Sorry…couldn’t help it.
Prince was found unresponsive in the elevator in his home after not responding to phone calls. His friends arrived on scene to find him dead. EMS called him on scene at 1007. While the world continued to mourn, articles began popping up about how he died. Was it The Flu? Was it HIV/AIDS? Was it Prescription Drug Abuse?
The last one popped up into my Facebook Feed on April 29th and I immediately became angry. Here is the article that popped into my feed and made me so blindingly angry I couldn’t see straight. The first line of the article:
Prince had prescription painkillers on him when he died…
And your point? The article went on to highlight how he was possibly treated for a potential drug overdose just a few days before he died. It also talked about how investigators found prescription opioid painkillers in his home. Let us all stop for a moment and think of our Medicine holders. Whether it’s a cabinet, drawer, basket, bag, or whatever…just think about where you store your meds. How many of us can say there’s most likely a bottle of leftover Percocet from a Root Canal performed 5 years ago, a couple of Vicodin from a broken Hand, that bottle of cough syrup with Codine from the Bronchitis bout over the winter, or a leftover Tylenol #3 from the Flag Football game gone wrong from the summer? I know I always held onto the leftovers ‘Just in case’…I mean…I never knew when my pinky toe would try to make love to the coffee table at 0300 and get violently rejected and the throbbing from my foot would keep me from walking, let alone sleeping. A Vicodin from having a tooth pulled and a glass of…something…and I’d be back to dreamland.
If any of us died tomorrow (Please, Dear God, don’t take this as a challenge. 2016 has sucked.) none of us could positively say that an Investigator wouldn’t find some kind of Prescription Opioid Painkillers in our homes. Immediately, Prince began to be known as a Drug Addict. People began lambasting him in the media for doing prescription painkillers to get high. Why else would they be in his pocket at the time of his death if he wasn’t taking them just to get high?
I have a pretty…personal story about this and why it hit me so hard and I got so angry when simply being found to have Prescribed Painkillers on him lead him to be called an ‘addict’ and a ‘drug seeker’…that he was just getting high and his stupidity killed him.
Here’s a little story from my past. Before my Back Surgery when my Surgeon and PT thought it was a great idea to put the girl who couldn’t walk through an insane amount of PT…the ‘Pain Clinic’ just kept piling on the Pain Killers. At one point, this was what I was putting into my body every 4-6 hours:
Fentanyl Patch 125mcg\hr\72
Ambien 40mg (At night to sleep)
This cocktail was given to me by a Physician. The one time I inquired if I might possibly be on too many Narcotics at once, they took ALL of my meds away that day. They refused to refill my prescription. Within 48 hours I was in full blown DTs, had a seizure, and nearly died…so they put me right back on the same pills, same doses, and said to just take them and suck it up or I’d only get non narcotics. Mind you, my L5 disk had wrapped around my Sciatic Nerve and was strangling it…so the pain was intense.
One night, I went to the movies with some friends and I wasn’t feeling well. I threw up multiple times and we left halfway through because I just felt like Hell. I kept dozing off and zoning out on the hour ride home. Once home, I made it to my bathroom…then woke up several hours later in the hospital.
I had nearly died of a drug overdose.
I have an insane tolerance to medication. My starting Propofol dose for surgery is 60mcg\kg\min and it can take up to 20 minutes before I’m out. Nothing like freaking out the Anesthesia Department because you are having a coherent conversation about Intubation Techniques after two ‘Happy Syringes’ and a crap ton of Propofol.
My body maintained that insane drug protocol for 18 months until it said screw it. Fortunately, my friends were all Paramedics and Nurses, so when they heard me choking on my own vomit they got me to an ER PDQ. Aspiration Pneumonia and a slow wean of my cocktail later, I had gotten off all that crap and resumed a normal life.
If my friends weren’t there…I’d be dead of a drug overdose. I would have looked like I had taken a fist full of drugs to ‘get high’ or to commit suicide and died.
In 18 months… I never ‘felt high’. Not once. No happy buzzing feeling from the Vicodin or Fentanyl…no dopey smile or stupid antics…I was depressed, in a considerable amount of pain, and extremely constipated. My life revolved around my ‘Bag o’ Meds’ and staving off the searing pain that would have me crying for hours if I didn’t stick to popping handfulls of pills every 4-6 hours.
So, for someone who had several Hip Surgeries who was on painkillers to ease the pain…of course they found Percocet in his possession. Of course his body finally couldn’t handle the Narcotic load and gave out. In my bathroom, I had 15 bottles of various Narcotics and a stack of Fentanyl Patches. In my purse I had an extra Fentanyl Patch in case mine fell off as they are want to do and my pills in case my 6 hours were up and I had to remedicate…but just like with Prince…it would have been chalked up to me doing it on purpose and that’s that. A Drug Overdose.
That I wanted to get high.
That I wanted to kill myself.
That I was a junkie…an addict who was out of control.
No. I was following Doctors Orders and trying my best to not be in excruciating pain…probably the same thing Prince was doing.
He was going to bed and his body gave out.
I was feeling sick and vomiting when my body gave out.
Chris Kaiser prompted me to make this a Blog Post. I could flesh it out more here than I could on Facebook, but the meat is still there. If I would have died in my bathroom, they would have found enough pills and patches to start my own Pharmacy. They would have found enough drugs in my Toxicology Report to sedate Seabiscuit. I would have been labeled a drug addict just like Prince is being labeled right now. Prince had a history of Orthopaedic Surgery on his Hips along with chronic Ankle and Knee problems. Prince was known for wearing 5″ or higher heels and platform shoes as well as having an energetic performance style on stage. His Purple Rain Tour had him jumping off of risers 4′ and taller…in heels. A year of that punishment on the joints is enough for anyone to eat Percocet like Pez.
As to his hovering around a Pharmacy the night prior to his death and how he passed up numerous Pharmacies to get to that one…and how that shows a clear pattern for Pharmacy Shopping…I’m here to tell you that it’s not that nefarious. The other Pharmacies probably didn’t have the amount of pills his prescription was for.
Until my Pain Clinic began to fill my scripts, I had to ‘Pharmacy Shop’ to find a place that would have oh…450 Extra Strength Vicodin and 350 Extra Strength Percocet.
I’m not kidding.
2 pills every four hours plus 2 pills for every 2 hours for breakthrough pain equals a fuckton of pills. So, yeah…I was registered at a ton of Pharmacies because Pharmacy A might have all the Vicodin, but no Perc, but Pharmacy B might have half the Perc…but Pharmacy C would have the other half. As long as I was staying in the same chain, I could piecemeal my script together between 6 pharmacies. Some days, I’d travel between 4-6 Pharmacies trying to get all of my medications together. It was a constant fear that the Pharmacy wasn’t going to have my medicine.
In the end…His Royal Badness was probably no more of a Drug Addict than I am or was. We were both seeking to help soothe a physical pain. The only difference is, he’s being vilified for being found with pills in his pocket. I can only imagine what would have happened if I was found with my stash.
(All of the hyperlinks that are of Prince’s name/nicknames are my favorite songs. Listen away!)