The Fine Line 18: Get Outta Your Mind
The Fine Line is a series from Rick. Check out earlier parts of the series here. We pick up here after Rick has been discharged from the hospital after a liver transplant.
Pain and Insomnia
At 10:00 pm I took a Percocet. Within an hour, I was still in considerable pain, so in my eagerness to gain a good night’s sleep, I took one of my roxycodone (a variant of oxycodone.) Under normal circumstances, I would have been fine and slept normally, but there were factors I was unaware of at the time.
(The reason I took one of each instead of two Percocet is because of the differences in liver interactions between the meds. Percocet contains acetaminophen, there is no need to do this, I just have a history of avoiding things which damage the liver.)
One factor has to do with tolerance, one’s need for higher doses of medication in regards to pain meds. Tolerance isn’t just a physical thing, it also stems from the mind. Normally, when I’m on oxycodone I was either at my home or in a hospital, never at my parent’s house. Normally, when I’m on oxycodone, I see the same faces come and go. These environmental factors play an unseen role in tolerance. It’s a large reason why overdoses occur in unusual settings.
Confusion Followed By Panic
Still awake at near midnight, I would frantically check my FitBit HR and watch as my heart rate climbed from 120 to 130. In my bed, I had little idea that one of the incisions (from my liver transplant surgery) was still leaking a significant amount of fluid. When I rolled out of bed in an attempt to go to the bathroom, I began the descent into the madness of confusion.
Like many others, I had no understanding of the exact depths at which medical confusion can take you, until that night. The leaking incision had slowed down because the fluid began to accumulate in my thighs and groin. When I looked down, the sight was so jarring I ran out of the bathroom naked and began to pace. My heart rate climbed to 140. With what little sense I had left, I yelled for my parents. I called their house phone despite being in the house. I shuffled back to my room and put on some pants and the first shirt I could find. I called my friend, Jeane, and she talked me through the experience and my dad took me to the hospital.
Time for a Blood Transfusion
The entire ride felt endless and I spent the time apologizing to my dad and calling people close to me on my phone and hanging up before they could answer because I’d realize what I was doing. It was 3:00 am when we arrived. I recall lying on the bed as my dad explained the situation to the nurse. In my head, looking back I see two events occurring simultaneously, at that time I felt as if I were dead and the conversations I was hearing were about me. When in reality, I was hearing the people behind a curtain next to me. They came to the conclusion that I should get a blood transfusion.
The next morning we drove to the hospital where, still loopy, I sat down and waited while the blood was transfused. Still leaking at my incision site, one of the doctors came in to address the issue. Without pain medication I watched her sew me up. It was only a few stitches, but she asked if I wanted to keep the scissor used. Not one to turn down a hospital memento, I thanked her for it.
Confusion under control, and new blood inside me, it was time for me to do more.
Check back for more from Rick’s series “The Fine Line”