Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Vicodin

Gapper comments on the effects of Vicodin, a painkiller containing an opiate and paracetamol. This is the pill to which House is addicted. I have not yet heard it mentioned in the case of Iatrogenic Mike, but it was probably somewhere in the mix. Gapper was initially puzzled by the idea of painkiller addiction, but a couple of days of 'pleasurable wooziness' on Vicodin convinced him of their allure. Anyway, after watching another few episodes, I realise I previously underestimated House. The addiction is, in fact, the point of the show. The iatrogenic effect is two way - afflicting both the patient and the doctor. House demands the response 'physician heal thyself' but he is also Eliot's 'wounded surgeon', Christ the victim and healer. Under the influence of Hugh Laurie's dazzling performance, I suddenly find the idea of the sick doctor very potent in ways I cannot fully explain. Long ago, an old GP suddenly barked angrily at me during a consultation. I later learned he was dying, Mercilessly, I thought, 'So what? Healing while dying is his chosen fate.' And, of course, 'wounded surgeon' is an insidiously memorable phrase. I remember an English teacher reading the whole passage from East Coker in a state of ecstatic abandon. I suppose the Christ analogy explains the inexplicable potency - the healer shares our affliction. Painkiller addiction is a very exact expression of the idea. It is not a specific condition that is being treated but pain itself. A pill that takes away our pain would seem to be the only technology we would ever require, a vision of heaven. The endless shelves of painkillers in American pharmacies are as clear an expression of that country's religiosity as the hot gospelling shows on TV. That these pills might kill you, as in Jacko's case, may be seen as one of their lesser side effects. After all, any faith is a way of helping you die and addiction is a form of worship. (Sorry, I seem to be feeling rather complex this morning.)

29 comments:

  1. I seem to be feeling rather complex this morning

    You can get a pill for that, you know.

    Last year I suffered some nasty lower back trouble caused by playing football. Much to my surprise the quack instantly prescribed diazepam, though he did warn me it was habit-forming.

    I swallowed it nervously for a couple of nights, slept like a corpse, then put the rest of the pills in the cabinet. Are we, I wonder, anything much more interesting than the sum of our addicitons? Probably yes. But it's comforting to know the diazepam is there in case I ever get tired of tea, coffee, blogging, beer, whisky, toblerones, checking emails, text messages, television, pro-evolution soccer, buying stuff, being awake, arguing, cracking weak jokes, sex or Geoffrey Hill.

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  2. that was a thought provoking read! It conjored up images of Huxley's soma, and the tired old quote that 'religion is the opiate of the masses'

    Eminem was addicted to vicodin, apparently it has effects similar to ecstacy. He liked it so much he even had the street slang for the drug - 'vike' tattooed on his bicep

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  3. A pill that takes away our pain would seem to be the only technology we would ever require, a vision of heaven.

    Or maybe half of it. Caught that rare thing last night, a Simpsons I hadn't seen before. Homer has extensive plastic surgery with, naturally, disastrous results. After it is reversed he's asked if he's learnt any lesson:

    "Yes, that plastic surgery is good but they haven't got it so it looks quite right yet, but when they do, everyone should have it!"

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  4. Intriguing stuff, which made me think of the Fisher King (particularly as this character and his Wasteland-kingdom resonate in Eliot).

    I've never watched House but could one speculate as follows: House is wounded in some way, so blighting those close to him and those who rely on him, as per the Fisher King; he is sustained in his pain by the Vicodin/Grail ('a vision of heaven'); resolution of this situation relies on the arrival of a questing Percival figure?

    The pain/healing/sacrifice trope is certainly a stubborn one. You can relate it back to the imprint made by the ur-narratives of religion and myth. But that too must have come from somewhere. Are we hard-wired to respond powerfully to this combination of ideas? And if so why?

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  5. Recently I broke my arm and the doctor gave me Vicodin for the pain. Well, much to my surprise, as a person who NEVER misses HOUSE, Vicodin didn't help my pain until about 2 to 3 hrs. after I took it. And then it only last for about an hour. I sure hope there's a better pain reliever out there.
    Now I know why HOUSE pops Vicodin like candy. He should be on a different med. and so should have I.

