The last month or so I have been struggling with a compulsion to get high.
We keep wine in the cabinet in the kitchen for cooking, but that doesn’t interest me. It’s drugs I need, something strong, something that tastes bad when it drips down my throat, or burns my nose or sears my lungs, something that hurts so good. Something different from what I’ve been for what seems like so long.
Last week I found a Vicodin (ok, I hid it last year, “just in case”) and since I know it will make me sick to my stomach and ruin any buzz, I looked up online how else to get it. into my system. I read that snorting or smoking was the best way to get any drug into your system, so after I failed to make a decent pipe out of aluminum foil I decided to snort it.
I pulled the stool out and sat at the kitchen counter, using the same cutting board and Henkel’s chef knife we’d used the night before in preparing dinner and crushed it up with the side of the blade, like it was a clove of garlic. Funny, but just the ritual of chopping it, trying to get it fine enough, pushing it into lines, then cutting a straw to just the right length, seemed to go a long ways toward calming me. I did these things by rote, without thinking, they are a part of me, even though it’s been twenty years or more since I last chopped and lined anything up. Yet, after a few minutes of disgusted staring at the now sullied innocence of my kitchen utensils, I couldn't bring myself to do it. I swept the powder into the sink and sprayed water on it until it all melted and went down the drain.
In the same drawer with the stashed Vicodin I came across an old cigarette case of mine, lovely gold plated with inlaid mother of pearl, and a matching lighter. I opened the case and was surprised to find a Newport, slightly worse for over twenty years of wear, inside. I took it out and held it between my fingers, here was the thing that had been missing from my hand for all these years. I thought about lighting it up, pulling the smoke into my lungs. At least it would have been a different sensation from what I was feeling, what I have been feeling for months and months: worry, anxiety, fear.
Even now, at the magical hour of 3AM, the time when all bets are off, and every lousy, fucked up nightmare you’ve ever had seems not all that weird, I can’t imagine what my life will be like without this situation, this disability, to deal with. I’ve been shuffling around for nearly a year now. A year is not that long, I know, but I tend to adjust to things really quickly. I once spent four days in London and had a British accent by the second afternoon. I am nervous about what they will give me for pain in the hospital, morphine and demerol most likely. Both of them equally delightful.
Twenty years ago when I had the first spine surgery, I was on morphine for 9 days and was good and addicted when I was released with a script for Darvoset. I went through full-on withdrawal for the first two days, crying, laughing, sweating, shivering, vomiting. It was like I had been a junkie for years. I’m hoping I adjust just as quickly to not shuffling, but of course I can’t see that, can’t picture, now, at 3AM, what it will be like and how I will walk without pain, though I can imagine with precise detail and clarity the sensation of being high on Quaaludes, the numbness in my face, the warm buzzing in my ears, or the sudden rush when my heart starts pounding all the way down to my bowels when the speed hits my system.
Maybe the explanation for the urge to “party” is a control issue. Let's face it, I can't stand up straight, I can't walk more than a few feet without stopping to lean on something, the insurance company, the FDA, the hospital, the doctors, all have more control over what happens to me than I do. Damn it, at least I can get a buzz.
For now, maybe I’ll just have a cup of tea, the caffeine seems about as safe a choice as I have to chase the worry and fear. I can drink it out of a pretty cup, sip it daintily, the hot liquid in my mouth and throat a sensation in itself. Something. Then maybe I can go back to sleep before the sun comes up. What is it about 3AM, anyway?