I recently went through a sort of medical scare with my dog. He was so lethargic, he expected me to carry him up the stairs (I thought it was diva behavior– thankfully, it was poisoning instead). He stopped eating, and then he started throwing up. Oh, and then his poop started coming out with sound effects, squirt projection, and in liquid format. That was another clue.
I got him treatment as quickly as I knew he was sick (and by some blessing up above, none of that squirt projection landed on my rug). The vet told me it wasn’t a virus or anything; he’d just eaten something rotten that hadn’t agreed with him. Thankful he would be alright (and telling myself I would never complain again as long as I and my dog were healthy), I brought him home.
A day or two later, when he seemed to be showing signs of recovery and was romping around in our garden (which never actually produced one fruit or vegetable, but that’s another story), I* finally realized what it likely was that caused the problem.
*Well, more like my sister the scientist put two and two together when she witnessed him chewing on a little dead mouse from our garden which had, presumably been killed with the rat poison my dad had recently re-located (outside of the box) to the basement.
There I was, like an idiot, taking a video of him and thinking he was so cute and original to be rolling in the dirt: not understanding it was dead mouse he was rolling in– (not DeadMou5) and that it contained the stuff that had made him incredibly sick days before.
(Not to mention, he smelled like the most repulsive thing I have ever encountered– except for the first time when he chewed on the original carcass that had made him sick– it was a dead-ringer for that.)
“Well, there’s your culprit.”
“What? A dead mouse?”
“That mouse contains warfarin.”
“What?” (I knew it sounded grave, but I needed more details.)
While I’m at it you should know, my sister has this annoying/impressive habit of naming drugs by their proper terminology. It’s never aspirin or cocaine, it’s acetylsalicylic acid or benzoylmethylecgonine. (Super annoying– especially when you’re drunk and your drug dictionary is all the way upstairs, and in a sick twist of fate, you were counting on some of that benzoylmethylecgonine to give you the requisite energy to climb them.)
This scenario is reminiscent of the way in which I discovered he was sick in the first place– my sister came home from work and Blue didn’t come down and greet her at the door. I told her how good he’d been all night. Like, the best I’d ever seen him! So good in fact, he hadn’t moved from his bed. He was also being extremely cuddly and tired (isn’t that adorable?). And come to mention it, he hadn’t eaten his dinner, either, but I thought that was probably because he was just too pooped to eat.
The dog park that day must have really done him in! (Yeah. I’m really that… how you say…naieve).
So when I found out it was the rat poison my dad had put in the basement that had made him sick, I was pretty pissed. Part of this was my short-supply of good-time brain chemicals, a result of being hung over and extremely low on my necessary nine hours of solid sleep.
(And here I am, about to write on the importance of health… Look, the irony isn’t lost on me. So that’s got to count for something.)
But the other part of my annoyance was from the fact that this seemed entirely… avoidable. It wasn’t that my dog didn’t know his limits and had eaten some wayward plant or really messed up rotting matter that had done a number on his GI. It was that he’d eaten what any normal dog (I use the term loosely) would have eaten– and it just happened to have contained poison.
Now, I’m not here to blame my dad. There’s a first time for everything, and none of us had any idea that him putting poison in the basement a week or so ago would have resulted in anything so clandestine (at least, not for a furry member with whom we had personal ties, and perhaps a few sentimental feelings).
But this whole rat poison thing made me consider just how closely linked we are with our environments, whether it’s always as obvious and immediate as acute poisoning– or not.
A few days later, when Blue seemed to be back to himself, I saw my friend Chad and his dog Bailey at the dog park (also known as, my second home. I’ve considered putting up a tent, but the amount of dog excrement in the area is prohibitive, to say the least). I told Chad about the rat poison while we watched the dogs play. He told me he’d had a similar experience– in which his dad had also put down rat poison– and his dog had eaten it: twice. (Nice goin’, Bailey)
Chad was of the opinion I should call my vet with the newfound information on what had probably caused his illness. I told him “Thanks for the information, but I’m pretty sure he’s alright now.” (We were standing there, watching Blue wrestle with a few dogs three times his size.)
“I know he looks better, but it can’t hurt to ask your vet,” said he. Apparently, Bailey had been given a vitamin regimen as the antidote, despite the fact he hadn’t shown signs of illness.
Not having my degree in veterinary medicine, but just as a conjecture, it seemed it was possible that one could still have small amounts of poison in their system without showing the outward signs of sickness. And funny as this may sound, the idea of needing treatment for something from which you weren’t showing signs of being sick, was a bit of a novel concept to me.
