A tripping we will go

Peggy and I camped this week for the first time in two years, which was when my shoulders started hurting so bad that I had to sleep in a chair. Before then, we camped for a couple of nights a week. Camping and hiking was practically our life until bad knees eliminated the one and bad shoulders the other.

I knew I would have to take narcotics to sleep, only they could have killed me because I suffer from sleep apnea. This meant that I had to take my CPAP (a machine that keeps me breathing), but to take my CPAP, I had to buy some big and noisy equipment to power it. Not good, especially in the confines of a van.

We camped atop 2,130' Saddle Mountain in the Coast Range. The summit is at the end of a deeply rutted dead-end road, and we’ve camped there many times. It’s the kind of place we like because it has a good view, and we never see anyone.

Narcotics work best when you take them before you need them, so, at bedtime, I took a 50 mg Demerol. Well, wouldn’t you know it, my legs started flopping around like balloons in a windstorm while the rest of my body was trying to go to sleep, so I took an anti-seizure drug called Requip a half hour later. I had never mixed the two, but I had never been told that I shouldn’t either. An hour later, my legs were still flopping, so I took a second Requip. An hour after that, the pain was getting pretty bad, so I took a second Demerol.

I was tired of lying awake while the battery that was powering my CPAP expended its energy, so I let this one dissolve under my tongue for fast results. I got them. KABOOM! KABOOM! KABOOM! The sweat poured off me in buckets. I felt weak. I felt shit-faced. I was a mess. I hate it when these things happen. I especially hate it when they happen on the top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere. And I really and truly and especially hate it when, at the very moment these things happen, I realize that I’m going to have diarrhea.

What I most wanted NOT to do despite my sorry condition was to awaken Peggy because, nurse though she is, Peggy is prone to freak out when she thinks her husband is dying, and I MUCH prefer to freak out alone. But, and it was a big BUT, I had no idea if I could walk, or, if I could walk, if I could walk without staggering right off the top of Saddle Mountain. YES, I COULD walk, I discovered. Ooops, I forgot my glasses I realized halfway to the pot. Oh, well, I knew I could find my way without them—I just couldn’t see the stars.

What an effort! At home, it would have been a three flusher or even a four. I emitted everything short of a pyroclastic flow. You should have seen it. You would have cheered; you would have applauded; you would have never thought of me in the same mundane way again.

I felt MUCH better after I was done—much, much better. I lay back down with a feeling of accomplishment, of peace, of enlightenment even. Then, like a big heavy hand, the Demerol covered me, and I couldn’t have crawled out from under it had I tried. I almost dozed before the sweat awakened me again—and again, all night long. At 3:00 a.m., the ants arrived. The damn things tickled me as they crawled up my legs, but I knew better than to think they were real despite the fact that some HUGE ants HAD gotten into the van.

I had to admit, given this fact, that MY ants could have been real, but there was something about the WAY they crawled they make me think otherwise, and I really, really didn’t want to wake Peggy up looking for them. It was a long night. An ant would be there, and then it wouldn’t. Sometimes, there would be a lot of them—a whole herd almost—and I would remember stories about the screams of white men whom the Indians staked out on top of anthills. I really didn’t like those ants on my legs, but then you probably knew that already.

The worst drug experiences I’ve ever had were on Demerol, yet there’s something about it that intrigues me. I guess I’m a little—maybe a lot—like the guy in the old Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers cartoon who quipped—about LSD—“2,130 bad trips, but I’m not giving up yet.” I don’t think LSD ever killed anyone though (directly, anyway), whereas I KNOW Demerol has. Its dangers are why it’s not much prescribed anymore, but I’ve got A LOT of it, and “waste not, want not,” I always say.

“Does ‘waste not, want not’ mean you eat rotten food, your silly boy?” my mother would have asked. “Well, yes, Mom, of course, it does, which I especially hate when something is so far gone that that the dogs won’t eat it.” I would say stuff like that to my mother, and she would believe me. You might think she would have caught on after being bull-shitted for decades, but she lived her whole life like a na├»ve fourteen year old. Maybe this was because she equated being good with not seeing things that she considered bad, and she considered a lot of things bad—men, for example.

