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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Russian 'Pen-Pal' Visits Vancouver │ The Sordid EpiPen Fiasco

I must say, it is a trifle troubling to me that I have such difficulty remembering the precise times of when I retire to bed at night; and when I rise to use the bathroom at my first break in sleep, and also when I start my day.

In all three cases, I always check the clock.  But by the time I get to work on this blog post, those times mostly elude me entirely.

I hope I was able to get to bed by midnight last night.

I remember that my break in initial sleep was excessively early ─ somewhere after 2:00 a.m. and before 3:00 a.m.  I was having difficulty sleeping.

I know that it wasn't any later than 7:18 a.m. when I checked the time and decided to rise for the day.

A most sunny day, too.

My youngest step-son Pote and his girlfriend were still in bed sleeping.

I meant to go shopping ─ a round-trip hike of maybe 2½ miles.  So I only put in half the work I otherwise would have at the edit of an old post I've been engaged with since Sunday at my website My Retirement Dream.

But my eyes have been especially troublesome today; and by the time I knocked off work  on that post, I was in no shape to be going anyplace.

And my lowermost back has been bothering me since yesterday when I aggravated it doing some squat thrusts.  It has become even more sensitive ─ I  am not even going to try any sort of exercising today.

I decided to return to bed ─ it was 10:13 a.m. when I did so, and I remained abed for just over 70 minutes.  I may have dipped into a brief nap, but I am unsure.  Nevertheless, it was so darned pleasant lying there in bed that I could have remained longer.

I should here also explain that due to my limitations this morning, I was in considerable despair.  Exercise is the sole means I seem to have of staving off depression.  When I fail to exercise, my self-esteem plummets.

But when I cannot exercise due to this exercise-induced debilitation I have brought upon myself, coupled with the deep woe I am feeling over my flagging vision, I was feeling hopeless and lonely.

My sole and steady companion is debt, and there is no comfort nor joy in that.

It has been a rough go emotionally today, despite the sunny weather.

Notwithstanding, I dressed myself to venture forth and do the shopping, even though I was feeling public-shy and reclusive.

And then when I went downstairs, I was soon to realize that Pote and his girlfriend were gone.

Either they left while I was trying to restore myself in bed, and I failed to hear them ─ I used earplugs and a blindfold; or they were not here when I rose this morning, and I incorrectly assumed that they were.

But that latter scenario is unlikely.  It might be that the girlfriend would have taken off early in order to go to work; but Pote would most improbably leave so early in the morning for his job.  He works at a sports shop over in Guildford, and it is rare that he has ever been required to come in that early.

Anyway, realizing that they were gone, and not knowing if they had just nipped out for coffee and/or a fast food breakfast nearby, I decided that it would be prudent to use that window of opportunity and make my own breakfast/lunch before they had returned and robbed me of my privacy in the kitchen.

So I abandoned the unpalatable outing and fixed myself a quick, wholesome meal.

When they had still not returned after I had finished eating, I then opted to seek some sunshine in the backyard.  I changed into cut-offs, and beginning at 1:05 p.m. while sitting in a chair and facing into the Sun, I spent just over 40 minutes so occupied.

It is 3:15 p .m. as I type these words, and the young couple are still not back.

There was one other thing bothering me this morning that involved my various disabilities and relative penury. 

Back on August 15, I received a very brief E-mail from Elena Mikhaleva, a Russian woman I have had E-mail correspondence with since at least the year 2000.

She was living and working in Kazakhstan when we first started communicating.

But eventually she managed to get to California and has been there for a few years now.

This was her brief August 15 message:
September , 10-15 I am going to visit Vancouver..
Are you going to meet me, Garnet ?
I haven't the expendable resources to be going downtown and doing anything at all with someone from out of town.

It is also very bothersome for me to get to Vancouver ─ a lot of trouble.

So I replied back on August 18:
Elena, I've only been to Vancouver once in possibly the past three years.

I am definitely not a City Boy ─ I prefer the country.  I avoid crowds.

Still, I could try and get in on the 10th or 11th (the weekend) when the SkyTrain fares are cheapest, and it is less used.  The closest SkyTrain station from me is maybe a mile away from where I live, so I would first have to walk to it.

It's quite a boring ride to get downtown ─ I had to do it for too many years when I was working.  I grew to hate the SkyTrain, and how packed with people it would be during the work week.

I don't drive, and a taxi is an extravagance with my retirement pension; so I am limited to walking once I get downtown.

Have you idea where you will be staying?
Her response was the following day, August 19:
Thank you for reply !

All information about our trip to Vancouver will in couple weeks.

Lets see what we can do.

Can you advise me what interesting to see over there ?
I didn't reply ─ I hardly know Vancouver anymore.

I was uneasy and feeling despondent about this impending debacle.

Well, the weekend arrived, and I kept expecting to see an E-mail from her declaring that she was downtown, and could we meet up?

But none came.

And then this morning ─ apparently at 4:46 a.m. ─ she sent this:
Hi Garnet !

