The ER was over an hour away, but my husband made it there just under one hour.
From my hunched over position in the waiting room, I looked at shoes. I'm not a shoe fan so much as I'm fascinated with people.
As a young girl, I used to read the obituaries in the newspaper -not in a morbid way, but in a "what was their story?" kind of way. I loved it when the senior citizens that had passed on had pictures of their youthful selves next to their obituary.
I especially loved the old pictures of war time soldiers.
One pair of shoes walked by... they were my shoes. I had a pair exactly like them at home, and they were my favorite. I'd bought them ages before in high school because my mom thought they were ugly. I'd worn them on the first date I had with my now-husband.
And there. On the sleek hospital tile in front of me were my shoes. I braved the pain to heighten my gaze... who would wear the same shoes? They looked exactly like brick red bowling shoes.
It was a very old, concerned grandmother sporting a walker and a sea foam green muumuu.
I was proud, in a way. And I wondered about her -her story, why she was there, why she was wearing my shoes...
Minutes later, I was in a hospital bed.
"On a scale of one to ten, how is your pain?" A doctor asked.
"Ten," I said, scrunched up in the bed, "It feels like labor... only I don't get a fun prize in the end."
"She's just kidding," my husband kindly said what I was too tired to say.
"Oh," the doctor nodded.
"We're going to give you some morphine," a nurse said.
I'd never had morphine before. Heck, I hardly bothered with Advil. My body is so sensitive to anything I put in it, I have to steer clear of Dr. Pepper unless there's monthly crampiness involved.
"You just had a baby?" Another nurse asked.
"Yeah," I started to cry. Coming off that pregnancy hormone is no joke.
"You're going to need to pump..."
And that's when it hit.
Warmth. It started in my head and moved methodically down the length of my body to my toes.
"Are you feeling that?" The first nurse asked.
"Yeah," I think I said. Did I? Did I say it? or did I just think it? My body relaxed. I rolled over on my back and the tension in my entire body melted away.
They said something about wheeling me to a room.
What was that about tucking my arms in? Oh, good. Someone did it for me.
My bed started moving. Doors started opening. My husband was there, so I was okay. I knew if he was there, talking, I would be okay.
They wanted to move me into a hospital bed... they need me to move. Am I? Am I doing it? Are they helping me? My husband's hands were there, so I knew I was okay.
We're going to need to put a catheter in.
We're going to leave you with the pump.
Would you like some water?
I just stared at the wall. Do whatever you want to me, Nurse Lady. Rough me up, medicate me, roll me to the ground, throw rotten tomatoes at my hospital gown... I don't care.
I don't feel.
My husband brushed back my hair, kissed my head, apologized because he was about to leave.
...just have to get the kids squared away and I'll be right back...
and then he was gone.
The Nurse came back.
Are you feeling all right?
Would you like some water?
Do you want the television on or off?
The door opened or closed?
I just stared at the wall. Didn't answer. I wasn't awake. I wasn't asleep. I couldn't FEEL anything. I couldn't THINK about anything (first time in my life). I was alive, but I wasn't living.
There was a voice nearby. Another patient. A man. He was talking incessantly. No one was talking back.
He was making a call, maybe?
His voice was my white noise, and I heard him but I didn't listen to him.
As the day ended and night came, my husband was by my side again and the pain returned.
"Would you like some more morphine?" the nurse asked.
"YES!" I said, "So you better give me something else..."
After coming out of my morphine-induced euphoria I realized that morphine and I liked each other WAY too much to ever "just be friends." It would be an all-or-nothing situation.
And as my husband and I became wrapped up in an episode of "The Big Bang Theory," I was a little upset with myself.
I'd had HOURS that afternoon to listen in on a cell phone conversation -to get to hear someone's STORY. The writer in me loves nothing more than to hear someone else's story, but while the morphine was rolling in my system, the writer was dead.
I still think about morphine. If I close my eyes and concentrate, I can remember the warmth of the drug spreading from my head to my feet... I can remember the feeling of not feeling, not caring, the numbness, the utter bloody numbness...
And I know: Morphine is dangerous unto me, man. Dangerous.
But what if I could get it today? for free? What if it was just waiting in my medicine cabinet?
Would I take it?
Would I take it at the end of a long, hard day? Would I take it when I was stressed? embarrassed? lonely? ashamed? depressed?
What if I could take the emotions and the caring and the living and feeling AWAY -even for just a few minutes? I deserve a reprieve, surely. I might come out the other end feeling worse, but if I've had a break I can handle it better.
Plus... there's always more, right? I mean, it's just sitting there. It's FREE (hypothetically speaking, of course).
And that -reader -is how I came to have compassion on my porn addicted husband.
It all started with a horrible infection and fat dose of morphine (of which I will never take again unless I'm doubled over in unbearable pain and even then -one dose is my absolute limit).
His morphine is free. It's there all. of. the. time.
When he feels any negative emotion, he can wipe it all away for a brief period. He can UNfeel, unplug, and live without being alive.
The side effects of my dose wore off within a few hours. The side effects of his? Reader, please.
Getting rid of those bad boys will take YEARS. The longer he's numbed himself, the more he's reshaped his own brain.
His drug slowly melted his ability to truly feel, to truly live, and then in some warped, twisted, awful turn of events he suddenly found himself NEEDING porn TO feel rather than to not.
Addiction is a beast.
So euphoric, appealing, and beautiful in the beginning.
And then -like Pinocchio's Pleasure Island -it turns on you, physically changing you into an ass.
This picture is the very essence of addiction: the addict staring at himself. The innocent, loving Pinocchio looking into something of a mirror and seeing... THAT.
Some days, I live with an ass.
Some days, I live with a sweet, loving Pinocchio (Growing Nose Syndrome included).
Do I understand him? No, not completely.
But I understand the utter momentary BLISS of numbness, and I cling to remember that -not because All Day I Dream About Morphine, but because it gives me human compassion. It reminds me that our bodies want escape.
It doesn't make it right. It just serves to remind me.
We all have a ride with our name on it on Pleasure Island... Satan has tailored each to our individual tastes, preferences, styles, and interests. They're attractive.
Are they irresistible?
The answer to that question will be what shapes our very beings and lives.
And we can't go around judging the asses on the Roller Coaster (or Crazy Train) when we're comfortably bunked down on the Ferris Wheel, tails wagging in the wind.
We just can't.
And we all have our own addictions. We do. They might seem a little less harsh than explicit sex, but anything that takes our agency away qualifies.
I am riding that Ferris Wheel, man. I've got my brownies and cake and cookie dough (and cavities) and I am flyin' high.
I am a sugar addict.
And I. am an ass.
Are you one too?