Yes, that’s my right arm, exactly seven days after the crash. You can see the IVs that went in, the ones that failed to go in, the vein that blew afterwards. In the end they actually opened up one of the big veins in my neck and sewed something in, I think it was called a CVC.
I gave up pain medication in the fourth day, to prove to the hospital that I was able to leave on my own and wouldn’t require IV meds to continue. Now I have a vial full of Oxy, which I’ve limited to use between 2am and 8am. I’d like to throw the vial out and as soon as I can sleep without it I’m going to.
But let me tell you about the wonderful things I experienced when they had me plumbed by the jugular and I wasn’t yet stubborn enough to wave them off…
Dilaudid is a kind of remixed version of morphine. One way to get it is to dissolve morphine in alcohol then to heat that solution in the presence of a platinum or palladium catalyst. It was developed about ninety years ago. The effect of that “remixing” is to increase its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning that in actual use a given amount of Dilaudid is eight or more times as powerful as morphine — three times as powerful as heroin.
While it would be an exaggeration to say that everything hurt when I was first admitted to the hospital (my left hand seemed fine, as did my left knee) it wouldn’t be far from my perception at the time. After some time in a CT scan machine at all kinds of weird angles, it was time for me to sit 24 hours or so until the spleen procedure could take place. At that I was in so much pain that I’d been short-breathing for hours.
“We are going,” the nurse said, “to put a unit of Dilaudid in your neck here.” I woke up four hours later. They saw me wake up and I waved them off when they went to do it again. By the end of the night, however, I was ready for another one. I believe I had a total of five, maybe six injections before announcing that I wouldn’t take any more.
Here is how it works.
The injection is something you can feel in your neck, cold and smooth. And within a minute, or less, all the pain simply disappears, as if it’s been washed away with a clean wet cloth. The absence of pain is one of the most wonderful feelings, and nothing provides it like Dilaudid. If it stopped there, you could take it every day from now until retirement and it would be fine, but it doesn’t stop there.
What comes next is, of course, total bliss. Bliss is to the absence of pain what the absence of pain is to having nine fractured bones rubbing around. Bliss is a sudden arrival of certainty that absolutely everything is wonderful. Your blood-soaked right hand? Wonderful. The dirt on the floor? Wonderful. The fact that you’re in the hospital recovering from a tragic accident? Wonderful. Every decision you’ve ever made has been correct. You love everybody. They probably love you, too. The bliss just keeps ratcheting up and right when you’re thinking that the broken ceiling tile dangling above you is just the most beauitful thing, it hits maximum and you pass out.
All of that, I think, I could handle and not become completely addicted to, though it would be tough. For me, it’s the dreams that made me start planning to stop taking Dilaudid the minute they gave it to me.
I’m a nightmare kid. My whole life. Dusk till dawn. Terrible things are happening. From the commonplace (you mean I don’t have enough credits to graduate?) to the bizarre and specific (my son fell in a machine that will dismember him unless I can rewire the control panel?) and on and on and on. I think it’s how I work things out. But it’s made me a night owl. I don’t sleep until I need to. I don’t mind missing out on sleep.
Dilaudid dreams, on the other hand, are universally blissful. Just random songs that are happy, and the feeling of being held, and the anticipation of opening presents on Christmas morning. The sense that some people report from childhood, of always feeling perfectly safe. You wake up from those dreams and everything is still just fine.
Except, of course, that the pain is starting to seep back through. Another injection? You’re allowed to have it. What do you say? Better say no. Need to get back to rehab, to work, to being productive, to leaving the hospital. But it would be so nice to have one more, and one more afterwards, and to keep going with it.
What did the man say? “If God made anything better, he kept it for himself.”