Monday, March 10, 2014

Ninjas In the Bedroom: Why Percocet Is, Actually, a Bad Thing

I'm back.

In case you were wondering, shoulder surgery is made of suck. It's painful. It's inconvenient, due to the ever-present sling. And it's very, very humbling.

Once you've been dressed and undressed by your spouse in a decidedly un-sexy-times way while your upper body is still doused in iodine and covered with a thick white bandage that strongly resembles a 1960s maxi pad, it's hard to pretend to be the strong one in the relationship.

The procedure itself was not the difficult part. And yet I still had every intention in the minutes leading up to the surgery of backing out. It was a little worry stone I kept smoothing in the corner of my pre-sedated mind--You still can run away from this. But then the blue mask came over my face, and I found myself next in a recovery room with my left arm numb and heavy.

My first words, when I woke and found my voice?

"Holy shit. I can't believe I let that happen."

The nurse was not as amused as you might be and showed concern for my mental status, checking my vitals thoroughly before helping me into my clothes and sling.

According to the surgeon in post-op, I really needed this surgery. Once the fancy little arthroscopic cameras got in there, they found that a second tendon was torn all to hell. I was a bigger mess on the inside than I appeared on the outside.

Which is pretty true of me in general, actually.

The nerve block, which made my left arm feel intriguingly like it had been transplanted from a larger, clumsier alien being, made the first 12 hours bearable. And then, as they are wont to do, the nerve block wore off. Spectacularly. Leaving me immobile on my couch for most of the day after surgery, understanding why people in pain pray for death.

And I didn't have too many options in fighting the pain. For I learned that Percocet makes me bat-shit crazy.

I'm already a little crazy in that I have some paranoid tendencies and want to control everything and have an overactive imagination that already sometimes hears the not-there footsteps of  intruders in our home at 3am. Narcotics take all these fun qualities and magnify and concentrate them into one sharp laser beam of crazy. Condensed crazy that my brain plays with destructively like a child who has just discovered how to burn ants with a magnifying glass and the sun.

In the haze of post-nerve-block pain, I took a heavy dose of my prescribed painkillers. Minutes later, I closed my eyes. But instead of dreaming of unicorns and rainbows, I launched into a half-dreaming hallucination that men in dark clothing were descending from wires in the ceiling to do me harm. I came up out of the haze swinging to fight them off. Unfortunately my limb of choice was the left one. The sling kept me from doing too much damage, at least I hope. But the resulting pain was blinding and instructive. Ninjas, it turns out, are tough to beat.

I vowed to let ice and rest do the bulk of my painkilling for the duration of my recovery and have, mostly, kept this vow. Sometimes you just have to choose "sane" over "comfortable." Though occasionally "comfortable" is too appealing to pass up, in which case you warn your significant other that you have taken your crazy pill and to keep an eye out for unusual muttering and behavior. And traveling bands of ninjas. Because you just never know.

I'm working again now, and driving, and more or less self-sufficient. Except that I can't cook or clean. So friends and co-workers have come through with food and I have, for the first time in my life, hired someone to clean my house every other week. I am not proud of this. I am a woman raised in a lower-middle-class family and I feel I have suddenly and undeservedly gone above my raising in a way my mother and grandmothers would not approve.

But that little bit of crazy we talked about earlier includes some OCD, and I need a clean house, so...there you go. I feel bougie beyond words.

Each day will allegedly get easier. Most days I feel improvement; occasionally, I do too much and a day feels like a setback. It can be depressing. But I've gotten through worse.

Much worse.

Spring will come and with it warm sunshine, blooming flowers, and freedom from my sling. I can hardly wait.

In the meantime, I'll just keep surviving. And fighting off the imaginary ninjas as best I can.

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