Through the Brambles

As the clocked clicked on, 12 hours, 24 and further and ticking up to the door of 36 hours, I thought that somehow, the herbs I’m taking specifically for easing the withdrawals were doing far more, far better than I had expected them to – that I ever *dreamed* they could do.

I began to feel only the most minor of miseries after the 24 hour mark – energy draining, my mood faltering and becoming less optimistic and focus slowly starting to disintegrate. I felt some of the pain in my calves reminding me that it’s still there, and in a strange way I found comfort in that; here was something I knew.

But where was the rest?

Then, 32 hours after my last dose & after watching downloaded movies to the point where I couldn’t tolerate it anymore, I laid down in bed, propped my back slightly against the pillows & did my best to read more of “Look Homeward, Angel” by Thomas Wolfe. I just finished another book that morning and now desperately needed something to occupy my mind. I was tired, knew I should probably try to sleep, but the signs were coming on stronger then & felt I needed a place for my  thoughts to go and calm down a bit before sleep was even attempted.

Not being able to enjoy reading with a mind that wasn’t really seeing the words as any more than black scratches on paper, I gave in, got out of bed, stood up and did dome minor stretches of my legs, torso & arms, poured more coconut water into my thermos to do my best to stay hydrated. I brushed the dog hair off my feet, gave Rubes a hug and got under the thin top cover above the comforter, making certain that all the pillows were placed perfectly for the best comfort available, which under any other circumstances would have gently carried me away to dreamland within a matter of minutes…

This time, however, I wasn’t so fortunate. This time, I’m paying. a debt, and sleep is only *one* of the things I must give to the collector.

Not three minutes after I breathed the deep & final ‘sigh’ and waited for my mind to drift off into it’s odd ideas & dreams, my right leg twitched violently bringing my knee in the direction of my chest. Not to be outdone, both of my shoulders shot up in a convulsive manner – as if they were tying to say “Hey, don’t look at me – I don’t know what the hell that was”.

I’ve been here before.

I find it humorous, those that post “you can do it!” on my Facebook page. Humorous, but appreciated. They don’t know what I’ve been through already.

They don’t know of the pain that went on for months in the hospice, pain that even the morphine couldn’t touch. They don’t know that I wondered if the pain would ever even cease before I died, or every day would be like this until the end. They have no idea how many times I thought of taking away the pain myself – taking away everything.

I’ve always kept a stash of 500mg or more of morphine, secreted away but close enough so that I didn’t have to get out of bed if I couldn’t.

They don’t know how many times those pills sat in my hand as I stared at their round & oval shapes, trying to justify taking them, trying harder not to.

No, they don’t know any of that because I didn’t tell them. It wasn’t their business, and the last thing I wanted was a bunch of common bullshit attempts to cheer me up. Certainly not then, and most certainly not them… or most of them, at least.

But I digress.

This won’t be easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it will end. Like cutting away and climbing through blackberry brambles that have grown over a path, getting torn, flesh getting ripped & stained with blood & juice but persevering, knowing that once I make it through this dark thicket, leaving the parts of body & mind I don’t need anymore draped & dripping on the thorns…

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Once I make it through, I’ll find a clearing of indescribably clear beauty –
And I’ll find me, waiting, and smiling.
9-23-24-16

The Fun Begins…soon (Kicking, day 0)

No ceremony, no ritual. Little more than a momentary pause as I looked at the small white pills in my hand this morning, but in that pause I thought of the nine years gone to the past, and the days or weeks of torture & agony immediately coming as I took my last dose of morphine. Ever.

I took the two half-full bottles out of my nightstand drawer, grabbed the near-full “emergency” pill container that I have kept for three years and moved them across the room to be placed somewhere clever later. Out of sight, yes – but I think out of mind isn’t very likely, at least for a few weeks or more.

If I could figure out the technique that always seems to work when I “organize” things so that they’re easier to find, only to end up lost for months when I actually *do* look for them, then that would be perfect – but I don’t think that will work. If I actually *want* to lose something or forget where it is, it seems inevitable that I’ll find it, even in the least likely of places.

I should figure out that backwards science & write a book about how to use & control it. I’d make millions.

It’s a strange feeling, kicking morphine after so long, so many years of depending on it. So many years of letting it control me.
I was half-expecting a huge mental fanfare – streamers popping out of my head, flame effects shooting out of my ears and little tiny balloons dropping from my nose, but alas, nothing of the sort. It was almost as exciting as putting my pants on.
Okay – as exciting as putting a freshly washed pair of pants on that have yet to acquire any dog hair on them, but still, not much more than that.

The exciting part – well, that will most certainly begin tomorrow, most likely as I race to the bathroom desperately trying not to crap myself in the 20 feet from my bed, or stopping in the middle of eating something for the same reason. It never ceases to amaze me how food can go through an entire body’s system almost as fast as dropping it – as if during withdrawals everything moves around and there is just one direct line from the mouth to the ass.

