Random AsidesScience

Ooh eeh Vicodin!

I arrived back home yesterday from what turned out to be a wholly unusual trip to the USA. I was on business in Texas, and decided to spend a few days in New York on my way back as I had a potential client there and wanted to catch up with the Skepchicks and see some art/stores/sights. Wrong. So very, very wrong. My brain wanted to do that but my body wanted to catch an illness that had me confined to my hotel room for the entire trip with a fever, the most severe sore throat of all time, and nose vomit. Yep, I heaved through two orifices at once. I get boasting rights forever. I was too ill to fly and ended up having to stay an extra few days.

By day 4 I was so ill I had to get the hotel to send a doctor to my room (that’s not cheap at 8am on a Saturday morning, either), and he promptly prescribed antibiotics for the throat and Vicodin for the pain. Vicodin…we don’t have it in the UK and I knew it only from my obsessive love of Greg House so was a little dubious, but I had it anyway because I needed to kill the pain and fast. I’m sorry to say that it was instant addiction. I don’t do substances, of any sort. I’ve never been drunk, nor tried a cigarette or any narcotics, so an opiate was going to be an interesting experience. Within about 15 minutes I went into a sort of mild floating reverie, like I was pushing through a lily-covered lake with my face. It was a delicious sensation, although oddly the pain didn’t exactly go away. I just sort of stopped caring that it hurt.

It dulled the pain enough for me to scrape two hours of lucidness out of the Skepchick meetup, but I was very sorry to miss most of it and also sorry that I wasn’t my usual perky self (the cleavage excepted). It was lovely to see so many of you, although Rystefyn, you are too loud to exist. I think you were a figment of my drug-fuelled mind. And why is there no photo of the penis I drew on your face?

Anyway, I’m home now and much better, but I have 10 Vicodin left and truthfully, they’re calling me. I’m going to resist, and throw them out instead of down my throat, but I am sort of delighted to have something in common with my beloved Dr House. That, and on my last day of NY I had my first Reuben. Be still my beating arteries.

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  1. I’ve never had Vicodin before (thank goodness), but I have an ex-boyfriend that once broke his collarbone at a track meet and then had two shoved down his throat on an empty stomach. NOT A GOOD IDEA.

    I LOVE House M.D. Sadly, I always find these things far after they were popular, so I’m only in the middle of season one.

    I’m sorry you got sick and didn’t get to see the splendiforousness that is NYC. Amazing city. Did you ever figure out what you had? Just a simple sore throat?

    And props for the nose vomit, btw. Mine always just seems to drool…but never vomit.

  2. Good grief,

    Sorry your trip was ruined by illness but vicodin and its relatives are incredibly powerful and addictive drugs.

    I find it strange that they would be prescribed so quickly to a patient that the doc has no history with.

    And I perish to think what you pay for insurance in order to rate a house call in NYC.

    Hope your feeling better

  3. Interesting about the Vicodin. I find that pain killers have remarkably different effects on different people.

    For instance, Vicodin for me does nothing more than ibuprofen for pain relief. If I double the dose, I get a little drowsy.

    Tylenol with Codeine does even less. I have not noticed any effect of pain, though it did make me jittery and anxious. I had a couple heart palpatations, too. My doctor thought this might be a reaction with another medication because it is not supposed to act like a stimulant. It could also be a coincidence from a sample size of 1. But there was no pain relief.

    Darvocet did very little, but was a tad better than the others. When I had terrible tooth aches, it took a little of the edge or sharpness of the pain off. But it never had much of an effect.

    Now Demerol was given to me in a shot in the ass. That is the only pain killer that has ever had a noticeable effect for me. I felt a little dizzy, really tired, and not too bothered by the pain.

    The strange thing is that none of these had any sort of addicting tendency. I kind of felt like I should use them all because I hate wasting things I pay for. So I would use them instead of ibuprofen until I ran out. Some times I would save them in the medicine cabinet, but they would just expire. I would then flush them hoping the fish would get a better high than me. :-)

    Alas, porn may be my only true addiction.

  4. Glad you’re feeling better and finally home. I’m so glad you made it out and I finally got a chance to meet you (fuzzy as the meeting might be)!

