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A Written Spoonie Experiment Review: Peggy’s Turtle Song

So. This blog has been basically dead and empty for….an embarrassingly long time. I’ve had a sort of perfect storm of good intentions and too high expectations. I’ve been working on three things: a book review (I’m about 2/3 through reading it), a review of an awesome health tool from The Allergista, and a Spoonie Experiment video review. And sorting through a few guest posts and interviews. The problem is that each of these things take a lot of time to prepare, and I had nothing to fill the gap while I prepared them.

So I’ve decided that henceforth, Spoonie Experiment reviews will be written instead of being videos. I was going to (finally) film today, but of course I have a cold and can barely talk. And when am I going to have time to film again? Between my almost one-year-old (what??) and working from home and LIFE in general, filming these reviews just isn’t sustainable. Plus I don’t think the videos have been all that popular with you guys. If there was a high demand, I’d find a way. Because I love you.

Anyway, long story short, I’ll try to plan better in the future and here’s a review and analysis of another King of the Hill episode!

This one is called Peggy’s Turtle Song, and you can watch it here:

So the story begins with Bobby in a situation I am all too familiar with: the guilty pleasure of eating terrible breakfast cereal. I freaking LOVE cereal. I try to eat “healthy” options from time to time… but right now my pantry is full of Frosted Flakes and Fruit Loops. I am addicted.

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Anyway, enough about my problems. Bobby starts the day with three bowls of cereal and is flying on an epic sugar high. Under the influence, he acts out in school and winds up in the school nurse’s office where he is promptly diagnosed with ADD.

Now sure, this is played for laughs but I do think ADD is way over-diagnosed in this day and age. And it’s not that I don’t believe it exists– my best friend has ADHD– but I do think that kids today are over-medicated and over-diagnosed with behavioral and developmental disorders. They’re growing and learning, each kid is different, sometimes they eat sugar…

Right. So back to the episode.

Hank: “Why has no one mentioned this before?”

Nurse: “Very few people have access to the pamphlets I do.”

The very first thing the nurse suggests is medication. Again, the hastiness is played for laughs (plus we’ve only got 23 minutes to get this story told), but it’s a joke that kind of flies by because that’s how healthcare in America is. There’s medicine and alternative medicine. Anything that’s not a chemical drug falls under alternative medicine, and everyone knows alternative medicine is for hippies. We’re conditioned to expect a pill every time we talk to a doctor. So it isn’t all that farfetched to think a boy might be put on medication for ADD after one day of acting out in class.

The only alternative is a “special school.” So Hank takes home a stack of the aforementioned pamphlets and tries to pick a medication while Peggy worries that this is somehow her fault. So, with all the best intentions, Peggy decides to quit her job and “devote herself full-time to being a mother.”

Now, I know I haven’t even been a mother for a full year yet, so maybe I’m not qualified to speak on the subject, but I don’t think Hank and Peggy are being helicopter parents or bad parents in any way here. They trust in their doctors and they’ve done a little research of their own and they want to do whatever their son needs. That’s all awesome. I’ve had enough experience with doctors to know not to trust everything they say and that they don’t always have the best information (or your best interest at heart). If it were me, I’d have done a lot more research and sought out more opinions. Not that that’s easy, since most doctors have a wait list of months for new patients.

AMERICA!

So Hank has a talk with Bobby about is “rare disease in his brain” and tells him that even though they’ve always taught him to “never do drugs,” he will now be taking medication after every meal.

The show is such a great commentary on this situation that I really don’t have much to add. Underappreciated genius, thy name is King of the Hill.

The next morning, Luanne speaks very slowly to Bobby, asking “Do you know me?” Now even though the show is obviously implying that Bobby doesn’t actually have ADD, this is nonetheless a great example of what people have to deal with after a diagnosis. When I was diagnosed with anxiety, I had people ask really delicately “…are you…okay?” As if a diagnosis drastically changes a person overnight. You know, because they didn’t really have ADD/anxiety/whatever until a doctor made it official!

Public service announcement: people with illnesses are as normal as they were pre-diagnosis after they get a label.

“In a half hour or so, you should find yourself real interested in stuff that would normally bore the pants off you.”
-Hank Hill

Another public service announcement: Pills aren’t made of magic.

But they are powerful.

As Bobby soon finds out.

On the bus to school, his speech is slower and he hears a loud grating noise – a fly on the window rubbing its legs together.