Demerol isn’t an opiate. It’s 100% human made. What kind of a person comes up with a thing like that, do you suppose? I mean, opiates came to us in the same way as aspirin. Something in nature was found to work, so scientists set about trying to figure out which chemical in the natural substance (willow bark in the case of aspirin) was the active one. But Demerol was thought up by some dude sitting around a lab in a white coat. Why did he do that? To drive me crazy, no doubt. But he won’t, ha, ha, ha, ha. He’ll never get me, that psychopathic lab dude with the evil dribble on his chin. I am WAY too normal.

My worst experience with Demerol happened when I double-dosed after my first shoulder surgery. I was in bad shape for several days in the middle of winter. I felt like I was DYING for several days in the middle of winter. THAT’S the kind of bad shape I was in—like the life was draining out of me—but it never occurred to me to ask for help. I was all alone—Peggy being in North Carolina—and, because I had been reading the Old Testament before I took the Demerol, I just kept right on reading. Freaked me out bigtime. I mean, the horror of ants eating your eyeballs is NOTHING compared to the horrors inflicted by the Old Testament God, and the Demerol had left me excruciatingly vulnerable to his malevolence. It had made me like my mother. But, what I said about God—that’s just my opinion. I know that a lot of you think he’s really quite sweet.

33 comments:

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Snow, I just am speechless! LOL! You always take me on an interesting trip!

As someone prone to stomach upset, I can't imagine being in the middle of nowhere!

But I'm glad you and Peggy are getting out and camping more!

And don't double dose the Demerol!

Silke said...

WOW!! I was riveted from beginning to the end of you story. We just went camping in the Smoky Mountains, but our trip was BORING compared to yours! I sure hope you had some great moments as well camping, other than the success on the pot... Silke

P.S. Re our fig tree, we got a variety that likes our humidity and it seems to thrive here. Maybe this year yours will have time to ripen as well!

Kerry said...

Peggy must be a good sleeper, either that or you have perfected being miserable very quietly.

Double-Demerol+Requip = Bugs crawling all over you? ICK, but thanks, now I know. I guess you have to decide between pain and seizures or crazy ant attacks. As you say, maybe they were real ants though, which only creates fuel for the imagination in the middle of the night.

I'm glad you felt better after your epic bout of diarrhea and hope the rest of your camping trip went much much better.

We do a fair amount of backpacking, but in the Cascades. Is this the Saddle Mt near Astoria?

The Bipolar Diva said...

Look at how handsome you are! And your wife is beautiful!

You always make me laugh my dear friend, even though I feel guilty for doing so. I still giggle when I think of your post about lying naked on the floor and having to pee.

I'm glad you made it through.

My quiet, reserved son completely freaks out on Demerol. I mean to the point that he tried to jump out of the hospital bed and was clawing at himself. It was horrible.

Snowbrush said...

CreekHider said: "As someone prone to stomach upset, I can't imagine being in the middle of nowhere!"

It wasn't that bad since it was a one-shot affair. Of course, when you travel with a schnauzer, you have to figure on building one monumental cairn over the evidence of your triumph, and that's a bit of a hassle.

Silke said: "I sure hope you had some great moments as well camping"

We did, but pleasant events aren't necessarily the most interesting ones to write about. Other than the drug problem, the trip went well enough to encourage us to keep going.

Kerry said: "Peggy must be a good sleeper, either that or you have perfected being miserable very quietly."

I am very quiet, but Peggy realizes that my sleep is often screwed, so she tries to ignore my movements. This is easier at home because we have separate rooms.

Kerry said: "We do a fair amount of backpacking, but in the Cascades. Is this the Saddle Mt near Astoria?"

That's a different Saddle Mountain. This one is maybe 30 miles northeast of Florence and 12 miles from the coast. Peggy has climbed all of the major Cascade peaks in Oregon, but most of our trips together are to the Old Cascades, which I find more interesting. We rarely go to the Coast Range except when it's hot everywhere else--the high at Newport was 57F. Sixty miles east--in the Willamette Valley--the temperature reached 94F (the average this time of year in the Valley is 80F).

