Double Down

Every book has a back story. In the following series of posts, I share some thoughts about the inception, development, and completion of my new book, Strange Trips: Science, Culture, and the Regulation of Drugs.

PART II

From Saskatoon to Glasgow

The second phase of writing my second book, Strange Trips, began in September of 2015. I signed a contract with McGill-Queen’s University Press and set to work. But it was far from straightforward.

I was a full-on member of the academic precariat at the time. And it was a difficult period – at least in a professional sense. I was juggling a lot of lectures at the University of Saskatchewan, looking after my kids part-time, and trying to stay engaged in my chosen field.

After my PhD viva in London (see my last post), I returned to Saskatchewan to work at the Health Quality Council. (It was a tremendous experience.) Then I began a SSHRC post-doctoral fellowship in 2011 and the time just flew right by. Seriously. It zipped by faster than I could have imagined and I wasn’t at all ready for the end of the way-station that was my postdoc.

From 2011-2013, I worked on my first book, A Prescription for Scandal: Conservatism, Consumer Choice and the FDA during the Reagan Era. I also stayed super busy with applying for countless academic jobs. (Really, it was a lot.) I certainly meant to focus on Strange Trips after I came up with the idea in 2010 (however ill-formed), but I ultimately focused on publishing my PhD dissertation.

Professor Erika Dyck at University of Saskatchewan was super helpful and the History Department hired me for short term gigs after I wrapped up my postdoc in 2013. (Whatever one thinks about short-term academic positions, I was satisfied with keeping one foot in the ivory tower. That said, there were definitely times when I built up resentment.)

In 2014, I published A Prescription for Scandal. I was extremely proud of it and it won a book prize. However, it didn’t lead to a tenure-track job. It was a really difficult moment and by 2015 I was questioning academia. There was a real high and low associated with that book.

It wasn’t easy. That’s for sure. I was such a wet-behind-the-ears neophyte…and I struggled to “sell” myself or engage with my colleagues via social media. I wasn’t a blogger back then. And I wasn’t on Twitter. Worse still, I didn’t have a good sense about packaging my work – how to write a book proposal or talk to acquisition editors with even a modicum of confidence.

But I had confidence in myself. I was also surrounded by a strong network of family and friends. To put it another way, I wasn’t alone. I had help. I was in a stable relationship. I had been (relatively) careful with money. A large family could babysit. I was lucky.

So I decided to double-down.

In early 2015, I kept teaching at the University of Saskatchewan.  I developed new classes. I stayed engaged. More than that, I didn’t stop writing. I wrote and wrote. I decided that I was not going to let the system “get me down.” At least for a little while longer.

Throughout the spring, I was in the midst of “turbulent time,” which is also a term I use in my book…

…but I honed my proposal and submitted it to MQUP. It was received positively! After some back and forth, a revised proposal, and a series of productive conversations, we agreed to work together. That was September.

Little did I know that I’d be moving to Scotland within the year.

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Fracture: The Paper Anniversary

Last summer, almost to the day, I fractured and dislocated my knee. Let’s just say it wasn’t pleasant. I was playing (soccer/football) and the tackle was “reckless and ridiculous.”

Here’s my post from a year ago.

So, on the anniversary of the tackle and an injury that sent my life in new directions, here are a few thoughts about recovery.

Sorting out the injury

Rehab was the first order of the day. I visited the Glasgow Royal infirmary on a regular basis. This involved squats and dips and stretching and rubber tubes.

A selection of exercises

Yes, the NHS is understaffed and overworked, but the physios were tremendous!

I also had to get the extent of the damage straightened out. The doctors (and I) needed to go deep. Cue the futuristic MRI.

Once I received the letter, a weight was lifted. I was getting to the bottom of the injury.

So, I prepped myself. I was not pregnant. Check. I filled in the questionnaire. Check.

I left my family at home. And got psyched. As a “citizen in need of medical attention,” I felt like I was visiting the Elysium cure-all machine:

I went to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital for the test and took some pictures along the way.

And

And

After I was stuck in the deafening machine for 35 minutes on a Sunday morning, it was determined NO SURGERY was required. No need to go under the knife.

Disruption

As you’d expect, the injury caused a massive disruption in my existence. Yes, my whole freaking existence. Both my personal and professional life was affected.

For starters, I became more familiar with ‘pain.’ Regular, recurring pain. Others, I’m sure, deal with higher levels of pain all the time – and have done so for years. It was new for me, though. It didn’t go away. It stuck with me, niggling. Persistent. I realized that I’d have to be stubbornly optimistic, too.

On a personal level, the pain and physical restrictions impacted how much I could horse around with my kids. That sucked. I occasionally fretted about the long-term damage to my knee and whether I’d make a full recovery. There was anxiety, in other words.

On a professional level, the disruption wasn’t terrible. It helps that I’m a writer and teacher and don’t have to be on my feet all day. Were this not the case, I might have considered worker’s compensation. I had to cancel on a few people and events, which was regrettable. On the positive side, if I can call it that, the ever-present pain in my life pushed me to think about types of pain, the use of drugs to dull the pain, and the future of my own research.

Goals

After I got my knee sorted out with the MRI and determined there was no need for surgery, I could start focusing on targets.  But what kind of goals did I have?

I settled on (again) some personal and professional goals.

On the personal side, I wanted to make up for the lost playtime with my kids. So lots and lots of horsing around in the back garden!

I decided that I’d focus on some running. I’m closing in on 40 and thought it’d be cool to try and run a 10 kilometer race in around 40 mins. A 40 in 40? Or 40 at 40? Something like that. I’ve kicked off the training. Stay tuned!

