My Week on Oxy
DRAFT: I wrote this 10 years ago, a few days after my 3rd ACL Surgery at MGH.
Last week I got a crash course on drug abuse. And it was all legal. And today, looking back, it was one of the most important experiences of my life. I didn’t know that until I started writing this pepperism.
I’ve smoked pot (and inhaled) about eight times in my life. I ate some mushrooms once back in college and had a great day that day. I think I ate 3 whoppers late that afternoon. It was awesome. I always thought I’d do mushrooms again, but I didn’t for whatever reason. Perhaps its because I just don’t know anyone who has mushrooms, or pot, or whatever. Or maybe I’m just afraid to ask.
In any event, drugs reentered my life last week in a big way. I had my 3rd major ACL surgery. The first was in 1988, the second in 2002, and now this one – a repair of the failed surgery from 1988. When I came out of surgery, very different than prior times, I didn’t feel pain in my knee. No, instead I felt euphoria. I was so happy. I was thankful for the nurses, for the doctor, for my wife Maggie who was at my bedside… and as I was wheel-chaired to the car, I became so appreciative of Boloco – yes, the company, but more important all of those who I work with in different capacities, and just generally felt amazing about everything. So amazing, that I made Maggie drive by three stores on the way home so I could stick my head out the window and just peer in the restaurants and see familiar smiling faces. And with a free burrito day going on, it was even that much more amazing. All was perfect.
I got home, and I took my meds. I got nice healthy doses of Oxycontin AND Oxycodone… and this special aspirin, and some Colchicine, and some pink pill. It was solid. And then I made some calls. Some of you might remember those. I was REALLY nice to all of you. Did I tell any of you I loved you? It wouldn’t surprise me.
I took more meds. And slept well. And more meds. Made some calls. Dreamed of going to work the next day. No pain.
More meds. No work getting done, but I knew I was minutes from opening that laptop and getting back to business. I could feel it. So much to do. And I was fired up.
More meds. Laptop open. Blank stares. For some reason I couldn’t respond to the emails. I couldn’t even forward easy ones… you know, the delegate thing. I just shut the laptop.
More meds. And then finally, by Thursday, nothing. The smile faded. The motivation was gone. I knew how to get it back though. I’d have meetings. I invited a few of my team up to my apartment. I know now we had reasonably good sessions, or so you told me. I even cranked out an email on Friday afternoon. Some of you know this now… I remember just about nothing from any of those “meetings”. I don’t remember what was said, how long we were there, what we decided. I remember writing the word “BOOM” on the email that went out to 42,000 guests… but not much else rings a bell. Brain deadness or something was my new reality.
More meds. Something went wrong physically Friday night and I found myself 4 days after surgery back in the hospital, this time in the Emergency Department. I was shivering, I was depressed, I didn’t care about anything for some reason. I didn’t want to leave the hospital.
They recommended more meds. I took more meds.
But as I sat in that ER and awaited my fate, my diagnosis, my blood work, I had something come over me… something simple. And that was… I still wasn’t in pain where I had surgery. I felt nothing. But my brain, on the other hand, was no longer functional… it had shut down.
Most importantly, as Sunday came, and I realized I didn’t care about the Superbowl, couldn’t imagine going to work ever again(!), saw no reason to continue on for any reason. And the best part is that I started to try to explain these things to my wife Maggie as though they were FACT. As though they were truth. That my depression and my bleak outlook on life and on work and on the future was real and indisputable. I was fully convinced. Now I need to get others to buy in.
I was the very person I most try to avoid in this world. The person that is glass half empty (or all empty), that is cynical, that has zero passion, that is a downer about everything, that can’t see what’s possible. How had I gone from this absolute euphoria to such a state of dejection?
Oxycodone baby. And it hit me that maybe, just maybe, I’d be better of FEELING PAIN in my knee and my leg and GETTING MY LIFE BACK.
And so that night after the ER, I stopped the pills. Cold turkey. Not one. I didn’t sleep well for the next 3 nights. I had shivers. I shook. I woke up all night. I was still depressed. I thought it was forever. I was still that guy trying to convince myself and my wife that life sucked.
And then yesterday… it ended. I guess I was clean. I woke up, and instead of dragging out of bed, I got excited about… my upcoming rehab. Yes, I got excited about tiny exercises that if done properly will get me back to where I was if I’m lucky. Not better than I was… just where I was. And I was fired up. And then I thought about our monthly metrics meeting, and I said “I want to be there”. And so I went. And then I remembered something near and dear to me and to the rest of the team at Boloco (whether they realize it or not) had been forgotten and I got fired up mad. Yes, mad (though not like I got mad that one time in 2008 which changed my relationship with anger forever). This was a mad that was good! It’s good to have feelings and to care. And I was caring again.
And today, as I end this day, I’m still not “back”, but getting there. I care a lot. I am laughing. And inside feeling good. And excited about a new chapter in my life, which is so ridiculous because it’s really not that. It’s just a knee surgery, and some drugs, and your basic recovery. But I got to see a side of me (that I see in the world too often all around all of us) and I hated it… and it scared me… and now I get a new chapter.