Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Blame it on the Vicodin

Today, I had an appointment with my pain management specialist, and for the first time in almost 4 years, I was given something other than Vicodin to treat my pain.

Don't get me wrong, I like me some good old fashioned opiates as much as the next person, but the longevity of my usage of the hydrocodone/acetaminophen cocktail was becoming a major point of concern to myself, my parents, and my closest friends. I don't always feel like I can express my concern for my drug dependence to even my closest of close friends because they don't really seem to understand the gravity of the situation. Many of my friends are guilty of making me out to be some kind of stoner because of the drugs I have to take to keep myself from dying. People blame the drugs on my social blunders, but the truth is, I'm actually just a socially awkward person. I know it is easy to misunderstand, since drug use in our society is usually looked at with blinders on. According to our society, if you are on Vicodin either 1) you're a junkie or 2) you are Dr. House. So far, I've found that I am neither of those.

This is why I don't talk to my friends about things like this anymore. They never listen and they treat me as if I am some kind of meth addict instead of procuring the true story. If they would just ask, they'd know that because I've been on Vicodin for so long it doesn't get me "high" anymore. In fact, it barely helps with the pain it was meant to treat in the first place. No, I don't become more awkward or "silly", or what-have-you after taking my medications. Stop blaming it on the drugs and instead accept who I am more fully.

Just before I left school, I was eating dinner with my roommates. My roommates and I were pretty good friends, and we always had pretty bizarre conversations. I'm not exactly sure what we were talking about, but mushrooms ended up being our very intellectual point of conversation. I ended up saying something like, "I had a friend who was a mushroom once. He was a fun guy!" (pah dum PSH). And although my joke was pure gold, my roommates just went silent. They coughed awkwardly and stared at their plates. No one made a peep. I just assumed they didn't find my joke funny, since I was usually the one who did anyway, and went right on eating. Eventually, a minute or two later, one of my roommates made a little giggle and shouted "OH! I get it! A fun guy... like a fungi!". The rest of my roommates began to laugh at the now apparent hilarity I had unleashed upon the world and when all they laughter died down, I asked "you really never heard that one? It's really old." and my roommate just replied, "We all just assumed you were on some kinda Vicodin-trip and tried to ignore it". The sad part of this story is not that my roommates assumed that I was making a stoner-comment before guessing that I made a silly pun, it's that it happened all the time and they treated me as if I was a small child who didn't know any better just because I was talking a silly pill. It was very hurtful and I wasn't exactly sure if I should waste my time confronting my roommates about it because it wasn't really their fault that they thought I was eternally stoned- I never really explained it to them in much detail. It's not like I haven't tried to explain myself to my friends. Now, I am not mad at my roommates at all. Yes, what they said was very hurtful, but our friendship is bigger than that and I'm not about to let a handful of ignorant comments get in the way of it.

Another time, I was placed under the spell of an uncontrollable giggle-fit during class. You know, the ones where nothing is actually funny, but you just laugh and laugh as if your life depended on it. A good friend of mine just announces to the class "She's on Vicodin! Don't mind her!". Not only is it completely inappropriate to shout out your friend's personal information, such as the kinds of prescription medications she's on, it's not right to assume that I'm not sober-and to tell others to never mind me because what I have to say obviously isn't worth anything- just because I can't stop laughing. Laughing is an uncontrollable reflex, and everyone has had at least one of those moments where they just can't stop laughing no matter how hard they try. My problem is that people associate my uncontrollable fits of laughter as a side effect, not as the something they experience too. The only difference between my fits of laughter and anyone else's is that people can blame mine on something.

Now, some of you might say "But Mouse, you make silly jokes about being high all the time! If this bothers you so much, then why do you do it too?". In all honestly, I hate making jokes about being high because I know it only feeds the rest of them. I only started doing it to relieve some of the awkwardness from it all. When I moved into my freshman dorm, I had to explain my illnesses to my roommate, hallmates, and RA so they would know what to do in case of an emergency. I told them a few of the drugs I was on (just in case I was unconscious, they could tell the paramedics what I was taking) and almost everyone I told said "Vicodin! Are you high?". At the time, I didn't really want to explain it, so I just said something like "No, but there's a Peacock on your floor".

