eruthros: Delenn building the crystal machine in season 1  of B5, captioned "foreshadowing" (B5 - Delenn incredible foreshadowing)
eruthros ([personal profile] eruthros) wrote2012-03-24 05:57 pm

vicodin and me

This is a post I started writing a while ago, and put off finishing for ages because describing bodies is hard. A lot of things have changed since I wrote this, but the basic premise hasn't.

The whole post is full of ableism (including internalized ableism). The fourth part also contains cultural appropriation + racist exoticizing.

1. My back aches. There's an icepick going right through my right scapula, and it's not going away. I can feel the pain shooting down along my nerves, zinging into my hand and my hip and up my neck, meeting up with other pain in my joints and doing strange things. No matter how much I try to relax, or how I arrange my body, muscle tightness is following that zing: I'm tensing up everywhere, trying to hold myself in just the right position, even though there is no right position and nothing makes the zing go away. I ask [personal profile] thingswithwings to bring me water and food. I hook my cane up behind the sofa and lean on it when I get up. My eyes water when I stand up to go to the bathroom and when I lean forward and when I pick things up and when I bend over.

I take NSAIDs, even though I know they won't work. I take a muscle relaxant, even though I know it won't work. I try heat on the tense muscles - that will at least make it a little better, right?

I don't take any vicodin.

I don't need it.

It will go away. It's just temporary. It won't last. Tomorrow I'll be fine.

I've already had NSAIDs. Liver failure is a serious issue.

I only have so much vicodin. What if my doctor wants to know how much I've used? What if it's a test? I'd better not use it all. I'd better be able to tell him I've only used it a few times, only when I really, really needed it.

I'll have some vodka instead.

My vicodin prescription is pretty strong, it's overkill for this, really.

It makes me nauseated.

I don't like the way it makes me feel.

I don't need it.

2. The first thing my mom said to me when I mentioned vicodin was:

"But that's addictive!"

She said it in a sort of astonished and confused and betrayed voice, something like they way she might've said "but that's illegal!"

As if there's any way I might not know that. As if I needed to have that conversation again, just to make sure, you know, that I had really considered it thoroughly.

3. It takes me thirty minutes to get into bed. Not thirty minutes to brush my teeth and do bedtime tasks: thirty minutes to get into the bed. I grit my teeth and try all different angles of attack: if I could just bend - no. If I shift my weight so - no. Maybe if I sort of roll - no. No, really really no. I end up on my knees, on the floor next to the mattress, leaning my chest forward to rest on the bed.

I stop for a while and put my face on the sheets and think about just sleeping like that.

Eventually I get up on my knees, push myself forward and shift my weight and finally get my torso onto the mattress. It takes another five minutes to lift my legs up.

I don't take any vicodin.

I don't need it.

It's bedtime; my evening meds will knock me out so it doesn't matter how I feel.

It's not that bad. Not compared to other people's pain.

If it's not better in the morning, I'll take some then.


I will.

4. My mom's boss ran into me in a cafe. "Oh! [personal profile] eruthros! It's so lovely to see you!"

She sat down between me and the only exit. She smiled widely and gestured vaguely towards my cane and the pill case on the table with her chin. "I hear you've been having some sort of chronic pain medical problems."

I kept eating my bagel. "Yes." I said. "I don't want to -"

"Do you think it might be lyme disease? Because I've heard a lot about chronic lyme disease."


"Listen, I really just wanted to recommend homeopathy, which is so great for that sort of systemic problem where, you know, Western doctors just don't know what to do. It really can fix all kinds of problems."

"Mmmmm." She's my mom's boss, and I don't want to piss her off, but I'm so sick of this shit, so I just sit there and make noises. I don't mention the history of homeopathic medicine. I don't tell her about the treatments I've tried. I don't say anything.

"Or other kinds of holistic medicine, really! Do you have an alternative medicine doctor where you live? You should find one and go see him. Especially if he does homeopathy or acupuncture."


"Acupuncture is just - oh, it's wonderful. I had shingles a few years ago, all over my body, even under my hair. The pain was so bad I thought I was having a stroke. And I went in to the emergency room, and they said it was shingles, and they wanted to keep me in the hospital and give me morphine and things, and I said no way, I just checked myself out of there."


"And then I got home, and I threw out all the narcotics - just threw them out! And I went to an acupuncturist instead. It's just such a pure feeling, acupuncture. It makes you really aware of the electrical currents running under your skin, which all of us have forgotten, and it's just a mystical and transformative experience."


"The first time I went to acupuncture I lay there in the dark sobbing. Not because of the pain, it doesn't hurt at all, just because I felt so connected to the universe in a way that nobody still feels anymore, you know?"


"Anyway, do go see a homeopathic doctor. Or an acupuncturist."

"I'll look into it," I said. And I stood up and juggled my bags and my water bottle and my pill case and my cane before I walked out.

5. I wake up the next morning and I feel a little bit better. See? No big deal! I can get out of bed and walk to the sofa, no problem.

