“What medication are you currently taking?” – A question that previously took 20 seconds to respond to, but now results in a thirty minute discussion on the various narcotics, nerve pain, anti-inflammatory, anxiety and sleeping medication I am currently taking, and have taken in the past. I have come to accept that I will be having this conversation far into the future, as the majority of the natural methods to relieve my pain are insufficient. While I am finally at peace with prescription medication, I am in a constant battle with their side effects. In the past two months alone I have struggled with new doses of my fentanyl patch and nerve pain medication, leaving me feeling overly emotional, tired, and scared at times. There were moments in January where I would feel so “high” that I stopped seeing figures, just blurs, and I would cry just because I didn’t know what else to do. I left school for a few days to take care of myself, but ultimately to gain time to decide what to do: fight through this because the medication will improve the quality of my life, or completely stop. I wish I could say this doesn’t happen often, that I don’t get “high” off of my medication and become a person I can’t even recognize, but that would be a lie.
I have been taking prescriptions every since the day of the crash, but back then they were flowing out of a bag through my IV into my body. First I had little to no say on how much I received, mainly because I couldn’t express myself. However, it eventually became that the simple push of a pump would release the morphine into my IV, making my time in the hospital slightly more “comfortable”. I then began to take my medications orally, adding a new two or three to the list every year and crossing a few off, while thinking “why the h*ll was I ever taking that?”. While I recognize that most of my medications were necessary, I can’t help but reflect on the effects of some, more specifically, morphine. I was first put on morphine and hydromorphone at Foothills Hospital. That pain reliever is incredible, in a sense that it can completely alter everything about you, including where you are and what you see at the moment.
It was around a week and a half after waking out of the coma, just three and a half weeks after the crash. I was on an abundance of medication, and was going in and out of consciousness. I came to when a nurse and a porter entered my room and began to move my bed. My bed was pushed out of the room, and I saw the ceiling tiles fly by, one by one. Suddenly, the ceiling transformed from those off white tiles to blue sky filled with white, cumulus clouds. I saw my nurse and porter push me outside of the hospital, out into a large open field. I could feel the wind and warmth of the sun, and smell the dirt that had a hint of cow manure. The smell became unbearable as we grew closer to a stable. The road to the stable was uneven, making my legs bounce and the pain in my body worse. Fear hit me when we entered the stable, as I was surrounded by cows, pigs, and chickens. I was left alone with the animals for hours. I could see them, hear them, smell them, and basically taste their foulness in the air. After the hours had past, my bed began to move on its own into a tube-like shape. I was shot into the tube and sent off into what felt like the craziest theme park ride ever created. I witnessed my broken body flailing about in the tube, and could feel myself getting dizzy and sick to my stomach.
When the ‘ride’ ended and they brought me back to my ICU room, my father stood before me . I informed my dad of what had just occurred, begging him to “never let them take me again!”. I was absolutely outraged at how I had just been treated by the nurse and porter, and couldn’t fathom why I was placed in the stable for so long. My father said nothing, but instead burst into roaring laughter. My anger grew, and as the tears poured out I cried, “but there were cows looking at me!”. I knew what I saw, and I could basically still smell and taste the manure. I was informed at that moment, and have been teasingly reminded ever since, that I was taken to get a CT scan and was gone for less than an hour. I was placed in the waiting room, put into the machine, and brought back to my bed. Not only had I been hallucinating, but my sense of touch, smell, sound and taste had completely changed due to the obscene amount of morphine flowing through my system. What I experienced WAS real, and yet, none of it had occurred.
This story is one of the many from my hospital days that I hope to share, and is just a small glimpse into how powerful pain medication can be. While I am able to reflect back on this moment and laugh, the power of medication still tends to consume my life. There are no days without it, but some are better than others. Today I am clear headed, my pain is tolerable, and I am in Nelson with my parents. Today is a good day.