Thank you for sending to me your interesting videos !

I am in Vancouver right now enjoying and seeing some Canadian sightseeing . I love Vancouver and this fresh air !
I didn't inform you earlier about my coming to Vancouver because I think it will be challenge for both you and me to find time during the working week. It's okay. We will in touch . Just little notice to you how I love this city !
I responded back and thanked her for her understanding.

But it all makes me feel so isolated and impotent.  I am just a prisoner of this house, constantly worrying about how to meet the monthly $1,600 mortgage.

I cannot afford to have friends because I cannot afford to do anything.  It is why I drink in the evenings here at home ─ I cannot afford to visit any bars like my working younger brother Mark does daily.

I only have his drunk society in the evening when he finally shows up.  Otherwise, I drink alone while watching T.V.

My step-sons are no company ─ they are really aught but burden.  I tend to have no discourse with them, unless it is by chance.

I might as well be home alone ─ I would actually prefer it where the two lads are concerned.  That is especially so with the youngest and his omnipresent girlfriend.

His mother told me a couple or so months back that he and his girlfriend are planning to get their own place sometime next year ─ it cannot happen soon enough where I am concerned.

I know Elena is in Vancouver with at least one other person, and maybe even two.  She sent me these three photos that were taken on Sunday:

The location is likely the pier or wharf of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club.
Elena (left) and friend are on the very long Vancouver Seawall.
She is apparently nearby the entrance to the Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tours.
And these five photos were taken yesterday:

I don't know precisely where she is in this photo, but it seems that it is in the Gastown area.
It appears to me to be the Top of the Harbour Centre Tower at 555 West Hastings Street.

I worked at that complex's address for Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) when it was housed there.

I commenced work there at the start of August 2002 until DFO moved to 401 Burrard Street.
My guess is that this and the next two were taken at Treetops Adventure at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, rather than the University of British Columbia (UBC) Greenheart TreeWalk.

I have been to neither venue, despite having been born in Vancouver and living in the area for most of my 66 years.

I am unsure just how much longer I can withstand my depressions.

If nothing changes for the better, and I am still living as I am, I do not see how I can possibly have a 70th birthday.


Have you ever heard of Sheldon Kaplan?
Mr. Kaplan landed a job as an engineer at NASA after graduating from Northeastern University in 1962. A few years later, he started working at Survival Technology in Bethesda, Md., where he would revolutionize the autoinjector.

He invented the ComboPen, a device that treated nerve-agent poisonings and was used in the military, his family said. He later manipulated the contraption to hold epinephrine, and the EpiPen was born.

Although the EpiPen went on to become a household name after its creation in the mid-1970s, Mr. Kaplan did not. His family says he was the lead engineer and inventor on the project. His name, along with three others, is on the patent. But he never owned it.

He was simply an employee who made a salary and followed orders.
That's from an article archived at web.archive.org:

Supposedly up until about a dozen years ago, an EpiPen cost the consumer about $50.

Then about nine years ago, Mylan took over ownership and the rights to the marketing of the device.

You have no doubt heard about the furor there has been over how much Mylan has been trying to sell the Epipen for ─ the crooked manoeuvre spawned a virtual consumer revolt:

I have seen it claimed that the patient advocacy groups mentioned in that article ─ Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), and Allergy & Asthma Network ─ were quite likely bought off, and thus their silence about the escalating EpiPen costs.  

If they really were having talks with Mylan about "pricing issues," why not say so before the public blew up over the thievery going on?

I've heard varying estimates of how much it actually costs to produce an EpiPen ─ I think I've heard that they may cost just a few dollars to make.

However, this article from six days ago gets handily into that discussion:


I pity anyone who needs constant access to one of these devices 'just in case.'


My wife Jack has shown up around 4:30 p.m. ─ she was last here on Thursday.  

I have quite a long journal entry of 41 years ago to present, so I am am going to do that now as opportunity may present itself, and end today's post.

Back then, I was 25 years old, and living in a basement housekeeping unit in New Westminster.

The house I was renting the room in was located on Ninth Street at Third Avenue.
SATURDAY, September 13, 1975

I arose 3:20 a.m.  Much earlier, I had a fulfilling dream.

It was snowing, and, in dark I believe, I walked over the bridge and up the highway.  Over there, the terrain was different.  I forget the sequence of events till returning.  

I remember a fellow jogging toward town ahead of me by some distance.  So I ran, and soon passed him, which surprised the fellow greatly.  In this fantasy, we both seemed to have heroic dimensions.

Anyway, to my left was a road that would take me to the riverside, and this seemed to be a bridge shortcut or something; it snowed hard.  I took to this road in the dark.

As I neared its end I could hear some kid out there squallering to please stop, and not to do it, over and over.  I kept running, more aware, and thus just preventing myself from suiciding in a vastly enlarged and swollen river.

Meanwhile, the guy I earlier passed had a large white dog and had sent this intelligent beast to stop me from destruction.  He just then caught up with me, and confusedly grabbed my wrist obediently and gently.