For those of you who don't know me very well, I have a very sarcastic sense of humor. Most people grow accustomed to it. Now, maybe I shouldn't have assumed those people knew my sense of humor, or maybe I should have made it clear that those kinds of jokes were only okay when I said them. Whatever the case, I felt it was kinda awkward when other people would start joking about my apparent drug abuse, so it relieved the awkwardness when I added a bit to it. That being said, from now on, I will no longer cover your ass if you made another stupid comment. Instead, if you call me a stoner to a stranger again, I'll call your pathetic ass out. :) Yes, I've tried to explain this to all my friends at one time or another, but they never take me seriously because I'm obviously too stoned all the time to make a coherent argument. Obviously.

So this is my explanation, Ladies and Gentlemen. I could easily talk about this subject for days because of how purely hurtful it is to me. If I do something that appears a little bit weird, that's because I am a little weird. It's not the drugs. It never was the drugs.  It will never  be the drugs. I am more than just the sum of the pills I take every 4-6 hours as needed. I am a human being who likes to be treated as such with the same respect and dignity that I treat you with. I don't ask you if you took your meds today just because you say something a little silly or make a bad pun, so you shouldn't do the same to me. To me, blaming it on the Vicodin is more hurtful than simply telling me that you're embarrassed to be seen with me, because I can't help that I'm on the stuff. If I had the choice, I wouldn't be taking any medications to treat my pain. Sadly, I can't function without the pills. For me, each and every pill is a reminder of how little control I have over my own life- it's not a vacation. Also, I don't care how much money you have, I'm not selling you any of my pills.

Thanks to those who took the time to read this and even more thanks to those who take what I have to say to heart.

<3 Mouse


  1. Bless you, my friend. I, too, am on several medicines, including Vicodin and Valium. I take them to live. Vicodin doesn't control the pain, it only makes it bearable (though barely so at times.) Valium I have for many years for Meniere's Disease, a condition that some heal from and some will have forever and will have continuous deterioration from. I am in the later category.
    Please don't let your friends' comments get you down. I have a feeling I am much older than you (in my 50s.) I have gotten to the place I explain to others what is actually happening when someone makes an inappropriate comment about me. (Sometimes I stumble due to Meniere's and someone will remark I am "stoned" or "on lots of pain medication." That becomes an educable moment for me. I answer for myself, even though I am pissed that someone made a remark. I know everyone handles things differently.
    Please understand that there are those of us out here who understand. When people take routine medicines to control symptoms, the medicines no longer cause behavioral side effects. People need to educate themselves.

    1. Thanks for the comment! I am so happy to hear that someone else out there knows what I'm going through, although its unfortunate at the same time because nobody deserves that. I'm sorry to hear about your disease and I hope the pain is managed enough that you can sleep soundly at night. :)

  2. Wow Caitlin!!! I am so impressed with your writing. I have chronic illnesses including Meneires. Mine are mostly under control but it is often like walking a tightrope. I also take a whole backpack full of meds and supplements. You know what ir is like to go through airport security, but that is not as hard as people who don't understand, because I look just fine on the outside. I am so sorry about your pain and I pray that you will find some answers and help.

  3. Very good explanations Caitlin! I am a nurse, a fellow Marine mom of your mothers and I take percocet and flexeril daily. It does not stop the pain, it sometimes won't even dull it. I have bad discs in my back from years of lifting people and bad arthritis, my doc said that nursing was not for me anymore. I can't do exercise or any of the things I enjoyed. People tell me they can't believe I can function on what I take, they don't understand. I have a problem that causes me to be dizzy and valium at bedtime keeps me walking straight during the day. Well meaning people tell me that the fact that I can take that and percocet and flexeril at bedtime and still wake hourly with pain means I am addicted. They don't understand. You are a very intelligent and articulate person and I wish you the best. I can no longer work, I pray that you will do well.