How to Build a Zombie

Hydrocodone bitartrate with acetaminophen or Tylenol, just the acetaminophen?

After a surgery, do I take as much hydrocodone as I want for my pain? How long does it take to become addicted? How much pain is too much pain to endure without help?

That’s the question I always have whenever a doctor prescribes the hydrocodone. Yeah, two days after my surgery, it still hurts and I still have a choice between the hydrocodone with Tylenol or just Tylenol. Yesterday afternoon, when I switched to regular Tylenol, I had to wait a full four hours after it wore off before I could take anything else. So, after interrupting Mike’s video game last night to chat with him about addiction, I wondered whether or not to take one more of the heavy-duty, knock out the pain, knock out my brain kind of pills.

I am really afraid of getting addicted.

Could you imagine how I could go from an ordinary housewife in pain, the same one who has stared down the drug dealers in the library, who has called the police during drug deals, to being one who seeks those same dealers out after my doctor’s prescription runs out?

I do not intend to become that woman. No.

Yet I have to admit that sliding down into that painless state of being is inviting. There it is, the little secret I haven’t told anyone, not even Mike. It would be easy. It would take away pain, maybe even more than physical pain. I could be comfortably numb. And now that song is in my head. ‘Hello. Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anyone home?’

So, that’s why I decided to fight it this morning, to go for plain Tylenol instead. I’ve taken three of the hydrocodone pills since I got home from my surgery on Tuesday. Three. I’m absolutely sure I needed the first two. But the third, the one last night? Did I really need that one?

Last night, Mike sat on the couch, the headset askew so he could hear me with one ear. I rattled on and on about which pill I should take. ‘One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small.’ Now that song is going to compete with Pink Floyd for the musical part of my brain, filling in whenever there are gaps in sound. I stared at Mike with the Ziploc bag of my prescriptions in one hand.

“Do you think this pain will keep you up tonight like it did last night?” he asked. I had been up all night, restless, not comfortable, not comfortable at all.

I stood in the middle of the living room floor and shifted from foot to foot. I needed something. It was finally time and it was a few hours past the time I began to hurt again. But how much did it hurt? Volumes of pain are hard to measure.

“I’m going to take one more of these. I might not get addicted by one more.” Was that the truth? Wasn’t I afraid to admit to Mike how I really felt?

So, before I could change my mind, I took another hydrocodone. Even after sleeping most of the night without pain, I’m still tired, maybe a little loopy. It’s hard to tell.

Yet this afternoon, I know I need to walk the dog, buy groceries, and get dog food. Can I accomplish that much?

I’m not sure. If I had to decide right now, I’d say no. But if I had taken another hydrocodone this morning, I wouldn’t have been competent to drive safely, not really. So, I took Tylenol this morning instead.

Am I repeating myself?

I am. I’m still under the influence of the hydrocodone I took last night at bedtime. It worked. I did sleep. Mike was right, at least a little bit. Sleep is important to healing.

But the hydrocodone also makes me dull. The word is stupid. I don’t like being stupid. I’d rather be bright and in some pain than be stupid and in no pain.

Stupid or not, what I didn’t like most was that little bit of excitement, that anticipation of taking the hydrocodone. That was the most dangerous part of that decision last night, and again this morning.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. Zombies are coming. They live in the hydrocodone.

Thank you for listening, jules