Thank you for your tremendous support of Sasha in his latter years of need. We couldn’t have managed without you. If you still wish to help, please know that all future contributions will now go to the Shulgin Legacy Project, which will preserve and archive Sasha’s life’s work. Paypal.
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Ann Shulgin, c/o Transform Press
PO Box 13675
Berkeley, CA . 94712
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The Shulgin Collection at Erowid.
June 2, 2014
Dear Friends,Sasha died today, at exactly 5 o’clock in the afternoon. He was surrounded by family and caretakers and Buddhist meditation music. and his going was graceful, with almost no struggle at all.
First, my apology (yet again) for the long silence. I’ve been dealing with pain control for months, due to a bad left hip joint which can’t be dealt with by surgery, and –- as many of you know – pain tends to diminish energy, and writing takes energy. Things are gradually improving, with the help of good doctoring by Dr. Paul Abramson, and here I am.
It’s not just because I’m feeling better that I’m communicating with you today; it seems to me that the full story of Sasha’s health has to be shared with you right now, since all of you have – miraculously – helped to keep him safe and well cared for at home, and you deserve to know what has developed within the last few months.
You know Sasha has mild dementia, which means that he talks and laughs and creates marvelous puns, but can’t remember what he had for breakfast, or even that he actually had a breakfast. He remembers old friends, but can’t easily remember the names of his care-people, who have been with him for over a year. It is because of the dementia that I have not told him what I am now telling you, which is that he has recently been diagnosed as having liver cancer. It is absolutely painless, thank God, and we hope it’ll continue to be so. He has lost a lot of weight and is beginning to weaken, but the girls keep him exercised and walking so that he can visit his favorite Starbucks and interact with the group of nice elders who gather there every day.
We have the help of Hospice, which is wonderful. There isn’t much, yet, for them to do except take his vital signs once a week, but they are there when and if we need them.
If Sasha were mentally clear and able to understand fully what the situation is, I wouldn’t hesitate to tell him, but as it is, he would take in the information and forget most of it, but the images and fears would be there when he woke in the morning and he would spend a lot of time wondering what was wrong and why he felt anxious, and we would spend all this precious time with him trying to explain over and over again and reassuring him and wishing we’d kept quiet and allowed him to enjoy these months. After all, he is happy most of the time, and I want him to remain happy. He will be 89 years old in June, and we will celebrate his long and fruitful and loving life with all our hearts and he will remain at peace.
I thank all of you, yet again, for having helped us so much during these past years, and believe me when I tell you that we are grateful for every five dollar bill (and there have been many) as well as every one hundred dollar bill. Not many people have such friends and such compassionate and caring acquaintances, and so many people expressing gratitude at the end of their lives. Thank you.
Blessings — Ann
March 14 2013:
Greg Manning, who keeps things on the rails which might otherwise careen in various and occasionally disastrous directions, and who also reminds me of things I’ve forgotten to remember, did another vital job two days ago, pointing out to me that a certain website had information about Sasha which is more than slightly out-of-date, and that perhaps I should update it. He’s absolutely right, and I apologize for a two-year omission, or whatever it was. This is the most recent information on Sasha:
In November of 2010, Sasha had been, “… struggling for seven months with an ulcer on his left foot …” which was beginning to heal, and he was anticipating a skin graft within a few weeks, “… hoping to avoid amputation.” We had been taking him to a clinic which specialized in ulcers of this kind, mostly seen in diabetics (Sasha doesn’t have diabetes; he has peripheral neuropathy), and we had run up against a state of mind too often seen in the medical world, a sort of habit of thinking that goes (approximately) this way: “Patient has foot ulcer; we have seen many millions of such foot ulcers, and we know what to expect of them. Patient’s family insists that the usual course of treatment is not necessarily right for this particular patient, and we are trying to make them realize that they are in a state of denial, and that we are simply trying to save them time and money when we argue for the outcome which we know to be right and inevitable, and which they, too, will come to accept as right and inevitable, hopefully without spending too much more time arguing with us. (The obvious, right and inevitable outcome was, of course, A.M.P.U.T.A.T.I.O.N.)