I think there should be an “Opiate Withdrawal Olympics”, with challenges such as ‘The 10 Meter Toilet Dash’, ‘The Cold Sweat Pool’ (judged by the amount of sweat the body produces in one night of attempted sleep), and ‘The Snot Sprint’, won by producing the most water-like mucus out of the incessantly running nose in an hour. Of course there could be many others – the most sleepless nights, muscle spasm gymnastics, distance or quantity vomiting, most creative screams of agony… it could be fun! Well… at least for the spectators.

And now, off to do some final preparations – give Ruby a *really* good walk, enjoy some of the last sunshine I might be seeing for a few days, clear a direct path from bed to bathroom, send letters to my Mother & Father thanking them for their birthday cards (finally) – whatever else I can think of.

I’ve decided to document the fun with pictures. Here’s one I have titled “Before the Descent” aka “Keep the fog outside of my head” aka “oh, shit.”

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See you all in hell. Be grateful you’re just looking through the window.

falling apart to fall back together

Four days, and as the clock relentlessly ticks down I count every hour with a strange combination of sheer terror and wary excitement, my emotions swinging from one to the other like spectators heads in a high-energy tennis match.

Two days ago I picked up my last Morphine prescription, and as the bottles were handed to me I looked at them with a feeling of triumph. This is it.

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I mostly know what to expect. I’ve done this before, 28 years ago, and again a bit more recently when my motorhome was towed with all of my meds inside. It’s not what I remember that frightens me the most, though those memories still clutch at my mind and sink their diseased claws in when I try to make myself believe that I’m strong enough.

No. It’s the things I know I don’t remember that frighten me the most. The whispered shadows of the nightmare, the parts that my mind gratefully thrust out of my memory in an act of self preservation. The small things that are lost in the fog.

The Fog.

It’s surrounded me for over nine years, from when I finally gave in to my doctor’s concern & offer of something to help with the pain that twisted my face, carving each line on it deeper like a Halloween mask of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”… the only difference being that my screams, I kept inside. At least when I could.

With the first pill they finally went away, and I was so grateful I almost cried, even through the personal guilt and failure of feeling like I wasn’t strong enough, that I had finally lost to what for so many years I had conquered when necessary, not even taking so much as a Tylenol-3 or even an aspirin when I broke my leg skateboarding, tore apart the tendons & dislocated my shoulder when my van rolled 5 times across I-5, and hundreds of other minor bangs, bashes & aches. Those, I knew, would all pass, and all I had to do was hold strong and stand my ground. This time though, instead of fading, getting better & finally going away, the pain only increased. With each day, with each strip of flesh on my legs that caught under my fingernails while the poisoned fluid pooled and the unbearable itching multiplied, the pain grew and my conviction deteriorated…

There were, of course, many, many  times I needed them, so if I chose not to take that first pill then, it was just a matter of time before I did. When the cirrhosis decided to go to town on my body, it’s two favorite places to destroy were my legs and abdomen – and it was like a category-6 tornado in a trailer park. From the swelling to the point where I couldn’t bend my legs & had to cut the legs of my pajamas to be able to squeeze into them to the itching so horrid from the poisons my liver couldn’t process I cut myself open with my own fingernails, to the pressure from the swelling in my abdomen & legs so severe the fluid actually started pushing out of the skin on my calves and pushing my intestines out of my navel, to the pain from the occasional infections that slipped right by even the highest doses of morphine – I was certainly grateful for it at times…

 
…but as the months & years continued and the pain slowly subsided, when I began to wonder and doubt how necessary the morphine was anymore, I knew I was screwed. Sure, there was still the mild constant pain from my calves that never fully healed or grew back more than the thinnest layer of protective skin, and there was still the occasional breakthrough pain in my abdomen – but nothing I thought – that I think – that I can’t deal with. Nothing so bad that my body’s own pain killer can’t handle it. Nothing so severe that the mind/body & quantum healing practices I discovered and used in the hospice and the surprising strength I found in my mind can’t handle it.

There’s only one small problem. My brain has completely shut down all of it’s own natural pain killers. Feeling unloved & un-needed, the receptors that normally block everything bad have gone on to other tasks where they feel more appreciated. I wish I knew more of the science of it – it’s not entirely endorphins or dopamine but a combination of the two along with some other things. That’s what I kind of know. I know the human body is fucking amazing. We all should kiss ourselves every day and thank it for all it does for us.

I know without any question, without the slightest hint of doubt at all – what I know intimately – is that the human body is in constant pain. Anyone who hasn’t experienced the feeling of not having any help at all from your body to dull pain cannot even come close to imagining what it’s like when you feel EVERYTHING.
I don’t feel as if I can explain it well enough right now, nor do I want to.

But I want my body back. I want my mind back, and all the things working as they should  again. I want to feel alive again- with all the pain, passion, love, joy, excitement & fear.

So here we are, nine years later. And I’m fucking done. Things need to change and that is the most obvious one. The feeling of the morphine sticking felt thorns of stupid into my brain is over – or will be soon. First, I need to pay for those lost years, and I know I will – dearly – but every second will be worth it. Nine years of mental fog, nine years of suppressed emotion – the passion, love, excitement, joy, happiness and everything else a person feels on a daily basis has all been muffled, like my mind & heart trying to speak to me through a sealed door.
(Hm. That’s an interesting mental picture.)