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  6. Vicodin, schmicodin. What you want is Oxycontin. I was prescribed some after a back injury ... Oh My God. And I knew right away that anything that put me in that kind of nirvana had to be addictive. Sadly. I took it cautiously and, like Brit, put it in the cabinet whenever I could endure the pain.

    I'm wondering when you will get sick of "House." I love the acting and the characters, but that same plot over and over got too dull for me. Enough already!

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  7. Well, yer, something with an opiate in it is going to take away some pain but it is also going to be highly addictive, depending on your genes. And the pain it takes away will be a fraction of the pain it later exacts by way of withdrawal symptoms, organ damage and psychological misery. I think this state is called the velvet coffin. If you find yourself lying in one having popped a few and feeling all nice and warm - in fact, feeling nothing at all - get out as fast as possible.

    Living life to the full is the best form of worship. The notion that living life as an outcast brings superior wisdom - the conceit of the House series - is appealing but in the end it's a sack o' sh-one-t. Hugh Laurie does turn in one heck of a performance, though.

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  8. I'm with Susan. Vicodin is also more sickening. Either way, I take the other medication first, such as the anti-inflammatory, to take care of the back pain. If that doesn't work, I take the pain killer to get some sleep, knowing I will be under its influence for a while, that the upcoming day or two of crashing won't be fun.

    A recent vicodin example for me occurred last month when I got the E-coli bacteria, which led to an extrememly painful kidney infection. The pain killer is prescribed alongside the ciprofloxacin. So it's not just taking the pain killer to address the pain, but to take it alongside the anti-bacterial.

    The proper situation for prescribing these medications is quite the reverse from what Mark says. Pain itself it not good for you. It will have permanent effects. When the pain is bad, it is better to get addicted and get off the addiction than to suffer the pain, and then deal with the longlasting effects of pain. Not only do you get to sleep with pain killers, but pain itself changes you psychologically for a long time, very possibly permanently.

    Stay away from the pain. That's the general rule.

    Yours,
    Rus

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  9. I guess I didn't put that well, Rus. I am not arguing against taking painkillers nor that pain is good (though the notion that one can live a life free from pain is hardly realistic either). But for some people, the addiction these pills can kick off is intense and very, very hard to break and, yes, the long-term effects of that can be worse than the original problem, imho. The pills are given out to all-comers even though we know some folks will have a bad reaction to them; and in the UK, anyway, GPs can play down the potential problems and merrily prescribe away. The "quack" in Brit's post above sounds like one of them and I've met others. I think we all deal with doctors a little at our peril.

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  10. Vicodin contains Hydrocodone which is an opiate. It's almost as strong as morphine and probably produces a similar feeling. Oxycontin though (which is oxycodone), is something like 4 times the strength of morphine and they give it out for toothache! Apparently junkies buy co-codamol and nurofen plus (which contain codeine) to ward of withdrawels. Though codeine is far less powerful than hydrocodone or oxycontin.

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  11. Just to make clear, I was describing the American situation with vicodin and oxycontin, not Britains. When I broke my arm five years ago I didn't get anything stronger than high strenth co-codamol. It just you what a racket the big pharm companies have going.

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  12. Actually, our American self-image is that we're much too puritanical about chronic pain relief, with a societal bias that it's good to live with pain and Doctors afraid to prescribe pain relievers for palliative care for fear of prosecution by the DEA.

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  13. Been catching up on the week's posts. My sister has just come round from an important operation this evening. I sure am grateful for modern medical technology.

    But I am also very grateful for Bryan's train of thought here. There was something about House that really gripped me when I got into it early last year (just before I knew my Dad had terminal cancer and beyond). You brought it back with you meditations here. That, my friend, is a real gift.

    I'm with Susan on becoming bored with the same plot, over and over. Or maybe the impact at that particular time in my life can never be replicated and it's wrong to try. Either way, remarkable to be thrust back into the essence of the experience through Bryan's words.