This was my first exposure to the world of poison. And as most of them go (or so I would imagine), it wasn’t a good one.
It also reminded me of another, more humanitarian fact: that we slowly poison ourselves every day. And neither do we show signs– until they show up as cancer or other, not so warm and fuzzy things. And it’s an ironic observation of mine that the worst types of illness are often the slowest and most silent killers. The flu, you know you’ve got it. Cancer? That usually comes as a surprise.
Yeah, we all know cigarettes are bad. Duh. But they’re such an obvious evil. It’s like a stranger trying to get you to take a ride in his van by offering you a lollipop. Obviously, you take the lollipop and run. Just kidding. Lollipops are lame, and I’d venture to say, not worth the risk in that particular scenario. Unless it’s a Tootsie Pop, then maybe…
But what about the small levels of chemicals (aka poisons– and by poison, I mean anything our bodies aren’t patently made to consume and digest) such as the piece of sugar-free gum I am chewing as I write? (Consider it trashed.) Or the lotion you may have just put on your hands? What about the plastic top on your to-go coffee cup? What about all those diet-drinks and processed meats?
I’m not a germaphobe (far from it– perhaps even a little too far, depending on who you ask) and I’m not a hypochondriac. But let’s get real about the chemicals in our environment. And stop wondering why on earth we’re getting sick.
It’s not that I don’t realize what a big undertaking this would be. It’s that I think the problem we face is too important to try to ignore just because we’ve painted ourselves into a cancerous, disease-ridden corner with the often-unnecessary trappings of modern life.
Let’s stop scratching our heads about why our systems are getting gunked-up in the form of a rainbow of maladies.
I’m going to go out on a limb here, because this is an entirely personal preference: I would rather spend money (my own, or anyone else’s) getting rid of the chemicals, going back to nature and working to prevent illness and problems with our bodies and the planet, than doing research for how to wage war against them. And stop trying to create some huge universal garbage system for our health and environments, which have been beat to shit because somewhere along the way we decided it was easier to throw the trash out the window, than wait ten minutes to pass a wastebasket.
We want everything yesterday and we want to work against our bodies instead of with them. The result is what we’ve got now. And we look around like innocent fools, who aren’t so innocent at all, wondering where all the health went. It went out the window, along with all the natural things you insisted on processing to the point of complete bastardization.
You can’t even tell by sight, where most of the foods we eat actually come from. I think that’s a good place to start.
Why is our sole focus on fighting cancer, and treating diseases as they arise, when we could be going back to the basics and keeping ourselves healthier? I ask that sincerely. I am seriously, honestly, overwhelmingly, perplexed. Of course I can’t say cancer would be eliminated with the elimination of most chemicals. But I’d venture a humble suggestion that it wouldn’t hurt.
Why not start looking at the small, daily interactions between ourselves and things that are constantly leeching through our skin and mucous membranes in just small enough doses that they don’t kill us– for awhile.
As my dad always says (which is ironic, given this particular anecdote) “An once of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
In thinking of the medical intervention Blue required because of this toxic matter that was taken into his body, I was reminded of how much simpler it would be if we all just stopped– okay I know this will sound crazy but– eating fucking rat poison (!!!!)
Or whatever the human equivalent of that is, in our processed foods and the products we accept without a second thought into our environments, every single day.
In fact, one of the things I noticed when I got a dog, was how fastidious I was about the things I gave him to eat. Yes, many of them were repulsive, but they were all-naturally repulsive.
It wasn’t that I fed him things based on my own taste preferences (I would never eat half the shit in his dog food or even the scraps I’ve given him, and he doesn’t ever wanna eat my bananas– that shit IS bananas!) but that was mostly from an aesthetic perspective.
The irony is, I feed him nothing artificial (okay, except for a little toxic blood-thinner via animal carcass here and again– keeps him young). And generally, I keep him grain-free. (Which was also better than I could say for myself– especially when I slipped up on gosh damn gluten, which gets me EVERY TIME. Fuckin’ bagel.)
Then one day I realized, as I was pouring his all-natural lamb and rice food into a food dispensary for him to play with, that I ingested more chemicals every day than he probably has in his entire four months of life.
(Awwwwww he’s sucha big boy!) Yes, I have to indulge myself in baby talk here on this blog because in real life I’m trying to scale back and not have him become spoiuled. (When my sister and I write in Blue language, we add a lot of unnecessaury “u’s”, as such. I suppose that’s kind of British of us.)
