Thursday, 28 October 2010


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My hands, Oh, fuck my hands.

I used to work with an old cabinet-maker, coffin-maker, actually, is what he'd been mostly; now, there's a trade to ponder, one step away from an embalmer or an undertaker, one of those entirely pointless servants of Ritual; making the dead last a little longer, boxing 'em up in timbers of grandeur. And burying all that work underground.

He used to come in, in the morning, Arthur, weeping, face contorted in amguish and exasperation, Oh, my hands, he used to say, Oh, fuck, my hands.  I found it very upsetting, seeing  a grown man, an old man, cry.  His hands'd cramp-up and he couldn't grip the radial-arm saw which was his main tool - he made bookcases for the business.  Mrs Ishmael and I would buy him creams and ointments, nothing made any difference.  Years of planing and sanding and screwing and polishing had fucked his joints and he had arthritis. But you know how it is in the workplace, you feel sorry for people for a while and then you come over all Tory, and just  wish they'd fuck off, take their pain elsewhere, please, we have a business to run here; wealth  creation, that's the thing.

Now, of course, years of sanding and planing and screwing and polishing have fucked my joints and I have arthritis.  I bought power tools; where, in Arthur's day, things had been done by hand, I generally have a machine for the purpose but even power tools eat away at  manual strength, need wielding agains their own torque, transfer vibration to weak flesh and bone and sinew.  I spend a bit of time looking at newer, smaller, lighter power tools, for the stuff I still do, to see if somehow they bypass the transference of torque and although some of them are easier to use,  there is no escaping Energy's bone-grinding exhaust.

Oh, Fuck, my hands, I curse, how can mere hands hurt so, but they do and they cramp-up, spastic, and I pull one frozen  hand against the other, trying to free their furious, agonising self-locking mechanisms. It's like a horror show, round here, when that happens.  But good news comes,  of a sort. I have had this condition for ten years, mentioned it now and again to doctors but it's been submerged and ignored in a flood of diabetic and cardiac complications, the doctors only usually want to do one thing at a time, bless, but recently one of them sent me for an x-ray. Arthritis, she announced, in these joints here, here, here and here,  in all the places of which I had been complaining.

Ah, it's OK for me to be Junky, now; free opiates, off the NHS, doctor says. Tramadol does nothing for the bones but a good deal for the head, blocking the pain signals and bringing, coincidentally, a feeling of wellbeing and razor-sharp focus - I wouldn't want to argue with me when I'm Tramadollied up, you know, how the young Polish plumber says: You think we Poles know fuck nothing but, in fact, we know fuck all!!  It's like that.  And my brief dalliance with the Poppy's products is over.  It's okay as long as you keep taking  more of it, as long as you don't mind being welded-up-tight constipated and as long as you can forfeit sleep almost entirely for drowsy hallucination.  OK if you're dying, I guess. And never have to get clean.  Even the manufacturers of Tramadol say you need a fortnight to get straightened-out. Better, if you can, not to get kinked in the first place.  Maybe the time will come for all of us when toxic dependency is preferable to futile stoicism, buy it ain't that dark yet. I'll try wearing warm gloves, Ibuprofen, and maybe a small whiskey.

There is a lot of rubbish spoken and written about so-called drug-use and largely it is the criminalisation of some substances and not others which creates organised crime and poor stupid junkies, as well as some not so poor, some not so stupid;  some flung in Barlinnie or Strangeways, some soireed in Downing Street.  I would decriminalise everything and watch the crime figures fall through the floor, watch endless regiments of gabshites seek new career opportunities, watch the cops enforce the law, not some puritanical I-Know-Bestism.  People have always got off their heads. Always. Wherever two or three are gathered together they will find something to ferment,  distill, chew, inhale, inject or shove up their arses, the better to escape for a while Life's awful burden of Death.  The drug laws are a mediaeval impudence, a racket which makes a small, containable problem epidemic, pandemic. GlobaCorp operates all across national and legal boundaries, wealth creation for some, misery for many.