Professionally, I sought to build ‘pain’ into my research agenda. I couldn’t ignore it over the past year, so I channeled it. I talked about it more than I have in years past. And I wrote about it far more, as well.

You can read about pain and drugs, for instance, in my new book Strange Trips: Science, Culture, and the Regulation of Drugs.

A Year On

It’s the ‘paper’ anniversary of my knee injury. It really was brutal. The bright side, I suppose, is I learned a lot about myself.

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Knee Songs

New Editors at Social History of Alcohol and Drugs

The ADHS is pleased to announce that the editorship of its journal, *The Social History of Alcohol and Drugs*, will be taken over by Prof. Nancy D. Campbell (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Prof. David Herzberg (Buffalo) and Dr. Lucas Richert (Strathclyde). The society would also like to express its gratitude for the work that outgoing editor, […]

via New editors for SHAD — Alcohol and Drugs History Society

ADHS 2019

The ADHS is excited to announce that its next bi-annual conference will be held between 12 and 15 June 2019, at the David F. Musto Center for Drug Policy Studies, Shanghai University, China. The conference will be organised by Prof. Jim Mills, of the University of Strathclyde and Prof. Yong-an Zhang of Shanghai University, who […]

via ADHS conference at Shanghai, 12-15 June 2019 — Alcohol and Drugs History Society

Big Pharma Round-Up V (#Cannabis edition)

https://twitter.com/DavidLenigas/status/948667879368642562

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Large Indoor Marijuana Commercial Growing Operation With Fans, Greenhouse, Equipment For Growing High Quality Herb. Cannabis Field Growing For Legal Recreational Use in Washington State

Sara Pascoe on #Resolutions

Sara Pascoe on resolutions

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/02/we-should-all-pick-achievable-resolutions-get-through-three-days-of-dry-january-and-youre-a-hero-to-me

For me it was a slang phrase that ruined it. A man was talking, and I was listening politely because he was a friend of a friend. “Friend of a friend” is an excellent expression, it passively clarifies: “I know them … but I don’t like them”. An “acquaintance” is someone we haven’t decided if we like or not yet. An “associate” is a drug dealer. A “friend of a friend” is an idiot at a party you must tolerate because apparently I can’t fulfil all Rebecca’s friending needs and she wants gatherings to be full of people from work and their boyfriends. This one was telling me that he wouldn’t move over from Sydney because that’s where his mates are. “Bros before hoes,” he says. A saying I thought even the most hardened misogynist used ironically. Of course, I admire the sentiment, saving our loyalty for friends over those we must tolerate because our genitals want to get to know them. But I was shocked that someone would speak like this. We were in a kitchen, not a poorly written sitcom. And then I became sad as I was reminded once again about the gulf of understanding that can exist between human beings even if they have a friend in common. And so already 2018 was ruined. Fifty-two minutes in.

When did yours go wrong? I wonder if you felt annoyed for expecting anything to be different? It all started out great with hugging and music, then at 1am you saw the Uber surge price was in double figures and wept as you realised: it got me again. Hope. We think newness can save us, we don’t realise that we haven’t changed – only the date has.

Big Pharma Round-Up II

Here is a snapshot of the past week in Big Pharma news.  This is coming at you a little early because of the Christmas slowdown. Happy holidays.

To kick off:

The drug industry spent big!

Here’s another one on the lobbying money spent over the past months and years…

https://www.statnews.com/2017/12/19/pharma-lobbying-spending/

A lot of money was splashed out. ‘“Does that surprise you?” said Billy Tauzin, the former PhRMA CEO who ran the organization a decade ago as Obamacare loomed. Whenever Washington seems interested in limiting drug prices, he said, “PhRMA has always responded by increasing its resources.”’

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In Canada, there’s efforts to reduce “sticker shock” when purchasing drugs.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/drug-cost-surprises-1.4454803

“A Toronto family doctor thinks she has a prescription for the nasty surprise many patients experience when they go to the pharmacy and learn just how much their medications will cost.”

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What about other countries besides the US? Say, Poland. It spends a lot on pharmaceuticals – but on the right drugs?

http://www.euronews.com/2017/12/18/poland-spends-billions-on-drugs-but-are-they-the-right-ones-

Then, more on opioids. Ravaged by Opioids!

Away from the young, and to the old: could drugs slow ageing?

“Some pharmaceutical companies are exploring whether [certain] genetic traits could be used to create anti-ageing drugs.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-42273362

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And in BC, Canada: illicit placenta and stem cell therapies were seized!!!

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/illicit-placenta-and-stem-cell-therapies-seized-from-b-c-beauty-shop-1.4459518

‘The drugs confiscated from Before & After Beauty Lab on Hazelbridge Way “may pose serious risks to health,” according to a Health Canada press release.’

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There was a also mysterious double murder in the world of Big Pharma!

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Here at Strathclyde, CMAC welcomes Pfizer as newest partner…

https://www.strath.ac.uk/whystrathclyde/news/cmacwelcomespfizerasnewestpartner/

“CMAC (Continuous Manufacturing and Advanced Crystallisation), a pre-competitive consortium led by the University of Strathclyde to accelerate progress in pharmaceutical manufacturing, announces that Pfizer Inc has joined as a strategic member, alongside GSK, AZ, Novartis, Bayer, Takeda, Lilly and Roche.”

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Lastly, St Thomas University (Canada) is hiring a cannabis/marijuana scholar. As the cannabis industry consolidates and the medicine is refined further, the job is a useful chance to contribute to the discussion. And it looks spectacular.

2017-12-15 Final REVISED Cannabis HRC advertisement

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Here is a flyer for my book on Big Pharma! Cheap, cheap, cheap.

Richert_Flyer_2017

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