So I played along and joined his master.

I'm foggy on developments, but by the time we 3 reached the far side of the bridge, a gathering had taken place.  

This fellow and I forged a tacit bond such as 2 heroes might, but were each bound consciously for separate destinies.  His goal was to continue on, and we parted with a simple farewell, and the crowd nearly broke down with the emotion of the moment.

I awoke then, feeling very noble and good. 

Whatever, I left home this morning before 5:30 a.m.

I went to David's to leave him a note, but he was up.  I tried quietly to slip it into his door jam, but it noisily jumped, and he rushed to the attack.

I took off a-running.

I chose to reach mom's via Newton, and did so in about 3 hours, having run some.  She, Alex, & Sherry were breakfasting.

I later weighed myself, and was quite pleased.

I ate only some plums & apples.

Bill came over quite early (11:30 a.m.?).

We were going to pick up his mother at his place to take her shopping & home before we ate, but then he decided to quickly drop in on Mark since Bill had to work tonight.

And there time passed.

Finally, having offered to treat them to the smorgasbord, Bill rushed off to take care of his mother and call us when done.

It was close to 4:00 p.m. when we re-united.

The price had been raised to $2.99 for Saturdays.

I tremblingly fed my ravenous physiology. 

I guess we left about 4:30 p.m., separating.  Bill took me home.

While writing this, at nearly 5:40 p.m. somebody knocked; he even asked the passing girl upstairs if I lived here, but she didn't recognize my name.  Whoever he was, he left.

Note:  Mark brought Daboda home today from the vet; earlier this week while loose, he cut a vein in his foot and bled unremittingly; the cost for everything was $96.

Bill gave me October's Penthouse.

I forsook exercising tonight, finding myself too tired, and full.

Bed at 7:00 p.m.

I awoke at 9:30 p.m. and didn't retire again till 11:00 p.m.
In the dream, it seemed to start off with me walking over the Pattullo Bridge into Surrey, and then heading up the King George Highway.

I couldn't remember anything else of the dream until the part where I was returning to New Westminster and crossing the bridge again.

I wrote my journal entries by hand, although I would later type them quite often.  Sometimes I would write about events several times during a day.

The note I was attempting to leave at the door of my old friend Philip David Prince was a white lie.  He had asked me to visit him the evening before, and I had said that I would even though I had no intention of it.

David lived elsewhere in New Westminster ─ not too far from my room.

So I thought that I would leave him a note claiming that I had come by in the a.m. in lieu of doing so the evening before; and the excuse I was going to use in the note was that because of the early hour, I decided not to knock and disturb him.

But the blighter was up, for whatever reason.

I tried to leave the note anyway, but he twigged to the fact that someone was at his door.

I had other plans than to be roped into a visit with the guy, so I bailed as fast as I could.

As it happened, I was on my way to visit my mother Irene Dorosh, whose home was my mailing address.

Her home is now gone, but its address was 12106 - 90th Avenue in the Kennedy Heights area of Surrey.

Instead of walking directly there ─ a trek that normally took about 1½ hours of fast walking ─ I took an exceptionally long route.

What I did upon entering Surrey was follow the King George Highway all the way to Newton; and then from there, I took to the railway tracks that crossed the highway and ─ turning right ─ followed them to the Kennedy Heights area, leaving them right where 90th Avenue ended at Holt Road close by Scott Road.

My mother lived a few houses down 90th Avenue.

As I said in that journal entry, even with some running, it took me about three hours to get there.

And I found my mother, her husband Alex, and my older maternal half-sister's daughter Sherry having breakfast ─ Sherry must have spent the night there.

My old friend William Alan Gill also lived in New Westminster, and we usually got together on weekends.  He drove over late in the morning, apparently knowing where I was.

My younger brother Mark, Mark's girlfriend Catherine Jeanette Gunther, and Jeanette's two little girls, were all living in a rented home on Bentley Road in Whalley.  The house was fairly close to 108th Avenue & King George Highway, and was maybe 4¼ miles from my mother's home.

Bill wanted to stop in there before going to pick up his mother Annie Gregory, whom he had visiting at his bachelor suite.

Evidently we spent considerable time visiting Mark and Jeanette, and Bill finally had to break away and deal with his mother.  First, though, he offered to treat Mark, Jeanette, and the kids to the smorgasbord that we had planned to visit.

It was likely the one that used to be located in a shopping plaza at McBride Boulevard & Eighth Avenue in New Westminster.

When finally we all rendezvoused there, I was extremely hungry and ate accordingly.

Daboda was Mark's German shepherd ─ I don't remember that he had incurred this accident and required a stay at a veterinarian's facilities.

Anyway, once Bill finally got me home after the smorgasbord, there came that knocking.  I normally never answered my door unless it was someone I cared to see ─ people who knew this had a special knock, and/or would call out to me.

I don't think I was ever to learn who it was that tried to visit, but the would-be visitor apparently knew my name.
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