The Life and Death of Supermen

One morning, when I was on four different pills twice a day, I developed some rash on my hands. I'd been having problems with both splitting headaches (spinal headaches caused by a test for meningitis) and a rare form of epilepsy. My parents thought I should get my palms checked. Since the urgent care down the road wouldn't see me, due to unusual medical history, we had to travel 45 minutes to the ER at a hospital where I'd spent a significant amount of time.

When they got around to checking me, the young, fresh-faced doctor decided to send my parents out of the room for a minute. He then started asking me about my sexual history, which was less like a history and more like a footnote. Did I know that St Louis was the Syphilis capital of the US? No, I didn't. Did I have a rash on my feet? Nope, just on the hands. Had I been bit by an exotic spider? Nope, possibly a sick bat, but that's another story.

After my parents came back in, knowing that they'd asked me about that ever so delicate subject, we all decided the guy was a quack. Sure enough, I'd just had an allergic reaction to one of my new medicines, a steroid call Prednisone. One strange thing happened. I suddenly could stand up without a debilitating headache (I'd been bedridden and filthy for a month). My poison had also been my antidote!

I thought of this years later, when news broke of rampant use of steroids in baseball. Signs of usage were acne, cranial enlargement, and quick healing. Turns out just about everybody was on PEDs, from the best baseball players to Rocky himself, Sylvester Stallone. It started to make me think, are all of our heroes just injecting greatness like Popeye's spinach?

I'd seen this article at a favorite steroid-related blog. Police and firefighters? They're our heroes I thought, trying to save lives. Who cares if they do something to "enhance their performance." They have a better chance of protecting. However, soon after, in light of a recent event here in town, I began to wonder whether the free reign had exploded into cases of cop 'roid rage. (It's a long video, transcript here)

This reminded me of something else, ethically. I've heard anecdotes about soldiers using steroids, trying to build muscle mass. It had even been in the news. If you immediately say any drug user isn't your hero, then you must remove the soldier posters from your wall. But don't we want the best soldiers? Why should we put any limitations on them, when clearly, many other countries have advocated doping programs (China, Nazi Germany, USSR)?

I don't know that much about steroids, other than my short bout with Prednisone. The one thing that stands out in my mind, however, is a series of events that happened when I was working at GNC, in high school. A cop came in one day, and we had a brief chat about how he knew my dad, when my dad was mayor of our small town. He then started to ask me about some of the heavy duty stuff we sold in locked cases. Finally, he came out and asked the question he'd wanted to all along. "Do these shrink your balls? I heard from a buddy on the force that they do." He didn't buy them, and coincidentally, he was at a sobriety checkpoint a week later, and recognized me, and was a really friendly guy.*

A short time after, a kid from high school started asking me questions. Did we have what Mark McGwire was on? I said sure, we sell Andro poppers. I told him that he could use them, and if he didn't like them he could just return whatever was left, even if he only had one pill left. So he stopped by and picked them up.

The next day at school, we were at some computers in creative writing, and he says to me, "Dude, those things are crazy. I only slept 2 hours last night and I feel like I slept 12." I thought to myself they may have been more powerful than I'd imagined. I figured he'd be using them for awhile, but that weekend he came into the store to return them. No real reason, he said, he just didn't like them. I still to this day don't know why he wanted out of the performance enhancing game. But then again, in a world filled with secrets and lies, it's nothing new to be in the dark. All my childhood heroes are suspect. It's a damn shame.

*In fact, I don't think I've ever had a bad experience with a cop, except for once when I asserted my rights and didn't open the door for the police during a party. Not many people know that you can just not answer. This guy didn't like it.


Pancake Master said...

Of what town was yer Dad the mayor?

Drew said...

the little hamlet called ellisville.. i want to say between 94 and 96 but i may be wrong. he stepped down to become a judge, which reduced his workload by about 50%.. which was nice for all of us.

i've been meaning to do an entry about that, maybe i'll make it the next one.

eugene said...

You aren't insiinuating that Zangrief was on steroids are you?

Drew said...

well, i don't want to be accused of libel/defamation, but he was 6'5", 400 lbs, with a vertical leap of 15-20 feet.