Go Ask Alice, But She Won’t Know

Alice had been taking the same medications for years. It never occurred to her that she may die from them. Or lack of them, rather.

She’s sitting outside the pharmacy, freezing cold although the sun is shining directly on her and she is wearing a windbreaker with a hood. She feels like she is in an ice bar, every breeze tears through her body and causes her to shiver more than she already is.

She suddenly understands why addicts will do anything to get their fix. This feeling is unbearable. She knows she is visibly shaking. She knows her voice is small. She knows her eyes look wild. And she’s embarrassed about it, but she is sitting here, waiting for the drug store to open up so she can get that fix that will make her body stop revolting against her.

The pharmacy she was using screwed up too many times. They had screwed up a couple other medications before this. But this time, it didn’t take more than a couple days for Alice to go into complete and utter physical withdrawal.

On top of that, she was so mentally disturbed and ill informed- she thought it was the flu. She had been feeling sick to her stomach, shaking, cold, tired, but unable to sleep well, running a fever and had lost her appetite completely. Eating was a chore. Moving was a chore. Although the answers were right in front of her- Alice didn’t realize it until she was bed ridden with pain- mental, physical and emotional pain.

She knew she had been moodier than usual this week. She knew she had been uncharacteristically tired and weak. Her running nose and sick daughter caused her to chalk it up to “the flu”? Or maybe it was Covid again? Even though she hadn’t had any symptoms since she had last had it- over two years ago. This didn’t feel quite the same. But with society still enlocked in a Covid panic- she mistakenly even walked back her feelings that she had had covid so severely the first time, it was unlikely to return in the near future- if ever.

No, it took a web search into “why isn’t my flu going away?” And pre-Covid results to answer the question: benzodiazepine withdrawal. And it’s deadlier than Covid. Much more so. Alice’s blood pressure was hovering at an alarming 150/98 at rest.

At the crack of dawn, she had forced herself into the car to drive to the pharmacy. But it was still closed. Because the economy has been down since all the emergency declarations had essentially devastated it. Things that were previously open- closed. Services desperately needed- unavailable.

Alice knew it was either get to the pharmacy and get that medication or have a heart attack, stroke or seizure. So here she sits, wiping her nose on her hand, trembling erratically, the wind- the wind fiercely ripping her apart, waiting for her fix. Wondering “how much do I need to take to make this stop??”

Alice’s life is flashing before her eyes. Why did I quit piano? I was so talented. I just stopped. Every light that she had been forgoing these past few days was hitting her all at once, nausea taking over. I am going to vomit.


Published by kristinatehrani

Born a first generation American, half Irish Catholic and half Persian Jew, I like to write about a childhood mired in the chaos of never knowing where I stood. The only constants in my life have been reading, writing and a passion for social justice. I am a nurse, a single mother, a domestic abuse survivor, radical feminist and outspoken advocate for logic, public health, gray areas, and purposeful dialogue. I know entirely too much about sociopaths, autism, and medieval British history. I write under a pen name to protect the privacy of my family.

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