There's an old joke about a horse trainer who was giving his jockey some last-minute advice just before some fancy horse race in England. Just as the trainer pulled a humongous blue pill out of his pocket and fed it to the horse, the race's overseer, the Duke of Marlborough, walked up. "My good man," the duke expostulated, "what in heaven's name do you think you are doing!?"
"Oh, it was nothing, guv," the trainer said, thinking fast. "Just a treat. I eat 'em myself all the time." And he pops one into his own mouth and then offers one to the duke. "Have one yourself, your lordship."
"Hmmm," says the duke, not entirely convinced, but he takes the blue pill, chews on it for a moment and finds nothing immediately remarkable. "Very well," he says. "Good day."
The trainer then turns back to his jockey. "Right," he says. "Now, as I was saying, once you get out of the gate, just go to the outside and give 'im 'is head--because today, the only two animals that can outrun this 'ere horse are me and the Duke of Marlborough."
This old joke occurred to me for some reason as I was waiting at the pharmacy today to fill my fourth prescription for major, heavy-duty painkillers in the last week. In fact, I am Under the Influence right now, which is the only reason I can think of for putting information on the Internet that could make every junkie in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area start thinking about digging out his burgling tools (assuming junkies read blogs, which I'm guess they don't; I'm guessing they probably pawn their laptops to buy, you know, drugs). Anyway, Blue Cross seems remarkably indifferent to my sudden intense interest in Oxycodone and Percocet and, oh hell, I forget what else because I'm slightly high right now. The lady at Giant handed over my new 70-pill prescription without a blink, though I might have detected a certain look of disapproval. Don't know; don't care.
I'm eating these things like candy because a) the knee which I had surgery on a week ago still hurts like a m.f. at time, especially at 4 a.m. (why is that? WHY?) and because b) I have the kind of tolerance for painkilers that normally one sees only in, oh, say, 1,500-pound racehorses. Why is this? I do not know. I know only that I am Medically Unusual. My second child was born while I was under the influence of an epidural which never completely "took," which is sort of like being invited to your own disembowelment, only with a happier outcome. I kept saying, rather anxiously, "I can still feel something," and my husband kept telling the anesthesiologist, "She can still feel things" and the anesthesiologist kept saying, "Ooookay" and twisting little knobs or something, and my baby was out and bathed and in a warm blanket while I was still saying, "I can still feel..." The last thing I can remember from that particular day was the anesthesiologist saying to my husband, "I'm giving her some nitrous oxide. Tomorrow she won't remember any of this." Yeah. Right.
Anyway, this is why I tend to regard a prescription which says "Take one pill every 4-6 hours as needed" not as rigid instructions, but more as a starting point for negotiations. I am not a junkie, truly I'm not, I do not take these things when I don't need them; it's just that when I do need them, I need them a lot more than other people do. Someday, doctors will do some more research and discover that different people process the same medication--who'da thunk it!--differently, and that maybe even things like hormone levels and time of day affect the way the body metabolizes different drugs. I know this for a fact in regards to my own body, but this, I believe, is what scientists regard as "anecdotal evidence." Anyway, enough BUI (blogging under the influence) for me; time for nighty-night. And no, don't call me. I'm not sharing.