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by Chris Sorrenti

In my teens and twenties, I experimented with various chemical substances to test their effect on my writing. And though there were some successes, moments of brilliance, my final conclusion out of the whole experience was that it was better to write straight, especially when trying to come up with that all important first draft.

Despite my Don Quixote attitude towards drugs, and inexperienced as I was, I knew instinctively through the experiences of others that any overdose would be my own fault, from simply overdoing it, as compared to today with the Opioid crisis, where one can take a tiny amount of a drug for the first time, thinking it’s something else, and it kills them.

For a time, I experimented with whatever was available...came my way, ranging from hallucinogens, stimulants, anti-anxiety, depressants. The only serious scare/bad trip I had was when for a brief time I acquired Angel Dust, a combination of PCP (animal tranquilizer) and LSD (hallucinogen). It was like being an elastic band, with the PCP pulling the mind down, and the LSD pulling it up, creating a tightening effect in the middle; very unpleasant. PCP could also be acquired by itself, and definitely lived up to its main usage of animal tranquilizer. Also an unpleasant trip, in which one was physically paralyzed, while the mind remained active. The high could last several hours. As a result, just to be on the safe side, I stopped buying any kind of chemical that came in gel-cap form.

And so, the only drug I didn’t try in those days was Heroin. In hindsight, a blessing in disguise. One of those chemicals I had heard time to time was available in the Ottawa area, but never actually came across in my circle of friends/connections. No matter. I was happy with what was available, especially Speed (in pill form) for the purposes of group partying and Hyper-Sex. I did manage to inject Speed once, again thanks to friends who did it on a regular basis. They did the dirty work for me while I sat back and enjoyed the rush. When it was over, I wanted more. Looking back, I’m glad about not coming across Heroin. The idea that a drug could put me to sleep and stop my breathing in the process, frankly scares the hell out of me.

Aside from the 6 weeks I spent in the Royal Ottawa (Psychiatric) Hospital, 28 years before, for substance abuse, namely Codeine and Speed, I had never spent any time as an adult in a hospital for a physical ailment. But as the saying goes, “There’s a first time for everything.”

A couple of months ago, on a Monday morning I got up around 7am, grabbed a coffee as I usually do and sat down at the computer. After a few sips, nature took its course, and so I proceeded to the bathroom to do my business. However, when I tried to move my bowels, I suddenly felt a stabbing/burning pain in my abdomen, so severe, almost driving me to the point of passing out. Giving up on the effort, I retreated to my bed with a heating pad, extra strength Tylenol...and Lorazepam to knock me out from time to time, figuring it would pass as with similar past incidents. It didn’t. Instead, I rolled around in bed for two days, staying as comfortable as possible, with no bowl movements, eating little due to nausea and lack of appetite, as I contemplated going to Emergency.

I had heard a lot of horror stories about Emergency wards, about having to wait 4 hours to see a doctor. With that in mind, I decided to go early Thursday morning during the work week. My strategy paid off, for within no time at all I was examined and being tested, including a CT scan.

The scan revealed that I had suffered acute sigmoid diverticulitis, complicated by perforation with a small intraperitoneal collection. The thickening and inflammation of the adjacent small bowel loops is favored to be reactive.

In plain English, I had an infected/inflamed bowel wall.

By late that night, I was admitted, and as luck would have it, given a private room, as no semi privates were available. Good thing, as I was in no mood for company, especially a stranger and related entourage. Except for the nurses and doctors checking in on me, in light of the pain and nausea, the silence was welcome. The downside was that the whole time I was in there, I was hooked up to IV with liquids and antibiotics, but not Penicillin, which I’m allergic to. This created a whole new set of problems and stresses, coupled with the fact I was on a liquid diet so as not to further inflame the infection. All of which resulted in me pissing like a racehorse, night and day, which they also carefully monitored and measured.

The experience had it perks however. At first, I was taken by surprise at how willingly my nurses dispensed pain relief, in the form of Acetaminophen...and Morphine. As for the latter, every 4 hours I was given either a shot or pills. It helped to make the experience bearable. Although I had missed out on Heroin in my younger days, Morphine would be the next best thing.

Not that different from one another; Morphine as it’s commonly referred to, is morphine sulfate. Heroin is diacetyl morphine. That is Heroin is simply Morphine with an acetyl molecule attached. The only significant difference between them is that the acetyl molecule allows Heroin to cross the blood-brain barrier more quickly than ordinary Morphine.

As the Morphine took effect, I slowly drifted off into a dream state, suspended between awake and asleep. Although still partially aware of what was happening around me in the hospital hall beyond my room, without warning, my mind suddenly started displaying images from my long term memory. Like watching a disjointed movie, things I hadn’t thought of in decades (people, places, events) flashed across my mind, that had no connection to one another. Rather than scary, I found these ‘trips’ quite entertaining. Naturally I had to test it as an aphrodisiac, and so for a moment turning my mind to sexual imagery, I quickly discovered that the morphine wouldn’t allow me to focus, and soon was back in control of the movie.

After a while I would eventually fall asleep, but on a few occasions experienced vivid but surreal dreams.

By the fourth day, the pain had finally subsided, and I was able to function normally again. With the blessing of the doctors, that afternoon I returned home. It would still be a couple of weeks before I was completely out of the woods, thanks to a cocktail of antibiotics and pain killers.

All in all, a good learning experience, and powerful reality check of how we can take our (good) health for granted, until the unexpected happens, and are reminded of our mortal fragility.

© 2017

470 hits as of November 2021


Posted on 04/03/2017
Copyright © 2021 Chris Sorrenti

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by George Hoerner on 04/04/17 at 06:18 PM

I suspect we all have our 'drug of choice'. Mine has varied over the years, sex, alcohol, 'me', and for the past several years 'mountains'. I just love them to death. Well there is a second which I know comes first, 'poetry'. I've copied this to discus with my kids. Thanks.

Posted by Rob Littler on 04/04/17 at 08:04 PM

I suppose we all have a similar story and knowing...that brilliance was only revealed, those images long ago made--made real again--are there, maybe what we all experience when we TRIP or get out of ourselves, so to speak, is a sense of the sacredness of the moment. Try holding your breath. HMMMPFFFFFF! It is intoxicating, the air, isn't it. I can't live without it.

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