basics . . .

by mulberryshoots

DSC_0029_2I hope this is the last post I write about the side-effects of taking painkiller drugs like Oxycodone and Vicodin. As I have noted earlier, my body has a chemistry that reacts quickly to medication of any sort. I also have a body temp lower than 98.6. Maybe it’s because I’m Chinese and a woman or maybe it’s because it’s just me.

I took Oxycodone for a few days after the initial ankle break and visit to the ER where they manipulated it back in place. I felt groggy and woozy and ill-tempered. So, I switched over to Tylenol. During the one-night stand at the hospital after surgery, they fed me three Oxycodone four hours apart and my blood pressure went down each time they took it in the middle of the night until it was below 100. I willed myself to stay awake. Then, I was switched to Vicodin, Dr. Gregory House’s narcotic of choice on the TV show, “House.” Instead of taking 1-2 tablets every four hours, I took a HALF a tablet each time. For eight days, I took a small dose of Vicodin to alleviate the pain in my injured leg. For the last two nights I took it, I was restless and unable to get to sleep, tossing and turning. Even when I did sleep, it felt like a half-twilight zone with melodramatic dreams playing themselves out–being hostage and trying to free ourselves in a world of strife without end. Like that. Yesterday, I went off the small bits of Vicodin I had been taking and replaced it with Tylenol–one tablet instead of two, four hours apart. Last night, I still had fears, anxiety and restlessness plus insomnia and dreams before I woke up this morning, exhausted from battling the bad guys all night.

When I got up, I typed into my laptop, “Vicodin side-effects” and there they all were: restlessness, anxiety, insomnia to name all of the agitation I had been experiencing on a quarter prescription for one week on this powerful narcotic. What do people do who aren’t paying attention to the side-effects of these painkillers? They said also not to go off Vicodin cold-turkey after prolonged use (like on “House”) but since I’d only been on it a week and am now taking Tylenol, that’s what I’m going to continue to do. Before this, I slept like a baby. And more importantly, I went to sleep almost instantly after a small drop of honey before going to bed. All that’s wrecked up now. But hopefully will return soon.

On another note, I’ve been captivated by the tragic story of L’Wren Scott’s death by her own hand and Mick Jagger’s response to it (so far.) No one knows besides the parties involved what goes on in an intimate relationship: no one. And it’s not anyone else’s business either although the situation is low-hanging fruit for all the tabloids. No matter what the reality was for either of them, it is a very sad story. Just as the drug overdose death of Philip Seymour Hoffman was a tragic and avoidable end for a gifted, intelligent person in his prime. What makes these people who seem to have so many resources and friends they could reach out to end up dying a lonely, premature death? What could be so bad as to end your life on purpose rather than to talk with someone and ask for help? (I hope I sound like I’m wondering rather than judging.) Desperation occurs no matter what you think you have or don’t have, I guess. Everyone is different and so we can’t know what’s happened to account for what appear to be truly tragic situations. Sad.

As I’ve suggested before, a life-altering accident, even one as miniscule as breaking a few bones in one’s ankle and leg like mine, levels the playing field all at once: WHOOMP! People swooped in to take care of me; family members who were distant sent me well-wishes and flowers, ones living close-by helped lift me up and down our three-story home each time I had a medical appointment. My dear husband, G. and I being grateful, holding hands while going to sleep in our bed together every night.

The small stuff that we might sweat everyday pretty much goes away–like sweepings in a dustpan when you tip it into a brown paper bag. With the small stuff gone, so goes pettiness–the “my way or the highway stuff.” I’m laughing out loud at how much of THAT has spontaneously combusted into thin air! What’s left then, is lying quietly for long stretches of the day, sometimes in the morning or afternoon sun when it reaches into the room. Finally, instead of doing things, or thinking of doing things, or running around doing things, I’m actually BE-ING. BE-ING, my dear friends, is very different from DO-ING. One lets go from the ego feedback of feeling good, bad or indifferent about all the things that you spend do-ing and being around others. There is no ego in BE-ING. You just ARE. It’s the Tao of nothingness. Being aware of the air we breathe, drinking water, feeling the warmth of the sun without having to be on a beach somewhere.

Once my system acclimates to having restful sleep again, I’ll be feeling even better. We have so much to be thankful for. Being safe and sound with those we love and who love us. I’m planning to make a simple cabbage soup today: sweet onion, carrots, shredded fresh cabbage, chicken broth, some stewed tomatoes. Macrobiotic cooking features a daikon, carrot, cabbage soup too. Feels good to eat simple food while getting back to basics. We don’t even know what that word, “basics” means, until we find ourselves living in that space. Right now, it feels pretty good.

Cabbage soup recipe: In a medium sized pot with vegetable oil glazing the bottom, brown half of a vidalia onion, sliced in strips; 3 carrots, cleaned and cut up (I use quarter cut; slice on a diagonal, turn the carrot a quarter, slice again and so on until it’s cut up into odd shaped pieces that are perfect bite-size pieces); turn with a spatula. Slice thinly half of a head of regular cabbage and add to the pot; browning and turning over for vegetable flavors to emerge in the heated pot. Add two cans of College Inn chicken broth (not bouillion cubes) and simmer on low. Add a can of diced stewed tomatoes and keep covered, simmering for another half hour. Turn off heat and taste. Add Maldon salt if needed.

You can also toast a couple of thin halves of Thomas’s Sandwich size English Muffins with some grated gruyere cheese on top, cut into quarters. (I confess that I toast the fat half of these wonderful muffins for breakfast and eat them with unsalted butter and a marmalade that I found at Whole Foods: orange, lime, ginger!) I save the thin halves to toast with cheese and add to soups. They layer onto the cabbage soup well–just as they add some crunch and cheesy flavor to the onion soup recipe above. Simple cooking for a very satisfying soup. Especially when Spring rain is pelting the windows and it’s dry inside. Enjoy!