Need I say more? Perhaps she was raped. At this point in time, after being discredited, it makes no difference. Whatever she says from now on will be viewed with suspicion. And then there’s the part about DSK forcing her to give him a blowjob. I’ve been pondering the logistics of such an act, and somehow I feel the woman has the upper hand (no pun intended) in this situation. Clenched teeth would have had him meowing like a cat.

Speaking of cats, if the New York police department needs a pat on the back, recognition for the ‘amazing’ job they do, they should go rescue a cat. They shouldn’t parade someone around like some trophy. And why would anyone gloat in someone else's misfortune? Oh, I forgot, it's the NYPD. After the incident with Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the practice called perp walk is in serious jeopardy. (Yeah…right).

All parties involved in this affaire are suspicious.

Where is Shakespeare when you need him? He would have had a field day writing a contrived, over the top drama called Who Rapeth Whom? Thee the Rich, Powerful, White Frenchman, Thee, The Poor, Black, Foreign, Chambermaiden Or Thee, The Fucketh Up, New York Police Department?