Absinthe, laudanum, and embroidery.

Happy Walpurgisnacht everyone, hope that you’ve got fire and greenery and goodness.

That this has taken me three days to get around to probably says something about the, erm, curative powers of morphine.

On Monday, I woke up with my back in such a mess that I made Dearest late for work, because I couldn’t be left alone. When trying to explain pain, I usually use a scale where a twisted ankle that you can’t walk on is “one”, and an infected abscess that’s been festering for six months and pushed the tooth out of the jaw at a right-angle is “ten”. This was about a nine, which is alarming to wake up to, and even more alarming when it doesn’t start to recede upon moving. Shifting my weight didn’t help it, having my back massaged didn’t help it, standing up and trying to walk resulted in red and silver stars in front of my eyes, then fainting. Something was badly wrong. Unpon getting back to bed I immediately took my morning slow-release morphine, then a second dose of slow-release, then twenty minutes later a double of Oramorph. Forty milligrams. This is not a lot, over the course of a day, but this is a metric fuck-tonne over the course of twenty minutes. That was at about 8am. I settled in with an audiobook of The Master And Margarita, my trusty mala (Used more like a komboloi than like a rosary) and waited for hell to stop.

Hell stopped, I think, by about ten. My eyelids got heavy, and I struggled to stay awake and focussed on the story (Pontius Pilate was determining whether Bar-Rabban or Ha-Nosri would be executed, whilst struggling against his damned migraines), but that didn’t matter because everything was soft and pleasant and every time I let myself drift my mind filled in the story with a mixture of what I remembered from the book and brightly-coloured hallucinogenic nonsense, which I enjoyed immensely. The sheets (Cotton satin, decotrated with silk-thread satinstitch) were a fascinating collection of temperatures and textures, and them shifting on my skin as I breathed became the overriding sensation which drowned out the pain. The twitching slowed, then faded out to nothing, and I was able to exist without wishing for a swift and mallety death.

At about one in the afternoon I realised that time had passed (Woland and his retinue were on stage at the Variety, silk dresses were fluttering, severed heads were flying through the air) and that I had an absolutely overwhelming urge to be sick – You’ll understand that, up to this point, I hadn’t moved a muscle all day; Not to eat, not to piss, not to attend to my damaged limbs. I sat up, cold sweat running down my face, epiglottis straining like a squid on a harpoon. Sitting up made me queasy. Lying down made me queasy. Moving from position to position felt like being on the North Sea ferry. Having my eyes open made matters worse. The sound of the dog breathing made it worse. Being wrapped in a blanket made it worse, as did being cold. I had a bucket (Thoughtfully prepared for such occasions) and I managed to get my face above it. As I moved, I realised that my hips were dislocated, as were my shoulders, and I was supporting myself on things which were ill-equipped to handle my full weight. My eyes streamed, my mouth filled with water brash, and I sat there for a terrible twenty minutes, waiting for my pathetically paralysed stomach to expel its contents upwards. Feeling effectively neat hydrochloric acid slowly pumping up your oesophagus like bubbles in a lava lamp, as you desperately shake your head upside down in an attempt to get it to hurry up, is not something that I’d wish on anyone.

Eventually, the vile stuff was out (pH 1.5 according to my UI paper) and I felt a little better. I lay back down, trying to regain the fuzzy lack-of-being meditative state I had beforehand, but instead just began to fall asleep. I forced myself to wake up for long enough to reshuffle my lax joints – Completely painless due to all the morphine still in my system, but also incredibly difficult due to lack of coordination caused by all the morphine still in my system – then switched off the audiobook and fell asleep.

By the time I awoke it was just after five. I felt, broadly speaking, human again. Well-disposed to everyone around me. Not in tremendous pain. Able to eat some oats and have some tea. A bit sore in the head, but nothing beyond an average headache.

The next morning, my kidneys felt as if I’d spent the previous day fighting bareknuckle with someone faster and stronger than me. As did my eyes, which were basically a mess of bruises. As, again, did my head.

But, christ, it was still better than that back pain.

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