The Bipolar Diva said: "My quiet, reserved son completely freaks out on Demerol."

My long ago experience with illegal drugs has made my travails with the legal ones much easier to bear if only because I know that bad trips do eventually end. That thought alone is of immense value.

The Bipolar Diva said: "Look at how handsome you are! And your wife is beautiful!"

Oh, shucks, Ma'am. I thank you kindly.

Bernie said...

I think it is great that you were well enough to camp. Peggy looks lovely and Snow I think she must be an angel. So happy you have her.
That was some "trip" you had, but they are your pills, it was your trip and you knew what would happen when you took them, so it is your business.
I hope you and Peggy enjoy more camping trips this summer.
....:-) Hugs

kylie said...

oh! shit!

Snowbrush said...

Bernie said: "Peggy looks lovely and Snow I think she must be an angel."

I would be a fool to argue the point even if I disagreed.

Bernie said: "it was your trip and you knew what would happen when you took them"

No, no, no, no, no, Bernie. I did not know that I would sweat, hallucinate, have diarrhea, and feel generally sick as a dog all night long; not to mention running the risk of destroying my liver and/or kidneys if not killing myself outright. I actually had the notion that I might get a good night's sleep. I have, at this point, 20-30 prescriptions from four doctors for numerous symptoms caused by numerous problems. No doctor or pharmacist ever knows for sure how any of these drugs are going to react or interact, much less the person who's taking them. This is why medications kill thousands upon thousands of people every year, and I'm not even referring to medication errors. Trust me, I will never take Demerol and Requip together. Since I'm supposed to take the Requip daily (which I don't), and since the two pills that I took was but a half dose, I assumed that taking Demerol with it was not expected to present a problem.

P.S. All of my doctors have a complete list of my medications, and all of my prescriptions come from the same pharmacy.

Kylie said: "oh! shit!"

You're as mysterious as ever, eh, Kylie?

All Consuming said...

‘What I most wanted NOT to do despite my sorry condition was to awaken Peggy because, nurse though she is, Peggy is prone to freak out when she thinks her husband is dying, and I MUCH prefer to freak out alone.’ With you there one hundred percent.

‘You should have seen it. You would have cheered; you would have applauded; you would have never thought of me in the same mundane way again.’…Hahahaha, yes, I can empathise, I have a portable loo that goes with me if I go anywhere near the countryside! Oh yes and believe me, mundane you aint! Heh.

I’ve had a few experiences with drugs that have left me feeling just as you described or similarly. It really is horrible, I just lie there trying to focus on the fact it will end, hopefully without me going to the emergency department, and within crawling distance of a loo, so I’m all empathy sweetie.

‘I know that a lot of you think he’s really quite sweet.’ That last line had me falling about hahahah, in fact the humour with which you convey your pain and misery in this post gets the All Consuming Blue Ribbon for making people laugh whilst feeling like crap. Love it. And great to see such a lovely picture of you, Peggy and Bonny!

You look much better than you feel like me.

I may come and steal your van.

Natalie said...

Your van looks fun! I am sorry it wasn't as fun as you thought it might be. Dunno what to say about your misadventure...............I think I will echo Kylie. :)

Marion said...

Ah, Snow. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. (I'm glad you still have your great sense of humor.) I've had similar reactions to medications and it ain't no fun at home, much less in the boonies!

My husband used to take Requip for restless leg syndrome, but had to stop it as the side effects were worse than the restless leg! That Peggy is a trouper and she must really sleep hard is all I can say. I'm so happy you're feeling better. I miss the camping trips we used to take! Blessings!

rhymeswithplague said...

There's one foolproof way to tell whether ants crawling up your legs in the middle of the night are real or imagined: Did they have little miners' lamps strapped to their foreheads?

You make me laugh when I'm not cringing, and cringe when I'm not laughing!

Since my dad used to threaten regularly to put the fear of God into me, and once or twice actually did, I never thought of him (pick antecedent of choice) as "quite sweet."

dana said...

