On Zombies; Becoming, and Disposing of

First let me promote the disposing of zombies — I was, by complete surprise, very tickled to get this email today from Jordan in Detroit, who has painted a logo on his truck drawing inspiration from my Internet-famous Jeep (which I’m going to spend some time doing a new customization from this weekend, so stay tuned) and its “Toronto Department of Zombie Disposal” paint job. Very cool.

We’re now joined by the “Detroit Department of Zombie Disposal” (duh, writing that for search bots).

But the becoming of zombies…? I was thinking that in a way that’s what I’m experiencing. I think perhaps I can relate to zombies, if they can be related to. In a way my body is slowly rotting and decomposing and dying, as its useful muscle tissue is slowly and painfully converted into immobile calcified garbage flesh that can do nothing but experience agony. It’s what I imagine its like to be a zombie — the otherwise comedic Night of the Living Dead series touched on this, that they are able to feel the process of decomposition. If it turns out brains actually do take the pain away, I have to wonder whether I would eventually be willing to violently eat brains to bring me relief. I suspect I would.

Heck, I might try it just on the slim hope…

That said, I was interested to see the movie trailer today for “Raw Opium“, a documentary that looks like it treats opium as a medicine, something which is a sadly taboo subject, even though there is a mountain of evidence both scientific and historical for its efficacy in treating pain (and much more) with a minimum of side-effects, contrary to what the fear-merchants soldiering on in the so-called “War on Drugs” would have you believe… Which is not really a war on drugs, but more of a war to protect the drug industry and feed the for-profit prison industry as a bonus. Click the friendly picture that I took yesterday of a llama using its baby as a pillow to visit the movie’s site and watch the trailer.

There is no treatment for my disease nor do I suspect there will be any time soon so all they can do for me is try and reduce my pain level. They have tried various big-pharma brand-name patent-controlled drugs like Lyrica, but all of them have had zero effect on pain but have come with a long list of horrible side effects that would make them barely worth taking even if they did work. The only class of medication that has been effective are opiates, and they’ve been the most struggle to get because of their narcotic stigma, even though I’ve experienced zero side-effects — not even euphoria. Only pain reduction. And although it is almost impossible to prescribe (other than in British Columbia), the only medication that I’ve ever used that was able to take the pain away was diamorphine (aka “heroin”, so named by Bayer because of its “heroic” ability to reduce suffering), and I want to emphasize that it achieved this without any side effects including any “high”. It just gave me a moment of peace and normalcy. It is very difficult to explain what it is like to spend every moment of your life in pain. Emphasis on “every”. Imagine if anything you do is first and foremost torture. Everything you experience hurts. Everything you do has its true essence obscured by a thick layer of pain that you have to try and see through. Perhaps it is a testament to spending twenty years getting tattooed and pierced — finding joy via painful experiences — that I am able to still enjoy parts of my life. I don’t know.

I had a doctors appointment though earlier this week that really bothered me. It was with doctors that I don’t normally see, but at one of the best regarded pain clinics in the world. Because I hadn’t been at that hospital in a while I was pretty sure they were unaware of my specific diagnosis, so I figured when I went in that they were not going to be able to help me and my prediction was correct. The guy I saw was an anesthesiologist and was hoping to help me with nerve blocks, which are generally only done on smaller areas (for example, a single limb) and are not effective on something with as large a scale as mine. So he called in his superior, someone who in theory demands respect in this field. And what does he recommend and offer me?


Complete voodoo bullshit that is no better than a placebo.

Thanks but no thanks.

For those who don’t know, acupuncture is kind of like Wicca in that it’s a modern invention pretending to be “ancient knowledge”. Acupuncture is basically “magic” created by a mix of Orientalism (ie. romanticism about the supposed exotic and ancient wisdom from Asian cultures) amplified by Chairman Mao who saw it as a great way of tricking poor villagers into thinking his communist state was providing them with medical care when it couldn’t come close to affording genuine doctors. It doesn’t work any better than placebo, something that study after study has confirmed (for example, studies that compare acupuncture by a “traditional medicine doctor” and by an actor poking needles into random locations have exactly the same results). Don’t get me wrong, pain is often in the mind, even “real” pain, and placebos can work for that — as was famously discovered by the wartime medic who ran out of anesthetic for field surgery and instead of admitting it injected the wounded with saline solution, telling them it was lidocaine, and then being shocked to discover that in most cases it worked! Believing a lie is a mistake your subconscious mind can make as easily as your conscious mind I suppose. But that doesn’t mean that saline works as an anesthetic, nor does it mean that acupuncture is real… And seeing doctors that appear to whole-heartedly believe in acupuncture (or homeopathy or reiki or a great many other junk therapies) is rather distressing and makes me worry a great deal about their ability to actually understand the problems that I am coming to them for help with. If I was looking for bullshit I’d go see a priest or the neighborhood neon-palmreader-sign psychic.