    Sure, the wounded healer is a key architype but I'd not seen any of that clearly at the time.

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  14. I highly doubt that I will tire of HOUSE. You see, I just discovered Hugh Laurie in the first episode of House, so it will be a LONG time before I ever tire of Mr. Laurie. The man is an AMAZING talent and I feel honored to be able to partake.

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  15. Muscle injuries are very difficult to control especially for the constant pain that occur as low back pain, or a tear, there are medicines that control these pains and found findrxonline indications and contraindications as vicodin, Lortab, flunitrazepam, and so on. medicines that have a high content of which is codeine which minimizes pain.

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  16. Muscle injuries are very difficult to control especially for the constant pain that occur as low back pain, or a tear, there are medicines that control these pains and found findrxonline indications and contraindications as vicodin, Lortab, flunitrazepam, and so on. medicines that have a high content of which is codeine which minimizes pain.

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  17. Following bi-lateral knee replacement surgery some 5 years ago in it US, I began to take Vicodin and it really worked for me. I took the drug for about 4 years as I had complecations from surgery that still persist today. I was worried I'd become addicted and for some time believed that I might be. Because of this I stopped taking it one day and no problem doing so. An earlier post suggested Oxycontin instead which I also tried but it made me completely loopy so I stopped immediately.
    I've been back in the UK for some time now and have been prescribed co codamol which also makes me loopy. I would very much like to get back on a pain management program but can't seem to find anyone willing to prescibe vicodin. Any ideas??

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  18. Medicines have to be controlled mainly by the different situations that can determine, is known to the world that much addiction to drugs such as Vicodin, Lortab, OxyContin, Codeine, which are anxiolytics and may cause collateral damage from this situation, why care and prevention, and self says we should not resort to findrxonline but specialist.

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  19. Hopefully that will improve health for all on this, the government must give force to the health sector, as there are many people who suffer from chronic illnesses and who need help to cover expenses stronger as fibromyalgia, cancer, producing a series very heavy cost to those who suffer as they must take powerful drugs such as oxycontin, vicodin, lortab, drugs that are highly controlled and that findrxonline indicate that opioids are very strong and anxiolytics do not know if that can be given life-threatening that consumes, that is why many times the costs are too high to be able to obtain and soothe the intense pain.

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  20. This medicine can do much to relieve the pain caused to people suffering from cancer, chronic fibromyalgia, Parkinson's, and according indicates findrxonline this medicine as it is a narcotic opioid can be addictive.

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  21. This medicine can do much to relieve the pain caused to people suffering from cancer, chronic fibromyalgia, Parkinson's, and according indicates findrxonline this medicine as it is a narcotic opioid can be addictive.

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  23. I take painkillers for my back pain, the best known this findrxonline are vicodin and hydrocodone are opiates to treat my illness, so I recommend always do the necessary consultation to avoid taking medications or analgesics that do not help overcome the pain.

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  24. These points to an interesting article in findrxonline where they talk about this subject it is necessary to inform the community.
    It is ultimately the patient's responsibility to use narcotics responsibly.
    A few years ago, narcotics were only prescribed after surgery, severe trauma, or for terminal cancer because of a concern over the possibility of addiction. Recently, they have been cautiously prescribed to treat moderate to severe non-malignant chronic pain in conjunction with other modalities such as physical therapy, cortisone and trigger point injections, muscle stretching, meditation, or aqua therapy. Unfortunately, the upsurge of narcotics as medical treatment also increased associated cases of abuse and addiction.
    Derived from either opium (made from poppy plants) or similar synthetic compounds, narcotics not only block pain signals and reduce pain, but they affect other neurotransmitters, which can cause addiction. When taken for short periods, only minor side effects such as nausea, constipation, sedation and unclear thinking are noted.

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  25. I was prescribed vicodin and percocet 6 months ago to ease the chronic pain I have, I suffer from chronic back pain AND THEREFORE THE DOCTOR He prescribed this medicine, and say that these drugs are anxiolytic and is what really worries me because he did not smoke before and now I do it constantly, there will be other medications I can prescribe and which are not how are you?
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