Friday, August 03, 2007

Scary stuff

A good mate of mine, who lives only a couple of blocks away, has a bit of a bad back. Then again, we are all getting a bit older, and shit happens. Don't get me started about my knees...Anyway, I digress. For a change.

For the sake of the story, let's call him Pete (the names have been changed to protect the innocent, or at least, um, him, even though he isn't as innocent as you might think).

I had a call on Sunday arvo 12 days ago from his partner. Let's call her Simone (I am sure she is very innocent, so I changed her name too). Simone called in a bit of a state, to ask if I could help her get Pete to the hospital (thankfully not too far away) as he had royally stuffed his back picking up their 9 month old, very well fed son. His name doesn't matter so I haven't changed it.

I helped her virtually carry Pete to their van, get him to the hospital, and get him into the emergency waiting room, which was, as always, rather busy. Now I should say that Pete was, despite his best efforts, in serious pain, as he is not a soft bloke, but the slightest movement had him pretty much crying in agony (and I don't use the term lightly). It is very distressing to see a good friend in this much pain.

I waited around for a couple of hours while they assessed, him, moved him onto a bed so he could at least lie down, forgot him for a while, and eventually gave him painkillers. I should also point out that Pete is a vegetarian, and he eats and shops with more than your average thought towards animal cruelty, environmental impact and all that palaver. He doesn't like taking medications any more than her has to either, which is perfectly understandable. He was therefore briefly concerned when the doctor proposed morphine, but the pain and his inability to move soon put that issue, er, to bed.

The morphine kicked in after a while, he started feeling better, and I left him and Simone to take some much needed supplies to Simone's parents who were looking after unnamed heavy infant son, at their place on the northern beaches. By this time it was late-ish Sunday night, so they didn't need me to come back to the hospital.

What is the point, I hear you asking. Well, Pete was sent home late that night with a cocktail of painkillers and Valium. I spoke to him later last week, when he was able to get up and walk about, if slowly, and what he told me sounded awful. He told me how he was taking his cocktail of prescribed goodies for about 4 days, and felt really quite good, so he decided he didn't need the Valium. So he didn't take it one night. He then spent most of the night awake, unable to sleep, in an increasing state of panic and distress, until (and he may be excused for a little poetic licence here), he felt like he was going to die.

Then he took the Valium again, and everything was ok. So he conducted a little experiment, and didn't take it that night. The same thing happened. Increasing, irrational, isolating fear and paranoia. When he was telling me this, he was clearly very concerned about what this shit had been doing to his brain, AFTER ONLY 4 DAYS. He swore he would never touch it again, no matter what.

Now maybe he is particularly susceptible to the side effects of such medications. I don't know. I have also been lucky enough not to need to take Valium, or any prescription drugs like that other than some very strong painkillers for the odd injury. But this stuff sounds just plain scary.

And there are god only knows how many people out there who are quite possibly waaaay too scared (or maybe even who don't know any better any more) to stop taking it.


At 11:30 pm, Anonymous SouthernBelle said...

That is scary about your friend, to know that your body is actually in that much pain but you don't even know it.

When I had my laser eye surgery they gave me about a quarter of a valium just to chill me out.

And trust me, you need a lot of chilling out when someone is about to slice open your eye and blast layers off your cornea with a laser, with only local anaesthetic to help you.

Still, best decision I ever made to have that done!

PS - Is the Transformers movie out there yet? You HAVE to see it, it is seriously the best movie ever, specially if you watched the cartoon when you were little.

: )

At 11:50 am, Blogger WJ said...

I think the thing that he found most worrying is that he only realised what it was doing to him once he stopped taking it...

Transformers is awesome. so many things blowing up simply can't be bad...

At 8:00 pm, Blogger Steph said...

I know people who are addicted to prescription pain killers, it's very easily done and he has very good reason to be concerned.
If I were him, I'd speak to my doctor and see if there is something else he could be taking instead.

At 8:57 am, Blogger WJ said...

Hey Steph - definitely. He is relatively lucky in that through rest, physio, and other not-quite-so-scary drugs he is able to get through.

Others aren't so lucky.


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