Two reasons I look forward to Sunday are the newspaper ads, just to show myself that I don't NEED or want any of the crap I see. (My eyes are too bad to read the newspaper, so I enjoy the pictures in the ads) and the other reason is that I can hope to see a new post here. And this one had clear, up to date, PHOTOS!!! Now I don't have to imagine what Peggy looks like, or YOU, and although I prefer a recliner and an indoor toilet, I'd get along with both of you fabulously!! In fact, I'd share my gabapentin (anti-seizure)with you to replace your Requip. TWENTY to THIRTY scrips? It's a GOOD thing you're married to a nurse!

And you don't have to worry about god and the devil placing bets on you like they did on Job (the original roulette wheel). Neither one of us are worth the gamble. LOL (but I do also have boils)

Tiffany said...

may I suggest drugs.com? you can check drug interactions there. I only ever take a handful of things for mild depression and anxiety, but I'm a stickler for checking before I mix anything. Too afraid of bad trips!

Also Demerol, though I've only had it at hospital during surgery, only made me sleepy. strange.

Snowbrush said...

All Consuming said: "I may come and steal your van."

Natalie said: "Your van looks fun!"

It's a '93 Chevy 3/4 ton conversion van that we bought in 1995. It has oak trim and "mood lights," and it seated seven when we got it. I took all but the first two seats out, and replaced them with a bed and a cabinet--that I made. Storing the extra seats has been a challenge. The two extra bucket seats are now in the den where we use them as chairs. The bench seat is in the attic.

The engine is a 4.3 L six cylinder which is weak for such a big van, and was probably the reason that we got it cheap. Since we use the van mostly for camping, pep isn't important, and the small engine does get better mileage. As you can probably tell from the photos, I've babied the van just as I've babied all my vehicles.

Marion said: "My husband used to take Requip for restless leg syndrome, but had to stop it as the side effects were worse than the restless leg!"

That is often the case. Before the Requip, I took Klonopin, and, when a new doctor took me off it, I was awake nearly all night for several nights in a row. I realized from that experience that few things are as much of a drag as severe insomnia.

Rhymes said: "There's one foolproof way to tell whether ants crawling up your legs in the middle of the night are real or imagined: Did they have little miners' lamps strapped to their foreheads?"

Is that how YOU do it? If so, your Georgia ants are living in the Stone Age. Ants here switched to night-vision goggles a decade ago. They actually contracted with the Department of Defense to research their usefulness.

Dana said: "TWENTY to THIRTY scrips? It's a GOOD thing you're married to a nurse!"

Peggy knows labor and delivery inside out, having done it since 1988 (before that, she worked ICU). If I were having a baby, I would want Peggy to be my nurse, but her knowledge is quite limited in most areas. That said, she did make an early diagnosis when I had shingles, and this enabled me to get prompt treatment. Without it, I would probably be blind in one eye. She's also good at taking charge at accident scenes until the paramedics arrive. What's she's not good at--because she isn't interested in it--is researching medical problems. She won't even do it for herself, so I do it for her.

Dana said: "And you don't have to worry about god and the devil placing bets on you like they did on Job"

Well, God DID allow Job's family to be killed--among the other horrible things that happened to him--but not to worry because God gave him a whole new family. What could be more fair--or compassionate?

Snowbrush said...

Tiffany said: "may I suggest drugs.com? you can check drug interactions there... I'm a stickler for checking before I mix anything."

I have checked such sources enough to know that doctors and pharmacists don't catch everything (as if I ever imagined that they did!). For example, I take Sam-e, a supplement that raises serotonin levels. Two of my prescription drugs do the same, which could result in toxic levels. If I had not caught this myself, no one would. Yet, the longer I take drugs, and the more drugs I take, the more lax I become. I just get tired of spending so much of my time seeing doctors, having procedures, and then coming home and reading about every ailment, every symptom, every test, every treatment, every counter-indication, etc.

Mostly what I do nowadays in regard to drugs is to take as few of them as possible (I don't think my readers understand this because I don't write about all the times I DON'T take medications). Despite what I wrote about being intrigued by the psychoactive effects of Demerol, I never take it for kicks (which is why I have so much of it on hand). Do I not like it then? I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I'm intrigued by altered states because they have the ability to show me new realities, but, on the other, I'm well aware of the risks.

