Fever dreams

A couple of days ago, I read a review of Nick Cage’s “The Wicker Man” in which the reviewer wrote, “‘The Wicker Man’ is a screenwriter’s fever dream; I couldn’t make this up if I dropped acid and spent two weeks in a Native American sweat lodge.”

At the time, I had no real frame of reference. I don’t get sick and, as such, rarely am afflicted with fever. Now, Uncle Ted will protest and tell you that I live in the House of Hypchondria. While this might be true, Mt. Otis didn’t take on this designation because of me. Regardless, I will maintain that I don’t get sick. Or, if I do get sick, it’s rarely often enough that I really remember it.

So, fever dream? Nice term, I guess. That was until my monkey-child decided to get ill at an unfortunate time and pass on his illness to his old man. As such, I spent the past 36 hours alternately wearing everything in my closet or nothing at all. What’s more, I spent a lot of time sleeping. And dreaming. Oh, whoo-boy, do I know what a fever dream is now. Mamacita. Nothing like waking up from a dream to wonder if I’ve been fired for not showing up at my part-time job at Greenville Tech, then realizing I’ve never had a part-time job at Greenville Tech. The odd part was having to ask myself out loud, “Where do you work?” That’s not to mention the three-wheeled vehicles at Willard High School and my enemies standing in the rain to put garbage-bag-covered boxes on my front porch while I grasp my dog in fear.

I’ve been rather annoyed since I got home from Vegas. After spending six weeks around the germiest people in the world (six weeks in which I never sniffled or even sniffed at illness), I’ve now been home for a little more than three weeks. During that time, I’ve been to the emergency room, the radiologist, and my family doctor twice. Beyond that, I’ve been given four different kinds of drugs and told to go back to the doctor next month.

I don’t think I’m going to go. Why? Well, I’m sick of it. I’m sick of being sick and I’m sick of people guessing at why I’m sick. What’s more, I’m sick of being fed drugs that don’t do much more than make me forget about the fact I’m sick. Frankly, if I needed drugs to make me sleep or forget about illnesses, I have friends that could take care of that without having to write me a script.

So, here’s the part that really bothers me. I’ve neglected writing about this, but I’ve decided I’m going to (thank you, faulty synapses). After a CT scan that shows I have no abnormal fruits in my noodle, the headaches continued off and on for another week or so. That moved my doc to write me for…get this…antidepressants.

Now, yeah, I know antidepressants are helpful to a lot of people and have been lifesavers for people who suffer from legitimate depression. Further, I know that antidepressants can be used for all kinds of things. The drug my doc gave me has apprently been used for everything from adoloscent bed wetting problems to, yea verily, chronic head pain. Well, that was last Thusday. My wife got the pill-bottle filled for me, but I’ve not yet taken one. And I don’t think I’m going to.

Why? Well, protest, I guess. I heard one of my friends suggested that maybe trying out some cannabis from places like walnut creek dispensary would be a better alternative for pain management and depression because its all-natural and doesn’t have a million side effects. Doctors hardly ever consider this. But my bother is a doctor, so I’m not really comfortable about laying into the profession as a whole. That said, I think there is something wrong with a system of medicine that jumps directly from “Let’s kill the pain with pain killers” to “That didn’t work? Well, shit, let’s just throw a catch-all, mind-altering drug at you and see how that works.”

Here’s my point. I know doctor’s are busy. I know they have to shove as many patients into their day as they can. And, frankly, I like my doctor. He’s a good enough guy. However, since I’ve been running around the medical arena, no doctor (save my brother, who was off work at the time and wondering if I was dying or not)has spent more than five minutes asking me questions about my symptoms. Who has? Well, my wife, Uncle Ted, T, my brother, my mom, my old boss, G-Rob, Badblood, The Mark, Stina…well, you get the point. The people who actually care about me. What’s more, I’ve received more helpful medical advice from those people than I have from my doctor so far.

So, no antidepressants for me. The $7 co-pay to decipher the doctor’s handwriting was worth deciding that I’m annoyed more than I am sick. This is why I never went to the doctor before and it’s probably the reason I won’t go again soon.

See, call me a hippie, call me a Luddite, call me what you want. I just can’t jump from pain killers to antidepressants for a chronic headache. I just can’t. One friend suggested I’ve been grinding my teeth in my sleep. Another friend suggested I get a massage. Both of these are fairly reasonable suggestions. Both of these are things my doctor might have considered before trying to put me on antidepressants.

So, I’ve not taken one and I’m not gonna.

The other night during a blissful hiatus from one illness or another, I had a few drinks with my buddies. During this time, my friend T looked at me and said, “One word: Nyquil.”

