Friday, February 18, 2011

Windshield... or Bug?

Just like the song says,

Sometimes you're the windshield.
Sometimes you're the bug.

We've all had multiple turns at being both. Lately I've felt as though something was trying to turn me into a permanent bug, and sometimes it was an effort to peel myself off that glass.

I've had a Very Unwelcome House Guest called Cancer. Shortly after my birthday last month, I checked into the hospital and had a hysterectomy.

Let me tell you, that can certainly put a catch in your get-along. The drive home and the walk into the house the day after surgery almost did me in, but once I was in bed, I could handle it, and ibuprofen worked just fine.

Then I started having these extended sneezing fits that lit me up like a pinball machine. I was in a world of hurt, and I decided to break down and open that bottle of Percocet the doctor had prescribed. Denis cut one of the pills in half for me, and I took it.

You have no clue what a momentous decision that was for me. I don't do pain killers. If aspirin doesn't fix it, normally I just grin and bear it. I pass out within minutes of taking half a Codeine tablet, and when I read the label on the prescription bottle and saw "oxycodone" (AKA "hillbilly heroin"), I wanted nothing to do with it. But this pain was way above any that I'd had for decades. I think when I took that half a Percocet, I fully expected horns to start growing out of my head or something.

No horns. Just no pain. So as long as I had those sneezing fits, I took Percocet-- a total of five pills over the course of three to four days. Since the directions said one to two tablets every four to six hours, I was well below recommended levels.

The morning of the day I decided to stop taking them was rather strange. There was a mockingbird in the tree outside my bedroom window that was singing very loudly. I woke up with my lips moving in time to the bird's song and with my fingers plucking at the duvet in roughly the same time as the bird was hopping from limb to limb.

I crawled out of bed and went into the bathroom to check for horns. Or feathers.

Since the pain was gone, I stopped taking the Percocet, and in no time, I was experiencing more weirdness. My hands shook and made my handwriting look as though it came from an arthritic chicken being chased by a beagle pup. My fingers skittered all over the keyboard and my brain was so fuzzy that it took me four times as long to write a book review as normal. That night when I went to bed, I woke up suddenly in the wee hours absolutely drenched in cold sweat. If I hadn't known better, I would've sworn that someone had pulled off my duvet, tossed a bucket of ice cold water on me and then covered me back up. I could wring the water out of my nightgown and bedclothes.

What in the Sam Hill would've happened if I'd followed the directions on the bottle to the letter AND taken all forty pills?

I don't think I really want to know.

What I do know is that I will never take Percocet again. And there's something else. If anyone is ever able to prove to you that I have become a junkie, you can take one fact to the bank: The earth has just shifted on its axis. Drugs and me just don't like each other!

Want to know the most important thing about this entire post? Well, I'm glad you hung around till the end!

I had my post-op appointment with my oncologist this week. I'm doing an excellent job of healing, and I made Dr. Janicek laugh with my drug tales. Oh. And all those tests? They came back clear. Dr. Janicek got all the cancer during surgery. There will be no more whacking and whittling, and there will be no chemo. The Very Unwelcome House Guest has been Totally Evicted!

This time I was the windshield and Cancer was the bug. And when I walked past the door to the room where over a dozen women were undergoing their chemo treatments, it was all I could do not to cry.


  1. Thrilled to hear you evicted your most unwelcome visitor Cathy and hope you continue to build up your strength. I'm sure your attitude and sense of humour have helped you through the process - I am in no doubt of the power of the human mind.

    Your drug stories are actually not that unusual - it's actually a lot harder than the drug companies like us knowing to prescribe the right dose of the right drug for every human - there are so many variables that are too difficult to calculate.

    But you did get some good stories out of it so all was not wasted.

  2. That is fantastic news, Cathy. I'm so happy for you!

  3. Great news Cathy ... while I'm sorry for those whose news is not so great, I'm very glad for those whose news is good and I'm so glad you are one of them! (PS I know what you mean about drugs. I avoid them like the plague too. But sometimes they can be just the thing. The trick is knowing when that time is and heeding it)

  4. Yay for you!
    I do the same thing with avoiding or underdosing pain pills, and the more I talk to people, the more people I find who do it, too, and for most of the same reasons.

  5. Cathy,
    I am so, so happy for you - the news is just so uplifting.
    I had a total hysterectomy so know where you're coming from with the pain but I am just so glad for you now.

  6. So glad to hear about the surgery success! I also had a bad drive home from my hysterectomy when I had one. I was so nauseated that I had to take the little bucket thing with me. Whenever my sister came to a stop light, I would throw up. The looks on the people in the cars next to us got us laughing so hard, which was excruciating to my stitches! An unforgettable moment!

  7. WOOT to being cancer happy for you and Denis.

  8. I'm so glad to hear your wonderful news and to see that you are well on the road to recovery!

    My mother-in-law was given oxycodone in the hospital after surgery for lunch cancer and it caused her to become very agitated and hallucinate. She'll never take it again either.

  9. Cathy, that is some of the best news I've heard this week. I'm so happy for you. While I did take my pain pills after my oophorectomy (ovary removal), I didn't have nearly the bad experience that you did. You philosophy on meds is very similar to my husband's though.

    By the way, I'm coming to AZ in May for a week. I'll email you about maybe meeting up?

