Pat, in order to sleep, started to drink one 8-ounce whiskey and water with four Tylenol and two 5 mg Valium tablets.
  • Pat, in order to sleep, started to drink one 8-ounce whiskey and water with four Tylenol and two 5 mg Valium tablets.
  • Image by Philip Ames

I knew Pat when she was young and pretty. We all married the same year, had children of the same age. We partied together. Her husband Bill and I were both writers. Even did a couple of books together. He was also a cop. The story that follows is Bill’s, written with blunt pencil on a yellow legal pad. My contributions are in italics.

When I mentioned that Pat had Korsakoff, my doctor at that time told me the foremost authority on Korsakoffs was Dr. Swenson at the UCSD Hospital on Front St.

Statement by William Douglas

My wife Pat was diagnosed with osteoarthritis as far back as 1964 but managed to work through the pain until 1973, when she applied for and received (after satisfying two government psychiatrists that she was in pain) a Disability Social Security pension.

Pat asked me to contact the Hemlock Society, based in Eugene, Oregon, to find some drugs that I could buy in Tijuana.

I took her to just about every arthritis and/or pain specialist in San Diego from 1973 onward, but even though the doctors knew she had arthritis — that it was irreversible — and that she was in terrible pain, the strongest medication they would give her was Darvon, which even the hidebound U.S. Navy has finally conceded is, in most cases, less effective than a placebo. However, because she had taken literally thousands of aspirins over the years, she had become allergic to aspirin, and since Darvon is aspirin-based, she could not take that either.

I just knew I didn’t have any time left and that I’d better go and do it before I died from heart attack or stroke and wouldn’t be able to do it.

“Pat,” I said, "you must've just had bad luck with doctors. When they botched the operation on my spine and left me in constant pain, nobody ever suggested I was malingering. They just told me where to sign and gave me my pension.”

"Bad luck, hell!" Pat said. "Haven't you noticed yet that there's one basic difference between you and me!”

"What's that’”

“I’m a woman.”

"But what’s—?”

"Only men have real pain," my wife contributed. "Women are just neurotic.”

"How about women doctors?”

"Evenly divided," Pat said. "One third are bull dykes. Another third have been psyched out by all the chauvinist pigs who run the medical schools.”

"That's only two thirds.”

"The rest are just scared of losing their license if they prescribe too many pills. How many women do you see on the review board?”

The specialists’ final remedy was Tylenol, and as one doctor told her, “You’ll just have to use your mind to ignore the pain," adding that no doctor would give her narcotics because she was too young to become addicted.

He further prescribed Valium to help her ignore the pains. Pat achieved about a 70 percent success with the mind-control thing but still broke down at least once a week and cried from the pain and the injustice of it all.

In 1981 after my open-heart surgery, Pat, in order to sleep, started to drink one 8-ounce whiskey and water with four Tylenol and two 5 mg Valium tablets. Over the months and years, this increased to three or four 16-ounce whiskeys and water, four Tylenol, and from a minimum of 6 10mg Valium to a maximum of 10 to 14. All just to kill the pain and allow her to sleep.

I had an artificial aorta implant in 1983. Shortly afterward, Pat was hospitalized with a strangulated bowel. During hospitalization she suffered withdrawal from both the booze and the Valium. Also, while in hospital, they gave her pain killers for her arthritis and other pains. So when she was released from hospital, not only did she not have her Valium to help with the pain, but she did not have her booze to help her sleep at night. In addition, due to her extended stay in hospital, Pat had lost her mind-control over the pain. When she got home from hospital, she was in absolute hell.

To get her some relief I got a prescription for 20 Quads (Quaaludes] from her doctor, and I gave her two. She stayed up to watch TV that night and I went to bed. When I awoke next morning, Pat was on the couch, a suicide note was on her chest. She had taken the rest of the Quads — 18 of them in hopes of dying to get rid of her constant, terrible pain. But the Quads did not kill her.

In 1984 Pat had again regained control of her pain when she was again hospitalized for six days by what was believed to be another strangled bowel.

During the six days, the doctors never did find out what caused her pain; but because the hospital gave her pain pills during her stay, they in effect once more destroyed her mind-control over her pain, she was in agony again until she could retrain herself. (During this period Pat asked me to contact the Hemlock Society, based in Eugene, Oregon, to find some drugs that I could buy in Tijuana that would just put her to sleep and allow her to die.) I wouldn’t; but thinking back, I could have saved Pat literally thousands of hours of agony if I had.

Two things happened in 1985. My stepfather put my 86-year-old mother in a nursing home. When we visited her, she was always tied in her bed and always sitting in her own waste. She didn’t know us, and when we fed her, she didn’t know what she was eating, nor did she know when we left. Pat only went with me twice. She said that looking at my mother and seeing herself in ten years or so just tore her up. So we quit going.

The second thing that happened was that Pat started having these terrible headaches.

The thing about the headaches was that they broke her concentration, and all her osteoarthritic pains came flooding back.

That plus Pat started complaining about her eyes. Playing cards, threes were eights, ones were sevens, hearts were spades, et cetera.

I took her to an eye doctor. He checked her with every instrument and machine he had, then said that while he couldn’t get her eyes back to 20/20, that there was nothing wrong with her eyes, that in any case he didn’t believe that the small correction that was needed could be the cause of her headaches.

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