Tiffany said: "Also Demerol, though I've only had it at hospital during surgery, only made me sleepy. strange."

Yes, and it never puts me to sleep. It might make it damn hard for me to get out of a chair, but it leaves me wide awake.

Tabor said...

After reading this post I am not sure how you found me or why you commented on my blog. This post reflected a dynamic and, perhaps, scary adventure. I must take some time to read other posts to assure myself that your life is not so crazy! Thanks for stopping by.

nollyposh said...

Oh Lordy! Sounds like the time i had a joint in my early twenties and a friend of mine (Thank God he was at the party too!) found me sitting under a tree, completely off my tree (Pardon tha pun) and unable to move, he had to pick me up like a baby and take me home ...AND silly me was in a different State (of Australia) at the time and waaaay awaaay from home! Needless to say i learned my lesson and now use the experience to scare my teenage children! ...Like a good mummy X;-)
(Ps) Love your TOTALLY COOL van! and yey "Hi" Peggy (nice photo) X:-)

The Tusk said...

In the amount of time I read your original entry and ponder all the first commented posts, visit the said viewerships Blogsites, learn about them take note and comment to one or two. I return to your post to leave you a brief note and I find you've responded and there are at least two or three more posts to read, some by you and several by the latest bloggers.

So my comment is this, did you see the solar eclipse July 11th was it not on the pacific, and not in the east?

Sincerely,
fellow dreamers society of north america, chapter president - the tusk

I find the only way to beat sleep apnea is to work non-stop. The trick is finding a job that pays you to sleep while you are on the clock. I'll go into detail in a future blog, these jobs have been good to me and have lasted several years on occassion.

Comments allowed by the FDSNAC

Snowbrush said...

Tabor said: "I am not sure how you found me or why you commented on my blog."

Well, it wasn't my first visit, although it's true that I don't get around to your blog often. As for why I commented, is there some reason that you don't like it when people whom you don't know comment?

Tabor said: "I must take some time to read other posts to assure myself that your life is not so crazy!"

Then, a little craziness is okay, but a lot isn't? Ha. I rather think that you aren't going to like me terribly well, Tabor.

Nollyposh said: "i had a joint in my early twenties and a friend of mine (Thank God he was at the party too!) found me sitting under a tree, completely off my tree..."

I hallucinated all night long once. First came the monsters--which I only saw because I was with people who I didn't fully trust--that leaped out at me savagely from a citronella candle. Then--when I was finally alone--came the colorful and glowing geometric patterns that swam before my eyes in the darkness. Later, I watched live oaks sway their arms as they danced for joy in the Louisiana sunrise. It was not an experience to be missed, so if I were your kids, your own experience might make drugs seem more desirable rather than less. By the way, I haven't smoked dope in over fifteen years, but I would love to share some with you. The drug ecstasy would be good too. Maybe it would help us with some of our differences.

Tusk said: "did you see the solar eclipse July 11th was it not on the pacific, and not in the east?"

I don't know anything about it.

Tusk said: "I find the only way to beat sleep apnea is to work non-stop. The trick is finding a job that pays you to sleep while you are on the clock."

The only benefit I can see there would be that having a job on which you could sleep would give you more time to sleep. Even then, sleep apnea could kill you. It is extremely detrimental to your brain, your heart, and your whole body to some extent.

Rob-bear said...

What are you trying to do, Snow? Scare the living daylights out of us by taking Demerol? Or do you have a new "death wish"?

As for tripping, considering what you went through, you could have done that one without leaving home.

And the way to beat Sleep Apnea is to use a CPAP, Tusk's comment notwithstanding. And since you're using one, as do I, this is good.

Snowbrush said...

Rob-bear said: "Or do you have a new "death wish"?"

I'm glad you came around, Rob-bear, since i never know if I will ever hear from you again from one visit to the next. Like with Nollyposh, you and I have our issues, although the ones with you are a lot more alienating--to me, at least.