I also came to the sage understanding that when I eat, it’s not nearly as much fun as trying to get my food to pop out of a bottle and spray around the room. I suppose I am, in effect, setting him up for a lifetime of gambling addiction, but at least his food is real.
As far as medical intervention, well maybe this is just me, but it’s not my first choice. Whether we’re talking man or beast: it’s expensive, inconvenient (although I do have a great vet), and even when it works, it’s still not as good as simply keeping yourself healthy and avoiding problems in the first place. I think this is my laziness speaking, but I’m also mildly aware that this is likely a beneficial way to be, for other reasons apart from the state of my direct and current comfort.
Sometimes it takes a little work up front (for instance, making health a priority in the foods you eat, and buying natural body products) but if it keeps you out of the hospital or even the doctor’s office, it’s money and time well spent. Besides, those doctor’s examination tables are way too cold and waiting rooms are rather unproductive. And the magazines are usually old.
And it’s this generous and care-free use of chemicals in our daily lives, which ultimately serves to make the use of more, counter-active chemicals, such as chemotherapy, drugs, etc. (you can see here, I’m obviously not pulling a Camilla and using their properly-derived names) necessary.
For the record: I’m not against the use of medical intervention, please make no mistake about that. I know I’m lucky to live in a time and place where necessary treatment is somewhat readily available (perhaps not as much as in some other countries, but I will leave that one be), should the need arise.
I also do not mean any insinuation that people are at fault for their illnesses. Obviously, some things cannot be avoided. Some unavoidable contact with contaminants is an unfortunate fact of life, to some extent. And sometimes, bad things happen for no discernible reason.
There will probably always be sickness on planet earth. But I do believe that with a little self-awareness for ourselves and nature and the things we are doing as a species that are hurting them both, we could lessen it, to be sure.
We don’t want cancer? We want to be healthy? Really?! Our actions are speaking louder than our words… And the effect is not in our favor.
Perhaps we shouldn’t use chemicals all the goddamn time, every where, for everything. Besides, isn’t this the premise of organic?
Many of us go out of our way to pay more for organic food, and then many of us perform a number of small acts each day that put that poison right back into our environment and our bodies, in a number of other ways. Whether it’s chemical-laden shampoos, perfumes, lotions, plastics water bottles and food containers (even worse if you microwave food in them), or any other number of unnatural things we place our bodies in contact with, we’re not fooling anyone– least of all mother nature.
It’s not a smiting down by an angry god in the sky; it’s the law of cause and effect.
How about, for example, we stop spraying Febreze? (I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to start a riot.)
Have you ever stopped to think about what’s in that? What about Glade plug-in’s. Open your windows, let in the fresh air and sunshine. Wash your carpets, vacuum once in awhile. Maybe don’t let your dog on the furniture. Light a natural candle. Natural essential oils do wonders. Get creative. It’s your fucking health.
Don’t fool yourself that stuff you spray in the bathroom after you poo is not going into your lungs. And please, for the love of Jesus, don’t tell me you think your lungs want to become one with “Harvest Wreath” or “Spring Rain” from a can. Free hint: they don’t.
What about your deodorant? What are you putting on your skin, every single day? You think stuff doesn’t go through your skin? How do you think those smoking patches work? Just take a step back and realize all of the ways you assault the natural balance of your body– every single day, for the better part of a hundred years. You should be more amazed that you aren’t sicker.
Now give yourself a hug. Then kick yourself in the ass for being so stupid up until this point.
In the face of our health-care problems and the rapidly-changing natural world, we can no longer afford to mentally divorce ourselves from the continued, and ever-increasing consequences of using chemicals in our environment. What we think is staying in the basement, is leeching into our families.
My dad had not one intention in the world of that poison getting to my dog. He’s grown to love him. He even refers to himself as Grandpa and pretends Blue has genetic traits passed on from him (eating weird things would be a good example of that).
But good intentions aside, if we continue to ignore the fact that everything in this world is connected, and that there is no free and clear way of creating and using things that we don’t want a part of, then we’re doing that whole “definition of insanity” thing– where we continue to perform an action, and expect a different consequence each subsequent time.
It all is a play on the idea of not smoking cigarettes so as to avoid cancer. Sometimes the culprits are sneakier than Marb Lights, but I’d say it’s worth the risk to spend a little time pondering the chemicals in your own life, and imagining what role they may be playing in your health so many years down the line. And quite frankly, I don’t care if you doctor tells you it’s okay. Any medicine you can cut from your regimen or work towards doing, is usually doing yourself a favor.
