When I was a rebellious teenager, thinking that my future lay in rocking out in a band, I used to write lyrics whenever I had a strong emotion. Now those lyrics have turned into poetry, of course. It's the same...only different. My poems now seem to be about memories, special people, special moments. They aren't trite, but they are rated E for everyone.
My lyrics, however, were anything but that. While not everything was gritty, the lyrics were often much grittier than I, in fact, was. I was in a rebellious phase, turning my back on everything I grew up with, and I was hanging out with the "wrong crowd," meaning that I didn't fit into the rich kids' cliques at school, so I hung with the outcasts. The outcasts were like me, smart, cynical, creative, and just as rebellious. I'm sure my mother wondered what was going on with me, but I had left her home and moved in with my sister. I felt a little lost and lonely. I tried to be tough, though, because I knew that's what it would take to make it in the world. I should have been tough, given the way I grew up, and I guess I was tough enough, because I'm here, right?
One song I wrote early on was called Comin' Down, and I must have just imagined what it was like since I had never had any hard drugs. At that point, I had smoked exactly 1/3 of one joint with a boyfriend and a mutual friend. I didn't really care for it; it wasn't my thing. In a way, I wished it had been my thing, because I felt like I needed something to help me escape the emotional pain I was in. It's a good thing that didn't take. The chorus to the song was this (insert power chords):
You can't get around it
You can't get around
Profound, eh? Of course, what I meant by that was that for every high there was a low, for every speed there was a downer, for every dose you had to come down and that? I imagined it would suck. Want to know how I knew what it looked like? My father. He had lung cancer, and as it progressed into its fifth year, past the point of radiation, past the point of surgery, past the point of chemo, they progressed him from Percodan to Dilaudid to Morphine shots. When I was a baby, Dad was an alcoholic. He overcame that because it almost killed him, but his crazy behaviors never went away. He never really held himself accountable, not like people in AA do. He never apologized or made amends for my mother having to go all over town (walking, in the middle of the night, with three then four kids) to find him, clean him up and sober him up.
I never saw that phase, but I saw the morphine phase. It was ugly. He eventually was so hooked that he started doctor shopping. He was supposed to take a shot of morphine every 8 hours. Eventually he was taking it every 2 hours. He was alternately violent and then passed out. There was no in between anymore, and although Mom certainly was glad when he was passed out (and therefore not violent), she started having to endure more and more craziness at his hands. He was sure she was poisoning his food. He yelled all the time. He threatened her, hit her, hit me, and was a monster.
I got to see drug use at its worst, up close, personal, horrible. The vials of morphine sat in the door of the refrigerator next to the olives. The syringes were lying on the sink in the bathroom, used, cast aside. The day his mother fell and broke her hip (which proved fatal days later), he was in the other bathroom from her, on the other side of a thin wall, passed out on the toilet with the needle still stuck in his leg.
The night he tried to kill me? Mom had enough. We left. We had no money, no jobs, no hope. We lived with my grandmother for a little while. Dad eventually sobered up in the hospital, but Mom was done. She had had enough. I never forgot it and stayed away from the harder stuff as I experimented with self-medication to kill the images in my head.
I settled into a nice life, eventually, and was doing alright until the spinal problems hit me. A couple of car accidents, an accident on the job, multiple surgeries, a rebuilt neck. I ended up with pain that could shoot up to 8/10 on any given day. When the pain specialist had exhausted things like facet nerve ablations, epidural injections, and suggestions that I try yoga, etc., he prescribed some long-acting medication to try to prevent me from having to take the short acting stuff like Vicodin.
The medication? Kadian. It's morphine. I shook in my boots when I read the package insert. I was scared to death. I had only ever had it in the hospital after surgery. One time it gave me an ileus (basically my colon ceased to function and nearly poisoned my blood). I asked the doc if she was sure this is what I needed. She said, "It's a very low dose, but it will be fine."
Basically, it gave me many side effects, no high, and no lasting pain relief. She doubled the dosage. Worse side effects. I was increasing my fiber and all of the other things you have to do to deal with a slow digestion. I started to transpose letters and numbers, though I didn't feel any effects consciously. So after a few weeks of physical therapy, I went to my doctor and asked her to take me off of the medication.
I'm on one week of a reduced dose, and then it will be gone altogether. But you know what's coming, right? The side effects from slowing down the meds. The body becomes accustomed to the medication, making a compromise with the necessary poison. I'm just not willing to go up on the dose in order to find relief. And I'm not willing to continue having to deal with these side effects -- weight gain, for one. I was pre-diabetic with high blood pressure and high cholesterol when I was heavy. I lost the weight to save my life. I'm not gaining it back. I'm just not.
So there you have it. I'm sleeping a lot. I'm having weird dreams. I'm very thirsty, not so much hungry. It will be over soon. But you can't get around it...