Thursday, March 15, 2007

Ode to medication -- Part 2 -- Getting through an outing Tuesday

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

This is the first stanza of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem, "Kubla Khan" -- or, more completely, "Kubla Khan. A Vision in a Dream. A Fragment."

The poem was composed in an opium dream. We know this from the author's own note on a manuscript copy: "This fragment with a good deal more, not recoverable, composed, in a sort of Reverie brought on by two grains of Opium taken to check a dysentery, at a Farm House between Porlock & Linton, a quarter of a mile from Culbone Church, in the fall of the year, 1797."(*)

See, I haven't wandered entirely off topic... yet.

I am taking a medication called Norco for pain management during my (seemingly interminable) recuperation. It was explained to me that Norco is like Vicodin -- a lot of Tylenol and a lot of morphine. Indeed, there's supposed to be more morphine and less Tylenol in Norco than there is in Vicodin.

From looking around the web, it appears that this may be an oversimplification: Hydrocodone seems to be the really potent stuff in Norco but it is apparently not actually morphine derived from the opium poppy; it is a substance that is considered equivalent. I've seen it referred to as an "opioid," defined as a chemical substance that has a "morphine-like" action in the body.

Whatever it is, it's working. I'm not having any whacked out visions of stately pleasure domes... but that's only because I'm still having pain and the medicine is blocking that.

But it does make a body more verbal.

Tuesday, I snuck into the office for a court appearance. I've not been cleared to go back to work, and, indeed, because I'm still swollen from surgery, I had a difficult and painful time just getting dressed.

But I was going downtown for a settlement conference in a Federal case -- a conference that had already been continued twice because of matters beyond my control. And the other side claims to be soooooooo busy -- when the court suggested three available dates the attorney found he could make exactly one of them -- but, alas, his client couldn't be there that day. So another couple of weeks were tacked on before an opening could be found....

Without revealing any confidences, my client is in worse shape than I am -- I'm getting better -- so I had determined, from the day I scheduled my surgery, I would move heaven and earth to attend this one conference.

Long Suffering Spouse was concerned that, with the drugs I'm taking, I might not be mentally up to the challenge. "What will you have to do?" she asked. Don't worry, I told her, I don't need to do anything other than say pay me some money.

That's what I thought.

My client was late getting to the office Tuesday and another attorney who had an interest in the proceedings, and who was supposed to meet us at my office, called from the expressway to say he'd have to meet us at the courthouse instead.

I got to the office early because Long Suffering Spouse drove me there before sunrise. That way she could get to her own job on time. And I would have time to recover from the trip and review the file.

I did review the file. And the cases that support my position. And the cases which interpret the statute that controlled my case.

But it was like pulling teeth. I was having enormous difficulty focusing.

I answered some emails, returned some phone calls, opened the snail mail. And then I would turn back to the task at hand again. And again.

By the time the client arrived, we were already assured of being at least five minutes late. I had already called his cell phone to make alternate arrangements -- but I had received no answer. He wanted to walk across the Loop to the Federal Courthouse. I hadn't walked half so far since my surgery. But we walked.

Getting through security was interesting: My client had a pain pump and the guards initially thought it was like a fanny pack that he could remove and run through the x-ray machine. He had to show them it was attached.... And I was concerned about the staples that had been used internally to hook up the new plumbing arrangements. Would these set off the alarm? And where would they try and put the wand to find them? Fortunately, the surgeon's prediction was right: They did not set off the alarm.

The court still had a criminal matter to dispose of when we finally arrived. And then the judge wanted to lock the courtroom because of a pro se litigant who'd taken over the attorney's room across the hall and was wandering around too freely for the judge's taste.

You can appreciate that our Federal judges here are a bit skittish in light of recent tragedies. "I don't think this guy will be violent," said the judge -- as his court reporter locked us in -- and he retired to chambers to look over the file quickly.

"As a plaintiff," I then told opposing counsel, "I always think it's a good sign when the judge locks up the parties before the settlement conference begins."

I will spare you the details of the conference. I bring it up only because the court decided that we should supplement his brief review by each telling him everything we thought important about our respective positions. As plaintiff, I went first... and I spoke for about 20 minutes and gave a surprisingly good summation. I emphasized the strong points, exposed the weak points -- telling the court what opposing counsel would emphasize and why he would be wrong to do so -- and I didn't backtrack or stammer or lose my place or wander around in rhetorical circles. (Remember that other interested attorney? He subsequently confirmed my perception in this regard.)

The pain medicine did not cloud my judgment Tuesday -- because I was walking on familiar ground. A friend of mine is trying to get me involved in a new case of his and I'm very concerned -- not being familiar with these new facts and not being as conversant on the relevant statutes and case law as I was in a case I'd been working on for almost two years -- that my judgment in the new case might not be as good.

And I have paid dearly for my outing Tuesday evening and yesterday.

In the meantime, there's another new matter I really want to read today before I fade again. Even though I still haven't spun the anecdotes I intended to spin as I sat down to compose today's entry.

That focus thing is still not happening, is it?

Well, I shall try to do better tomorrow.....

* Text and note obtained from the Electronic Text Center of the Library of the University of Virginia. Here is a link to the entire poem. An author's note originally published with the poem also attributes the text to a vision received under the influence of an "anodyne."


Anonymous said...

Your focus can't be too bad; at least you can manage a blog post every day unlike yours truly, who isn't even done with school, only requires about 2/3 of his IQ to function at work, and with half as many offspring; I'm lucky if I get a post in a week-

Where fibers meet mud said...

As my children often tell their Dad after he waxes on about who knows what... and your point here was - to build a clock.... and he does not have the assistance of the medication excuse... all part of the process of healing.

The terrible part I hate the most is when the drugs are gone and you have your own personal detox going on - - my kids now know to stay away from me that day and so does the DH. Can you tell I have had one too many major medical procedures to be able to spout all this information?

Enjoy the green river!

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

hi curmy, i'll bet between us we have enough meds to sink a ship! remember when kids used to put all the pills they could get in a bowl and take them all helter skelter? (well not first hand anyway, but you heard of it right?) anyway we could sure start something now, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.... seems way too funny to me today.

smiles, bee

Linda said...

I spent well over six months popping Vicodone when a couple of herniated disks in my back decided to sit firmly atop my sciatic nerve and not move for Heaven or Hell. The Vicodone didn't do a whole lot for the pain other than bring it down to a dull roar and I was more than happy to get off of it after successful recovery from surgery. The stuff just made my mind muddied it seemed.

As someone who answers 911 and, as my daughter likes to put it, "saves lives for a living" I always thought it was a good idea to have a clear mind when I went into work but sometimes we just do what we gotta do until we can do it better.

Not sure if that makes any sense but I'm hoping that in your slightly hazy state of mind, it just might!

Hang in there, you'll be off the meds soon and then all will be right with the world once again - hopefully!

And you'll notice I commented on both the long and short posts! ;')