    Also, seriously… how did you get on as a writer here if you’ve never been drunk? I thought we are required to be legally drunk at least 25% of the time.

  5. Skepgeek,

    I know 3 unrelated people in my life that have similar reactions to codeine, so your sample size is now at least 4.

    But for me, two T3’s are a magic trip to dreamland, pain or not.

  6. It is very curious how the effects of drugs differ for different people. I myself rarely drink ethanol because I simply do not enjoy being drunk. My cerebellum strongly objects to the experience and starts complaining well before I’m in any danger of actually falling down.

  7. I just can’t stand the taste of alcohol, Jacob. And I’m Irish, Swedish, and Czech, so go figure.

    I’m sorry you got sick on your trip, tkingdoll, and I hope you’re feeling better.

    It’s funny, you can’t get vicodin over there, but you can buy some pain killers over the counter there that you need a presciption for here. As I sadly learned on my last trip over.

    Get some rest.

  8. I was prescribed Vicodin once for sciatica. I had no idea it was supposed to be narcotic or addictive and the only effect it had on me was to help a bit with the pain. It was only weeks later, when the pain had long gone, that I got talking to some stoner friends of a neighbour and suddenly they got real interested when they heard I had some unused Vicodin just laying around the apartment :-)

  9. Ha, maybe I could sell the remainder to some teenagers. Electro, he didn’t think twice about it, he just dished out the prescription with a smile. I was quite surprised. Fortunately I have travel insurance, but with the cost of the meds the total was $375 (dollars) which I think is fine. That’s certainly much cheaper than a UK private doctor, and good luck getting an NHS GP to do a house call at any time, let alone early on a Saturday morning! I’ll get the money back, but it was well spent anyway.

  10. Hey Teek, sorry about the volume, I learned to shout on the battlefield, and instinctively raise my voice above whatever’s happening around me. I got yelled at once at a concert by the band. Rest assured, I am not a hallucination, though I’m not certain it would make feel any better knowing that.

    SkepGeek, I know very much how pain killers can affect different people in different ways – and sometimes not at all. I’m pretty well immune to pretty much every pain killer I’ve ever been exposed to; a curse if anything is in this world… Doubly so when doctors don’t believe you for whatever reason makes doctors not believe patients.

  11. There’s current research that suggests that flushing pills could be causing endocrine disrupting effects, antibiotic resistance, and/or other effects in animals (fish for example). I think the current suggestion is to return pills to a pharmacy or hospital rather than flushing them or keeping them at home, although admittedly it’s unclear whether their current disposal methods are any better.

  12. Also, seriously… how did you get on as a writer here if you’ve never been drunk? I thought we are required to be legally drunk at least 25% of the time.

    No no, you see, there’s a percentage of skeptics who are teetotalers, so as a smart marketing ploy I got one to write here. Plus, we have a designated driver. Ta da!

    Teek, it was great seeing you and I’m so glad you were able to come to the party, even if just for a few hours and even if you were pretty low-key. At least you managed to draw a penis on someone’s face, which is automatic WIN.

  13. *sigh* I can never be narcotics addicted because they don’t kill my pain, much less make me high.

    Anyone remember the episode of Penn Radio where he talked about going to the dentist and being given valium? I think it was that he ended up not remembering most of a day. It really made me laugh to learn that I, a short small woman who’s never done drugs, have to take 3x the same dose that made Penn black out for a day in order to feel out of it for 20 minutes.

    Glad you’re feeling better, Teek, and welcome to the delicious cheesy goodness of Reubens. And yes, your nose vomit does win. That’s totally hardcore.

  14. I’ve been seeing a neurologist/sleep specialist for about 2 years now and have gone through about 10 different drugs. I just stopped seeing her because we ran out of things to try. I’m also immune to vicodin and several other drugs I’ve tried. Also, like Jacob Wintersmith, I have some sort of intolerance/allergy to alcohol. I don’t know a single other person who is like that, but I feel a little less strange now that there are a few people here like that. :)

  15. I’ve been prescribed Vicodin before, after an outpatient procedure. Didn’t do a thing for me. Most of the bottle sat in the cabinet for a year before I tossed them out.

