Sunday, December 4, 2011

Threat identified.......


The sawzall blade went in through the meat of my hand, carved a pretty little cavern, and then continued on to punch out in the palm. I got one good look at the full depth and breadth of the laceration before I clamped it shut with my other hand. Just one good look. Not even the ER doc opened it up again, but I could picture it well enough. Still can. Lots of ragged read meat.

Five days later, it's well on its way to healing, and thankfully no signs of infection.

That's not what this note is about. The wound is not the threat. Its something else.

The doc prescribed a pain killer and an antibiotic. I'm good with the antibiotic, but I usually avoid pain meds any stronger than an OTC Ibuprofen or four. A couple years ago I took a stab at cutting the end of my finger off (It grew back), and the doc offered up Vicodin then. He swore I would need it. The bottle is still in my gun safe, and I've never tasted of it's fruits.

See.... as a kid, I took part in something my parents did. They owned and ran a half way house for drug addicts. I was a little kid who sat in on dozens of group counseling sessions. I knew those people. I saw and heard things.....

I know how utterly $#%@ed up drugs can make a life.

All that, to explain why I almost never take a pain killer or any other narcotic drug. I can deal with pain better than I can deal with being addicted. I know that.

This time... after looking into the gaping chasm of read meat that was my left hand, I decided I'd best go ahead and take the Percocet the doc prescribed. Something told me this time it would hurt in a whole new way, until it healed up a bit. So I did. Every six hours, beginning before the local wore off from getting stitched up. For about four days straight.

Then, my healthy fear of addiction returned, and I began weening off. Over a couple days I backed it off till I was taking none at all. That was yesterday.

Today I woke up and realized something. Something scary as hell. I hurt.

No... not the hand. That throbbed a bit, but nothing exceptional. The hurt I woke up to was the thousand and one aches and pains accumulated over fifty years of an active life, working hard and not sparing the body. The stab in the back which dictated how I rolled out of bed for years had returned. The knee ache which usually has me standing still a moment after rising was once again a factor.

None of that was frightening. What scared me was something far, far worse.

For the few days when I was taking the Percocet..... I woke without pain, feeling wonderful, and didn't even notice.

That is scary as hell. I could get used to not hurting. It would be so easy..... so easy.

Until the bill came due.

The rest of those Painkillers are going in the gun safe, next to the Vicodin, to wait on a day when the pain outweighs the cost of the cure. I hope it never comes.


ZerCool said...


My doctor handed out scripts for pain meds like halloween candy when I had my kidney stone.

I used less than one bottle (30 pills) of the vicodin and ONE tablet of the stronger stuff he wrote.

I had an ex-girlfriend who turned herself into an addict, lost her job, professional license, kids, car, home, and finally chose to end her own life.

Like you, I tend to just grit my teeth to pain, and stick to a couple Advil if it gets bad - because there are some prices not worth paying.

Carteach0 said...

Yup. Agreed.

I won't throw them away. Someday they might be worth gold, when a doc and a pharmacy are not available.

That said, right now the pain is nothing I can't deal with and function just fine. 'Easy' does not mean 'free', and the price for not having the pain is just too high.

Old NFO said...

Carteach0, be aware all drugs lose their potency after time, and I agree 1000% with your post. I HATE drugs, and I went through the same thing a number of years ago, I dumped the drugs down the toilet after the second day.

Suz said...

I avoid them as well, for the same reason. We do a dozen small but non-addictive things every day to cope with pain. A hassle, yes, but far less intrusive than addiction.

Jean said...

A friend's 20 yr old grandson OD'd last week. He was revived and woke angry to find himself still alive.
In 20 short years, he has had a long, miserable life made much worse by the drugs. He's in detox right now because he wants the drugs they use there...methadone in this case. He is free to leave whenever he wishes. He can then go to rehab for 28 days. (detox @ $600/day, rehab @$400/day paid for by emergency Medicaid.)

He values nothing except drugs.
Family is at a loss because they realize that it has to be the boy himself who wants to stop.
I'm surprised he's lived this long.

og said...

The issue you have to deal with is inflammation. A lot of the aches and pains you deal with daily are due to inflammation, and untreated, inflammation is a vicious circle, whcih always makes the pain worse.

acetaminophen (tylenol) and NSAIDS like Advil and Naprosyn are made to deal with apin and inflamation. They are not addictive in the normally accepted way, but they can become addoictive BECAUSE they give you a lack of pain. Because they have no narcotic effects, though, they do not lead to a chemical physiological addiction, like opiates.

As long as your liver can handle the NSAIDS and the acetaminophen, it's good to take them. Don't overdo anything, but also don't just "tough it out", not dealing with inflammation can actually do more severe damage.

Carteach0 said...

I stopped the Percocet/Tylenol and went to Ibuprofen. Doing okay so far, except I overdid it a bit today. Thought I popped a stitch, but might have torn it open a bit inside. I'll baby it another week and then yank the stitches.

Roberta X said...

On the ibuprofen, don't forget they're really not kidding about not taking them on an empty stomach. (With chronic migraines, I am dependent on them in order to function -- and consider myself lucky that's all it takes.)

Vicodin, etc., oh, yeah, I was on and off that for over a year (due to another pain issue) and they make me feel too good.

Interestingly, my doc at the time claimed that as long as patients take such things for (major) pain, the odds of addiction are quite small. It's when you get to wanting that warmth & lack of small pains that trouble follows.

(I don't know if House is especially popular among people with pain problems; his comes and goes as the plot demands. But Tam and I, who have both had to use painkillers in the past, look at the character and think, "There but for grace and luck....")

Storage: Vicodin is good for about a year. When it starts smelling of vinegar, it's unsafe to use.

John B said...

You are my hero, I have a bottle of Oxycontin 20's in my gun safe. If my insurance fails, I have scramble room for one month. I rotate that bottle to make sure it's fresh, and in good months I can put 10-15 more in the bottle to maybe by this time next year have scramble room for two months.

Anonymous said...

I'm not an expert but usually freezing drugs prolongs their life expectancy.

And if you ever need chronic pain relief "chronic" (pot) works wonders for most people, plus it's non-addictive, pleasant side effects, non-toxic.

Carteach0 said...

Thankfully, any 'chronic' pain I have can be handled with Ibuprofen.