February 17th, 2011

dr horrible pain is like

Would you like to play a game?

Wink: In the west, gameshows reward knowledge. Ours punish ignorance!
Homer: Ignor-what?

One of the interesting things about having a cycle of interests is that if you wait long enough, what's old becomes new again. Add this to the fact that when it comes to tv shows, there actually is new content if you wait long enough and it's almost like finding unexpected treasure. After all, once you catch up on a show there really isn't much you can do other than wait and I'm not one of those people who likes to follow anything over the long term episode by episode. In fact, that generally drives me nuts and I try to avoid it whenever possible. It's almost like hoarding in a way. It's better to slowly amass a huge pile of bounty that you can slowly consume over time or gorge upon in a bacchanal orgy of gluttony. It probably gives you a couple of glimpses into my personality there.

Given all that, it was a happy surprise that I was reminded of various reality shows and searched through the wiki pages for several to find new seasons since the last time I had looked. Most notably, there was a new and potentially last season of Solitary. Apparently the demise of the Fox Reality channel means that any future seasons are unlikely at best which is a shame. Solitary is everything grand about a reality show. It's almost Japanese-like as the entire purpose seems to be to watch people suffer. All it's missing is a sarcastic host doing the voice over and a panel of snarky celebrity commentators and it could be running in Japan right now.

The basic concept is this: 9 people choose to enter solitary confinement in little pods which are approximately 10x10 wherein they are experimented upon by a computer named VAL, a female and only slightly less murderous version of HAL. Begin with sleep and food deprivation and then add various treatments causing pain, discomfort, frustration, or the urge to vomit. Contestants can quit the treatment at any time but the first to do so is kicked out of the game and passes on the chance to earn $50,000 if they are the last person standing. Since all of the contestants are isolated in their own pods and never actually see one another, they have no clue whether someone else has already quit and a good portion of the game involves needless suffering. Examples of treatments involve having do strenuous exercise in a full body monkey suit in between rounds of eating bananas. It sounds easy at first but after the 15th banana mixed with sweltering ground pounds/running laps and it soon becomes torturous. The best part, of course, is that both the viewers and the contestants know that they can quit at any time. There's no necessity to go through some of the insane and, frankly, Saw-like treatments other than their own determination to continue. No matter what you think about reality shows in general, Solitary is pretty damn hardcore both in the severity of the treatments and in the relatively lackluster prize. How many people do you know who would repeatedly smack themselves with a wooden paddle, hundreds upon hundreds of times, and to the point of welts just for the chance to possibly win 50,000? I've said before that I would have let Michael Jackson fuck me in the ass for a million dollars but for a 1 in 9 chance at $50,000? I'm not nearly as gungho.

In the beginning, I had the same reaction to Solitary that I had upon seeing a lot of Japanese game shows. That I couldn't believe it was even on the air considering how likely lawsuits were. I consider it a minor miracle that I've never heard of some attempted litigation since the show seems geared completely toward breaking people. True, they willingly inflict the damage upon themselves but when has a sense of self-responsibility ever entered our legal system? This is a country where burglars trip on crap inside houses they illegally enter, sue for damages, and win.

Anyway, I recommend Solitary for anyone who hasn't seen it yet. The treatments are fiendishly clever at times and it's certainly one game show where it's hard to honestly say you think you could do better.
sign handicapped parking

Hello Darkness, my old friend

Things have not been hunky dorey lately. Right around the time that I stopped updating the live journal I ran headfirst into a pain relapse which has stretched on and on. It's always hard to judge, but I would say that this is probably the worst run I've had so far and it caused a lot of problems. First and foremost, it caused a huge run on my stockpile of pills. Ever since the early days when I first started having problems, I've always tried to hoard opiates whenever I managed to run across them. It's no wonder considering that I often had doctors who were very reluctant to prescribe anything. I still remember telling one about the pain issues and having her write me a 'script for horse pills of ibuprofen. Considering I was already downing around a handful of those a day on my own, I was less than impressed with her treatment regimen. Still, back then it was possible to eek out a dollop of Tylenol-3 here or a dash of small perc'ies there. To make sure that I would have enough in a pinch and for the end times, I tried to hoard whatever I could.

That continued even after I managed to get a steady supply and if I wasn't completely miserly about it, I still tried to save whenever possible. I certainly never took more pills if I wasn't currently in pain, unless it was a preventative situation where I knew I would have to actually leave the house or needed to be sure I was able to function. Each pill saved was a pill earned and went into the stash. It was a lucky thing I had my nest egg too, since the equivalent of the market crash hit several months ago. In addition to just a worsening of the pain situation I also ran into a drug reformulation problem.

It's a well-known fact that there are many, many crackheads out there who take oxycontin to get high. It's no wonder that it's known as hillbilly heroin and that, for a time, people would rob and shoot pharmacists to get their fix. To mute the outrage of anti-drug crusaders, the company which makes oxycontin undertook a reformulation of the drug which would make it harder to abuse. In the past, all a crackhead would need to do is to crush the pills with a spoon, mix it in water, and inject it into their vein of choice. What the reformulation did was make it so that the pills are harder to crush and turn into a viscous gel when placed in water instead of dissolving. While this made life harder for addicts, it also had a side-effect in reducing the effective dose of the drug. It no longer acted as fast, nor as well, though supposedly it would last a bit longer than it used to. I started having pain issues where my pills no longer seemed to work as well as they used to right around the time of the reformulation. I just assumed it was a down cycle in the normal ups and downs of my situation, and it never occurred to me that the changes in the drug itself might be contributing to the problem. That is, until my sister the pharmacist mentioned how all the local crackheads who visit her pharmacy for their fix were complaining about the new drugs and requesting the old ones left in stock. Unbeknownst to me, she had funneled as much of the old stuff as she had to me but eventually the supply ran dry and I was hit with the switchover too. That was when the stockpile came into play.

If you think about it, it's sort of like the parable of the grasshopper and the ant with the difference being if I had actually followed all my doctor's instructions about when to take my pills, I would have had none left over for the harsh winter ahead. I was able to keep things under check by popping pills from my stash during periods of breakthrough pain. It still wasn't a pleasant time by any means since I was still experiencing way more pain than normal, but at least it wasn't absolutely horrific. The problem I had was that my stash, no matter how big it seemed, was finite and I was bleeding through it at a terrible rate. Things weren't getting any better and it didn't seem like I could simply wait out a bad spell. The bad spell wasn't a spell; it had become the new normal. That meant that I had to get more drugs somehow. Of course, that's easier said than done.

I only have a doctor's appointment with the pain specialist once every 2 months and no doctor ever seems to want to pass out more opiates willy nilly for fear of creating another crackhead. That being the case, it took a couple of visits to convince him that something more was needed, and even then it was a half step. I had been taking 20mg of the oxycontin 3-times a day but now I also have a 10 mg supplement twice a day. That makes the total daily dose 80mg instead of 60mg, a 33% increase. Considering that I had already been popping the oxycodone I had like it was candy, it probably wasn't an effective dose increase as much as it was stopping or slowing the drain on what little I had left of the stash. Even as it stands now, pain is a constant issue multiple times a day and there's not much to do other than to try to grit through it. There are still stretches where everything is fine, but stormclouds now loom on a daily basis. I have no idea if tolerance or just a general deterioration in the pain situation is to more to blame but it's certain that things suck more than they used to. It's hard to know whether things will ever improve again or if this is the new normal. Considering that it's been at least 4-5 months now, chances are good it's the latter rather than the former.