Quest for the Best
Say what? You listed the Houston Aeros' Sonic Boom as the Best Cheerleading Squad in the 2005 Best of Houston issue. I am almost at a loss for words. The only thing I can wonder at this point is who the writer/editor is friends with over at the Aeros organization.
Sonic Boom is not the best cheerleading squad. In fact, it's well known to everyone that they're not all that great. I'm not saying they're bad, but they couldn't compete with most high school or junior high squads. They are guaranteed not to be the best cheerleading squad in Houston, regardless of how you rate them.
I own season tickets to the Aeros and typically take large groups of people to the games. Without prompting, almost everyone offers the same comments about Sonic Boom and none of them lean toward the "good/great/excellent" or "Best of Houston" area.
I like Sonic Boom, although I'd rather not see them at a hockey game, mostly because they have to perform behind obstructions and in odd places most of the time. Hockey just wasn't set up to handle a cheerleading squad (I guess unless they were also good skaters).
I understand that there is a point of personal preference when making "Best of Houston" decisions, but in this case, the person who made the call is either best friends or related to a member or associate of Sonic Boom or the Aeros organization. They are so far from being "Best of," it's obvious something else was a factor in the decision to classify them in this way.
Makes me question the integrity of all the other "Best of" listings you have in your publication.
David L. Good
Get some stones: I've read for years the dismissal of conservative talk radio by your various writers. But as an out-of-the-closet Reagan conservative DJ of the underground, I must finally take issue with the assessments in your Best Radio Talk Show blurb. The locals are parrots: both the ill-informed Urbach and Davis and the well-informed conservative hacks (take your pick). But Rush Limbaugh is hardly a parrot full of "hot air" (the most unoriginal and predictable term his critics use); he is consistently ahead of the conservative curve. As for Michael Savage, his "lunatic fringe rantings" offer more insight than anyone in media, bar none. Anyone who has the stones -- or stonettes -- to listen to their broadcasts rather than catch a cursory out-of-context sound bite would realize this. Here's one thing I'll bet we agree on, though: Sean Hannity must be destroyed with chilling efficiency.
Driven to Gamble
A nightmare drug: Through my psychiatrist I have been receiving medications to help with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. My most recent medicine change was in January. The drug was Abilify. I was on 15 milligrams per day. This medicine was wonderful. It helped me lose weight, have energy and be focused. I believed it was a miracle drug.
Today I believe it was a nightmare drug. The whiteouts I'd been experiencing during flashbacks, which to some extent never went away, came back in full force. Never had I experienced anything that made me so driven. When I say driven, I mean pushed beyond all human understanding to do one thing and one thing only. Night and day, one thought was in my mind, so strong there was nothing else. That one thing for me was gambling ["Overstimulated," by Todd Spivak, September 15].
I was obsessed with gambling. I closed my eyes, and I would see cards in a video machine, 777's on slot machines. Going to the casino was all I did. Nothing reached me, no one touched me. Totally out of control is all I can say.
There were days I went on less than three hours of sleep. My mind never shut off. Unrelenting thoughts of gambling. Days would go by, and I would remember nothing but the machine that had been in front of me. Days without showering or combing my hair; my car was full of garbage, as I lived in it from casino to casino.
Then one day about three weeks ago, my partner happened to be watching the evening news, and there was a story about Mirapex. The medication was used for Parkinson's disease. A class-action suit was being brought against the manufacturers of Mirapex because it was causing obsessive-compulsive disorder in its patients. One major compulsion was gambling. My partner began to research the drug.
She found Mirapex was a dopamine-agonist-class drug. She also researched Abilify, finding it was a partial dopamine-agonist-class drug. Was there a connection between my gambling and the Abilify? Was it too late to save me from jail or a mental institution? Those were my two options at that point in my gambling.
From January to July, I'd gone through more than half my life savings. I borrowed money from my mother, my brother and my niece. I was writing bad checks to support my gambling and taking money out of my 401(k) to pay for bad checks. I needed to get out of town, away from the casinos, and off Abilify.
My partner wrote a letter to my team of doctors, notifying them of the connection between dopamine agonists and obsessive-compulsive behavior, with gambling being one of the side effects of Mirapex. A meeting was set up with my psychiatrist.
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There is no scientific evidence to support our claim that Abilify can cause OCD side effects, but as my doctors are dealing with me and not the general population, I was taken off the drug and put back on Risperdal. At that time, my partner was in control of my car keys, my checkbook and my whereabouts at all times. This situation was taking its toll on her health and mental stamina, so out-of-town detoxification was needed.
We went to my mother's cabin in northern Minnesota for nine days, where I went through withdrawal symptoms from Abilify and casinos. It was hell.
As I write this, I am feeling dirty and ashamed for what I have done. I continue to clear up the debt. It is not over for me financially. My yearly income is $9,600, and I have spent $8,500 since January of this year at the casinos.
Saint Paul, Minnesota