Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What To Do Until the Vicodin Kicks In

I am at once too cold and too hot. My vampire-red eyes burn in the vicious sunlight. Either my hands are balled up into fists, or one hand is tightly squeezing the thumb of the other. It is comforting to rock back and forth, hugging myself.

Every part of my body hurts. My fingertips don't like the keyboard. The soles of my feet are on fire, as if, on the way to the bathroom this morning, I had taken a stroll on lava. Over and over I think, I will not throw up! I will not throw up! As I hug myself, I notice that even my ass hurts.

Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor of Spain, would have admired me for what I've done to myself.

The cause of all this wretchedness? Two tiny, beautiful blue pills a day — MS Contin 15's.  The best little pain reliever in the whole wide world! Until you have to give it up, that is.

During the long months of my mini-allo, morphine made me happy. I thought, if the transplant kills me, my dying a junkie would hardly matter. If I survive, I can painlessly wean myself to Vicodin, then reduce the level until I can truly assess the residual pain. No, not with a stupid number from one to ten, as nurses seem to want these days, but with the direct experience of the irreducible pain acquired from myeloma and its routine treatment (mostly bone pain and neuropathy), pain from the transplant, and pain from the vicissitudes of life. Maybe I can endure what remains, maybe I'll still need pain pills. In any case, I might emerge clear-headed and better able to do the many things that have been on the back burner for nearly a year. Like figuring my taxes for 2009.

What I am describing is the agony of the "painless weaning" part of the morphine experience. Although, as I describe it, I can feel the Vicodin kicking in, knocking the edge off. I don't like Vicodin. I don't like Oxycontin either — it's way too harsh. Give me morphine any time! Didn't you hear me? GIVE ME MORPHINE!


Every day for four months I was asked, on a scale of one to ten, how's your pain? So I tried to assign meaning to the numbers. First, the scale should run from zero to nine, zero meaning pain-free (or dead). Here is the whole scale. Feel free to suggest improvements in the comments.

0.  None. I can't feel a thing. Perhaps I'm asleep and dreaming all this.
1.  Ok, if I try, I can manage to be annoyed by the neuropathy in my feet.
3.  Damn, the neuropathy has spread to my fingers!
4.  There's nothing my Germanic will can't ignore.
5.  Ok, I'm only a quarter German. I need a pain pill!
6.  Go away! I can't cope with you right now!
7.  Where's the morphine IV push when I need it?
8.  I'm trying to dial 911 before hitting the floor.
9.  If at all possible, now would be a great time to believe in G-d.


  1. Dilaudid worked better than morphine for pain. Morphine makes me ill and too loopy. Dilaudid is suppose to be 10 times more powerful than morphine.
    Easy for me to ween off dilaudid after a series of surgeries, 4 broken ribs, etc. Brought home some dilaudid pills but never took them.


  2. What about prescription marijuana? Is that a possibility? I hope the pain is due to withdrawal more-so than MM.

    My best under the circumstances.

  3. Lon, have you tried the narcotic agonist / agonist-antagonist butorphanol / buprinorphine? One mat wor for your pain while ou deal with the monkey.
    Warm wishes, Jeff

    1. pain pills suck. they only create an addict and is sometimes our only recourse. i am having multi-level fusions done on my cervical spine and do not have another option. have been here before and i am no/t liking the idea of having to go through rehab again to get off the crap. well wishes, dog days

    2. I'm doing OK with vicodin as needed. When I was taking 40mg/day of prednisone, I didn't need any vicodin, but when that dropped to 20mg/day, the neuropathic pain broke through. Haven't noticed any dependency: I've gone days with nothing pain-wise.

  4. Being allergic to morphine and any other derivatives of opium, I have no suggestions, but the Medical MJ sounds like a possibility... hope you are finding relief soon!!!


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