Regular readers know Iíve experienced a series of serious major orthopedic events over the last 5 months or so. I broke my right foot in December, had a meniscus repair and debridement on my right knee in February and just a week and a half ago I had a reconstruction of the ligaments in my left knee, along with a general debridement and lots of drilling through bone to remove the remnants of past failed repairs. In a few weeks Iím having my right shoulder reconstructed.
My point is lately itís been a pretty damn rough stretch of road. Other than slicing you from zilch to gazzle, thereís not a whole lot the medicos can do for orthopedic failures like me. Slicing, hacking, sawing and drilling hurts. A lot. A whole lot.
So the medicos give out drugs to alleviate pain and render their victims somewhat more comfortable. In the hospital they gave me the Big Guns; Dilaudid and/or Demerol, usually augmented with Vistril or some similar anti-nausea agent, sometimes IV, sometimes IM. They they sent me home with 60 Percodans. Thatís in addition to my standing scrip for Vicodin ES.
Lying in a hospital bed, barely able to move in acute pain, Iím all about getting the Big Guns, as much and as often as possible. Screw those automatic dosing machines were you have to press a button like one of Pavlovís dogs every ten fucking minutes just to maintain a nominal baseline dose. Give me the whole enchilada at once.
Bang me, baby, bang me hard. And why not? Iíd rather spend my hospital time in halcyon dreams than screaming agony. And Iíll probably sleep until itís time for the next dose, anyway. And I donít even have to call for the next dose. I train the nurses to bring me my cocktail every 3 hours, day and night, awake or asleep.
But what works in the hospital makes for a train wreck at home. I went through those 60 Percodans in less than 10 days. Well, almost. I saved a few for breakthrough pain. They rendered me pretty damn useless for those days. Between the pain, the inability to ambulate, and the drugs, I was having trouble getting out of my recliner to pee.
Now Iím back to my regular diet of a daily Vioxx for first line relief, Ultram for pain, Vicodin for acute pain and Percodan as the last line of defense against intolerable pain. Iím improving rapidly enough that Iíve all but eliminated the need for anything other than the psycho-tropically benign Vioxx.
Yeah, I'm an old fuck. Thatís why I take Vioxx for arthritis. I turned 44 in January. But I still have 3 feet of thick, wavy hair and it's all still the same color - dark auburn with dramatic highlights - it's always been. Naturally. Not a spot of grey.
Of all of which, let me tell you, I am sinfully proud. And despite the almost Sisyphusian string of massive organic structural failures, I'm not unhappy with the overall condition of my body. Considering the breadth and scope of my various teenage stupidities, being ambulatory at all at 44 is an accomplishment. But, other than my knees, I can still summon a surprising amount of strength, speed and dexterity on command. As long as I don't command it too often.
Having settled the most acute orthopedic failures, at least for now, I figured it was finally time to talk to my orthopod about the burning pain in my right neck and shoulder. I had attributed it to repetitive stress. Iíve seen a lot of keyboard jockeys suffer very similar ailments. But during my recoup it got worse, though I didnít even boot up most of the time.
So he gives me a muscle relaxant to ease the hot spot. Brand name Soma. And hereís the point of the story. Tonight I took a Soma (carisoprodol) for the first time. Having long experience with the entire pantheon of narcotic and analgesic drugs, from Fentanyl to aspirin, I thought nothing of having a Scotch and soda in the evening, as is my custom.
Soma definitely relaxes muscles, especially when taken with a bit of alcohol. Much the same way methaqualone relaxes muscles. Iím telliní ya, Soma and a short snort is twice the buzz of the Big Guns at full dose. But itís a dummy buzz. Canít you tell from my writing up to this point?
The last time I felt a buzz anything like this Ė yes, Iím writing this from the depths of a viscous, echoing, almost opaque state of consciousness, was after 2 Quaaludes and countless 10 cent Tanqueray and tonics night at some meat market or another in Marina del Rey. Of course, we augmented the booze not only with the downers, but with massive quantities of cocaine.
That night on the way home we dumped the motorcycle I was unfortunate enough to be on the back of at 50 mph in the middle of an intersection. The guy driving missed the turn.
Thanks to Our Blessed Mother of Stupidity, both of us tumbled and bounced spectacularly across all 6 lanes of the intersection, over the curb and through the gas station on the corner. The bike came to rest leaning on a pump, as did we, though against different pumps.
At the time we thought it was the funniest damn thing either of us had ever seen. The bike was badly warped. No way was it going anywhere on its own power. But we were only a couple of blocks from my beachfront house, so we staggered the bike back home.
When we got there the party was waiting. I donít know how the hell they got in, but weíd invited a bunch of other really drunk 10 cent T&T swillers, almost exclusively women, back to the pad for drugs and debauchery and by God, they wanted drugs and debauchery. We were only too happy to abide.
One of the unfortunate things about this kind of no-holds-barred partying is often times the details are a bit fuzzy, even immediately after the fact. I remember bits and pieces of the extreme fun we had Ė glimpses of oiled female bodies in roiling piles of undulating, multihued flesh, but not enough to offset the other things I remember and nowhere near enough to offset what came later.
Iím not going to get into details, except to say that we all sunk to new levels of depravity, even for LA in the late 70s. And it wasnít all fun depravity by a long shot. When Godís great yellow eye rose all too quickly over the dirty orange stretches of the LA sky to our East and unmercifully singled us out, there was embarrassment galore for all and plenty of nasty physical evidence that precluded any pretensions or denials.
My point is watch your ass when it comes to drugs. Itís been more than 20 years since Iíve done any recreational drugs, save an occasional toke of KGB and very moderate drinking. I thought nothing of taking a ďmuscle relaxant.Ē After all, I know drugs, pharmaceutical and illegal. But that harmless muscle relaxant damn near kicked my ass.
Life is weird enough. I need my wits about me. Considering how much damage Iíve likely done during my misspent youth, these days I need every damn brain cell I can muster.
My orthopod wants me to take this Soma crap 4 times a day. Judging from the lackluster quality of this screed, itís costing me 10, maybe 20 IQ points. Sure, that still leaves me a 1 percenter, and, being a certified genius and all, almost certainly smarter than you, but I prefer firing on all cylinders.
The shit of it is the damn Soma works. My neck/shoulder feels much better. Guess Iím gonna have to create a decision making matrix to figure out if brain or pain is the winner.