I sent this piece to the Albany Times Union a week ago in hopes they’d run it on their editorial page, but they haven’t published it. I suspect they won’t, because Trump’s never never land evolves with breakneck speed, and Regeneron is no longer front-page news. So here it is:
I’m glad to see Regeneron making headlines in the fight against Covid-19. I have fond memories of the pharmaceutical giant dating back to the months I spent at their East Greenbush facility as a Kelly Girl early in the new millennium. They hadn’t yet had a drug approved and brought to market, but there was an air of optimism and excitement that made it a great place to work. So great, in fact, that it sent me spiraling into an acute manic episode that culminated in my being escorted politely but firmly from the building.
As I watch Donald Trump touting Regeneron’s cocktail of monoclonal antibodies as a miracle cure, I wish it were that easy to fire him, escort him out of the White House and back into private life.
For a few days, when Trump was taking the powerful steroid Dexamethazone, it looked as if he might be rocketing into full-blown mania. The World Health Organization advises using the drug only in “severe and critical cases.” It is not generally given in the early stages of Covid-19, but in the phase when the body’s immune system kicks in and causes potentially deadly inflammation. Side effects can include mental health problems including psychosis, delirium and mania.
Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, was vague in his early briefings, then vanished from view and resorted to written statements. The president controlled the public messaging, so we may never know all the clinical details of his illness. Nancy Pelosi said he was in an “altered state” and hinted at the use of the 25th amendment to boot him out of office, whereupon he promptly retaliated, calling her “Crazy Nancy.”
Last Monday, Conley released a statement saying Trump had tested negative for Covid on two successive days, and he’s taken off on a whirlwind tour, where thousands of his mostly maskless followers can infect themselves and help spread the virus to thousands of others. It’s unclear if he’s off the steroids, but he’s still his usual aggressive, over-the-top self. He continues to rave about Regeneron. As the Times Union reported last Sunday, he said “I want everyone to be given the same treatment as your president. Because I feel great. I feel, like, perfect. So I think this was a blessing from God that I caught it.” Regeneron’s stock soared, although the drug cocktail has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
When I was a temp at Regeneron, the company had only a few hundred employees, but their glossy folders offered tempting investment opportunities. I longed to buy stock, but I couldn’t afford it. I spent my days at a computer in a cubby, doing spread sheets and data entry. When I was caught up on my work, I taught myself PowerPoint. Drawing on my training in group dynamics, I developed a jazzy presentation for staff development, and they let me give it in a spacious conference room.
Science had always been my worst subject, but the heady atmosphere was contagious. Walking through the corridors, peering through huge plate glass windows, I could see white-coated technicians performing exotic tasks with shiny machines. Despite the Zoloft and Lithium I was taking for my bipolar disorder, my mania increased day by day, until I loudly proclaimed that I was qualified to run the company. It was then that they gently escorted me out of the building.
Manic delusions can warp the mind, and medication interactions can up the ante in sometimes disastrous ways. I’ve learned that the hard way. I hope Trump has learned it too. I doubt it, but I still wish I’d invested in Regeneron when the shares were cheap.
Author and artist Julie Lomoe lives in Wynantskill. Reach her at www.creativecrone.net.