I personally have not experienced drugs like Ritalin, but I have felt my perceptions change under the influence of different drugs. When I was first put on anxiety meds, it was from a gastrointestinal specialist and he just kinda said this might help. I believed him and agreed after minimal research– just like Hank and Peggy. And after I had been on it for a little while, I still didn’t feel much different, so he upped the dose. I found myself feeling very numb. I would hear sad stories on the news and think “that should make me feel sad. I should feel something about this.” but I just didn’t. I started noticing that things I usually got excited about seemed boring as well. It was like someone had just turned my emotions off.

Drugs are crazy, man.

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Peggy starts to go a little nuts being a stay at home mom. Bobby is strung out on meds all the time, commenting on the tiny, mundane details of life. Luanne says she wishes she could take “miracle smart pills” too.

That’s another great, subtle nod at how people react to a chronic illness in a friend or family member. I’m sure you’ve heard similar things: “I wish I got to stay home from work!” “It must be nice to take naps.” One I hear a lot is “now that’s a problem I wish I had!” when they hear that I’m underweight and have a lot of trouble gaining weight.

Yup. Being unhealthily skinny is pretty in right now I guess. But would you want all the problems that go with it? Because it sure is easy to only see one detail and miss the big picture.

From here, the episode focuses on Peggy’s stay-at-home-mom problems, which I’ll keep my comments on to a minimum. I am a new stay-at-home-mom myself, but this isn’t going to turn into a SAHM blog, I promise. 😉 Needing to fill her extra time, Peggy starts taking guitar lessons and writes a song about a turtle – hence the title of the episode.

Bobby’s story is the subplot, but even with minimal screentime this episode captures perfect snapshots of things everyone with a chronic illness can relate to. Over dinner, Bobby interrupts the conversation to groan “when can I take my next pill?” Peggy tells him not until after dinner. “I’m going to take a little nap. Paying attention all day really tires me out.” responds Bobby, before falling asleep with his eyes open.

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I know those feels, Bobby. I know those feels.

So later on, Luanne is talking to Bobby about her problems at beauty school. She says she tried to figure out why she’s doing poorly on exams, but she gets bored just thinking about it. Bobby realizes she must have caught his ADD. “I know when, too. It was when I sneezed in your face.”

“I don’t remember that…”

“Well… you were asleep.”

For any yahoo answers people who wound up here by mistake: ADD is not contagious by sneezing or any other means.

Anyway, angry and desperate to do well in school, Luanne snatches Bobby’s pill and takes it herself.

Later on, at Peggy’s concert, Bobby is really just a background character but he’s the old Bobby we know and love. On the drive home, Hank comments that he really noticed an improvement in Bobby’s behavior today. Bobby sheepishly admits he didn’t take his pill today. His parents asked why and he said Luanne needed it really badly. And anyway, he just couldn’t take the rush anymore. He tries to describe it but eventually it just degenerates into shuddering.

When the family gets home, they find Luanne in the front yard trimming the shrubs into different shapes.

“Welcome home! I cooked you brunch and I tuned your car and I fixed your mower and I ate the brunch.”
~Luanne

After seeing this wild display, Peggy suggests they do some more research on those pills.

Even as a subplot, King of the Hill not only captures these struggles and situations really well, but it even has a few lessons. The biggest moral of the story is to do your research, and read more than the information your doctor gives you. Get a well-rounded education from multiple sources on any medication or diagnosis you get. It doesn’t matter if you’re not scientifically inclined or if you think it’s boring. In the end, it’s your body and you’re the one who’s got to live in it– NOT your doctor! So do all you can.

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I want to apologize one more time for taking so long to post something. Our first Christmas with a little one has been crazy and it’s still over a week away. Like I said, I’ve got a lot of cool things in the works for you guys, and I’ll be posting again soon.

Happy Holidays everyone!

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About rachelmeeks

My name is Rachel Meeks. I have endometriosis, an incurable pain condition, IBS, a digestive illness, and PCOS, which causes irregular periods and infertility. After keeping my illnesses a secret, I started to get upset about how my fellow sick people were being mistreated because of ignorance. I knew that I'd need to stand up, make some noise, wear my heart on my sleeve, and admit that I am not well to make a difference.

2 responses to “A Written Spoonie Experiment Review: Peggy’s Turtle Song

  1. mo

    Love this post! I put my oldest son (31 yrs old now) on ritalin when he was in 5th grade. He never told us until years later how it made him feel. It was one of the worst decisions I ever made. He was well behaved, but doing poorly in school. He was finally diagnosed with dyslexia, ritalin doesn’t cure dyslexia. This was long before you could Google things so I couldn’t do much research. I just advise parents to not just listen to other parents or teacher or doctors. Ask your kid how the meds make him feel. Hope your little family is doing well!!! Xoxo mo

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