I won’t be going back to them, and before you worry too much, my current main doctor is not such a fool as far as I can tell, and is helpful and other than how he is shackled by the prejudices of law, seems to doing the best he can. I just needed to publicly express my frustration at the supposedly scientifically trained fools in the medical industry pushing acupuncture and so on. By the way, for a decent overview of many of the issues with acupuncture, there are good articles that I highly recommend reading and passing on at these links:

Both are highly recommended reading!

I would never make the claim that there isn’t traditional medicine that is effective and helpful (and perhaps even so-far overlooked by “mainstream” medicine), but as a sadly too-true generalization, the commercialization of alternative medicine is the worst thing to happen to health in the West and a terrible and dangerous step backward that generates oodles of needless illness in trade for the oodles of cash that sustains the sham. I always make a point of asking pharmacists which of the magical cure-all metal bracelets (prominently placed near the checkout) they recommend in their professional opinion and watch them awkwardly debate whether its worth debasing themselves with a lie. Gosh, I hope they’re lying anyway, because believing it, like the aforementioned doctors seemed to, is so much more disturbing. Anyway, I’m repeating myself now, so just go read those articles. Spread the truth and do what you can to stop the spread of willful ignorance.

As it is getting late and I would like to be off this computer, other than that, Nefarious is at sleep-away camp this weekend — archery and waterskiing and much fun stuff — so I’m going to try and spend tomorrow polishing my welding chops because I’ve now got all the pieces for my electric trike here and want to start assembling it. And I’ve also got some little projects like a bit of truck customization and also finally finishing off the skull mouse for which I just finished fabricating the last components.


  1. And despite it all you continue to inspire people like me.

    Friday, May 27, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Permalink
  2. Tobias wrote:

    It’s almost ironic, given that the majority of us do get some kind of pleasure or relief from sticking ourselves or others with needles, just not in that “mystical pain relief” way.

    Friday, May 27, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Permalink
  3. starbadger wrote:

    I love you son.
    Sorry how little that helps. Nothing I can tell you you don’t know.

    Saturday, May 28, 2011 at 11:27 am | Permalink
  4. Victoria wrote:

    I totally understand. I have a crooked spine that causes a chronic pain condition. I’m young and modified so doctors refuse to give me painkillers, and if so, they are so weak that the regulation on them seem like a massive joke, when I could buy the strong stuff illegally any time I want, but don’t anymore out of desperation to show my doctors how serious I am. Everyone I know has recommended acupuncture. As someone who as tried everything at this point, they might as well hand me a sugar pill and say “too bad, you’re just going to be in pain for the rest of your life until it paralyzes and kills you”. I’m going in for a rhizotomy in a month, hopefully it will help, because I don’t feel like the life I’m living is much of a life at all, and the worst part is that I cannot not take painkillers that dull the pain without a negative stigma from everyone who is close to me.

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Permalink
  5. StephLJones wrote:

    I don’t get it…You are this crazy, pierced, modified person, who should have new-age, holistic views on things!

    But, just a few posts into reading your blog…I just think you are brilliant!!!

    Please understand…I’m being a bit sarcastic.

    I have a crazy liberal friend who took her daughter to an acupuncturist…for shingles!!! Seriously. I couldn’t believe it… then they were so upset when it didn’t work.

    I now have half a tongue for biting it.

    now, don’t get me wrong…I’m not insulting liberal minded people. My husband and I say that we are socially liberal, and economically conservative. Meaning, we vote libertarian.

    Thanks for your blog, I like it.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Permalink
Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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