But in the meantime, arthritis, I just learned, like diabetes and heart disease, has its own magazines,  all, I swear,  written by the same stupid  fuckers who were last year writing Crochet Weekly, or Saga Holidays Review; modelled for by the same gang of TwiggyULike harridans, leaning girlishly on  grinning elderly male models with miles of gleaming teeth and written to by readers one step away from getting on the char-a-banc to Lourdes but who will, instead, try to pen the Star Letter and win a weekend in the Lake District;  a morbid, flatulent industry, these sickness rags, written by and for the worst sort of parasites.  If you develop it, artritis, ignore it for as long as possible. And then ignore it some more.  I have always argued, here, in Ishamelia Cloisters, that painkillers, especially opiates,  are,  in every sense of the words, the Last Resort.


Agatha said...

A moving post, Mr. Ishmael, glad you're eschewing the opiates - they do tend to take over. The tale of the carpenter colleague of yours - the temporary solicitude of youth followed by the suppressed frustration when the old chap doesn't get better, and all the time you didn't know you were watching your own future walking ahead of you. Everything goes around on the bloody wheel of life.We'll all need the opiates eventually. Let's hope there's enough money for them when we do. Maybe you should stockpile them, Mr. Ish.

PT Barnum said...

I never scaled the opiate heights to Tramadol, but I did spend over a year in a lovely warm haze of a lesser member of the family after my skull was cracked open and I remained stubbornly in pain. But I kept falling over (and not minding it especially). And neurologists don't like their patients falling over, it spoils their notes. Now I have chronic pain and whatever wits are left me. And that is better. Otherwise I would have floated and fallen through any number of years until I fell under a train.

To have one's hands outwith control, our obedient servants turned churlish and snarling, must be so much harder, tho'. What moment of the day is there when they are not supposed to be servicing our needs and wants?

call me ishmael said...

My skull is like a jigsaw puzzle; cars, motorcycles, fights - all in another lifetime - sometimes morphine, pethedice, codeine are the only friends we have, for a time.

Mustn't overegg the hand pudding, it only happens two or three times a week - depends what I'm doing - and it only lasts, oh, five minutes, ten minutes, maybe, but it is as you say mr ptb, an immediate offence.

Falling through the years, yes, that's what happens to junkies. There's a documantary, currently, on which I'll post, about our most celebrated junky, Keef, of the Rolling Stones, who seems to have fallen through most of the last fifty.

lilith said...

Even doctors are impressed with Rosehip extract for arthritis. You could give it a whirl for three months? Comfrey oil help, or there is always my favorite anti inflammatory of last resort: thrusting your poor hands into a bed of nettles. There is science for the omega 3 oils too. Not enough encourages inflammatory responses.

I cant believe the way they are dishing out Tramadol! Elby came home with a carrier bag full a few months back. They gave a two week full dose supply to Calfy when she had her tonsils out. Fortunately both would rather be in pain than constantly tramadollied.

mongoose said...

We too have crates of the stuff, Ms Lilith. eg Junior fell off a tree and cracked a collar-bone, and she 6-years-old came home with some stuff that made her brains run out her ears.

lilith said...

They are pedalling it to six year olds Mr Mongoose? And they won't let the old folk have a bit of weed for their aches and pains?

call me ishmael said...

Yes, that's the rub, Lilith. I did something somewhere else, might have been your place, about the Ownership of Pain.

Mine is mine, it's not the doctors', it's certainly not the state's, it's mine, I own it, like I own nothing else; if they want to take it from me and deal with it themselves, good luck to them, they can have it freely, or for free, as we now say, some of us, but in the meantime it's mine and I'll treat it how I wish. The current system is an impertinent, abhorrent overreach of the criminal law and a reinforcement of GBS's dictum that all professions are a conspiracy against the laiety.

Tramadol to children, mr m, surely not? Tell em that it isn't true.

I'll try the rosehips, thanks, we grow miles of them, still flowering, actually, today. I will get a product in the meantime and look to using my own, if possible, in the future. I normally just boil the comfrey up and use it as liquid manure, I will have a look at that, too.

Been reading a book about dog diets, how the tins and sachets are crap, unnatural, carcinogenic. Nature doesn't distinguish between food and medicines, he says, just eat the right stuff and you'll be ok, raw bones and raw meat for dogs, lots of fruit, vegetables and herbs for us, along with meat and fish.

Maybe, as in the jailhouse, a narcotised population is more biddable, many on Soma holiday, although it's hard to see how, in S and M Britain, we could be moreso, cheering-on public school rubbish like Clegg, as we do.

mongoose said...

