You mess with Harpo Marx, you get the horns.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Is Earl a Vicodin Addict?


Well, all right, there's more to the story than that. As the faithful readers of this blog (Thanks for that Oprah) know, I've only just recovered from a herinated disc in my neck. It's not a serious, serious injury, and despite the name, no truss was needed for repairs. The Littlest Fando suffered quite a bit more in a couple of days in hospital this summer than I did in the month and a fortnight I did with the disc. However, it is still a very uncomfortable, yes, painful injury at times.

I've never fancied myself a wimp where pain was concerned. Like most people with their mental faculties, David Blaine aside, I don't particularly enjoy pain. However, I've generally been able to deal with it as it comes. I ran cross-country in school for goodness sakes. I wasn't fast, but I was dogged, endured, and left a pint of sweat on the course.*

The problem with injuries involving the spine, as I've discovered, is that there's really no place you can put your spine up for a bit of a rest. If you injure your leg, you can have a sit down and prop the thing up whilst you enjoy a cuppa or a nice book. If you injure your arm, you can throw it in a sling, find a comfy chair, and change the personal CD player with your good arm. If you injure your spine, your arms and legs tell you "the hell with it, you're on your own." This is because they take orders from the spine.

Well, they really take orders from the brain, but as anyone who's had a moderately troublesome spine injury can tell you, the spine frequently rewrites those on the way down. In my case the spine instructed my right shoulder, forearm, and hand to squeeze bloody hell out of the nerve endings there, and like the good little servile appendages they are, they obeyed with all the cold, ruthless efficiency of the Wermacht.

In my recent experience, the only way to truly deal with this kind of spine-affiliated pain is to do one of two things:
  • Sit in whatever ridiculous position that manages to cut off the backstabbing (no pun intended) little nerve endings making your life a living hell.

  • Drugs

I tried the first solution for about 5-6 hours the Tuesday this thing fully hit me. Unfortunately, the only position I could think of was a fetal ball, holding my wretched right arm with my completely comfortable left one, which, after years of playing second banana, was clearly enjoying the newfound advantage.

After a visit to the doctor, I was prescribed Celebrex and muscle relaxants. These had all the effect a gnat would against a Bengal Tiger in an extreme fighting death match. The arm and shoulder pain ate the Celebrex like it was green Shrek M&Ms. Unfortunately, I could only take one every 12 hours.

I endured this for approximately 20 hours before deciding that it was either ask for something stronger or chew my arm off. Since I've never really fancied the taste of my own flesh, and since chewing through my own shoulder blade wasn't really likely to decrease the pain, I called the doctor's office again. This time, they prescribed Tylenol with Hydrocodeine.

Now, I've had codeine before and it was always a bit of a muddle. The pain would always diminish or vanish, but on the other hand, I'd spend much of the time unconscious and experiencing the kind of dreams that would have made Salvador Dali give up Surrealism and take up chartered accountancy.

Nonetheless, I was at my wit's end and my lovely wife, Mrs. Fando, proceed to nip down to the chemist and procure the stuff. 20 minutes after taking the first one, I felt my nerves go all happy from my brain to the tips of my toes. It was the first relief in 26 hours or so. They said I could take one up to 6-8 hours apart as needed for pain. Actually, I only took them 8 hours apart, as any type of drug gives me a serious case of paranoia that I'll end up in a Deadheads fan club smoking reefer and wondering what Jerry would be doing right now if he hadn't snuffed it.**

I regularly took it for about two to three weeks, as it was the only thing to deal with the pain in a way that made life manageable. I was more concerned with figuring out what was causing the pain than what was minimizing it, but in the back of my mind I wondered how long I could continue to take it.

Still, it was just Tylenol with a bit of hydrocodeine in it. So, what's the harm? That was my attitude until I needed a refill and called the clinic to get the prescription updated. After confirming it with the doctor, which took a day or so and was punctuated by some irritation on my part that I would be back to feeding my pain more useless Celebrex, the nurse called back and informed me that I could go and get my Vicodin when I was ready.

I calmly informed the nurse that I wasn't taking Vicodin, I was taking Tylenol with Hydrocodeine. She put me on hold to check with the doctor. Whilst I waited, I hummed to myself, in a sort of grimacing way - due to some lingering pain, and thought, "Vicodin? Wow, I'm glad I caught that. Vicodin's that stuff people get hooked on and wind up in treatment centres for."

About that time, the nurse came back and calmly informed me that Tylenol with Hydrocodeine and Vicodin were one in the same drug.

After I picked the phone back up again, I gave it about 10 seconds thought and refilled the prescription. Pain is pain, you know.

Fortunately, I was only taking what I needed for pain and no more. Opiate-based drugs are all laced with some measure of risk, but sensibly used as the prescription indicates, one can very easily avoid winding up smoking a pipe in a Shanghai den of very quiet, smoke-addled, dazed-looking Vicodin fiends. I stopped using the drug as soon as I thought I could, and with one exception, the night the family and I went to see Becoming Jane, I haven't taken any since.***

It probably helped that I surfed the Internet for an hour or so, looking for information on Vicodin and coming up with innumerous links to treatment centres. It sort of got the old bean thinking I might be keen to wean myself from the stuff at the earliest opportunity. I suppose it's all a bit of a balancing act, between pain management and winding up in the Robert Downey Jr. wing of the Betty Ford Clinic. Tricky that, but I seem to have some through it all right. It probably helps that as the underlying pain subsides, the one overwhelming feeling the drug gives me is of a creeping nausea. A nice advantage that.

