Thursday, September 17, 2009

Turning the Corner

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

My body was shrouded in pain. Stomach aches. Non-stop sweating. Fever. non-stop sneezing. Seeing spots. I lost nine pounds.

I was ill for about ten days and I'm happy to report that I finally turned the corner. I suffered from flu-like symptoms which originated from serious opiate withdrawal. As you know, I kicked pharmies this Spring, only to get back on the train this summer. Once Phish tour ended, I cleaned up my act and needed a clear head to finish the final edits of Lost Vegas. But about ten days to two weeks after I stopped taking them... I was attacked by those demonic withdrawal symptoms, which happens when you try to quit cold turkey like me.

Kicking opiates coincided with one of the worst batches of work-induced insomnia that I had in a very long time. I was flooded with deadlines and assignments. I pushed myself and attempted to blaze through the work. Every day, I raced against the clock to meet weekly deadlines, looming deadlines for the book, and maintaining my websites. Ah not to mention, the start of the NFL season which is a welcomed distraction but a definite time killer.

I got caught up in that vicious cycle which I could not break out. I was stressed out because of work and not sleeping and my body was run down. The only way to get better is sleep... but I was too busy with work and since I can't due to insomnia, my health was not improving. I spent lots of time lying in bed wanting to fall asleep which never happened, what added to the frustration. With Nicky keeping odd hours, I found myself unable to keep myself sane during these dire bouts of sleeplessness.

A friend of mine is a nurse and Disco Sis #1 told me to knock myself out which will guarantee that I sleep for at least 8 hours. Even 6 hours would be sufficient, which is about twice as much as I normally get and about the total number of hours of sleep that I logged in the previous four days. She recommended a few things, but I can't stand Ambien. It makes me sleep walk and the last time I took one there were horrible results.

A couple of years ago, I was in Australia for work with Nicky. We were smoke-free a the time and i had a tough time with jet lag (something that I normally avoid). I popped an Ambien and a few hours later, I woke up to take a leak and went into the bathrooom. I did not recall any of this because I was sleep walking. Nicky and I were staying at a swanky hotel in Melbourne that featured Italian marble floors in the bathroom. I thought that I was peeing in the toilet, but instead, I was peeing about six inches to the right of the toilet. Yeah, I had Ambien-induced aim and I pissed all over the floor.

A few hours later, Nicky woke up and shuffled off to the bathroom. She was horrified to discover that she was standing in puddle of my cold urine. Yeah, she was wicked pissed. I got tons of shit on the rest of that trip from work colleagues and Australian poker pros. Yeah, I was the butt end of lots of urine jokes, but at least I did not step in it!

After that incident, Ambien made the list of Pauly's Banned Substances. There's not too many items on that list, so that's a big deal. The heavy hitters -- heroin, cocaine, crack, and meth -- are on the list. I do have some boundaries. I would never do any of those drugs (maybe the occasional bump if the opportunity presented itself), but I am partial to pharmaceutical derivatives of said drugs such as Adderall and Oxycontin. Yes, after the pissing incident in Australia, Ambien made it to the top of the list of Taboo Drugs.

Without Ambien how do I fall asleep? Medicinal Hashish + Xannax. Nicky usually takes a half, but I begged for two pills. The compromise? On Tuesday night, I took one and a half and slept for six straight hours, got up to piss (and nailed my shot without any spills or dribbles), then went back to sleep for two more hours. i had eight hours in all with six straight.

Last night, I took a half of a Xannax and slept for five straight hours, which is a godsend. I got six straight and five straight uninterrupted hours of slumber on consecutive nights (and about 14 total hours). I honestly can't recall the last time that happened.

So today, I'm feeling a little sluggish (like I smoked four joints) but the cold/flu symptoms are almost gone. Nothing is worse than trying to write with a runny nose. Gravity always wins. And since I have a little Xannax in my system (an anti-anxiety drug), I'm not feeling freaked out about a deadline for tomorrow and all the catch-up work that my editor for Lost Vegas assigned me. I think I'm almost back on track thanks to a little rest and free medical advice.

Yeah, it's good having friends who are nurses. Plus they swipe me awesome pharmies.

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