Breath & Shadow
A Journal of Disability Culture and Literature
Through Rose-Colored Lenses
By Jeff Kozzi
Understand my former inability before you judge me for partaking in America’s greatest private past time. If you’ve had any period of not being able to be able, then you understand. If you’ve been one who has never had a prolonged lapse, you won’t understand. If you have had a prolonged lapse and have been too macho to admit it, then you’re one of the ones judging me to overcompensate for your own inadequacies.
My problems started with depression. I just didn’t have the drive anymore. I’m an old-age diabetic, so the doc’s got me on a lot of meds. I have interactions, and he adjusts things when I call, if I can reach him. He’s off a lot on those pharmaceutical-sponsored retreats, so he can be hard to reach. After experimenting with a number of patented drug cocktails, he did a good job of getting my sugar numbers down. He tells me I will feel better later. I don’t know if I believe him anymore, seeing how I’ve felt like crap since 2007, but I have faith in him.
The depression came from a touch of the seasonal cycle I’ve gotten since my teens. My daughter tells me all the drugs made it worse, but the doc assured me less than a dozen ‘scrips wouldn’t do that. He added an anti-depressant to the sugar drugs and the daily aspirin and the cholesterol drugs and the blood pressure drugs and the nighttime leg cramp drugs and arthritis drugs and the anti-inflammatory drugs and the liver-problem correcting and anti-nausea drugs I needed because of all the other drugs. When the anti-depressant showed results less than he expected, he added another anti-depressant that is made for use by people who feel that anti-depressants alone just aren’t enough. All the drugs make me fart a lot, but I learned that if you hang around children and people even fatter than me when you let them rip, people always blame children first, then the fattest one in the room. Obviously, fat children are the best to hang around with. Thank the fates that Michelle Obama’s sanctimonious services to all those unfortunate fat children fell on deaf airs and a particularly lazy generation.
Before I started taking the anti-depressants, I told the doc that I had no more drive. He tossed me a sample of a PDE5 inhibitors, wrote me a prescription and told me to have a good time. I told him that I thought the issue was drive, but he said, no, this happens to diabetics all the time, and that if I had laid off the McDonald’s for the past fifty years I wouldn’t be a diabetic with erection issues, high cholesterol and blood pressure. The lecture made me more depressed, so I got a shake at Burger King.
Still I doubted the drive/function answer, so I called with questions the next week. He was on a Bermuda cruise courtesy of Eli Lilly Company. I did not take the new drug. Instead I went online and forced myself to look at porn. Yes, I forced myself. That’s how it was then. I had the function but not the drive. The smiling and gaping lips of open legged girls worked their enchantments. Picture after picture flashing in front of my eyes worked like the best anti-depressant on my disinterest. Eventually everything worked fine. Still, I didn’t possess the motivation to look at the pretty smiling lips online again, never mind go out and meet someone. That’s when I started the first anti-depressant. I started the second a couple months later.
They worked. Depression didn’t hurt anymore. I was no longer crippled with that loss of interest in everything, including sex and the people in my life. Most of those people are pretty boring anyway. But a few months after feeling better, my self-fondling fortunes had changed The anti-depressants gave me my drive back.
Unfortunately, they killed my function. I settled for fondling myself without real effect for a while, just because it felt good, but the lack of results got as boring as my ex-wives after a while. If I couldn’t even satisfy myself in bed when all alone, how could I possibly go out and meet and test drive the candidates for Wife #5?
The PDE5 inhibitors beckoned me from the kitchen drawer. I think back to bygone eras when people had to suffer silently through things like this, but now I can blog about my problems and report to the world how things are coming along. Thank you Phil and Geraldo and Sally Jessie and Rosie and Jerry and Tyra and Simon and Letisha and Twitter for encouraging us to talk.
I washed down one of the new generation inhibitors, Vitalia™, with a Coke and a smile. Don’t ask me why they call the little blue babies inhibitors if they’re supposed to make you hump-happy without inhibition. I don’t know about those deeper philosophical things. All I know, all I need to know, is that they work! I got fatter than I’d ever noticed before, so fat I could have exploded. And for the first time in two years, explode I did. I’m sure I blew well above the 28 miles per hour average because, after so long a dearth, I’d forgotten to turn the ceiling fan off when I played and the spooj didn’t spray back down on top of me. As long as I keep the fan on, no one will notice until I get around to cleaning the fan blades, which are now less uniform with the stuck-on dog hair.
The night after the test run, I was out and about. I’ve given up on college bars when my daughter was in college. No one can send their kids away anymore, so they’re mostly just home-living locals. Half those girls just ask for money anyway. I can’t afford to pay for sex on top of my online porn subscriptions. Not since the government started charging me even more for the drug co-pays and the basic health coverage that they still insist on calling health “health care.” I can’t even afford the one-legged ho down on Charles Street anymore. Most people think she just limps funny, but I’ve been there and done that and threw out her crab-ridden T-shirt. The national health “care” got her a prosthetic, but it’s half an inch too short and doesn’t at all look or feel real.
So I went to one of the corner bars in the neighborhood. It had been so long since I’d been out on the prowl that most of the faces were new. The familiar faces were the local prostitutes. Feeling the pinched pennies, I avoided them. I was out of practice with bar cruises and clandestine meetings. Indiscriminately buying drinks with high hopes was also out of the question. I might have been able to afford that if I had stayed on the old heart meds, but the patent had been about to run out, so the doc had put me on the new and improved formula, which was quite a bit more and no generic was available.