When we found a new and creative Primary Care Physician, Paul Abramson, MD, about this time, we learned — from him — that there was a group of physicians who regarded themselves as rescuers of limbs — particularly feet which had developed non-healing wounds — and when I wrote the note for the website, we were about to see Sasha’s left foot undergo a skin graft. The clinic had never suggested a skin graft.
During the months that followed the graft, Sasha’s physical condition improved on all fronts. The graft took, and even the faintest hint of redness on any part of either foot was treated immediately. No new ulcers were allowed to develop. His diet was high in protein, and the two Tibetan women who took care of him cooked delicious and very healthy meals, particularly soups containing vegetables and chicken. They had learned cooking in India, where they had grown up, and they seemed to really enjoy creating meals out of whatever they found in the refrigerator, without having to consult any recipes. We saved enough money to buy the best food-processor on the market, and it was used every day to make smoothies out of fruits and nuts (more protein). Sasha has had no ulcers for over a year. He is rather frail, most particularly when walking, but his basic strength remains intact. His eyesight is very poor (macular degeneration), and we keep hoping that stem cell research will solve that problem while Sasha is alive and able to undergo whatever procedure might be available, since being able to see more clearly would be a wonderful gift to him.
During all this time, another health problem was beginning to make itself apparent. Sasha was showing the early signs of dementia, mostly severe loss of short-term memory. Unlike the ulcers on the foot, dementia does not get better. One simply hopes that it will stop getting worse, or at least slow down the deterioration. So far, Sasha seems to have retained much of his chemistry memory, and also definitely has most of his word-games and pun-making ability intact. He is very good-natured, just as he’s always been, and loves being around people. When he isn’t sitting in the lab with Paul Daley (a few times a week), he’s down with one of his care-givers in the local Starbucks coffee shop, where a bunch of grey-haired people get together almost every day. He is, apparently, regarded as the group’s wizard/wise-man, probably because he says very little, but when he does open his mouth, the words that emerge are either quite wise, or very funny, and usually both. He enjoys his Starbucks hours almost as much as he does the lab hours.
The medicine that has kept Sasha moderately affected by the dementia, and not seeming to worsen much is an old one, created by the great elder of the psychedelic world — Albert Hofmann — who called it hydergine. Here, in the U.S., it is called Ergoloid, and it’s very expensive. But it works. Unlike the standard dementia medications everyone uses — Aventia and Namenda — (have I got those right?), this ergoloid actually slows down the disintegration, and we are tremendously grateful for it. I wish more physicians knew about it and gave it to their patients.
We have been supported in our effort to keep Sasha home, with home-care, by fund-raising every possible way, and by wonderful people who fund-raise for us, and so far we’ve managed to keep things going and the $360 a day bill for elder-care paid, because of thousands of good and wonderful people who have sent in small bills and big checks and everything in between, but finally, we’ve had to put several acres of gorgeous hillside on sale, and we’re hoping for the best. The economy is healing, so perhaps we’ll be successful, and then we won’t have to keep fund-raising all the time. Until that happens, we are grateful beyond telling for the support we’ve been getting from so many people all over the world!
Blessings – Ann
Sasha had a stroke. He requires around the clock care. He has been struggling for seven months with an ulcer on his left foot that is beginning to heal, and he will be undergoing a skin graft within a few weeks, hoping to avoid amputation. Sasha and Ann have been in serious financial trouble for some years, and the coming medical bills will be a burden they can’t bear alone.
Please, express your gratitude for all the work that Sasha has done, for everything he has given to the world, and give something back. Think of all the ways that your life, and the lives of others, have been healed, transformed, and bettered by this wonderful man. He needs your help now. No amount is too small or too large. Please give until it feels good… not until it hurts.
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