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This is the PG-13 version of my encounter with Dilaudid.  Why PG-13? Because I am starting this journey of talking about all the difficult things that we face as humans trying to heal and I am learning how to say it.  I am learning how to start the conversation without being overwhelmed by the emotions of the memory, to start the conversation so that we can all grow understand and learn without judgement.
This is our first step together.

French Kissed By An Angel: My Fling with Dilaudid

In 2015 I was in the hospital for 10 days for a bowel infection that eventually led to surgery a few months later.  The pain that drove me to the hospital was like nothing I had ever felt before and by this stage of my life, I was a pro at daily neuropathic pain.

We started in the emergency room with the standard 2mg of morphine. Nothing.  Another 2mg of morphine. Nothing. Another 2mg. Still nothing. Demerol. Meh.

By the time they got me to my hospital room with IV antibiotics, I was covered in a cold clammy sweat from the pain.

Then, they introduced me to Dilaudid.

Ah, Dilaudid.

I had a transcended moment.

Within a minute of the IV push, I felt like I was French kissed by an angel and I was in bliss.  Enveloped in a cloud of pureness.  I was in love.  This is how love feels.

At this point, I had lived with chronic pain for over a decade. I had regular refills for Norco, Tramadol etc.  I knew what most oral pain meds could do for me and my response.  I had experienced a series of lidocaine infusions to reset my pain centers after a diagnosis of complex regional pain syndrome.  A week-long stay at the hospital for Ketamine was to be next on the dance card.

Nothing prepared me for Dilaudid.

All the movies where the protagonist looks across the crowded room and the crowd fades away as they fall instantly in love; that was how I felt about Dilaudid.  I was in hospital, covered in sweat, machines beeping, nurses rushing, patients screaming, and I didn’t care.

Nothing mattered.

I had a prescription for Dilaudid every 3 hours. And not once did I turn it down.

As a chronic pain patient, I had always been very acutely aware of the potential addiction to pain meds.  I would carefully ration things out and if there was nothing on my schedule, I would put up with the pain than succumb to a pain med.  I have been known to refuse pain meds in the hospital unless absolutely necessary.

I don’t do recreational drugs because I’m too much of a control freak to ever be high.

Dilaudid changed the rules on that.  Dilaudid changed the rules on so many things.

I found myself waking in the middle of the night, checking the time to see if I could have more Dilaudid without sounding like a drug seeker.  I passed my days watching the clouds outside my window enveloped in my own bliss.

I have a track record for checking myself out of hospital A.M.A (against medical advice).  Dilaudid kept me there the entire 10 days.

On day 9, I remember thinking, “I go home tomorrow. It will be my last kiss with Dilaudid”. I found myself wondering how I would get through the day without Dilaudid and I knew I was in trouble.

If Dilaudid was a person, they could’ve asked for anything and I would’ve agreed without a second thought.  It was James Dean on his Triumph Trophy.

When I got home, I looked at my then husband and said, “when you leave the house without me, I need you to take every single pain med with you.  I have a problem”.  He agreed without a second thought.

I knew all the pain meds they sent me home with did not compare to Dilaudid.  But I might’ve been tempted to find a cheap replacement; like a horrible rebound.

I spent the next week in what can be described as biochemical hell.  I wasn’t in much physical pain but my brain and heart were on fire.  I craved Dilaudid.  I missed it. I longed for it.  I cried.  I ached. My days stretched.  It felt like that first heart break and your world might never be the same again.

At the end of that week, I woke up and the world was no longer dire with longing. But it was filled with a loss that I can’t describe; the loss of a lover at sea.

Somehow I survived.

How do I feel about Dilaudid today?

When I am in the Tenderloin in San Francisco I can tell the individuals on Dilaudid and the ones fighting their craving.  There is a certain look.

Luckily for me, my life’s path was to find non-drug alternatives.  I had surgery a few months after this incident.  I haven’t had any pain meds since a week post-op.  But this episode reminds me why I do what I do.  It taught me empathy and sympathy for those in pain and those seduced by the possibility of pain relief through any means.

Would I take Dilaudid again?

I don’t know.