Sunday

29 October 2023

21 years ago I had a tumor yanked out from the underside of my brain via my sinuses. Yes, it was painful. I spent the 3 days following surgery on morphine, then Percoset, and they sent me home with a prescription for Vicodin, and stressed that I needed to fill it.

So, fill it I did, with the Spouse Thingy's help because I couldn't stand there long enough to hand it over to the pharmacy tech. When it was ready, they handed me two huge bottles--300 tablets. Of Vicodin.

300.

When we got home, I wanted to go to bed, and I wanted Percoset. I don't know why, I just did, and we had two tablets left over from something else. I took one, napped, took another before bedtime, and after that managed it on Tylenol.

I never took any of the Vicodin, and we carted those pills around for YEARS.

Thing is, no one blinked at the amount I had been prescribed. It's just what they did back then. Controls weren't as tight; if your surgery had been painful enough, you took home a chitload of pills.

But, you can imagine what might have happened if I had taken them all, even as directed.

Floating around online, I'm seeing *a lot* of blame heaped on Matthew Perry for his own death. "Well, yeah, what did he expect?" "Drugs will do that to you." "No sympathy, he was a druggie."

I'm going out on a limb and presuming most of those people are too young to remember how his addictions began. And it started with surgery and post-op Vicodin. He got on it, and struggled to get off of it.

It was not a personal failing. He took the meds he was prescribed, and the meds got their hooks into him. It could happen to anyone...and back then it did, more often that it does now, I think.

They sent us home with insane amounts of pain relief. That was a kindness, right? Don't make the patient suffer, make sure they have relief at home.

What never seemed to come with those meds was a tapering plan.

Yes, he wound up horribly addicted, was in and out of rehab more than 20 times, but he tried. And he owned it. And the most likely scenario of his death is that after playing Pickleball for a couple hours, he went home, got in the hot tub for a soak when he was already overheated, and those years of struggle caught up with him. He likely had a heart attack, or even just passed out and drowned.

Don't blame him.

What happened to him was something no one deserved.

I keep thinking of those 300 tablets of Vicodin, and, damn...there but for the grace... y'know?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Amen

gizzylaw said...

Spouse has had two back surgeries and a neck surgery. Oxycontin, Vicoden, Morphine sulfate, fentanyl patches (yup!), and god only knows what else. It was a rotating schedule because that way, they thought, he would not become addicted. He was and still is in constant pain. BUT, 20 years ago he decided it was better to live with the pain than in a constant fog. It was tough. Real tough. But he did it. The surgeries happened in the 80's and 90's. They have learned a lot about the effects of these drugs the hard way.
I don't blame anyone who gets sucked into that world. Even when the drugs are gone, the damage remains. Physical, psychological, emotional damage remains and must be addressed. RIP Matthew, the fight is over.

Just Ducky said...

Doc's first go to for pain is opioids. I've had surgery and asked for Tylenol just to ease the post anesthesia headache. Nope, only thing available was an opioid, so I said just one. While I was sent home with prescriptions for more and I did fill them I never took any. I disposed of all of them in a drug take back, like you, many years after actually getting them.

I caught a snippet of an interview Matthew Perry did with Colbert. Said his heart stopped during some procedure, so he may have had heart issues as well. Once the autopsy report is released, after the toxicology is done, we will know.

messymimi said...

That balancing act, trying to keep a patient out of pain in the immediate aftermath of the procedure and yet not get them addicted, it's hard on everyone.

There but for grace go all of us, really. I'm blessed to have never needed those drugs and my "drug of choice" is sugar. Damaging enough, right?