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

Bits

I realised today that the loft boards I bought for my old flat’s attic have been left inadvertently for the new tenant. I’m not bothered.  The thirty odd pounds I spent to floor a small part of my attic was money well spent in my opinion. The investment cost of the boards more than paid for itself, just in letting me store my possessions that little bit closer to where I was living. Hopefully the new tenant can make good use of them.
I’ve moved around a lot in my life. I have always rented my abode, except for one short time period where my second wife and I bought our first home. We were very proud of that house, that although it was small, was ours.  As our daughter grew, she was a baby when we bought the house, it suddenly became even smaller. That combined with a school catchment glitch necessitated selling our home and re-entering the “rental chain.”
When we left that house all our possessions came with us. Probably the only time in my rental life that I haven’t left some of my “bits” behind. Looking back at my life of renting, I realise that I’ve left literally thousands of pounds worth of bits behind. Whether it’s been odd tools that I didn’t need any longer or just loft boards, I always felt fine with leaving them for future tenants to use or discard as they wished.  Many places I rented had little things left behind by previous tenants. Some of the abandoned things were quite macabre.
My first wife and I were desperate for a bigger place in Southern California. The manager of the apartment complex next to us came knocking on our door late one night. He knew we were looking for a bigger place. He told us a vacancy had just come up. When I enquired about the timing -the middle of the night- he explained that the previous tenant had committed suicide. After the police had finished their investigations and the next-of-kin had collected his belongings, the place was ours if we wanted it. We moved in soon after and I found a brand new razor in the bathroom. I called his family and they said do what ever I wanted to with it.  I kept it and used it for years, money was incredibly tight in those days. My “dead man’s razor” my first wife called it.
I know it probably seems like I’ve wandered from the subject a bit. Worry not, I am right on track. You’ll see.
The bits we leave behind us, whether on purpose or inadvertently, are parts of us. I don’t just mean the odd hammer or bits of lumber we voluntarily leave behind. I talking about the bits of us left behind that leave an impression.  Somewhat like the over-used “carbon footprint” adverts, we leave footprints when we leave a place. It’s much nicer to leave a footprint that says, “You know he was a really nice chap.” or “I didn’t realise  how helpful that fella was.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not begging for folks to remember me well after I’ve gone or even to remember me at all. But given a choice, I would prefer that the bits I leave behind are good ones. Bits that leave a good taste in the recipients mouth, versus a bad one.