Joys of Withdrawal in the Real Desert

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Screenshot
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas


Keeping to the theme of writing about my new, temporary, abode in the great Southwest desert, or the “Real Desert” as I like to refer to it, I’m now dipping into the less fun aspects of my refuge from the criminal element of Las Vegas and the Internet. The above title is a bit of a misnomer, anyone who has gone through withdrawal knows that there are no joys involved.

Just a lot of suffering.

This is not a complaint, just a fact. While the discomfort is not fun, it is nothing compared to the original ailment that required the painkiller to be prescribed initially. Regardless of pain levels, as any addict will tell you, getting off any drug, or pharmaceutical medication, is damned hard. Even more so when the tapering off procedure is inadvertently bypassed  because you have run out of the substance  that has taken up residence in your system for far too long.

Years ago, when I was taking a plethora of pain medication for a back condition that was finally sorted out with surgery via the NHS, I became addicted to several medications. I was naive back then; despite reading about various celebs who were all “fessing up” to being hooked on prescribed medication, I thought that becoming addicted had to do with illegal substances like, crack, heroin and so on.

I soon found out that when the stuff the good doctor has shoved in your system, via pills and potions, runs out, addiction is not so close minded or choosy. Whether the drug of choice is cocaine or valium, or Tramadol (a man-made morphine substitute) or Percocet, when you run out or try to wean yourself off the bloody stuff, life becomes upsetting and pretty unpleasant.

My retreat into the joys of withdrawal in the real desert started with giving the wrong address to the VA, after inadvertently either suffering from numerical dyslexia or just “old man idiocy” I swapped out the last two numbers in the temporary PO Box number I now have. As a result, my pain meds, and more importantly, one of my heart medications was kept for four days at the local USPS and then returned to the sender. Through a series of misinformation and a non-caring Hitler-ish type woman who runs the local post office and a ticking clock, I have been without one of my heart meds for over two weeks and my pain meds have been drastically cut down from my usual 300 mg per day to nil.

Ironically, I went in the day before the meds arrived and asked about the medicine coming in and since I  could not open the post box, could they please check for the parcels. Firstly, she refused to look in the actual post office box and then she went back in the sorting area, stood in plain view of me and the rest of the customers looking blankly at the room behind the service desk and announced, “There’s nothing back here.”

I went back a couple of days later, when my medicine was there (according to the tracking numbers) and got the same song and dance, even after explaining about my getting the PO Box number wrong, so “please, can you actually look for the parcel.”  No dice,  the woman lied to me and did not care that my heart medication had run out. I’ll deal with that later, especially since the “big” USPS office told me that the packages should have been kept a week at a  minimum and not four days.

My heart meds came in today. My pain meds are yet to arrive, but hopefully will be here tomorrow. I’ve got to take my hat off to the beleaguered VA. I rang them yesterday, the first day after President’s Day and reminded them of my plight, the lovely lady I spoke to said she would pass the details of my dilemma onto the pharmacy, who by then had my “drugs” with them.

On a side note, as stated above,  my heart meds arrived this afternoon. They’d actually been posted on February 13, the day I first rang, quite panic stricken at my dilemma, before I rang yesterday to see if they were paying attention. Way to go guys!

While the heart pills are not helping me to cope with the Tramadol withdrawal, at least now I know that I can, if needs be, exist without the heart meds for a pretty extended period of time.

I have also learned that living in the real desert, with no car, a bike out of commission, and miles away from the nearest VA facility, or bloody town for that matter, is not the best of all situations. I am away from the greedy vampire that was and is GLV and now different problems are cropping up.

On the bright side, and there is one, the weather is warm and my feet and ankles, which were so swollen from the ride back on the bike with the flat tire, have deflated from their Bugs Bunny hugeness and I can again wear something on them besides flip-flops. They still feel swollen and uncomfortable so my six mile trudge to town will have to wait for one more day.

There are other stresses that I am ill equipped to deal with, but that will change. Once the joys of withdrawal in the real desert are overcome, this old man will once more be able to deal with things that, right now, are urging a temper tantrum that would make North West at her daddy’s concert look like a fan.

Hopefully, the muscle twitching, nausea,  headache, weakness, cold symptoms and inability to think along with the struggle to not turn into a homicidal, foul-mouthed, maniac will cease by tomorrow, or the day after (Please? Big Guy?). Oh and before you ask the question of why I haven’t just gone to the local quack and gotten a prescription, answer me this, how would I pay for the visit and the drugs? Even if the VA sign off on using a non VA treatment arena, it is still co-pay. While these folks, Veterans Administration,  only charge me afterward, the doctor’s office will not be so obliging, not to mention that the stuff  not provided by the VA is damned expensive.

In the meantime, I’ll say a big “Thank you,” to the Nevada VA;  you guys rock and give the USPS another nod of thanks, they called me today, not the Hitler lady who runs Quartzsite, but the bigger more professional postal people,  to confirm that the VA had my drugs. To the large lady who runs the local USPS, I give you fair warning, address me in that tone of voice again and you’ll be amazed to see that there is an old codger who can vault your service counter and kick some manners into you. I’ll even wait calmly for the police to arrest me, from what I’ve heard from other customers, no judge in the local area will convict me.

18 February, 2015

I’ve Done How Many??

Am I the only person who sees the little slide at the left of your post screen as a sort of competitive gauge? I finish a post, one that hopefully has been fully edited, and the gauge thingy says. “You published 206 (plug applicable number in here if 206 isn’t your number) posts your next goal is 210.”

Every time I see this thing I feel myself charging up like a Kentucky Derby participant. My brain goes into calculation mode. “Wow! I only have four more posts to hit the 210 mark? I’d better think of something to write!”

I then start “cruising” the net, look at my DVD and game collection and pull up the Add New Post screen.  A lot of these “instant” posts wind up being discarded before I’ve finished the first sentence.

Because despite my competitive hackles rising up, I still have to be in the mood to write. I used to think I could always use my film and game collection to fall back on if I couldn’t think of anything else to write. But I need to have watched the film recently or else I am relying on old memories and,truth be told, those can be a bit dodgy.

The same rule applies to games. If I haven’t played it in awhile I tend to be a bit vague about the game in question.

Unfortunately for me, I have a bit of an addictive personality. That means, according to various doctors I’ve had over the years, that I am easily addicted. To everything. Really??

I tend to disagree. I always point out, quite logically, that if I were indeed an addictive personality I would be addicted to everything and I am not. I don’t do hard or soft drugs, I drink alcohol very rarely, I do still battle with the cigarette thing but that is more to time spent doing it than outright addiction. I also don’t have one-night-stands with strangers because I am addicted to sex.

But I will admit an addiction to writing, reading, game playing, movie watching and adrenaline. All the above mentioned items are leisure activities, the adrenaline I get from my job. But the point is, I guess, that I am seemingly addicted to ‘beating’ the stupid gauge thing on the left of the page.

In my mind I see it as a gauntlet thrown down at my feet. “Ha! You think you’re doing good? Well if you’re so good write me another four posts, sonny, and be quick about it. I have another challenge for you when you finish.”

I rise to the occasions every time. So I guess I am addicted to being competitive. Or I am a completionist. If that is the case I’m in trouble.

The sliding gauge ‘thingy’ is always going to win. It won’t matter if I write 206,000 posts (and how awesome would that be) the gauge will always tell me I need X amount to get to the next level.

It almost feels like playing a video game that will always win. No matter how many times you level up it will never be enough to fight the final big boss. I guess I am doomed to feel the same way every time I see the gauge. In fact it just hit me that when I post this up, I’ll see the gauge again.

Oh well, onward and…onward!

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