Those of you who've picked up a copy of my awesome first book no doubt remember how I opened it with reminiscences of how I used to mock healthcare professionals who couldn't poison someone. A doctor who tried to kill his mistress with strychnine for example, or a nurse who might use morphine to off a patient or two. It worked as humor because you'd assume that anyone who spent a few years studying the combination of how the body works and the chemicals the world of medicine puts into it oughta be pretty good at figuring out the poison thing. Basic stuff, right? Right in these people's wheelhouses and they screwed it up.....ha ha ha.....
Yeah....ha ha fucking ha.
The execution of a convicted murderer in Arizona lasted for nearly two hours on Wednesday, as witnesses said he gasped and snorted for much of that time before eventually dying.
This drawn-out death of Joseph R. Wood III in Arizona prompted the governor to order a review and drew renewed criticism of lethal injection, the main method of execution in the United States, just months after a high-profile botched execution in Oklahoma.
And another one before that in Ohio. Right in the people's wheelhouses and they screw it up. Time after time. Once again I have underestimated the incompetence of others, and once again, real life robs me of comedic material.
Midazolam is the common denominator in all these fuckups, used with the narcotic hydromorphone in Ohio and Arizona and with a muscle relaxant (vecuronium) and potassium chloride (to stop the heart) in Oklahoma. So let me tell you a little bit about midazolam. It's what's known as a benzodiazepine, related to the Xanax and Valium so many people have made friends with. All in all they're a pretty good class of meds, gaining popularity in no small part because they are safer, particularly in overdose, than the class of meds they replaced, known as barbiturates.
Now, I'm gonna pause here, and place a large bet that even if you haven't had a day of any kind of medical training in your life, you can read that last paragraph and figure out the problem here, and offer a possible solution.
Some 6th grade dropout probably just said something like "um...maybe they shouldn't be using the safer one if they want to kill someone, and maybe go with that barbiturate stuff instead"...and that person... would be smarter than the Ohio, Oklahoma, and Arizona Departments of Correction.
How many of you have had to have a pet put down? How long did it take? Seconds, not hours, yes? Guess what they use? Read that paragraph again and just take a wild-ass guess.
"Um......a barbiturate maybe?" the dumbest person on earth might say. And he would be right. Pentobarbital to be specific.
The olive in the martini here is that some states have figured this out. You won't hear about botched executions in Texas or Missouri because pentobarbital is exactly what they use.
So let's recap here. There is a successful model of a lethal drug that has a proven track record in both animals and humans. Yet some people in power think it's a good idea to go their own way and come up with a plan that uses a drug that is popular in medical practice in part because it is safer in overdose than the drug that is successfully used to kill lots and lots of living creatures.
And this is the world in which I try to satirize. Which probably says something about my intelligence.
Not that a midazolam/hydromorphone combination is completely inappropriate in theory. Pump someone full of enough of it and yeah, they should kick the bucket you would think. You know, assuming the meds were of the correct potency and actually were what they said on the label. Who knows? Maybe that was the problem here. Let's just check with the manufacturer and clear this right up....
...oh....wait. We can't do that. because no one quite knows who the manufacturer is. The prison people claim they're getting their goods from compounding pharmacies. Which means, if true, there's a colleague or two out there of mine who's a spineless, chicken-hearted, weak, cowering, thumbsucking, lily-livered, yellowbellied coward of a human.
That's right bubs. I'm calling you out. Signing a contract of death with the state is one thing, but doing so while insisting on the protection of anonymity is a whole other level of pussydom. Come out come out where ever you are deathdruggist, because if you can't stand the heat you're generating, you never should have gone into that kitchen and started cooking.
And just in case you are ready to point a finger back at me, I'll point out that I ended my awesome first book by telling the world how to get an abortion using a common anti ulcer medication, and I'll put the backlash whackadoodle anti-choice zealots are capable of generating up against anything you'll face any day of the year.
That part of the book still holds up by the way. No doubt because there I wasn't trying to mock an increasingly unmockable world.