Three weeks ago from today, on Thursday, April 21, 2016 the planet lost one of the most innovative musical talents of this generation. Prince Rogers Nelson was found unresponsive in his Paisley Park home and after attempts of CPR was pronounced dead at 10:07am. I heard the news from my husband and was completely in shock, sitting at my desk not knowing what to say. I felt numb for the remainder of the day with questions of why and how swirling in my head.
Since his death rumors and investigations surrounding a drug overdose have been circulating. The autopsy was completed quickly but an offical report is still forthcoming. In the meantime all the rumors of why and how Prince died are media speculations. I was thinking how to speak about the various rumors but realized I didn’t have the experience of what Prince was coping with regarding the pain from years of amazing dancing and performances. Then a dear friend posted the perfect words and experience on her Facebook status. I share these words with you.
“As we age, more and more of us have so many medications for what ails us that we end up with those ‘Day of the week/ AM-Noon-PM’ pill boxes to keep the dosages straight. My adult son refers to my pill case as my ‘Drug Advent Calendar’. He manages my meds because I get tired of fighting with the packaging and resort to ripping everything open with my teeth, since, I don’t want to take the pills in the first place, because I hate the side effects.”
“Our doctors are quite happy to dispense whatever the pharmaceutical companies are pushing that week. It is up to our pharmacists, us, and our loved ones to make certain that Drug A is compatible with Drug B. The drugs that I am meant to take to reduce ear aches, maintain my balance, fluid levels, and phantom pain are so strong that I stopped taking them during the day. I would take them after dinner, and from 2012 to 2014 I have only my son’s version of events to confirm what I said or did from 8pm to 8am during those years. I have no memories of those nights, whatsoever. Dog walks, films seen, conversations – I have no memory of any of it. Half of what my doctors have prescribed is illegal in South Korea, where I work, hence, I have weaned myself off of these meds in preparation for an extended visit to country.”
“Going deaf hurts. Some days my ears hurt so bad that I would take pill after pill in search of relief from the pain. By pain, I mean the sensation of being stabbed in the ear through to the other ear with a hot metal kebab skewer. This is while also feeling like someone is trying to loop a crochet hook around the electrodes behind my ear to pull out my cochlear implants, out of my head through my nose. All happening, while I fall over with vertigo and throw up. Falling while being sick is a bad combo. Yes. Like that, only worse.”
“If you have ever had an ongoing illness, the thing you want most is decent advice about pain management. Unfortunately, pain management generally involves a level of talking therapy and cognitive behaviour therapy. Sadly, I’ve yet to live in a country that will spend money on mental health when a pill can be prescribed. Few doctors, and I mean private health care, even offer pain management as part of a treatment.”
“I was given some pills once to try to cure any bacterial infection that could have been causing my rapid hearing loss. Tramadol, I later found out that it’s given to heroin addicts as a substitute. I remember that weekend vividly. I hallucinated that I was flying. I could clearly see the top of my kitchen cupboards and realized that my housekeeping was lacking as I could see every speck of dust on top of the cupboards and fridge. My son called my doctor. His advice? “Ride it out the drug trip to kill any bacteria.” When I see my specialist I like to remind him of the time he forced me to have a bad drug trip.”
“Another time I was given a new medicine that made me ill for hours. I was on the bathroom floor for so long that I considered having my mail forwarded there. My veins hurt, My blood felt dirty. My son flew back from out of the country to go to the doctor with me. I was technically treated for an overdose even though I had only taken the prescribed AM and noon dosage – 2 pills over 5 hours – before I felt as if I were dying. A different pill, a different meal, a different drink – even a new shampoo -it can all cause a bad drug reactions.”
“Not everyone on strong meds is a likely drug addict, and people with chronic long term illnesses are not necessarily drug abusing junkies when they over-medicate and things go wrong. Such as…Heath Ledger? I had pneumonia. I would have taken anything available to breathe, so I can see how Prince may have overmedicated and died. I know aging people, stuntmen, dancers, and people who stand all day who sometimes have really bad days of chronic pain every damned waking moment. They take one more pill to try to cope with the pain in hopes of feeling ‘normal’, in search of that feeling when your flu passes and you can breathe normally and your body doesn’t ache, that joy of not being at war with your physical being.”
“There’s a man who danced like a dervish in heels for years, doing splits that I couldn’t manage when I was a cheerleader. Is it any surprise that he had hip and back issues and was on a medically prescribed course of potentially dangerous meds? Your back hurts. Your hip probably hurts, too. Cut people some slack. Aging is painful and it lasts longer than it ever has in the history of man. Take the high road. Don’t speak ill of the dead.”
I agree that aging is not fun. We all think that we will be fine when we are older. Then it creeps up on us a few aches and pains and then seeking relief. As was stated above even the most astute doctors can miss potential drug interactions or prescribe a dosage that will negatively impact us. Prince Rogers Nelson was known by his inner circle to be excessively particular with what he put into his body. He was a vegan and practiced yoga. I do not nor will I believe his death was due to inappropriate use of drugs. Like my dear friend said, I will not speak ill of the dead. Prince may you rest in perfect purple paisley peace.
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