On September 21st I will take my final dose of morphine, hopefully for the rest of my life. On the 22nd I’ll begin to feel the withdrawals. They don’t come at once, of course – they gradually build, if I remember correctly, over about three days – but it’s like sticking your hand into a put of 75 degree (Celsius) water. It’s not boiling yet, but it sure as hell isn’t pleasant.
This ought to be interesting.

But WAIT! That’s not all!

To make things completely absurd, I’ve also decided to quit smoking at the exact same time. I mean hell – If I’m going to change my life, I may as well just jump right in with both feet. Get rid of all the things that I’ve been wanting to quit.
In a way I suspect that it will give me something to laugh at myself about – like when you stub your toe and hop around like a fool, feeling like a dumb-ass and laughing through the pain – except in this example I’ll be writhing in pain, wanting a cigarette, and laughing at myself because only someone who is a complete and utter fool would consider quitting both morphine and cigarettes at the same time, and I’ve always held the self-imposed title of “Fool” quite proudly at times such as this.

But there’s something else which is more of an experiment than anything: I have this notion that kicking morphine AND cigarettes at the same time will somehow drive the point that I am now (or will be horribly soon) a non-smoker home a bit harder, because I know smoking is going to be the hardest one in the long run – and I’m in this game to win. So far, I haven’t died 100% of the time, so I’m doing pretty good I think.

When the door is opened, when the fog clears and for the first time in nine years there is no drugged buffer repressing all of the beautiful and horrible things inside of me, I suspect it will be one hell of a ride as I become accustomed to feeling *everything* again – I mean hell, in preparation I’ve cut down the regular dose of 60 – 90mg through the day to one 30mg pill in the morning, and was nearly bawling during parts of the movie “Pete’s Dragon” I watched earlier tonight.

As I said, it’s going to be one hell of a ride. It should make for some interesting blog posts as well.

I should probably apologize in advance to anyone I offend, but honestly – if you get offended, it’s your trip, not mine. Fasten your seat-belts, put on a couple extra layers of skin – and Lighten Up. Things are likely going to get a bit crazy.

Wish me luck.

And please – I’d like it if you commented, if you wish. It will help me not feel so alone.
Comments & ‘likes’ left on my WordPress blog are MUCH more appreciated than those on Facebook, as well.

Four days until I begin to rip myself apart. I’m excited to see what the rebuild will look like.

And I need to figure out whaat kind of art project I’m going to make out of these:
(
I haven’t counted them, but I suspect I have about forty that I’ve saved over the past couple years = when I remembered to.)

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Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes

 

It’s time.

I drifted off to sleep last night with a hundred (or maybe 10) thoughts in my head of how weary of this life of thesamegoddamnedthing day after day, pretending to exist in the world around me with a head full of morphine, digging as deep as I can, past the haze & the hollowness just to feel all the things that nine years ago flowed with such purpose, vim, vigor and passion to the tips of my fingers, and from there it was a direct channel to my heart and all of the things that boiled inside.

I drifted off to sleep last night with ten (or maybe 5) thoughts rolling around in my head of how I had come to loathe this incessant fight for health, battling the swelling in my abdomen & legs every single day, the membrane-thin skin that tears like paper from the open sores caused by nothing more than scrubbing a bit too hard in the shower, the Fatigue, the Fatigue, the Fatigue.

And I woke up with the same conviction to change these things. Life has become nauseatingly uneventful, every day trying to battle the fatigue to conjure up the energy to create something new and, not being able to, feeling as if I’ve failed the day. That I’m not appreciating this life as I should, that I’m not fucking LIVING – and this needs to change.

By the end of the month I will have gone through the pure fucking hell of kicking Morphine. I need a little excitement in my life, and hoping I can race fast enough to the bathroom on legs that want to detach themselves from me & go other directions should be enough – at least for the time.

Then, more fun. Because I deserve it – and hell, this will be something *new*! I like new things, even if they’re used. Frequently especially if they’re used.

Sooooooo…

At my appointment with my Doctor on the 12th of this month, I’m going to open up talks – this time, for the *first* time, instigated by me instead of him, & more positive this time – of a liver transplant. He’s going to shit fucking rainbows. He’s been gently pressing me to get on the list for a transplant for years.

I have mixed feeling about the liver transplant. It seems like the easy way out, in a sense. Just take out the old one that’s killing me and put in a brand new shiny one… one that could easily go to someone else who needs it more. And I still believe that I can reverse my cirrhosis, do it myself… but there is also no way to determine if the herbs I’m taking are helping, as the test that would show that wouldn’t be covered by insurance unless there’s a good reason, and my guess is using herbs to fix what Western Medicine says can NOT be fixed wouldn’t be considered a good reason.

But it’s time. Time to change things, time to rip myself apart & put me together again – this time whole, with the pieces that have been left behind over the years found & fit & made to work again.
And I’m willing to take the easy way out – as long as it isn’t *too* easy.

It’s time.