So, why did I take Demerol? Because Demerol is the strongest thing I've got left, but even it won't kill the pain entirely. I HAD hoped it would help enough that I could sleep through it though. You don't know this, of course, but I haven't slept without ice since a year ago last March. I thought long and hard about what drug to take on this trip, and I took Demerol because i thought it would give me the best shot at getting my rest. I wanted SO MUCH for this trip to at least give me hope that I could camp again, and it did. The pain didn't keep me awake. The stuff I took for the pain kept me awake.

rhymeswithplague said...

My son-in-law uses a CPAP now; my daughter thinks it is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

JOE TODD said...

May your Tephra always erup so successfully.Camping is always an adventure one way or another

Haupi said...

Wow, what a read! I hate to admit really enjoyed reading about your shoulder and stomach troubles while camping and the trials of demerol use...but I did. I'm your newest follower now...bring it on. I'm ready for the next episode. Yeah yeah, thanks for visiting my blog and posting a comment, but I'm so glad I found yours.

Haupi
http://hauplight.blogspot.com/

SandyCarlson said...

You guys are living the good life with good spirits!

Rita said...

I have, at this point, 20-30 prescriptions from four doctors for numerous symptoms caused by numerous problems.
20-30 prescriptions! That is bizarre.
No wonder you feel like crap all the time.
I read that the US takes twice as many drugs, as other countries, and has the worse health. In a survey of 13 industrialized countries we came in overall, 2nd to last.
That means we are paying money for drugs that are not working, we spend money on expensive drugs and medical devices, etc... that have marginal if any value over more economical alternatives. Meanwhile almost 50 million Americans haven't any medical insurance at all. These people can be left bankrupt by a something as simple as a broken leg.
Also, do you realize "Restless Leg Syndrome" is a medical term invented by pharmaceutical companies to sell drugs?
To gain the most market share, companies have to invent drugs for diseases that previously had no treatment.

I'll get off my soapbox, now. But, gosh! 20-30 prescriptions?

Marion said...

I love your Van, Snow...Graham and I intend to get a Van in a few years to travel across Canada. And it's so great to see photos of your dog, Peggy and you...now I can put a face to your name.

Super post, Snow, as usual, even if it was a horrible experience for you. That's what I love about you...you can turn the most terrible experience into a funny tale!

Snowbrush said...

Rita said: "No wonder you feel like crap all the time."

Actually, I feel pretty good except for being in pain and being depressed over being in pain.

Rita said: "I read that the US takes twice as many drugs, as other countries, and has the worse health."

No shit, what with these bastards pushing drugs at us right and left, drugs that often don't work as well as their generic predecessors, yet come with greater risks. We live in a sick, sick, sick society in many, many, many ways. To my knowledge, the U.S. is one of the few--maybe even the only--industrialized nation that allows advertisements for prescription drugs.

Rita said: ""Restless Leg Syndrome" is a medical term invented by pharmaceutical companies to sell drugs?"

Are you saying that it doesn't exist, that people only started imagining they had the problem after they were presented with a made-up ailment? This might be a moot point, but my diagnosis isn't restless leg but nocturnal myclonus.

Rita said...

Actually, I feel pretty good except for being in pain and being depressed over being in pain. Sorry, but that sounds pretty crappy to me.

I'm not saying the symptoms don't exist. I'm saying pharmaceutical companies invented the name to go with the symptoms as they were casting around for another way to make money.

Zuzana said...

I really enjoyed reading about your (at times hairy) camping experiences.;)
Loved all the pictures here as well, the sleeping arrangements looks quiet cosy. Despite it all, the troubles you went through, I bet there is something indescribable to be in the wilderness.;)
xo

Christy said...

I found you by way of the Bipolar Diva. She's awesome by the way. I am now following you and you can give her all the credit.

Confessions of a Closet Hoarder but you can call me Judy said...

"We did, but pleasant events aren't necessarily the most interesting ones to write about. Other than the drug problem, the trip went well enough to encourage us to keep going."

I was glad to read you're not giving up on camping in spite of your experience. Great pictures. :)