Exactly, Lilith. I said "Hey, kid, you give that gaga juice to your old dad and you take a toke on this instead." She's never looked back.

Not Tramadol, Mr I, no but some ghastly codeine soup/syrup. It's the only thing that has ever shut her up.

call me ishmael said...

Might be good to keep some at hand, mr mongoose, for when, as a teeneager, ms mongoose discovers her rights.

mongoose said...

May I be so spared, Mr Ishmael. In truth, Junior astounds me. I am blessed.

robbo said...

I drink plenty of salty water ishmael, supposed to hydrate you, tried everything else seems to work, blood pressure fine, dont believe the government bullshit about salt

TDG said...

The advocacy of free drugs presumes the subject always has a choice. But the key point about drug addiction is that choice is subverted. The perfect drug would cause one to do nothing but take it. It is an easy enough state to simulate in the monkey: give it control over electrical stimulation of a particular part of its brain and that is all it will do until it dies of dehydration.

call me ishmael said...

Not all the substances proscribed by govament are addictive, hash, for instance, isn't, and even if they were it would be no business of govament's.

Before opium and hash, for instance,were criminalised, people had addictions or habits or were occasional users for pleasure or anasthaesia without these becoming a burden to anyone else; it is the criminalisation and the attendant opportunities to peddle inferior goods at exorbitant prices which fuels runaway addiction and property crime.

"The perfect drug would cause one to do nothing but take it" - my understanding, mr tdg, is that up until the early twentieth century, otherwise entirely responsible and productive people were accustomed to so taking their pipe or tincture just as routinely as one might now drink coffee and with as few ill effects for themselves or others.

I think we all contend with addictions of one sort or another - what once were vices are now habits - but would rather do so without the over-reach of Nanny State and her enforcement whelps.

TDG said...

Many are able to enjoy drugs without becoming addicted to them. Equally many become addicted to reinforcing (in the physiological jargon) behaviours such as eating that are perfectly legal. The problem with something like heroin is that there are those for whom it reinforces the action of taking it to the extent that all other activity is extinguished. It is protecting the minority for whom this is true that drug restriction is for, even though governments try to pretend it has something to do with physical harm. Heroin (though not cocaine) is perfectly harmless - physically - in moderate doses.

One could of course argue that exposure is no longer significantly limited: anyone who wants to try drugs can easily get hold of them. And one could also argue that the increase in the proportion of the addicted would be less socially damaging than the effects of the illegal market. But such an argument assumes the addictive power of current drugs cannot be exceeded by future drugs. It need not be so, indeed the monkey experiment I referred to shows us that it can be done, theoretically.

call me ishmael said...

One can also argue that if one wanted to exacerbate drug use to a potentially societally ruinous point one could not have done better than to have launched Nancy Reagan's War On Drugs.

The likelihood of the creation of more addictive substances is high but most people take most drugs - medicinally or recreationally or ritually - because they make them feel good or at least better; a product as instantly addictive as the monkeyjuice is, I think, unlikely to be as attractive as those currently on GlobaCorp's shelves; there is the smackhead's, the pothead's, the boozer's, the smoker's insistence that he or she is master - even if power shifts both ways. That some may, in future, willingly embrace an even more compelling chemical slavery - to the extent that all other activity is extinguished - is of course possible but less likely, I feel, were more realistic, decriminalisation policies adopted.

Woman on a Raft said...

Salt water - a warm bath of sea water with seaweed is the Rolls Royce treatment. You never see a seal with arthritis, do you? It pongs, but there are Oirish spas which specialize in it.

The demonstrated benefit (via the lead workers) is that in a deep bath the kidneys find it easy to work. This, combined with increased circulation in the warmth, encourages the excretory system to move every bit of crap it can still lift out of the joint. There are limits to what you can expect but in the excruciating intolerance between bone every little helps, and the theory is that the salt water makes it easier for any pores which feel like joining in to help too.

Of course, this may be juju brought to you by the salt marketing board, who do very nicely out of persuading people to chuck a teacup full in every bath. The French insist their sel de Guerande is an elixir of youth, in which case why do they have a 'best by' date on the back of the packet?