Three weeks ago I had a total knee replacement in my right knee. I am not new to joint replacements, already had my left knee replaced and my right shoulder replaced. Make no mistake if you haven't experienced a joint replacement, joint replacement hurts. However, you get to the point that the short term pain makes for long term relief.
After a couple days in the hospital its comes the day for me to be discharged. Maybe that's the wrong word, everyone else gets discharged, I think for me it's probably more like I got thrown out. LOL
On a Thursday the nurse comes in with my discharge instructions. Darlene was paying close attention, me, probably not so much. The very nice nurse explaining that about an hour before they wheel me out I would receive a last dose of Tramadol through my IV and I would get a pain pill to help me get home, a thirty mile drive. She told me to take it easy and when I get home my best course of action would to be elevate my leg, put ice on my knee, take another pain pill and take a nap.
On the way home we stopped at the pharmacy to pick up numerous prescriptions I was given upon my eviction. A quick stop at the drive through window resulted in bottles of a blood thinner pill, a pill for nerve pain at night, an iron supplement, an anti nausea pill and pain pills.
When I get home an examination of that small sack revealed the familiar translucent little orange bottles. A quick read of the label on each bottle yielded the familiar instructions of dosage and time. Pulling out the last bottle I saw the drug name and froze. A sudden fear gripped me, no not fear, more like terror. My heart stopped, an emptiness gripped my gut. Flashbacks of syringes, bent blackened spoons, aluminum foil with black tracks, random short straws filled my mind. OXYCODONE printed on the label. As I read the label on that orange bottle, "take one or two by mouth every four to six hours as needed for pain, (max 6 tablets/day) As I read that small bottle began to change as I read. I looked down and in my hand I held the grim reaper. Complete with black robe and scythe, a black emptiness under the hood. In my hand I was holding the grim reaper. I thought of all those people this pill claimed, the endless tears shed by those loved ones watching as this simple pill tore life from their loved ones body.
Despite my flashbacks and feelings I was a compliant patient. Settling into the recliner with a pillow under my leg and ice on my knee I swallowed one of those pills and took a nap.
You see, oxy was my son's drug of choice for seven years. When oxy became too hard to get and expensive the natural progression was to heroin. Seven years of fear, hate, nightmares and pain flooded back to me. It has been since July 2010 since that life was put aside by him. He now wears a robe of recovery, he looks good in that robe.
Those simple white pills worked well. I would only take one pill at a time, usually about every six hours. Thirty minutes after swallowing I could count on the pain going away, left with simple heaviness remaining in my leg with no pain. I guess as a side effect of that pill I also felt a general malaise, slightly groggy and no feeling of pain, physical or emotional.
I didn't like that feeling. The pain relief was good but that overall mind and body feeling was horrible for me. Staying ahead of the pain was the key. For the first few days I was a good little patient, regular dosages of my medications made me feel OK and kept me bearable for my caregiver, Darlene.
Today I take one pill about an hour before visiting my physical terrorist. It helps during my therapy to better loosen my knee and enable me to heal quicker. When therapy is complete any remaining pills will be returned to that same pharmacy and dropped into that locked metal box at the end of the counter for proper disposal.
For me I didn't like the effects oxy had on my feelings. The numbness is disconcerting. But I understand for others that feeling could be highly attractive and addictive. The ability to escape physical and emotional pain by easily using an opioid can be physically and emotionally addictive in many ways.
As I sit in the recliner with my trusty ice bag several visitors would come by to see me. As the door opens I see my son and his family. A panic grips me. When getting around requires a walker or cane you tend to make things as easy for you as possible. I am sloppy. Sitting openly on the counter, next to the coffee maker, candy and various snacks was that little bottle of oxycodone. WHAT HAVE I DONE?!
We had a great visit. There was no way he didn't see all of those little orange battles. After an hour or so hugs were shared and goodbyes were expressed. The words, "Get well and if you need anything......" echoed as they left. Thinking later I realized trust and love is a much better way to live life rather than living in fear and anxiety.
I understand some of you reading this may understand what I have experienced. I also know many of you may be asking yourself, "why can't I have this?" Along with that comes jealously, anger and hurt. If you cannot relate to what I am feeling please take a moment to reflect. You are not alone. Reach out to others. Help my be no further away than an outstretched hand.