There are studies that say even the vitamins we’re taking are not good for us. I used to be the worst offender of vitamin-over-dosing. My ex used to say if anyone wanted to steal anything from our house, the vitamin cabinet would be their best bet.
So, call me crazy, but here’s my idea:
Wouldn’t it be so much better if we didn’t feed our dogs rat poison or slow poison in the form of low grade food and other chemicals, like fast food and table scraps that even we shouldn’t be ingesting? That’s kind of like feeing them bullshit. And maybe while we’re at it, we could try to clean up our own acts a bit, as well? Just a humble thought.
I mean, I know I’m being impossibly optimistic and mentally-utopian here. But we could–potentially, just saying– avoid the stress, sadness, vet, doctor, surgeon, expense, time spent from playing with our dogs or our kids or being otherwise productive.
We lose out so much by taking the synthetic, unnatural short cut. It doesn’t equal out– the cost is almost always much greater than the reward. The truth is, there are no short cuts. The only thing that’s getting short-cut is the environment, our health, our kids, our pets. It’s actually the important things that are taking the hit, if your values are anything like mine.
What’s more important than our health and the world we are leaving for the next generations of sentient beings?
Yes, we kill some rats. Yes, our food lasts on shelves longer. And yes, we have way more scented body washes than ever before. (Plus the other day I just saw an ad for watermelon Oreos). Your room can smell like fruit with glitter (what does glitter smell like?). And your armpits can smell like apricots.
We have a war on drugs, what about a war on all the junk that’s in McDonald’s food? I love their fries so much. It’s embarrassing– at least, if I had the shame in me to feel that way, it would be. I finally took a look at the ingredients, and I will never eat them. Ever. Again. And no, they’re definitely NOT vegan.
I don’t see a lot of kindergarteners taking bong rips. I do see a lot of them with happy meals.
Why aren’t we willing to take a moment and rub two brain cells together, instead of sitting on our asses and letting corporations and big politics (… money) do the thinking for us? I don’t care who you are, no one is holding a gun to your head and making you eat this junk. I shop on a budget. You know how much a bag of dried beans or brown rice costs? You do the math. The other day I bought a bag of dried peas for fifty cents. I didn’t know you could buy anything in the world for that anymore.
I know it takes a little more effort, but don’t complain when you’re sick and you just fed yourself shit for the last fifty years straight. You don’t have to have a degree in nutrition to know a Slim Jim and a Coke isn’t a balanced meal. Even a good amount of the “health foods” out there are questionable. It looks like a granola bar, but there’s like, fifty ingredients. And one of them is hydrogenated.
Check the label once in awhile, to know what you’re eating. Personally, unless I’m hell-bent on eating like crap (there are those moments), try to keep my diet within the range of all instantly-recognizable foods that don’t require labels to tell me what they are. I learned what they were by the time I was four, and I was good to go.
So yeah, we get some cool new made-up foods that I’m fairly certain never came from the ground and the ease of not having to cook as much for our families. We don’t have to smell the natural smell of things, instead we get to smell whatever someone came up with in a lab (probably tested on a cool monkey or a fluffy little rabbit).
We also get the added benefits of being more sick, less balanced, and otherwise worse off than we would have been if we’d simply stopped trying to play god in a game we can never win. You can’t out-god-god. You can’t out-create nature.
I don’t care how far we take our technological abilities– and call me old fashioned– but nothing man-made has ever, and I mean this as a sweeping-blanket statement I will stand behind until the day I die– competed with the beauty and perfect intricacy of nature. That’s my gospel, and that’s my religion and if I know one thing in this world, it is that.
The Taj Mahal doesn’t compare with my dog (even on sick day), or the sunset, or the forest. Disney World and Facebook are pathetic synthetics compared to a coral reef, or true human interaction with a warm body. And chemicals are not the way to get our way.
You can’t get your own way against nature when you are the very expression of it.
Work with nature, not against it. Like it or not, if you’re reading this, you’re embodied. That means you’ve got a body, and a responsibility to it. And if you’ve got a body, I’m pretty willing to take the presumptuous route that it’s located on earth. So yeah, you’ve got a responsibility there, too.
Nothing happens in a vacuum. As best as I can discern, we are all part of some sort of matrix that I can’t quite figure out the rules to. But I do know this: we are all connected. And it is impossible to shit in one corner of the world, and keep it there. It’s what I like to call environmental karma.
It’s like a karma chameleon, but bigger. (And less colorful)