I don’t think I have to tell you…I feel better today than I have in three weeks.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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11 Responses

  1. Anonymous Big Tom D says:


    I like you more and more after each read.

    I have had serious back pain for about 5 – 6 years now after a BAD fall – (I was building one of my buildings and made ONE mistake)

    Anyway – I went from working 14 hour days and LOVIGN it to next to nothing…

    Years of taking PILLS.. like candy cuz the DR. kep pushing them..

    Then this past January – I start having problems breathing.. Sionce January I have been to every type of test EXCEPT a breathing test or specialist.. FUCK!

    I left my Dr. of 15 + years over this – picked another – oh say back in late January..

    This guy, sends me for CAT SCANS, x-rays, ultra sounds.. etc.. Come July – I’m CHOKING to death and waking up every hour..

    hmmmmmm –

    I go back to him (the 2nd dr.) only to have him tell me – after all tese tests and 6 months of REPORTING serious pain in my CHEST (left side only – by heart lung area) that he “thinks” it just a SUPER bad case of ACID REFLUX DISEASE –

    Well – I then – by chance, run into a DR. in the hallway of a hospital – A Dr. my wife and I used to go to in the E.R. when we worked in our local hospital.. back when we were in our early 20’s.. I figured him for going to PHILADELPHIA or something after his rounds as ER dr. NOPE – turned out he was IN TOWN and taking some new patients..

    First thing I noticed about him –
    He actually listens to his patients, actually cares, his staff cares, and he is a SUPER down to earth guy.. NO LOOKING down on his patients..

    He kept shaking his head as to why I was not sen by a LUNG or breathing specialist WAY before this amount of time went by..

    My POINT!.. I stopped taking ALL pills (and yes they thru EFFEXOR on me too) for my back pain.. and just learned that I could not lift walls anymore.. I was only hurting myself and NOT feeling pain anyways..

    the pills fucked my gut up – My gut may have fucked up my left lung..

    We will soon find out – I’m of to see a LUNG Dr. in next week or so…

    these bastards had me thinking I might have had CANCER for last 7 months.. (tey make you depressed 0- I guess to sell you those depression pills)


    If you don’t like your DR. LEAVE HIM/HER fast! IKE RIGHT NOW.. and FIND one you like.. ASK Around.. They are NOT all alike and SOME actually REALLY SUCK at what they do..

    LIKE YOU SAID.. YOU’RE better off lsitening to friends.. family.. sometimes..

    Well – You hit another nerve with me.. like all good writers do..

    I hope all is well with your head and my left lung.. soon.

    P.S. I kow you ae into POKER – My site is giving away a trip for TWO to vegas OR $800 this sunday – We have about 6 more qualifier FREE ROLLS to get into the MAIN free roll.. We also have chances at a HARLEY DAVIDSON / or 15,000 CASH in brown bag.. among other free roll offers.. http://www.goallin.com/poker to sign up – then send me an e-mail OR join http://www.goallin.com/forum and say YO!

    I’m sure you can win your way into the BIG game… THE GAME IS THIS SUNDAY!!!!

  2. Weirdest looking spam I ever saw…

    As I figured, your CT scan was normal. Get the MRI or don’t. I’m not the boss of you (to coin WW, where I heard the expression first).

    Throw the Xanax in the trash.

  3. Anonymous Anonymous says:


    Had the MRI two years ago after Dad had his issues. All good on that front, too. You are the man, man.


  4. Nyquil cures all, or at least knocks ya out long enough to be unconscious or loopy while your body cures what ails ya. All hail Nyquil! The gel caps work just as good as the liquid, FYI, in case ya don’t like drinking the junk.

  5. Anonymous DrJeff says:

    Ok… here goes…

    I am not a primary care physician, so I can’t speak for what they deal with on a daily basis. All of my time is spent working in the Emergency Department, which is actually primary care for many/most folks. With that as background, I give you my take on the pill-pushing-MD.

    When most patients come to see me for a non-trauma complaint, they want one of two things: a diagnosis or a cure. Those who are only there to find out what is wrong with them are a rarity. Most people actually come to see me thinking they know what is wrong with them and already have their preferred treatment in mind. They generally like to think they know more than I do. In most cases, they are correct. They do, in fact, live in their own bodies and are keen to changes I certainly can’t see.

    That being said, most people really end up not having a disease process that actually has a “name” in medicine. For this reason, many “syndromes” have been created to explain these ailments (Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel, mitral valve prolapse, etc). These “names” give people something to latch onto, justifying their discomforts (which are real, mind you) to themselves and others. The problem with this “naming” process is that now you have to treat something (diseases require treatments, don’t they?).