    On the other hand, Reubens are both euphoric and highly addictive.

  16. Much sympathy to you, Teek, on your recent plague attack! Nose vomit. Wow! Glad you’re on the mend. Especially glad the cleavage showed no ill effects in the photos. I would rate it as one of the UK’s national treasures.

    Also much sympathy to those here reporting little or no effect from pain meds. I’m thankful my body chemistry seems to put me squarely in the middle of the effectiveness distribution. Having just had triple hernia surgery on July 16, I got acquainted with Percocet for the first time. Percocet is a combo of Tylenol and OxyContin. Good stuff! I was able to find a dose that killed the pain but left my brain reasonably functional. I was vaguely concerned that I might start spewing right-wing neocon rants like Rush Limbaugh (loves the OxyContin, Rush does) but that is apparently not caused by the OC abuse. I did find that it made me want to buy things, though! My wife had to perform an intervention on me at the Target when I filled our cart with way more than the usual amount of stuff we don’t need. She was not at all sure about leaving me alone at home with my credit card and an internet connection the next day! Fortunately, being aware of the effect of the Percocet, I stayed off the Amazon and EBay sites those days.

    Waste not, want not, I always say, so the unused Perc’s are going up on the shelf in my bathroom closet with all the other unfinished prescriptions. I’ll have to be careful she doesn’t slip me one the next time she wants to buy a new harp! Seriously, the woman needs to be in a 12-step program for harp buyers.

  17. Sorry to hear about the illness, tkingdoll. Vomiting, for me, is one of the worst things…would rather have just about any other (comparable) affliction.

    I don’t think I’ve ever had Vicodin, but have had Oxycotin, which I never liked. Don’t like that loopy feeling. Did do well for the pain I was having, though.

    Once, when I was in the hospital recovering from surgery, I had a wound vac attached (it does exactly what you think it does), and the vac was somehow pinching a nerve, which was horrible. The nurse on duty gave me something starting with a ‘D,’ can’t remember now, but it was an amazing feeling. It was like a waterfall cascaded across my body, washing the pain away. At that moment, I could completely understand how someone could get addicted to such things.

  18. oh man, Vicodin, how i love thee…

    I was first introduced to them when I had my wisdom teeth pulled.

    For me it was total floating euphoria. But that “buzz” would very, very quickly require a lot of pills…

  19. Damn, if I knew that nose-vomiting gave one cred, I’d have been bragging about it all this time! ;) (Sadly, that’s my body’s MO for the get-out-quick sickness – I’d rather a spork suppsitory than vomit.) Sorry to hear you were feeling so terribly, Teek, and glad to hear things have improved.

  20. I have to second the plea not to flush the pills. A scary amount of medicines are showing up in our waters these days! Current recommendations are to either return to unused pills to a pharmacy, or either dissolve them or mix them with something noxious and put it in a sealed container in the trash – best combo of not letting kids or animals get access to it and reducing the chance of it leaking into water supplies.

  21. I am skeptical that a “scary amount” of drugs is showing up in the water. We can detect parts per trillion now of many things. of course we will find more things in water as our detection mechanisms are better. In fact, anything that passes through our bodies should be in the water in at least trace amounts.

    THough, the fish may suffer more because (1) the water from sewers (storm sewers not sewage from your toilet) is treated after being introduced into their habitat. And (2) they breath the water non-stop. So they will be exposed to contaminants more. Now if your toilet water is going unfiltered into the water supply, then you have something hooked up wrong. :-)

  22. @SkepGeek

    The city (fort wayne, in) I live in and there are others that have what’s called a CSO system which I believe means Combined Sewer (or Stormwater) Overflow. So when it rains heavily our stormwater is allowed to overflow into our toilet sewer lines. not a problem unless you have… um… backwash, which is an inherent flaw.

    But don’t worry that all just gets dumped into our rivers… hey, I just figured out why we aren’t allowed to swim in our rivers and why they smell.

  23. SkepGeek – well, it depends on what you feel is a “scary amount”. To me, seeing a presentation on our local water quality that found detectable levels of endocrine mimicing compounds at levels similar to those that have been recorded to have impacts on aquatic wildlife is scary. If you consider “scary” to be high enough levels to affect human health, then no, we haven’t hit those levels yet.

