Thursday, October 16, 2014


Sometimes I think I'm psychic.  It's not a skill I can call upon when I need to find my keys and we are late to
Kindergarten (again) but every now and then I just know how some facet of my life is going to work out.  For example: As I listened to my mom cry about everything that went wrong in her life, I knew with unmovable conviction that I would not share her fate.  I would be happy.  Like, fairytale happy.

I was right. 

I also knew that someday Science would hand me a little blue pill that would take all my pain away.  I have been able to see this mythical pill in my mind since I was a child. A beautiful tiny blue oval of relief.

And I was right again.

I may have never found my Little Blue Pill if it weren't for the fact that my life got really hard awhile back.  Not, like, busy-mom-raising-two-kids hard. But three-out-of-seven-people-you-love-most-betrayed-you-while-you-face-possible-crimnal-investigation hard. Is that a thing? There should be a better word for it. 

Even though I spent years ignoring the connection between stress and chronic pain--because that made the pain seem arbitrary, imaginary--both stress and pain were running away with my life in tow. My flare up was ridiculous. Since I don't really like to talk about my flare (up) lets just say that when I could no longer tolerate shoes I knew I had to go back to the doctor.

I did not know where to start.  I felt frustrated by every doctor I'd ever seen, so I opened up Google to find someone new.

And I found the most unexpected thing.

A doctor, essentially 5 blocks from my home, was treating RSD/CRPS with ketamine infusions. I have been reading about other RSD patient's experiences with this drug for years, and eventually planned on traveling to one end of the country or the other to find a doctor willing to try it.  But there he was 3.7 miles from my played-out-red front door.

My dance with Special K (because that's what the kids are calling it) was fascinating.  I had very little idea what lay in store, so when I felt the first drips come through my IV, and the outpatient surgical center literally started to swirl before my eyes like a drunken cartoon character's hallucination, I tried to let go of any semblance of control I had over my mind and enjoy the ride.  However, I had a terrible migraine and my body was no longer responding to reasonable requests. I was paralyzed and in agony.  I was unable to speak to ask for help.  It was, quite possibly, the worst thing that had ever happened to me.  And it was only made worse by that fact that the entire staff couldn't stop talking about some guy they knew who had committed suicide over the weekend. They went on and on about how he did it, and where.  Then they told stories about every person they ever knew who had attempted or succeeded at the same gruesome feat.  There I was trapped in my migraine, and feeling like the ketamine had ripped open my very soul and exposed it to the light.  Like I was able to take a peek into my subconscious for the first time (having never dabbled in drugs as a teen) but I was constantly being interrupted by these disgusting stories.  I tried to ask them to stop talking about it.

"Hello?" the nurse repeated into the phone.  "We're still waiting on our order of Propofal." she paused to listen. "No. We can't wait until next week.  Fine." She hung up.    
"Like I was saying," the other nurse chimed back in. "His wife found him in the car.  In the garage.  You know--dead,"  she whispered the last word.

It was like their voices were being broadcast directly into my head. They seemed so much louder than they should have been. I writhed in pain and anger. I tried to explain how they were hurting my aforementioned delicate and naked soul, but I couldn't move my lips. I couldn't find my breath. I couldn't do anything to protect myself.  But how could they know that my own mother had also killed herself?  That I had sporadic waking nightmares of the gun. The blood. Her sadness.  But besides that, I'm totally fine with it.  I'm not even grieving anymore.  Really.
I know I somehow managed to cry, because the nurse wiped my face when she came back in to unhook the IV. My four hour stint in hell was done--for today, at least.  "We'll see you again tomorrow, dear," she said.  "The doctor will be back in a few to follow up."  As she finished removing the IV from my arm, she pressed the gauze to the leaking hole, and gestured for me to take over.  I lifted my hand to comply, which was impressive considering it weighed roughly 17 pounds. I failed to move my finger back in time so it got stuck in the tape she was smoothing over the gauze and my elbow. 

"How was your pain level during the infusion?" The doctors voice suddenly interrupted my withdrawl.

"Uh," I eloquently replied, as I searched my brain for the instruction manual that came with my mouth. "It was, like... there. But not there...but different...somehow." That didn't come out right.

He laughed at me. "How about we talk about it later." He turned to go.

"But," I said and dropped my eyes to my hands, willing them to move in protest.  "I had a problem.  My head still hurts. And... the nurses.  They kept talking about..." I searched for a way to gently say the s word,  "suicide."

His face twisted in confusion.  He pulled the curtain aside and yelled to the nurse's station, "was anyone talking about suicide out here?"

More confusion.  A chorus of no trickled back.

"No one was talking about that. You were most likely experiencing an auditory hallucination."

I felt heat and shame cloud my face as the situation continued to render in my head.  "I..."  "My mom...
she...  killed herself."  Did I really just say that out loud?

"It happens," he said. "The hallucinations, I mean," and held out his arm to help me off the bed and into the wheel chair.  The CNA came to push me out to the waiting room.  The clinic was closed and every one was waiting to go home. I hoped she wouldn't say anything to me.  Mostly because I was mortified, but I also knew I had zero chance of deciphering her accent in my current state.

An all too familiar churning stole the spotlight in my mind as a barf bucket was conveniently thrust in front of me.  I heaved and puked in my wheelchair with approximately five people watching.  I was gray and shaking and rank when I realized that my husband would be bringing my children with him to pick me up. I pressed my finger to his name on my phone and waited for him to pick up.

"I'm on my way.  You were done sooner than I thought," he said not bothering to start with hello.

"Please don't bring the kids."

"Ooookay, what am I supposed to do with them?"

"Find a neighbor."


"They can't see me like this!" I interrupted, surprising myself with the desperation in my voice, and wondering when I was cast in a Made For TV Movie.

"I'll be there as soon as I can."

The nurse came back with a shot filled with something that would hopefully erase my memory of the last five hours of my life. Or something to make me stop puking.  Either one.

As soon as I got home I counted down the steps between the door, and my bed.  I crumbled into a shape that was close enough to comfortable and closed my eyes, pretending that I didn't have to do it again tomorrow.