August 14th, 2013
Hearing I’d had a stroke, I must admit, gave me some relief. I don’t think I’d been aware of things for very long, but for a moment I thought I was in a prison bed. The gurney was all silver tubes, and the skinny vertical ones at the side gave me a start. But it wasn’t too long before my familiarity with ERs kicked in and I knew I’d be taken care of. The encouraging possibility of a drug I knew only by the fact it started with the letter “d,” teased me. But it would be a long time before any drugs would be called for — after all, I was not feeling any pain. Still, I set about the difficult task of naming the “d” drug in my mind. “Dopamine” skated through my brain along with “destimontilex.” I knew those were wrong. Destimontilex, so wrong in fact, that I believed I would receive a shock if I uttered it. When the following morning, in my assigned room, I wrestled with the name, the nurse gave me a small dose of morphine before I could ask for any of the “d” drugs I thought I wanted. The morphine did nothing for me, thankfully, because in mind-bending doses morphine bends mine into a small dark room slightly below street level. I learned that when I had my leg amputated the first time.
My son stayed by my side throughout the night, both in the ER and in my room. He was given a noisy cot which, along with his general anxiety, kept him awake all night. I was able to get about an hour and a half. After a third shot of morphine, spaced at two hour intervals, I heard a nurse mention “dilaudid.” That was it, the drug I loved! I could barely wait until the two hour interval was over and I could ask for it. I made sure I was awake at 9:30 a.m. There was relief, but certainly no rush, when I finally received the shot. I had set my hopes too high. I apologize if my focus on drugs has been too intense. I’ll quit harping on it soon, but first a short bit about my initial bad experience with morphine. I was in my hospital room in 2008. My nurse, Adeli, sat nearby. Next to her was her assistant. My leg was hooked up to a wound-vac, in hopes that it would not need to be amputated if the machine could suck out all the germs and infected flesh. Suddenly I saw Mitt Romney walk past the open door of the room. He had a towel wrapped around his waist and was wearing only flip-flops. I had to find out what he was up to. I wrestled myself out of the bed and tore the wound-vac from my leg. It was a bloody mess, and the first step towards taking me off morphine altogether. No, I did not need that drug any more than the world needed Mitt Romney. And this was before most of the public had even heard of him.