    As for your comment “Now if your toilet water is going unfiltered into the water supply, then you have something hooked up wrong”… the problem is that most current sewage systems, or at least those that I have seen data presented on in our area, do not have the capacity to filter out many of the pharmaceutical compounds that are showing up in the sewage treatment stream. Granted, a percentage of those compounds are showing up in the sewage because what goes in must come out, so many of the drugs that are showing up in the water may be due to drugs being excreted in human waste and not from drugs being flushed down the toilet. I haven’t seen any data one way or the other about how frequently drugs are flushed and how much of an impact it would have.

    But still, given that it would take about an extra minute of work to dispose of medications according to the federal or state guidelines I’ve seen… I’d rather do so and reduce the risk of drugs ending up in my water supply. Or in my case, in my yard since I have a septic system. :)


  24. “The nurse on duty gave me something starting with a ‘D,’ can’t remember now, but it was an amazing feeling. It was like a waterfall cascaded across my body, washing the pain away.”

    mmmmmm Dilaudid….most coveted of all pharmaceuticals.

  25. I am always surprised by people who like any kind of opiate. This would fall into different drugs affecting people differently. I’ve been prescribed opiate based pain killers a few time. But they made me so nauseous that I stopped taking them because the pain was less unpleasant. As for alcohol. Now that is something I love. I love the taste of alcohol. If I could I would drink it all day but I have all these pesky responsibilities that get in the way. Career, school, kids, wife, house, yard, dog, cats. But I’m still able to get in a few drinks a week. A few lovely drinks. A nice single malt Glenmorangie or a mojito made with some mint from my garden, a cool gin and tonic, a martini, some good beer, pinot noir, pinot grigio, cabernet saviogn, claret oh the wonderful world of alcohol offers such lovely and varied possibilities.

  26. Ah, your experience with vicodin reminds me of my heady days of appendicitis and the lovely, lovely morphine drip I got for my five days of hospitalisation afterward… And all the Demerol I needed, too. (No, really. Needed. I was literally in too much pain to stand up, much less walk.)

    Too lovely, really. Much too lovely. I understand perfectly well now how some people can ruin their lives in pursuit of these things.

  27. Oh, but codeine is hideous stuff, despite also being an opiate. I took it after I had my wisdom teeth pulled. Didn’t even make a dent in the pain, but it did succeed in making me extraordinarily nauseous. Stupid codeine.

  28. @ skepticgator

    That is truly disgusting with the sewage overflow into the storm sewers. I doubt much of that makes it back in the drinking supply, but that can’t be good for the environment.

  29. Teek, please send the vicodin to me. I just had a root canal and all they gave me was extra strength ibuprofen. I’m not looking forward to the novocaine wearing off…

  30. Vicodin makes me itch like crazy. I had a tooth pulled once, and because Vicodin and I do not mix, they gave me tylenol-3, which is codeine. It just made me barf.

    I don’t do pain killers. Ugh.

    Now, muscle relaxers … yes, please.

  31. I had foot surgery about a month ago after a few months of needing ibuprofen to be able to walk (word of advice: it helps not to walk on a broken foot…). First they gave me Darvocet, which gave me the shakes, and that was pretty scary. Then Vicodin, which made me much happier and sleepier (which is awesome for an insomniac like me who doesn’t respond to sleep meds). Now I’m taking tylenol with codeine and tylenol arthritis and it’s doing the job pretty well. But someone told me you can switch off between tylenol and ibuprofen even during the same day? I didn’t think this was safe, but the anti-inflammatory would be really nice for this huge swelling mass that is my foot. Anyone heard of this practice?

    But I maintain that straight opium is the best…er…except for its rarity in this country and highly addictive quality…just say no, kids!

  32. Yes, you can switch off between tylenol and ibuprofen during the same day, but if you’re worried I’d probably just call a pharmacist and ask ’em. I’d imagine the only reason it might not be safe would be because it could harm your liver if you did it for more than a couple of days, but if you’re otherwise healthy, I don’t really see the problem.

