The Wisdom of Oz

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Let me ask
you a question, Mr Osbourne,” a doctor in America once said
to me, after I’d listed all the heavy-duty substances I’d
been abusing since the 1960s.

“All right,”
I said. “Go ahead."

The doctor
put down his notebook, loosened his tie a bit, and let out this
long, weary sigh.

“Why are
you still alive?"

I’ve often
wondered the same thing myself. By all accounts I’m a medical
miracle. When I die, I should donate my body to the Natural History
Museum. It’s all very well going on a bender for a couple of
days – but mine went on for 40 years. At one point I was knocking
back four bottles of cognac a day, blacking out, coming to again,
and carrying on. While filming The Osbournes I was also shoving
42 types of prescription medication down my neck, morning, noon
and night – and that was before all the dope I was smoking
in my “safe” room, away from the cameras. Meanwhile, I
used to get through cigars like they were cigarettes. I’d even
smoke them in bed.

“Do you
mind?” I’d ask Sharon, as I lit up another Cuban the size
of Red October.

“Oh no,
please, go ahead,” she’d say, before whacking me with
Good Housekeeping.

Then there
are all the other things I’ve managed to not die from during
my rock’n’roll career: like being hit by a plane (it crashed
into my tour bus when I was fast asleep with Sharon in the back);
or the time I got a false-positive HIV test; or the time when they
told me I “probably” had Parkinson’s disease (they
were wrong – it turned out to be a rare genetic condition,
a Parkinsonian-like tremor). I was even committed to a mental asylum
for a while. “Do you masturbate, Mr Osbourne?” was the
first thing they asked me. “I’m here for my head, not
my dick!” I replied.

And then there
was the rabies treatment I had to go through after eating a bat
– which you might have heard about once or twice. All I want
to say is that I thought it was a rubber toy, swear on my 17 dogs’
lives.

Oh, and yeah,
I’ve been dead twice: it happened (so I’m told) while
I was in a chemically induced coma after I broke my neck in a quad-bike
accident in 2003. I’ve got more metal screws in me now than
in an Ikea flatpack thanks to the doctors and nurses at the NHS.

So, as you
can imagine, when The Sunday Times Magazine asked me to be
its new health-advice columnist – Dr Ozzy, as I’ll be
known from now on – I thought they were taking the piss, to
be honest with you. But then I thought about it for a while, and
it makes perfect sense: I’ve seen literally thousands of doctors
over my lifetime, and spent well over £1m on them, to the
point where I sometimes think I know more about being a doctor than
doctors do.

And it’s
not just because of the lifestyle I’ve pursued. I also happen
to be the world’s worst hypochondriac. I’ll catch a disease
off the telly, me. Being ill is like a hobby. I’ve even started
to diagnose my own diseases, thanks to Google (or I should say thanks
to my assistant Tony, because I’m not exactly Steve Jobs when
it comes to computers).

Understandably,
the question I always get is: “If you’re such a hypochondriac,
Ozzy, how could you have taken all those drugs?” But the thing
is, when you have an addictive personality like mine, you never
think anything bad’s gonna happen. It’s like: “Oh,
well, I didn’t do as much as so-and-so – I didn’t
drink as much as him, didn’t do as much coke.”

Now, that might
be fine in theory, but in my case the so-and-so was usually a certified
lunatic like John Bonham or Tommy Lee, which meant they’d put
enough up their nose to march the Bolivian army to the moon and
back. Another thing I’d always tell myself was: “Oh, a
doctor gave me the drugs, and he must know what he’s doing
– mustn’t he?” But that was ignoring the fact that
I’d administered the stuff myself. And if there’s one
thing I’m not, it’s a qualified medical professional.

Which explains
all the near misses I’ve had: overdoses, seizures, you name
it. Most of the time I blamed it on my dyslexia: “Oh, I thought
it said 24 pills every two hours, not two pills every 24 hours."

The funny thing
is, to my friends I’ve been Dr Ozzy for years – mainly
because I used to be like a walking pharmacy. I remember back in
the 1980s, when a friend came to me with a leg ache. I went to get
my “special” suitcase, pulled out a pill the size of a
golf ball and said: “Here, take this.” It was ibuprofen,
before you could buy it over the counter in the UK. He came back
a few hours later and said: “Dr Ozzy, you cured me!” The
only problem was, I gave him 800mg – enough to cure an obese
elephant. It knocked the bloke out for a month. That was in the
old days, of course, before lawsuits were invented. I’d never
do that now. Honest to God.

But it’s
not just medication I’ve given to my friends. As strange as
it sounds, a lot of people have asked me for family advice, especially
in recent years. I suppose it’s because they saw me raising
Jack and Kelly during The Osbournes, and they think I’m like
the Bill Cosby of the undead or something. They ask me stuff like
“How do I bring up the subject of sex with my kids?” or
“How do I talk to them about drugs?”

I’m happy
to help the best I can. The trouble is, when I talked to my kids
about drugs, it was: “Can you give me some?” But I’ve
become a better father since then, I like to think. I mean, during
the worst days of my addiction, I wasn’t really a father at
all, I was just another one of Sharon’s kids. But I’m
a different person now: I keep fit, don’t smoke, don’t
drink, don’t get high – or least not on anything but endorphins.

I enjoy my
family more than I ever have before: not just my five amazing kids
(two of them with my first wife, Thelma) but also my four grandkids.
Plus, after nearly 30 years, my marriage to Sharon is going stronger
than ever, so I guess I must be doing something right.

When you live
full-time in California, as I’ve done for the past few years,
you often feel people spend so much time trying to save their lives
that they don’t live them. I mean, at the end of the day, we’re
all going to die. So what’s the point of always worrying about
your health?

Read
the rest of the article

June
7, 2010

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