“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13.
I could have.
Word was, you were breaking the law if you gave life saving medication to a friend for whom it had not been prescribed.
On November 28, 2021, I had enough of such medication sufficient to save a life.
Hoarding my stash of physician prescribed Ivermectin for weeks I’d calculated that, if I took the recommended biweekly dose, it would get me through Christmas. The packets sat beside me, on the sofa, surrounded by their accompanying bottles of vitamins and immune supporting supplements, filling the place where another person might sit were anybody to actually be in the same room with me.
Only one person actually had been, in some 18 months – just for an hour, and not even on that sofa but in the chair nearby. I’d opted to respond radically to the whole nightmare by refusing all vaccines and all human contact, sure that in just a couple more months the doors could finally open.
We all know how that panned out.
So, now it was late November, and my friend with whom I’d just spoken maybe ten days prior was sick. Moreover, he’d been sick – for over a week – only now contacting me to say that the product whose repurposed action I’d recommended wasn’t helping and he seemed worse.
Upon painstaking query, mostly on his part as his mind was in such a fog he could barely read the package insert, we discovered that the product he’d opted to purchase was one I’d not even known to be on any market, animal or human; it was, in fact, a formulation designed for subcutaneous injection, not even meant to be consumed by animals let alone people.
Furthermore, somebody else he knew had been consulted in the interim between purchase and use, somebody who claimed to be a physician, somebody who directed him to measure it using a syringe she gave him, mix it with water, and drink it. The drug hadn’t been absorbed into his tissues in any therapeutic amount, and the additives alone would prove deadly.
My sense of altruism always having been mediated by a narcissistic ego, I rationalized that one of my precious doses should maintain him overnight until he could obtain a legitimate prescription. In grand, meticulous style only possible among the most self serving I engineered a pickup by his step daughter who lived at the opposite end of the county, directing her to purchase the replacement pulse oximeter he badly needed plus the nasal steroid from the protocol I followed before heading west to my porch to retrieve another supplement I’d purchased plus the single, relinquished dose.
I didn’t have his house address. Emailing a colleague, I obtained it. I could have gathered my own pulse oximeter and the rest of the medicine, and driven enough doses out to him that evening to carry him through the next several days. I had enough. I could have defied the law, and saved his life.
But, I didn’t.
Relinquishing to the hierarchy which would play out, both medical and familial, I would spend the next ten days enduring his slow, incremental, predictable death.
So many have said it’s all about choice. His choice, not mine. Sure, I led him toward the drug. I even led him toward more than one option for its use. What I didn’t do was lead him toward a product never meant for consumption, a product which – though a carrier of life saving medicine – had been prepared in such a way so as to prevent that medicine from rendering any therapeutic effect. That part I didn’t do, because my failure was in never investigating all the potential options, never discovering that while one alternative product applied topically could render benefit, another of similar name sold on the same shelf could render harm. I didn’t do that. What I did do was help create the scenario in which he chose to act out his decisions. I prepared the way, and he moved.
Forty eight hours hence, he’d taken the single dose of pills, felt better the next morning, but called his assigned doctor, accepted a prescription of albuterol and a different steroid and, by evening, declared that he needed to go to the hospital. My pleas that he just wait, and get the prescription filled, those would be subject to his further mental confusion; he’d called the doctor whose number I’d given, but had not realized a need to sign up to secure an appointment. Now, he would go to the hospital, instead, where all options for further treatment from this medication would cease.
The chronology of details which would follow do not bear repeating. They do not bear repeating because I cannot bear repeating them. My friend, my devoted professional colleague, a man I had known since high school with whom I’d performed countless weddings and masses over some thirty years, lay in a hospital ward for ten more days while the life ebbed out of his body. Something about kidney function. Holding his own. No worse. No better. The palliative definition of dying.
I could have saved his life. There is no doubt. Enough ivermectin over a course of just a few days would have turned that ship around. We’d still have our sweet blues and bluegrass violinist, our quiet, twinkling, thoughtful, observant, sweet, gifted friend, maybe for thirty more years, reaching the age of 90 still appearing at most weddings, college chapel convocations, jazz and blues festivals, rustic county parties on rigged stages, symphonic concerts in grand theaters. The man who played string quartets of Moon Dog’s music at Carnegie Hall. I could have single handedly saved that man’s life.
I didn’t. I groused, and fretted, and pulled my old lady sweater closer around my diminishing frame. I messaged his family members. I begged them to do for him what I should have done. I implored them to take the legal risk I could have taken. I passed the buck to terrified siblings and their offspring. I cowered in my tower.
The good definitely die young. The selfish linger. From their wheelchairs in the nursing homes, the mean make louder demands. They strike against their caregivers. They claim every next breath as if entitled. Their bodies remain on the earth until the most bitter of final moments, draining all within reach of every last bit of compassion and endurance.
Three unsolicited psychics have said there is longevity in my body. My singular dread is that I be one such scourge on the best of society. If you survive, and the years go by, and you should happen to find me at the back end, hunched over in a chair, squinting and moaning for my next bit of expected attention, please walk away. Please leave me to my just reward, the embodiment of the failure to love greatly.
© 12/25/2021 Ruth Ann Scanzillo, author. Littlebarefeetblog.com