Tastes like lemons

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“Morphine makes me weightless, airborne.”

I pondered my friend’s confession for a moment. She and I were reviewing the merits of the opiate analgesic over coffee. I was telling her about using a morphine pump during a recent hospital visit.

“Really? Other than making me not care about the pain, I didn’t feel, you know, out there when I got morphine.” I refilled our coffee, absently stirring in a spoonful of agave nectar. “It did leave a lemony taste in my mouth. Not a Sourheads good taste, more like a Pledge furniture wax taste.”

Two weeks earlier on Christmas Eve, I went to bed with a terrible stomach ache, hoping a good night’s sleep would cure it. By 4 a.m. I knew I was in trouble, and that I needed to clean the grout around my toilet better.

Rebounding briefly, I made it to the living room later Christmas morning long enough to watch the kids open their presents, with a double-bagged trashcan by my side.

Once the kids tore off all the paper and bows from boxes and gift bags, I stumbled back to my bathroom. The cold tile leaving red creases on my cheek.

At the 12-hour mark in my Puke Fest, and about the time the red-hot poker began jabbing me in the side, I called the Ask-A-Nurse number on the back of my medical insurance card. Unwilling to diagnose over the phone, she did agree that with my symptoms, my plan to go to the ER was warranted.

By emergency room standards, a faulty appendix was quickly pinpointed as my central ailment, with dehydration secondary – a blown-out vein from several attempts to establish an IV line being their primary clue for that determination, that and half a day of throwing up.

Successful surgery the following morning relieved me of a nasty, little, vestigial structure, and within 24 hours of arriving at the hospital, I was on my way home.

“Morphine I can handle, but give me codeine, and I see yellow bats,” and with that I tipped back the last sip of my blonde roast.

*True story… I spent Christmas 2009 in the hospital having my diseased appendix removed. The sickest, and most pain I’ve ever experienced. Natural child-birth was less miserable. I also do hallucinate if I take codeine. A red, frowny-face sticker is on my medical chart warning against the drug reaction.

Master's Class

Inspired by Kelle Groom’s “I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl ” – “Morphine makes me weightless, airborne.”

12 replies »

  1. yuck, the lemon pledge is a good enough reason to avoid it. i hate all of it, codeine, too. love the detail in your piece here, though, the conversation between friends. well done.

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  2. I can almost taste that lemony polish… what a story, and well told. I love your closing with the codeine and yellow bats. Sounds like a good opening line…for the next story

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  3. I have been extremely lucky to not be hospitalized for ANYTHING beyond childbirth. I don’t like drugs hence why I went drug-free for both kids :) That weird feeling of not being “there” frightens me.

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  4. I don’t think I’ve ever had morphine. I’ve never heard of the lemon taste before!

    What a miserable way to spend Christmas. I’m glad you got to the hospital before things got really bad. Sounds like you put up with your symptoms longer than you should have as it is.

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  5. I spent 9 days in morphine hell after a car accident, and you’re right, it does leave a “taste” in your mouth. You’re still in pain, it’s just that you don’t care about it. On the outside looking in….

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