Julie's Brain On Drugs


Remember the old anti-drug commercials they used to play on TV. (Actually, they may still use them...I don't do much TV.) Anyway...the commercial where they say "This is your brain." Then they smash two eggs into a frying pan while the moderator intones "This is your brain on drugs."

Well...take a good look at the three pictures below...while I lower my voice and announce "This is Julie Newell's brain on drugs."

When Julie's lupus flared in 1997, she spent day after day in bed...trying to gain strength...and failing miserably. However, she couldn't sleep much...which most likely contributed to her general level of fatigue...the result of taking 80 mg of steroids each day! Folks...that is a massive amount.

Steroids are in the news all the time anymore...especially as an enhancement for performance by athletes in almost all sports. In addition to the "cheating" aspect, the underlying concern is the long-term impact on the human body...short-term gain, but the body pays a horrible price down the line.

Well, obviously, Julie wasn't taking steroids to enhance her athletic ability...she was taking them because they were the treatment of choice for controlling lupus...trying to force it into remission.

Always a positive person, Julie DID see a possible silver lining from taking steroids...that when she returned to work, and some SOB messed with her, she was going to flat strangle the SOB. Julie figured if they ever tried to press charges and take her to court, she could invoke the "steroid rage" defense and beat the rap! Gotta admire her spirit...and I started compiling a list of possible candidates upon which to turn her loose. Hey, just trying to be supportive!

In addition to the physical appearance changes that steroids inflict on the body...massive weight gain, moon face, etc., steroids totally mess up your ability to relax...to get proper sleep. The mind is just racing...raging...seeking an outlet.

Anyway, Julie spent many a restless day and night, praying that the steroids would finally do the beneficial things for which they were prescribed since she was definitely suffering all the negative reactions.

Then...one night I awakened to find Julie gone. Well...I didn't panic...figured she was in the bathroom. Dosed off...woke up in about half an hour...still no Julie. I got up and went over to the bathroom door and knocked...no response. I gingerly opened the door...no Julie.

Folks, I have lived in fear this past ten years that Julie would fall down our steps and hurt herself badly. (She had fallen on a few occasions previously when I wasn't around...laid on the floor for a while...then picked herself up and gone back upstairs to bed. She might tell me about it a few weeks later. In a footnote to a previous story...no...not once did she drown herself!)

So...when I find that Julie is not in the bathroom, I immediately go to the steps and look down to see if she is there. But...no Julie.

From where I am standing, I can now see that the kitchen light is on...but I don't smell any of "Julie's cooking". When I walk around the corner into the kitchen, what do I see? Julie and eight little reindeer...oops...wrong story...strike that. No...what I see is Julie standing up on a kitchen chair looking into her cabinets. I make polite inquiry as to the purpose of her endeavors...something like "What the hell are you doing standing up on a kitchen chair at 3 o'clock in the morning?"

Her response brought me quickly down to earth..."I can't get down!"

Come to find out, Julie had been restless as usual, couldn't sleep, and wandered out into the kitchen so that she wouldn't disturb my slumber. While in the kitchen, she opened a cabinet looking for something...she didn't remember what. Well...she saw a couple of items in the cabinet that disturbed her...they were somewhat jumbled, so she reached up and straightened them. Well, then the items next to them didn't look right...had to straighten them. After she organized the lower shelf by color and alphabet, she just HAD to fix the other higher cabinets. And since Julie was only 5-foot tall, she went over and got a kitchen chair to stand on...even though her balance during this time period was very suspect.

Anyway, you can tell by the pictures that she went into a steroid-fueled makeover of every cabinet in the kitchen! And...by the time she got done with the last one, at about 2 a.m., she did not have the strength to get down off of the chair! She stood on that chair for an hour...hoping to gain the strength to get down...or until Prince Charming came to the rescue!

To REALLY appreciate this story, you need to remember/know, a "tidy" desk or organized cabinets were NOT a priority with Julie Newell. Oh, yes, color-coded forms, a plan of operation, and a smoothly functioning work environment WERE important to Julie Newell...but kitchen cabinets, sock drawers, etc - definitely a jam-it-and-cram-it type. I was the one who was anally retentive about those sort of things! (Once, when she went on a trip, I decided to put my very limited carpentry skills to work. Went out and bought some peg board and applied it to the walls of the downstairs utility room...bought the little hooks and stuff that you use with peg board so that you can hang your tools and whatnots. Well, when she got home from her trip and went downstairs to do a load of laundry, I heard the howls of laughter loud and clear. She was literally rolling on the floor when I went downstairs to see what had prompted her outburst. When she finally calmed herself down and wiped the tears out of her eyes, she asked "Been dipping into my steroids while I was gone?"

Folks...over the years, Julie and I learned to laugh at the obstacles that life sent...figured that God must have some weird sense of humor.