Reader experiences: Demerol horror story

Hey folks. Here's a story:

My experience with Demerol

When I was 14 years old, it was determined that I required a spinal fusion to correct a congenital birth defect with one of my vertebrae. (Congentical kyphosis, for those interested.) The operation itself went ok, with the possible exception that the instrumentation failed near the end of the surgery and they had to extend the fusion down one slot, resulting in only 2 vertebrae left to do my bending for me for the rest of my life. (The Xrays now, 20 years later, are not pretty. Not pretty at all.)

In any case, after the surgery, Demerol was selected as the pain killer of choice. After administration, about 10 minutes later, I basically had a low-grade heart attack. I had heart fibrillation, and they called in a heart specialist who managed to keep me alive for the short term, while I was off day-tripping some near-death light-at-the-end experience.

They determined that I had an extremely adverse reaction to the Demerol. As a result, they decided to eliminate all pain killers from my system for 48 hours, and then start me on straight morphine (mmmmm...smack...), since almost no one rejects the GOOD stuff. Now, my spine had been flayed open literally, metal clamps screwed down all over the place, and bone scraped from my hip to cover the instrumentation and start my body completing the fusion by itself. And staples to close it all up. With no pain killers.

48 hours.

My parents learned every single bad word I ever knew, and some I even made up. The ICU was in a children's hospital, and for some weird reason they had these recessed little panels right above each bed, with Biblical scenes of smurfs in them. (Seriously. I checked later. This is not the lack-of-smack talking.) I talked to Papa Smurf as he loaded the smurfs 2-by-2 on to the Ark. I warned him about flood plains, levees, and the force of water and riptides. I urged him to get a move-on or everyone was gonna' die. The nurses and my family had no idea what I was talking about. They assumed I had lost my mind.

I only remember a few things, one of which was this: I remember waking up, feeling like I had been in that bed for days and days and days. I looked over and a nurse was there, next to my bed. I asked her what day it was. She asked me what day I thought it was. (Grrrrrr...) The operation was on Sunday, so I thought I'd be conservative and say "Tuesday" even though it had to be Thursday at the earliest. She got this very sad look on her face and said "No, I'm sorry, it's been three minutes since the last time you woke up and asked me that very same question."

This pain would never, ever, ever, ever, ever end.

But, of course, it did, and they gave me morphine, and everything was coolio after that.

Not the best way to discover that Demerol will kill you...

- Trey

1 chemically inspired comments:

Anonymous said...

That is a bad but amusing story. I had a near death expirience with some meds as well. After they found out I was allergic, they gave me a new prescription that I filled through an foreign online pharmacy and everything was cool after that.