Kevin

I listened to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ new album This Unruly Mess I’ve Made for the first time yesterday. The song that instantly stood out to me and has been on repeat ever since is Kevin. For some reason, Kevin has been running through my mind and obsessing me over the past two days. So I decided to do what I do every time I can’t figure something out: write.

[Intro]
OK, OK
Yeah
We live tonight
Check it, now

[Verse 1: Macklemore]
I’ve seen pain, I’ve felt the losses
Attended funerals and seen coffins

21 years old, an angel was lost here
Wings clipped by the grip of 80 milligram sniffs of oxycontin
Everyday through the nostrils

Never went away, never does it stop there
Death a line or two away and a couple tall cans
Cause you never know when God is gonna call, man

Precious, what we all share
I said peace at 5:30, the next time that I saw him was in the hands of the pallbearer
What if I would’ve never gone and dropped him off there?
Blaming myself, in hysterics, screaming “It’s not fair!”

I’ve always found it interesting how people are able to see themselves in art in ways that were not intended. Like Macklemore, I have seen pain and felt the losses, attended funerals and seen coffins. I lost my father at 13 years old and ever since then each year I have lost a lot more people in my life. Death is inevitable and everybody knows this, but, we are still arrogant enough to think that everyone we are close to will die in old age. What makes you so special that you won’t lose anyone close while young? The answer is nothing. You will lose someone unexpectedly. This harsh slap of reality when I lost my father was difficult to face. I honestly still avoid facing it. Like Macklemore, I blamed myself a lot. The night that my father was rushed to the hospital, (the last night that he was home and relatively healthy before an intensive 9 month long hospitalization) I was nowhere to be seen. I had convinced my mother to let me go to a friend’s birthday party even though she didn’t want me to go. My mother had a bad feeling about that night. I never saw my father healthy again and I have blamed myself for not listening to my mother and not getting a few last moments with my father as I selfishly wanted to remember him. The truth is life is not fair.

21 years old with a book of rhymes he was gonna recite to the globe
Only thing to numb the pain besides that shit in his nose
He was gonna quit tomorrow, we’re all gonna quit tomorrow
Just get us through the weekend, and then Monday follows
Then it’s Wednesday, then it’s “fuck it, I’m already feeling hollow”
Might as well go crack a seal and might as well go chug a bottle
Might as well go pop a pill and band-aid that problem
And escape this world, vacate this world
Cause I hate myself
No praying’s gonna cure this pain

I have struggled with chronic pain, chronic fatigue, chronic dizziness, nonepileptic seizures, migraines, depression and insomnia for the past 2 years. I have an intimate knowledge of pain. Every inch of my body has been in severe pain every single second of the day for the past 2 years. I have struggled with addiction. I have suffered from withdrawal. I have tried prescription opiates and benzodiazepines in an effort to treat my health conditions unsuccessfully. I have taken Lorazepam, Percocet, Valium, Ketorolac and Vicodin for my health conditions simultaneously.

I have heard pills talk to me, telling me to take them to make everything feel better. I have taken pills without intending to as I lost control of my mind and body under the influence of pills. I have deliberately taken pills just to escape the pain that living inside a body on fire, every single second of every single day entails. I have not known how I could possibly make it through a day without my pills. I have not known how I could possibly make it through a day with my pain. I have felt hollow. I have felt worthless. I have hated myself. The pain I have been through over the past 2 years and still experience on a daily basis is absolutely ridiculous. You never get used to it. It makes you its slave and you listen to the pain over your own mind. Pain wears you down. It’s easier to do what it says than to argue. It takes over your mind. You no longer know where you end and where pain begins. You begin to believe anything and everything it says. You do what it tells you, no matter how extreme or absurd. It says your worthless and you agree. You plead for it to stop, you promise to behave. You are on your knees before it and it laughs. There is no fighting it will always win. The only way I knew how to get through the day was to escape.

