I have never taken pain medication other than Tylenol or Ibuprofen until my recent run in with a ruptured Achilles. On February 20th I was given my first Percocet and the evening ended with my brother taking a 5 minute recording of a FaceTime where I am apparently spewing comedy gold (tbd since I haven’t seen the footage). My medication cycle seems to follow a very predictable pattern: loopy, sleepy, super loopy, groggy, repeat.
The post surgery pain was excruciating, and they prescribed 1-2 Vicodin every 4 hours for this round. After being medicated continually for 13 days I called it quit today.
Last night when some friends were visiting I said something that shook me. They asked how the meds made me feel, and after my obligatory joke I said, “at least they numb the pain, but they also seem to numb my soul.” When the words left my mouth I felt the Tirona-pain-equation formulating in my mind.
Pain + meds = numb pain and numb life
*By numb life I mean I desired less, or significantly lacked, in areas where I normally swim in abundance. Less emotions. Less appetite. Less libido. Less joy. Less motivation to read. Lesser thinking ability. Just less.
The alternative: Pain + no meds = more pain and more life
I’m not an advocate of “toughing it out” with all the amazing medical treatments available to us, but I needed to establish a baseline to see how my pain was with no medication. So took my meds at 7pm and went to sleep on a prayer. I’m great today. Yes, a little more pain is reminding to lay down more often, but my brain is chugging along with a bit more focus. My desires are building up. My soul is less numb!
In the news I am constantly hearing about the opioid epidemic. The high addiction rates. The related causes of death. I’ve pondered the effects of opioids for years since my wife has battled chronic pain from a cyst that has resulted in two brain surgeries, but this has been my first personal run in with them.
I definitely feel the danger now. The loopy high gives a temporary sense of pleasure, but the trade off, and fall off, was too much for me to continue a regular dosage.
One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 16:11, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” My meds, like illicit drugs I had taken before, provide a moment of pleasure and type of joy, but they are far from lasting. Look at that verse. In God’s presence is the fullness of joy and at his right had are pleasures forevermore! That’s what I want. Full joy and forever pleasure. This probably sound fuddy duddy, but I genuinely felt my meds trying to trade my divine pleasures and joy for fleeting pleasure and micro-joy.
Please hear me. I am not saying all drugs are bad for all people. I am saying these drugs were bad for me. I can see the allure, but I chose not to settle in to the quasi joy and short lived pleasure. (I also don’t think Percocet Pastor would be a good moniker in my vocational field.)
What’s your experience with meds and drugs?
Or deeper yet…
What’s your experience trading full joy and lasting pleasure for small joy and temporary pleasures?