* I never actually measured this. It's an educated guess.
** The answer to this question is invariably, "A whole lotta hash, man."
*** I wasn't taking the drugs because of the film. At least, I don't remember that being the reason.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Elvis and Me

I see Jorge has rejoined us from whatever correctional institution he spent the last year or so in for his repeated Danny DeVito stalking. I mean "stalking" in a positive sense, of course. Perhaps this means that things will get back to normal around here.

As for me, I missed the momentous occasion of the 30th anniversary of Elvis's passing* on August 16th, so I'd like to say/write a few words on it. Now, you can easily get the goods on Elvis at any Elvis Pressley fan site, along with some incredible memorabila, such as baseball caps with Elvis on them, Elvis refrigerator magnets, Elvis-themed rhinestone-studded undergarments (don't mistake the "Glen Campbell" line of these for the real thing), and velvet paintings of Elvis playing poker with dogs.

Rather, I was stunned to realise that on the 30th anniversary of Elvis's death** I, Earl Fando, am 42 years old. For those of you who don't know, Elvis was 42 years old when he died. Chilling, isn't it. The late Douglas Adams, in his fab Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, identified "42" as the number that was the answer to "the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything." Unfortunately, being a humourist, he didn't know the question. Anyway, it's a sign there is something troubling about the connections with Elvis and yours truly.

Furthermore, Albert Einstein, with whom I share a birthday, was 56 at the time Elvis was born, and Elvis was 20 at the time Einstein died. Just 22 years later, Elvis died. You see it don't you? 20 plus 22 equals 42! Incredible, or as the French say, "Incredible'!" (You have to supply the accent yourself.)

There's more. Einstein was 56 when Elvis was born. Subtract 42 from 56 and you are left with 14. Einstein's and my birthdays are on March... you guessed it, 14!

Furthermore, Einstein died on an April 18th. Elvis died on an August 16th. They both begin with the letter "A" people!

Finally, and for me this is the clincher, Elvis, Einstein, and Earl all begin with the letter "E!"

Really, that's all anyone need know. However, the letter "A" is the 1st letter of the alphabet, and the letter "E" is the 5th letter of the alphabet. Add them up and you have "6," the exact sum of the numbers "4" and "2!" Multiply the digits in 16 (as in the 16th of August) and you get the same. Finally, multiply the digits in 42 and the digits in 18 (the date of Einstein's death) and you get the exact same number: "8!" What's 8 times 6? 42???? Well, no... it's 48, but that is only 6 digits from 42!

What does this all mean? Not a bloody thing, as far as I can tell. However, it is interesting, and troubling, and confusing, and troubling ...don't forget troubling.***

Perhaps this explains why Priscilla Presley keeps ringing the house.

*No, that's not a joke on the way Elvis passed itself. Whilst checking out on the toilet is certainly not the classiest way to go, I can think of worse. On fire, underneath the hooves of stampeding horses, whilst impaled on the hood ornament of a 1933 Cadillac Series 355-C, for instance ...or like a Spinal Tap drummer.

** If indeed Elvis is dead. I actually spoke to him a year ago.

*** No, I'm off the Vicodin. Why do you ask?

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Monday, August 27, 2007

The How You Going to Say Movie What is Bad

Sometimes when you go to see the Motion Picture film from the Hollywood, it is good to first read the title of the movie, for as to see what kind of movie are about to be paying the ten dollars for ticket and twenty dollars for popcorn grease paper for to see. I, Jorge Carlito Viejo, have learned that the filmmakers of the Hollywood spectacle type movie are kind enough to drops the hint about what sort of crummy film they made by placing hints in the title. You have to be the, how you going to say, smart guy, though, because sometimes the hint is ironic.

I learned this many years ago, when I see this movie what is called "Pretty Woman," and I realize this movie not about the Pretty or the Woman but about the prostitution and the Richard Gere and how these two things go hand in hand. I learn this the hard way, after ninety minute of munch on the twenty green Skittles that was include in my tiny plastic bag inside my huge cardboard box of Skittles what I paid three bucks for. Better for me if I had read the title carefully and saw first the irony. I could have said, "Pretty Woman! No, Jorge Carlito, it is the trick! This movie about the Ugly and the Man! The Ugly what is Prostitution and the Man what is Dick Gere! Don't see this movie! Save the money for to buy leg warmers instead!"

Recently, I go to see the movie again what has the title which is not the irony but is the honest assessment of the movie I was paying for to see. "Superbad" is was called, and it was. Some persons are telling me, "This movie funny, Jorge! It have the humor what is called American style humor," but Jorge did not see the funny. He saw only this certain big hair plump girl and her friend what are trying to go to parties but is having ugly faces all the time and is having the nerd friend what is got the glasses on head like the thick, thick pipes of the steel sewer under my home city of Guapita!

That is not humor, my friends, that is the bad movie. Funny is not when the chubby big hair girl goes to the party and has the diarrhea. No! Funny is when the moustache turns out to be a worm! Yes, funny is when the tall man sits on the melon what turns out to be a dwarf wrapped in Ziploc bags! That is the funny. Funny is not when the pipe glasses boy with name called McLovin go into the store to buy some certain items and he do not buy them. What kind of person laughs at a person what is simply in the store to buy certain items? Funny, my friends, is when a man start to sweat because a lady so beautiful that his shirt and pants dissolve and all the peoples on the street throw eggs at his underwear self. Funny is when the dog eat the old man's empanada and leave a stone in its place but old man cannot see good and he eat the stone and poop out later a bunch of tiny little opals. That is the funny!

But I cannot say I was not warned. A movie called "Superbad" turns out to be, how you can say, super bad. Title give the hint of the secret, my friend. Read carefully or you throw the moneys into toilet of wasted experience along with the dignity. And Jorge Carlito do not want that for you, good childs of the earth.