I have had people pray for me. I have accepted that prayer is not going to cure my pain. I appreciate and value prayer, positive thinking, meditation etc. but it doesn’t always work. People can pray/positive think/meditate their lives away and still suffer and die. Honestly, the excessive focus on it some people have shown in my case is unempathetic. It acts like people with disabilities or disadvantages like myself, are not trying hard enough, yet, I try harder to simply get through the day than most people I know.

[Chorus: Leon Bridges]
Doctor, please, give me a dose of the American Dream
Put down the pen and look in my eyes
We’re in the waiting room and something ain’t right
All this is on you, we’re overprescribed

I have a strong hatred towards doctors and the medical establishment at large. I have had several different doctors try to convince me that the stroke I suffered at 9 years old, which paralyzed the right side of my body, was not a stroke but was psychological in nature. I have had several different doctors try to convince me that the stroke I suffered at 9 years old, was not a stroke, but, that my paralysis was a psychological response to a classmate teasing or a teacher harassing me. I have had several different doctors become angry with me because they cannot figure me out. I have had several different doctors treat me as a fascinating case or a potential paper to be published instead of as a human being. I have had several different doctors insist that my two stroke-like events and subsequent development of various chronic illnesses, is psychological in nature because they couldn’t figure it out, because that was a better alternative than admitting that they do not know. I have had several different doctors tell me that I will suffer, be miserable and live a bleak existence for the rest of my life. What happened to empathy?

[Verse 2: Macklemore]
For me and Kev
He went up in jail, institutions are dead
And with our lives, we play Russian Roulette
And try to find a life where we could be content
Cause for us, we’re just trying to minimize the fear of being alive
And now my little brother is in the sky
From a pill that a doctor prescribed
That a drug dealing billion dollar industry supplied
And the cops never go and profile at night
Yeah, the, the, the orange plastic with the white top they sell to you
Has us looking for the answers and that instead of you
Quick fix, whatever’ll do
We just gonna neglect the truth
Because a doctor with a license played God and said it’s cool
Played God and said it’s cool

Ironically enough, I had a very different experience than Kevin. It took me 8 months to get prescribed prescription opiates and benzodiazepines. I believe this is due to systemic racism and disability perception.  The doctors saw a relatively healthy looking young black male walk into their offices and assumed I was a drug seeker. I did not get prescribed prescription opiates and benzodiazepines until I saw a black doctor. Coincidence? I think not.

But me? I don’t blame Kev or his mom freebasing while pregnant with him
I blame the pharmacy companies
And country that spends trillions fighting the war they supplying themselves
Politicians and business and jail
Public defenders and judges who fail
Look at Kevin, look at Kevin
Now he’s wrapped in plastic
First dealer was his mom’s medicine cabinet
Got anxiety, better go and give him a Xanax
Focus, give him Adderall, sleep, give him Ambien
‘Til he’s walking ’round the city looking like a mannequin
Ups and downs, shooting up prescriptions you’re handing him
So America, is it really worth it? I’m asking you

Over prescription of prescription medication for illnesses that other effective treatments exist for is a major issue. Most prescription medication is incredibly strong. Some prescription medication changes your neural pathways and fuels addiction. Some prescription medication is not meant to be taken long term and doctors do not do a good job of informing their patients of this. However, people are individuals and different people have different needs. Some people do need prescription medication to function and the crackdown on prescription medication encouraged my Macklemore makes that a significantly more difficult uphill battle.

[Chorus: Leon Bridges]
Doctor, please, give me a dose of the American Dream
Put down the pen and look in my eyes
We’re in the waiting room and something ain’t right
All this is on you, we’re overprescribed

[Outro: Leon Bridges]
Doctor, your medicine and your methods
Can’t cure my disease without killing me
You’re killing me, you’re killing me
You’re killing me, you’re killing me
Doctor, your medicine and your methods
Can’t cure my disease without killing me
You’re killing me, you’re killing me
You’re killing me, you’re killing me

 

 

 

 

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