  33. philistereo-

    I also don’t respond to sleep aids. Ambien had no effect, Lunesta only gave me the metallic taste in my mouth, and Xyrem made the room spin for 3 hours while I was wide awake, trying not to barf.

    FYI- Xyrem contains/is GHB- aka the “date rape drug” is used to treat narcoleptics because it forces you into deep, restorative sleep. They prescribe 4-9 grams per night. Even at 9, it didn’t affect me.

    I’ve heard people say that if you brain doesn’t produce the hormones that wake you up and put you to sleep, you aren’t going to respond to drugs that are supposed to do the same. I may be screwed :P

  34. Oh, and philistereo, I meant to ask: do you respond the same way I do? Do you respond at all?

  35. Yeah, they do nothing for me, but I’ve only tried Ambien and Rozerem. Oh, and amitriptylene, which is technically an antidepressant – made me pass out and almost crack my skull on the bathroom floor, but that doesn’t really count as restful sleep…and it was always odd to me that antidepressants I take every morning make a lot of people zonk out.

    What is a sleep hormone? Melatonin?

  36. I’ll play pharmacist here. Wellbutrin worked with some sleep probs I had. It is a gene 1 anti-depressant that never really got used for that application. To work as an anti-depressant, they had to pump you full of so much that you could hardly stay awake at all.

  37. Rozerem and amitriptylene did nothing for me; Wellbutrin gave me an anxiety attack the first day (my first!), and nothing after that.

    Hypocretin/ Orexin is the hormone that narcoleptics are supposedly deficient in. I’m not sure why, but I don’t hear narcoleptics or sleep specialists talk about melatonin much. When they do, it has more to do with affecting circadian rhythms- of which I have none.

  38. The last time I dislocated my shoulder, they gave me a shot of something that quickly stopped the shoulder pain, but every other discomfort became an agony. The needle and the blood pressure monitor were killers. Fortunantly, I was out pretty quick.

    Mind you, this was after letting me lie there for an hour.

  39. The best description of Vicodan for me: “What Root Canal?”

    Seriously, my regular dentist perscribed some for a serious toothache, and when I went to the specialist they couldn’t determine which tooth needed work from any reaction. They used electricity and cold stuff too. Wow.

  40. This is like Chinese Whispers. A free date to anyone who can show me where I said I was going to flush the pills.

  41. “I said I was going to flush the pills”

    You just said it there … but I am guessing that doesn’t count.

  42. Yay for me, unfortunately I am going to Italy instead this year.

    Besides you haven’t said who the dates with, I’m not hoping on a plane to the U.K without seeing a full c.v and 2 references ;-p

  43. Heh, I guess I suggested that you were going to flush them because I just read a article on it and I wanted my “Do not throw out!” comment to look less like “because I want them!” and more like “….you know, so the water supply doesn’t get too medicated….” which is what I wrote.

  44. Lox, you should go for it. Round-trip airfare to the UK is only about a grand. That’s more or less what I paid to go see her, and I’ve got no complaints.

  45. Awwww, that’s sweet. And you got rude face graffiti out of it. Shame I was so ill though, that’s not great value for money on your part :D

  46. Well it is tempting, but I think I’m gonna have to wait till I have a reason to be in the U.K besides a date with an unspecified party.

    Can I get a rain check on that?

  47. Always fascinating to see how different bodies react to pain meds. Vicodin gave you relief from pain to allow you to function. Vicodin makes me vomit and gives me no pain relief. Different bodies, different reactions. How do doctors figure this out. Hope you are feeling MUCH better. You do have bragging rights for life with the 2 oriface vomit.

  48. My series 1-3 House box set arrived about 2 days before I did an 85 foot fan drop and re-screwed an old taekwondo injury (right ankle). Thus I took a few days off work to keep it rested and iced and watched my way through most of the set, occasionally taking a break to limp along to the kitchen for a sandwich, and popping large numbers of ibuprofen. I think I began identifying with the lead a little too much. Unfortunastely I was unable to obtain a reuben and had to look up what the hell it was (Brit). Anyway, even with the ankle, best sick leave, ever.

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