Oxycodone: This One’s for Bob


Fourteen thousand “views” on my blogs in the last two months.  Congratulations, you guys have such good taste!

I awake, perhaps for the third time this night.  Should I take a drink, turn over and go back to sleep, or is this the time I should wake up?  The staff has left the door open so I cannot see the clock, but what do I need of a clock?  Am I not the grandchild of farmers?  I look to the window and decide it’s six-ish.

Too many cords.  Light, call-bell, bed-raiser thingie, computer—I can’t find the right one.  What is the right one?  Is there a right one?  What is the concept of rightness?  I raise the bed and call the bell.  I will ask the aide to get me to the bathroom, then tell the nurse I want my morning meds.

That’s how we say it:  “I want my morning meds.”  What I mean is:  I want the oxycodone that will keep me from yelling at you.  Ten weeks ago at the hospital the administrators had a big meeting with me.  What it boiled down to was:  please use nicer manners.

What none of us understood at the time was that was a physical impossibility.  We all expected me to behave better; none of us realized I couldn’t.  We all have the conception that if somebody can verbalize abuse then they also can verbalize niceness.  If you can say, “You are a freaking moron” then you also can say, “Thank you for bringing my water.”  Not true.

For a couple of years, what those in the know—the psychologist, the Reiki master—have been saying about me is that I exist in a state of despair.  Despair.  At best, with Reiki, massage, sleep and psychotherapy—all on the same day—I might rise to the level of “calm.”

And then Peter—blessings on the head of Nurse Practitioner Peter—said, “Let’s try some oxycodone.”

Let’s try some oxycodone, and I became happy again.  I hadn’t been happy in ages and ages and ages.  I had done everything I knew how to in order to become happy again.  I had gotten a BiPAP and an indwelling catheter so I could sleep.  I drank like a fish in order to maintain proper hydration.  I was a freaking vegan for eight months—the lengths I wouldn’t go to to be healthy!  I wrote, acted for the betterment of others, and went to church.  What more do you want?  And I was not happy.

What I did not know was that my brain was simmering in warm sugar-water, and that is a terribly unhealthy thing for a brain to do.  Because of uncontrollable diabetes, I slowly was sliding from “happy” into Freakin’ Moron World.  I no longer could choose my behavior.  (“Some are born mean, some achieve meanness, and others have meanness thrust upon them.”  Bill Shakespeare, Thirteenth Night)

Enter:  oxycodone, the happiness drug, i.e., the drug most abused by Americans.  What is abuse, in this context?  When the bad man puts his hand in the little girl’s underpants, that’s abuse.  What’s “abusive” about taking pills that make you happy when you’re not?  When is it right to become chemically “happy?”

And where do you stand on the mind-body continuum?  I have been adamant that almost all of mental illness—most particularly depression and schizophrenia—is socially inspired:  you had emotionally bad things happen to you and so you learned to act in unhealthy ways.  In order to recover from your emotional damage you need to talk to an emotionally healthy person—a therapist—and learn new ways.

Now I am older and wiser.  There is a kind of damage to the central nervous system that cannot be changed by learning.  No amount of talk can institute change.  You need drugs.  Peter, who works in palliative care, knew that.  Comfort care means drugs for the mind, as well as the body.

So who gets oxycodone, the happiness pill?  (Well, okay, I’m taking such a small dose—1 or 2 milligrams—that it only comes in liquid form, but that’s not the point.)  Nobody who is physically healthy should be allowed anywhere near oxycodone.

We must deal with reality.  We must work to fix this sick world.  We must learn to care for one another, not fixate on ourselves.  When you take oxycodone then you feel happy—never mind the backed-up plumbing, the high jobless rate, or your abusive husband.  You have to stay straight, deal with reality, and fix your problems.

Oxycodone is prescribed for pain—not the pain of living but the pain of the body—but it works on the central nervous system and that is where some of the pain resides.  Yes, some emotions are mediated by the nervous system.  You can take oxycodone and get happy.  Should you?

You should when you are old and sick and nothing’s working right anymore.  You should have oxycodone to enable happiness.  At the end of my life, when my body is messed up beyond comprehension and beyond fixing, I should have happiness via oxycodone.

I wake in the morning and my first feeling is despair that I am still alive. Then Michael, the night nurse, comes at 6:45 a.m. with a syringe containing 1 mg. of red liquid that he squirts under my tongue, then wishes me a good day.

Well, yeah, maybe, possibly.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
This entry was posted in Death, Depression, drugs, Medical care, Mental Illness & Health, Pharmaceuticals, Values and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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