Like most sports fans, I’ve struggled with how to accept the presence of steroids in our modern athletic era. Seven or eight years ago, we might have confined this problem strictly to baseball, but if the events of the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that steroids are everywhere. Hell, we’re even giving them to racehorses now. Still, many questions remain: to what extent do steroids actually aid athletes? How can reporters criticize athletes or stand on the moral high-ground if they’ve never used them? If you aren’t a scientist, how can you prescribe a solution on how to address their effect on athletic performance? Well, unless one were to try them…

About two weeks ago, I was prescribed “procured” a 4mg cycle of methyl-prednisolone due to a nasty case of poison ivy in order to see if these “performance enhancers” truly lived up to their name. Allow me to recap a weird and slightly awesome seven days:

Day 1: My personal trainer nurse practicioner injects a vial of the methyl-prednisolone (let’s just call it “meth” for short, and fun) into my right buttocks. The injection hurts, but not as much as the embarrassment of having her see my heart-shaped boxer shorts. I resist to tell her my Mom bought them for me for Valentine’s Day 2005. I rest for 15 minutes, wondering if I’d rather have the strength to hit dingers or throw 95 mph cutters. I take a minute to read the insert on the drug packaging:

SIDE EFFECTS that may occur while you are taking this medicine include dizziness; facial flushing; feeling of whirling motion; headache; or increased sweating.

“And getting RIPPED” I mutter under my breath…

As I head home, my ass starts to hurt. Never thought I’d have occasion to type those words.

Day 2: I end up getting to bed at 2:30am. I have an important meeting the next morning at 8am. I need to be awake at 6:30 and I’m somewhat concerned I’ll get up on time, so I set four alarms. I rise at 5:45, before any of my alarms go off. I pop my first of six (!) doses that day. I feel awesome. No lingering in bed or pissing and moaning about having to be awake. I hop in the shower and am out the door in 20 minutes. Ass no longer hurts.

I immediately notice a change: I have a tremendous amount of energy. I am sweating pretty heavily, but it’s hot outside and I’ve never been one to merely “glisten.” As I walk to the train, I find myself passing just about everyone on the street. I’ve also discarded my standard morning podcast in favor of music. I skip over the usual classic rock in favor of Staind. I hit repeat on “Been Awhile” three times.

I arrive at my meeting. Usually, I’m the youngest person attending and am hesitant to get involved. Instead, I commandeer a seat near the head of the table. I crack jokes and provide significant input. The person sitting next to me at one point pats me on the back and says, “Wow, you’re really on today.”  Damn right. I am ruling.

Day 3: I start to notice the physical changes. A friend and I head to the driving range. I haven’t picked up a golf club in a few years, but today I’m crushing the ball (when I actually connect) and send one drive well over 150 250 yards. After the driving range, I’m just getting warmed up, so I go to the gym and start working on my arms: my regular 10lbs 30 lbs bicep curls seem like child’s play. I’m grunting at a douche bag level. Also, the guys from Staind sound like a bunch of nancies.  I’m now listening to nothing but Slayer.

This is what happens when you pick on someone repeatedly.

Day 4: Four days in, still waking up before my alarm clock goes off. I begin to love the subtle changes: I don’t merely “walk” when I’m on steroids, I strut. My chin juts and my shoulders go back to depths that almost hurt. Almost. I no longer avoid contact in the real world: I seek it out. Confidence levels are high. After yesterday’s workout, I’m not sore at all and feel like I could go back and complete the exact same routine. I won’t, because I’m lazy, but I convince myself I could if I wanted. Instead, I go to ESPN’s comment boards and pick fights with fellow mouth breathers. I begin using all caps constantly and contemplate driving to Connecticut to punch some guy who says Don Mattingly was overrated. While I’m there, I can also beat up the guy who is dating my ex-girlfriend. He follows Phish. Hell, I could probably take him without the steroids.

Day 5: Sleep in way too late. Still feel pretty good, but notice I’m lagging a bit. The typical five hours of sleep doesn’t seem like enough. I continue seeking fights on ESPN comment boards, but my posts start to lack capital letters and vitriol. I realize I haven’t had a carb in three days. I try a tortilla chip — it tastes awful. I decide to eat 11 chicken breasts instead. I convince myself only grade schoolers and sorority girls listen to Slayer, so I spend $30 on Killswitch Engage songs. That night, while at a bar with friends, I convince myself I am capable of beating up every dude in the place. You know, if it came to that…

Day 6: Get up way too late again. Have a difficult time getting out of bed. Turn on a Killswitch song to start my day and immediately scare myself; put on Arcade Fire instead. On my way to work, I shoulder block some guy who gets in my way just to see if I still get the rush… I don’t. Instead, I feel like a jerk and now my shoulder hurts. I get into an argument with one of my co-workers over the wording in a document. I know I’m right, but I decide to let it go. I spend my commute home that night wondering if he hates me. I’m no longer more confident than neurotic. It sucks.

Day 7: I feel sad and lumpy. So tired and negative. Try to create my own legal steroid with 5 Hour Energy and Diet Cherry Coke, but fail miserably as it doesn’t kick-in until five hours LATER, when I’m trying to go to sleep. Want more steroids. Need more steroids.

So, there you have it: steroids are a modern wonder drug. While I want more of them so bad completely discourage their recreational use, I do encourage scientists to find a way to make them healthy and affordable. After all, why should guys like A-Rod have all the fun?



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