Maybe I came across as too desperate at first. It had been too long and I was too rusty. Even with the mindset that I just needed a human touch, I could not lower my standards as far as they should go just to get my renewed rammer back in circulation. Sure I’m fat and gassy, but I’m still broad shouldered and a head taller than most other guys and know who to blame, and that all counts for something,
Especially the last part. I noticed the woman’s nose wrinkle, and it helped that her friend got up to go to the toilet right afterwards. I could not have used that opening line thirty years ago when I was a college age stud, but people can openly talk about farting these days.
“Judging from the smell she just let go, I think your friend’s going to be in there for a while.”
“Oh, I know,” my target company answered.
“Her clinic’s got her on this new fiber tablet ‘scrip and this pancreas preventer drug. They mix in her belly and she’s blowing like bagpipes.”
That was the social bridge I needed. Maybe she would scare the crap out of me come a view in morning light, but for now the dim bar lighting, along with her skin clarifying, wrinkle reduction, and de-bloater ‘scrips worked well enough to make her look as healthy from the outside as the scrips for eye clarity, cholesterol reduction, and blood de-pressurizer cleanses her on the inside. We joked about her farty friend until the friend returned from the bathroom. When we saw her coming, we compared liver cleanser ‘scrips and the benefits of Tylenol, ibuprofen and the new combo liver cleanser and headache drug Panacula™ over aspirin to fight the headaches and shared tales of the ailments we prevented, eliminated or had under control bonded us. Her friend excused herself and got up to leave. I issued a left cheek sneak as she gathered her purse from the bar and thoroughly blamed her when she left. Then I closed the deal and brought the old broad home. I had got her name, but I forgot it then or since. There was a new memory aide ‘script Membrosia™ available, but it was still new enough to be outside my budget.
We sat in my living room for a while, talking more about the same. I opened cans of beer for each of us, and was about to discreetly excuse myself to the bathroom for one of my little blue babies and a Gas-X when she asked where the bathroom was. I took both capsules in the kitchen while she was in the can. She ran water before and after, but I never heard her tinkle. When she was preparing to leave afterwards and fishing for keys, I saw that she was taking Geeburtez™, the little pink pills for women, and the new ‘scrip Sphinflapia™, which didn’t just reduce the smell of the pervasive modern day flatulence, but actually prevented the explosive air build-up.
We performed beautifully together, a synchronized symphony of chemically induced drives and functions. Even better, she made an excuse to not stay the night, a perfect execution of the Mellencamp Principle, “someone to thrill me and then go away.” We exchanged numbers, and I went to bed feeling like part of the human race again, able to mix and mingle and have a shared private moment without the need to assure her it was me and not her. I know the scrap of paper with her name and number is still in the drawer, I just can’t see it. I know that’s where I put it when I took my daily baby aspirin and ‘scrips for reflux and a restful night.
I slept in that next morning, and there was sunlight shining on my face through the glass. I didn’t open my eyes at first, but enjoyed the warmth of the beam that shined brightly enough through the skylight to illuminate my eyelids. Then an odd shadow fell. It started as a spot shadowed on my right eyelid, then ran to the outside of the eye. I opened both eyes to see if some damn bird had just crapped on the skylight. With my eyes open, it wasn’t just a shadow, but a burst of red that was spreading in a viscous flow.
Finally I had reason to see the world through a rose colored lens, and it turns out to be a blood hemorrhage. I suffered a mini-stroke of the eye, the doc said. Just one of those things that happens, and that ideally it would only last for eight months to a year, and as long as I still had the one good eye, all would be well until then. He gave me a note to miss work for a couple weeks, wrote a new ‘scrip to reduce the anxiety of the situation and updated some of my other ‘scrips while I was in the office.
That night as I looked out into the street from the window, I squeezed my good eye shut and stared with the blood-filled eye. I couldn’t tell if traffic was coming or going, for the headlights were as brilliantly red as taillights. I popped an anxiety pill and another inhibitor and sat down in front of the computer.
And woke, distressed the next morning by a mini-stroke in the left eye.
So I’m blind with non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy now, looking at the world through my rose colored lenses and hoping the pool of blood in the center of one or both eyes clears up. In the meantime, two of my ex-wives and my daughter drive me around and read things and get me audio books from the library to keep me occupied. My daughter found online articles that linked the PDE5 inhibitors with the eye problem, but the pharmaceutical giants insist that NAION is always a risk of diabetics and people with high blood pressure. They’re probably right. They put billions of dollars into researching their life-improving and life-saving products, so I know they wouldn’t hoist anything on me if it would do harm beyond the normal headaches, nausea, diarrhea, bloating, constipation, upset stomach, gas, fatigue, high blood sugar or the oh-so-unfortunate risk of a four-hour erection. My daughter likes to scream at me that those NAION-risk people–diabetics and people with high blood pressure–are the target market for PDE5 inhibitors. When she does that, I apologize that the economy sucked so bad ten years ago. If things had been better, we could have sent her to more than the community college, and she could have been a doctor, or at least the assistant to a top researching chemist with Phizer. She storms out every time.
I feel bad about making her upset, but I take another upper ‘scrip and I get over it quickly enough. And when the audio books get too boring and monotonous, I pop a baby blue and I entertain myself by touch. After all, life isn’t hard, I am. Mama was right about that going blind thing, but if I’ve already paid, I might as well play.