I try to bend over to pet Rorschach good morning and I can't do it. It hurts too much. He wags his tail and wags his tail and looks up at me; I can't reach down that far. He clearly thinks I'm mad at him, and he keeps coming over to me once I sit down on the sofa and going wag, wag, wag, why won't you pet me?

I can't reach him.

When he jostles me I groan.

But I'm feeling better now than I did last night. It'll probably get better over the course of the day. Probably pretty quickly, even. I'll just take my morning meds and that'll take care of it. I'll zone out on some flash games. I'll zone out on tv. I'll get drunk this evening.

I'll give it another few hours, you know, just in case.

I only have so much vicodin.

The pain isn't that bad. Really.

I don't really need it.

Maybe later.

6. The day I got a prescription for vicodin was one of those days dedicated to doctors. I saw my primary care doctor in the morning, and we talked about pain for a while, and then he said, just out of the blue, "would you mind trying vicodin instead?" I blinked in astonishment, because I'd heard so much about people's difficulty getting opiate painkillers, and then I said "sure?" We talked a bit about spacing around my other meds and about how many pills I could take at a time and about using it for migraines. ("Sure, try it for migraines too," he said, "because the prophylaxis options are limited once you're on X and Y.")

So I took my prescriptions and got on the bus and headed out towards my other appointment of the day - a one-time referral to a physiatrist, who was, in theory, going to advise my physical therapists on how to avoid doing harm. I'd filled out a heap of introductory paperwork and mailed it in a week ago, I'd brought all of the various braces and straps and tapes given to me by various physical therapists and the ones I'd bought myself, I had a list of exercises-we-have-tried from my PT, I had the imaging results on CDs in my going-to-see-doctors-folder. I checked in at the front desk, and I read my book for a while, and then I finally got in to see the doctor. She had all of my paperwork and half of my file from my primary care doctor spread out over the table.

"So all of this is an accurate picture of your current medications and physical therapy?" she said.

"Oh, no, actually, I just got a new prescription." I pulled the sheet out of my going-to-see-doctors folder. "For hydrocodone/acetaminophen. I haven't taken any yet."

"I should hope not!" she said. "That's vicodin."

"Yes?" I said.

"Why isn't it in your paperwork that you're taking vicodin?"

"I just got the prescription today -"

"You need to tell me whenever you get a prescription for opiates!"

I thought, but didn't say to her, that I just did tell her.

She stomped over to her desk and pulled out an Opiate Agreement. "Sign this," she said. "Read it and take it seriously."

I read it. It said she'd need to be notified immediately of any change in my opiate prescription. It said she would have access to my pharmacy records to check up on me. It used the word "addictive" a lot. Sometimes it was underlined. I was only seeing her once - could only see her once, that's how the referral worked. She wasn't my doctor. She had no input into my treatment except for PT, she had no input into my diagnosis, she had no input into my medications - in fact, she could not prescribe me meds according to my insurance company.

I needed her to refer me on to physical therapy. I signed it.

7. I'll take some tomorrow. But right now I'm fine, really, as long as I don't move, and anyway soon I'll be going to bed again, and I'll sleep no matter what, and anyway I already had NSAIDs and gin and tonics and fucking tylenol, and I need to tell my doctor how much I took this month, and what if something worse happens next week, and other people can live with this kind of pain, and it's just because I'm a wimp, and it's really no big deal, and I don't need to take vicodin, and anyway it makes me feel shitty, and I shouldn't need it, and I know as I'm repeating them that none of those reasons make any sense, that they're not real reasons at all, that I have this drug for a reason, that it doesn't fucking matter what people say about it, that I need it. I know I'm taking tylenol so I have an excuse not to take the vicodin, but I still take the tylenol.

And even though I know it's bullshit, it's still there in my head, and I can't do it. There are all these other ways to manage pain: I should be doing them instead. I should be doing something different, something better, I shouldn't need it.

But if it still hurts this much, I'll take some tomorrow. Really. I will. Tomorrow.

8. There's a free clinic in town that I walk past when I go to the grocery store. They do all sorts of free health care for people without insurance - they have doctors and nurses and acupuncturists and massage therapists and other kinds of medicine as well. They put up a sign about being wanting to be welcoming to everyone.

They also put up a different sign: "This clinic does not prescribe narcotics for any reason."

I always hope there's a legal reason for it, but the thing is, it doesn't really matter why that sign is there. It says the same thing either way: it is more important to prevent some people from accessing narcotics that they're addicted to than it is for other (poor) people in pain to be able to control that pain.

If I had no health insurance, they wouldn't be welcoming to me.

9. I get up. I feel awful. It's just the same as it was yesterday and the day before. It hasn't gone away.

"Tell me it's okay to take vicodin right now," I say to [personal profile] thingswithwings

"It's okay to take vicodin right now," she says, and she goes and gets me my pills.

I take vicodin.

I feel better.
livrelibre: DW barcode (Default)

[personal profile] livrelibre 2012-03-25 06:45 pm (UTC)(link)
This is a great post and if you ever want vicodin taking encouragement I'm available. <3