    And that is where pushing pills comes in. When people leave the doctor, they feel slighted if they don’t have something to show for it. That something is one of two things(read the first paragraph): a diagnosis or a cure. If you can’t tell a patient what is wrong with them, they usually expect you to at least try to make them feel better, and advice on over-the-counter medications, lifestyle adjustments, etc are just not the trick for most. They don’t want to hear it. They want a prescription in their hand. As a physician, you are often times stuck prescribing fairly useless medications so that your patient feels happy with their visit (you don’t want them moving to another doctor, do you?).

    So, this was not very well written or thought out (I am working nights right now and this whole daylight thing is screwing with me), but I hope it gets the point across. MOST doctors do not like pushing useless drugs at patients. Sometimes, though, our knowledge and the studies we have available to us are not adequately able to give you a diagnosis. Trust me, this frustrates us just as much as it does you. Be warned, though, there ARE bad doctors. REALLY REALLY BAD doctors. Use your common sense when he/she gives you advice.

    Gotta take a nap before work. I need to be bright and fresh to write all those Percocet prescriptions.

  6. I took a hit of Nyquil before going on a midnight casino run back in the day…

    … I didn’t make it to my front door but felt peachy after waking up!

  7. Anonymous uncle b says:

    The fever dream sounds like flatlinners.

  8. Why do “mind altering” drugs get such a rotten stigma anyway? Some medications just happen to be helpful for multiple purposes. And why does there have to be more shame in an “emotional issue” than in a “medical issue?” It’s all connected anyway. You can’t treat the body without affecting the mind and vice versa.

    Personally, I’d feel more comfortable with depression or anxiety issues than with a life-long recurring mysterious splitting headache with no apparent explanation.

    Yes, I will finally admit to being a voyeur to your blog for the past two years since discovering your whereabouts. Guess this topic just touched into my territory enough to prompt my speaking up. I can’t say much about all that poker hooey (sorry…not a poker fan–but to each his own). Always fun to read your stuff and think back on the convertible cougar days.

    Oh…and you inspired me to start my own blog, which I’ve maintained for the past year and eight months. So thanks for that. But be warned, it’s mostly about my kids. Feel free to visit, although you once said in a post that no one wants to hear you write about your kids. What can I say, it’s a more interesting topic to me than poker.

  9. I think I understand why Big Tom D was such a dick to Pauly now during his WSOP coverage. He has an interest in driving traffic to his site. It’s much more clear now.

    Otis, like Dr. Jeff said above, there are some really bad doctors out there. I’ve seen doctors routinely run hours behind every day because of how much time they take with each patient. I’ve also seen doctors who spend virtually no time with patients, docs who fail to grasp basic product knowledge, and docs who I wouldn’t see if they paid me.

    In the end, find someone who treats you the way you’d like to be treated. There is someone out there that will, and they’ll come in handy when you do truly need help.

    Take care Otis.

  10. I love a good medical conversation.

    Dr. Jeff – well said. In fact, diseases like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel, mitral valve prolapse, etc. are the reason I chose to not go into primary care.

    MGM – Mind altering drugs have their place (right, Dr. Pauly?), but they are very overprescribed.

    HJ – “Docs who fail to grasp basic product knowledge…” Amen.

    Otis – Got any extra Nyquil?

  11. drchako,

    Absolutely agreed…that mind altering drugs have their place and they are very overprescribed. But I was making a point that Otis described no problems popping any other drugs or taking any other drugs immediately into the veins, EXCEPT the antidepressants. I just get tired of the stigma that that goes along with mental health labels.

    Honestly, as a licensed mental health therapist, I am VERY conservative about meds and hardly ever recommend them except for a last resort. BUT, it is not simply “mind altering” drugs that I am very conservative about. I never take prescription drugs of any sort and don’t give them to my family. Haven’t you heard about the whole Viox snafoo and all the other prescription drug crap that comes out long after the fact of the pharmaceutical companies getting the go ahead to mainstream another chemical? In fact, I have not even vaccinated my 9 month old baby boy for many reasons, but one of the main is because I have lost a ton of faith with the medical model of treating “illness” (sorry Dr. Jeff–by the way, what did you ever do with my pet goldfishes?). I think if we care for our bodies (and minds) the right way in the first place we won’t have so many problems with illnesses.

    Incidentally, my whole family sees an alternative practitioner for our health needs and follow a very pro-active regime with diet and nutrition rather than a re-active model of popping artificial drugs. I can’t even remember the last time I was sick, and my now 3 yr old daughter has not been ill in two years (since we began seeing out alternative practitioner). And none of us take any medications.

    I’m on a tangent that I could take a lot further, but I’ll spare you. We aspiring writers tend to like to hear (see?) ourselves write. That’s what you get for starting up a topic I have an opinion on.

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