New year, new ACL: the woes of pain meds, Part Two

Last stop in the Surgery Shop is the post OR area, making sure I’m okay. I’m completely stoned and know it. Dr.Irving the anesthesiologist casually goes about finding the nerve bundle right next to the femoral artery in each quad. I say casual because he knows what he’s doing. Same way the speed skaters make gliding along at 40+ KPH look effortless on those 17” blades. These doctors have easy speed and oh am I grateful.


The nerves are blocked thus freeing me of more intense pain for the next 6 hours or so. I am mostly numb and unable to move from the waste down, but still attempt to wiggle a toe. Sensation creeps in slowly and a small inner celebration happens when I can move first the toes, the foot, then legs have some sensations, too. The last to feel anything is my bum. I have a serious case of numb bum.


Back in my day room at the hospital with a coffee Peter brought I am in a state of minor shock that this is me, this is real. Considering all the meds in me, you’d think the coffee headache would be gone. Nope. And I am too nauseous to drink any of the damn thing. A little sandwich later, some crackers and a Kombucha, I feel a little bit less woozy. I lay in awe and wonder thinking how delicious this hospital food is. Then I remember I am high as a kite and know it’s the meds speaking, not my taste buds.


Soon I’m given my first dose of Percocet. I don’t really know what this is but know clearly it numbs the pain. The bottle we get from the little pharmacy in Banff does not come with information for the drug. Oh well, take every 4-6 hours the bottle tells me. I follow the printed orders, like a good patient.


Finally, I can get out of bed, pee, and am discharged with a blood pressure of 98 over 62 and a pulse of 47. The nurse tells me when they have new staff they often freak out seeing low pulses and such from the athlete patients. The initiated staff are no longer surprised seeing hearts beating in the 30’s per minute. I’m definitely no longer and athlete but I guess my resting digits are still lower than the average person.


I decide I’m good enough to walk to the exit even though Peter has a wheelchair ready for me. It’s an ego thing or perhaps the meds rendering me with a superhero complex. I just don’t want to be wheeled. It’s my statement to myself: I WILL WALK OUT OF HERE ON MY OWN TWO FEET! That is, until I see the long hallway ahead. Which is when I sit my ass in the wheelchair and forget the hero bit.


I’m surprised how hungry I am when home. A massive kale salad, some crackers, more kombucha….this post op thing is a breeze! Sleep even comes relatively easy all jacked up on the pain meds.




Are these my legs?



I’m up drinking a smoothie Peter made in the morning when…oh no…I think I’m gonna puke…forget the crutches I limp-run to the bathroom. And so the fun begins. I barf so much I feel like my eyes are gonna pop out of my head. I feel like my skin is crawling and I have a rash on my face. I am crying and nauseous and nothing can stop the room from spinning. Lying down and closing my eyes only make it worse. What is going on! Not only this, I can’t sit down. I feel agitated and restless, and sick.


I cry and cry and cry. I feel pain everywhere because I can’t take another Percocet. I feel weird and crude and totally outside of myself. I feel like there are worms in my skin and I feel like I am going completely crazy because of this incoming pain. This hurts fuck this hurts. Wasn’t it just yesterday I vowed to be forever grateful to get my legs back? When I vowed to never lose perspective?


Waaaahhhhh….. I cry some more.


I call the hospital and beg for an in-between pain killing pill. I wonder if they think I’m just trying to get more drugs and then realize it’s been less than 24 hours since I was carved up and drilled into in the OR. I wonder how people who live with chronic and real pain manage. How do they do it? My heart bleeds for them but I’m in such a bad mental and physical space that all I want are meds to kill the pain I don’t even know but fear with my life. The hospital says I can get a milder pain killer but I need one of the doctors to arrive to prescribe this.


It’s new years eve and I’m waiting and waiting and finally he calls because someone is getting surgery on new year’s eve and he is in. I explain the issues and he says try this (Tramenol) it should work. Peter picks up the prescription from a bigger pharmacy in town and they give a two sided sheet of info on the drug, the side effects, the risks and dosage etc. How come not all pharmacies do this? It should be law.




Should I be concerned?



A neighbor rings the doorbell as I’m in the dining room crying hot salty tears. We’re invited for a new year’s cocktail and I look at her and cry. She has a story with pain killers and it’s a debacle different but so much the same as mine. Everyone has their pain killer saga. I had no idea.


No drinks for me and I take the Tramenol, hobble up to bed and cry some more. I feel empty and dark and hopeless. I feel pathetic and wonder will this pain ever go away. Will I ever walk again. Will I ever hike again with a pack on my back and feel the freedom of movement as I know it. I am completely unreasonable and cry myself to sleep.


Fuck me. Fuck this. Fuck pain.


I now understand how people get addicted to pain killers.


January 1, 2017, I big farewell not to 2016 but to Percocet. Goodbye and good riddance. Never again will that drug enter my body. People are all different and I know now from experience I am one of many who cannot handle that horrible drug.


Another day of sitting, icing, reading, passing time on the internet, eating, taking pills, repeat.


More pain + less nausea = a tolerable situation. Only thing is I still feel really, really weird. The rash on my face is still there. I feel restless and jumpy and not at all myself.


Happy New Year, Clara!


To be continued….

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