  10. Very funny Percocet stories! It makes me nauseous and dizzy so I don't take it either. Not long after my hysterectomy in 1976, we went to visit my mother in the hospital and then took my father out to dinner. Robert Redford (!) was there and as we were waiting to be seated, a little boy ran across the lobby and right into me. Since I still felt like my insides were going to fall out of my "bikini" incision any time, it was a shock. He turned absolutely white and apologized over and over. Would you believe . . . it was Redford's son! And that's my post-surgery story.

  11. This is just the most excellent news!!!

  12. I don't do painkillers either -- how scary.

    But wooooooo hoooooooo on the doctor's report. Now it's just a finish on up healing and get on with things. I'm so happy for you.

  13. Oh, Cathy, I am so glad to hear that you cancer is gone! It is so hopeful to hear that things like this do happen once in awhile. I have a family member and quite a few friends who are going through chemotherapy right now, and I have been constantly praying that they will begin to see results very soon. It is a very scary thing and I am just so elated to hear that yo beat it! It's also scary that the pain killers has such an effect on you, and I can totally see why you would never want to take them ever again!

  14. Congratulations; here´s to our cancer-free, drug-free Cathy!

  15. I'm so happy to hear your cancer is gone! Congratulations! I have been thinking about you and this is just wonderful news.

    I have only ever been on painkillers once; I had mono and my throat swelled up so much that I had codeine for it. But I was incapable of swallowing the codeine with tylenol that I actually got prescribed because my throat was so painful and swollen (I had just plain codeine at the doctor's), so I ended up having very few of them. I'm glad now - I wouldn't have liked those side effects at all.

    Meghan @ Medieval Bookworm

  16. So very glad to hear that you have been pronounced cancer free. And now pain free.

    I think all drugs have some kind of side effect. For me I have to decide what's worse, the problem or the cure. Fortunately I can take pain pills for a few days and no ill effects. But give me an antibiotic and my body goes nuts.. rash, yeast, all kind of nasty stuff.

  17. That's great news. Enjoy your life and stay away from Drugs :)

  18. Celebrating here that you are a windshield, Cathy!

  19. I'm so glad I read it to the end :) Very happy for you and to hear that it all went well (well, taking the pain killers episode, but I guess that's a story to tell grandchildren :))

  20. I too avoid painkillers like the plague, for the very same reasons.

    I am so very glad to hear you were the windshield - onwards and upwards :)

  21. Bernadette-- I learned a long time ago that all the "stuff" that happened in a lifetime was the source for stories, and I have to admit, I do like to tell a tale now and then!

    Hilde-- Thank you!

    Sue-- I know drugs can be our friends, but I'd prefer just a nodding acquaintance as we pass in the street. ;)

    Jeanne-- We need to be more vocal because normally what I hear the most is "Where are the drugs?" "Do you have any spares?", etc., and that really bothers me.

    Barbra-- Thank you!

    Jill-- I'm just now getting to the point where it doesn't kill me to laugh, which-- after reading of your experience-- suits me just fine! LOL

    Jennifer-- Thanks so much!

    Kathy-- I think many of those highly addictive painkillers need to be much more closely monitored than they are now. My doctor asked me if I needed a refill on my prescription, to which I replied, "Absolutely NOT!"

    Kay-- Email away! Sounds like fun, although Denis and I are planning a trip. Hopefully we'll be here!

    Barbara-- I'm sooooo glad I met Robert Redford in 1974 in the Albertson's checkout line. Even the thought of that little boy running into you makes me want to howl with pain!

    SuziQ-- I agree! :o)

    Candace-- Thank you!

    Heather-- I will be praying for your family and friends. I wish I could just blink and eliminate cancer from the face of the earth.

    Dorte-- Thank you!

    Meghan-- Thanks!

    Leslie-- Ick. Sounds like you have just as much fun with antibiotics as I do with pain killers. :(

    Page-- I fully intend to! LOL

    Sue-- Thank you!

    Alexandra-- Thanks!

    Joanne-- Yes!

  22. I just saw this post, what you experienced was scary! Sometimes it's the medicine prescribed that makes you feel worse than the actual sickness. I hate cancer - I think most of us have experienced cancer in some way (like knowing someone diagnosed with it). I'm so glad you're doing better though and I hope you're well on your way to recovering from your surgery. Hope you feel better soon!

  23. This is great news, I am so pleased to read that this phase of your life is now behind you. Take Care.

  24. I'm so glad to hear that your unwelcome visitor is gone! That's a wild adventure you had with the Percocet...

    But mostly, I'm happy you've recovered.

  25. I'm like you and tend not to take prescribed pain killers. I'm glad you took them though..sounds like they were needed and thank goodness you didn't take as many as suggested!

    So so excited the cancer is gone! I would do a happy dance if I wasn't at work. :)

  26. I'm so happy your post op was positive. Since I went through this at the end of October, I can feel your pain. Percocet almost killed me - I took some in the hospital but they had given me an anti nausea pill and so it didn't bother me but when I got home and took them, they made me so sick I could hardly hold my head up. Everything tasted like cardboard and it was too much effort to even chew. Did you get a metallic taste in your mouth too? It seemed to take days to get rid of that. I can't even imagine that there are people out there who WANT to take this stuff.

    It is heartbreaking to see so many people who have not been so fortunate with their diagnoses. I hope you continue to heal and feel better every day.

  27. Chachic-- Thank you!

    Lindy-- I will! Thanks!

    Laura-- I have to agree!

    Kris-- I've done happy dances at work. It's good to mystify the natives once in a while. ;)

    Kaye-- I missed the nausea part, thank goodness. I was having way too much "fun" with the hallucinations. Every time I see those women undergoing chemo, I feel like a fraud.


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