Hamster Cardiology, Rabbit Euthenasia and Synthetic Pain Management

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When I was a kid, somewhere between the ages of 8 and 10, I performed surgery on a hamster. I removed worms from its pericardium, and put them on a slide.
I still have the slide.

Now, dear reader, I suspect you have some questions. I mean, that first line is upsetting in itself. And yet, not too surprising; little kids are known to do such things. They torture bugs: burning ants, dissecting beetles, and tearing the wings off of flies. They take apart little things like frogs and minnows. All of this of course is done generally out of curiosity, and only occasionally out of psychopathy. Most little kids don’t even get the significance of their actions and feel that perhaps they can glue the little things back together and everything will be okay.

So that last bit there about pericardia and slides must have really thrown you.

Would it help if I mentioned the hamster was part of a laboratory trial, and the laboratory in question was at Harvard University, and that the entire procedure – from sedating the little guy (which I remember to this day as being a strange combination of horrifying and cute) to the surgery and subsequent staining of the slide sample was all done under the supervision of one of the head researchers in the trial?

What was I doing in a major experimental research laboratory after hours performing life saving surgery on a cute hamster? I DON’T KNOW.

Well, I sort of know, but it’s not really important. What is important is that this really happened and it would go on to support a long held belief in my family that by now I would be a doctor or a veterinarian and I’d be successful and happy and at the very least smart and stable. Well aren’t I a colossal disappointment?

I think however, the most significant thing about this particular childhood incident is the fact that whenever I replay events in my mind, I imagine that the hamster in question is clothed. I believe this has everything to do with how it reacted when it was going under sedation: it rose up on two legs, then sunk down into a very human-like sitting position – on it’s rump with it’s little back legs stuck out straight in front of it and it’s tail sticking up in the back. Its jaw dropped open in a dumbfounded sort of way, its tail drooping, before finally falling onto its back – hind legs in the air.

Despite how human and adorable my rodent patient, I had no trouble going through with the procedure. I followed every direction, did not get ‘grossed out’, and later I found the worms on the slide endlessly fascinating. I was remote, practical, professional and clinical. And I was still in primary school.

So fast forward some decades later to last summer, when I woke to find an amazingly horrific sight: my ancient rabbit (we suspect him to have been at least fourteen earth years in age), Killer, was in a condition so awful I can’t say here what it was. Let’s just say that it was so disgusting that when I FREAKED THE FUCK OUT and ran for help NO ONE BELIEVED ME. It was so unimaginably awful all I could keep saying was “Why is he still alive?”

This prompted the urgent and immediate necessity to put him out of his misery. And I, as the only person in the house not in cowardly denial, was the obvious one tasked to do it. So I tried and found that I couldn’t; I just couldn’t. I don’t know why exactly. It needed to be done, it was the merciful thing to do, and I knew this. I cried and I vomited and then I cried and vomited some more but I couldn’t do it. I even went so far as to try and poison him with prescription painkillers but (not surprisingly) he wouldn’t drink or eat anything. I didn’t know what to do.

I often wonder what happened to me between then and now – between hamster and bunny – that made me change. Especially when you consider how absolutely shitty life has been to me. I mean, why am I suddenly kinder and not a serial killer? Where did I go wrong? Why couldn’t that clinical, in control reserve that allowed me to cut into a hamster as a child help me now? I mean, I call it up more often then you’d think. So why, when I needed it the most did it fail me?

When bad shit happens I’m usually the only one in the room with their head on straight. Be it driving somewhere with Mum when lost, calling 911 when someone needs emergency care (and riding in the ambulance), taking everyone’s shit when someone dies – I’m the one who keeps everything together. And seeing as I have an awesome case of panic disorder, this is really saying something.

I keep finding myself wishing I could tap into that clinical 8-to-10-year-olds’ magical detachment. I think these days it would really help.

Ultimately BB put Killer down, and it’s been a few weeks since my last nightmare about it. But I can’t help but wonder and question, all the time, why I was so weak.

So…

I have to take vicodin more often. It makes me write the BEST blag posts ever. Really.

Yeah, so I’m on painkillers. WOOO! Or, if you’re me: woo.
I hate being on drugs. I don’t like feeling out of control of my brain – understandable, especially when you consider it’s all I’ve really got going for me.

Last Friday I spent in the ER at a not-so-local local hospital, and after a few hours of agony where they determined I was not in fact a drug-seeker, they gave me an intravenous cocktail of painkillers and antiemetics which was just… awful. Granted, it dropped my pain level from a 7 to a 5 and at one point a 4.

This is the World's Most Accurate Pain Chart. Possibly the ONLY accurate pain chart. It was created by Allie Brosh. (Please don't sue me.)

I borrowed this from Allie Brosh (please don’t sue me). It is the World’s Most Accurate Pain Chart. Possibly the ONLY accurate pain chart.

But it also did a few awesomely shite things like give me mushmouth and make me a bastion of profundity, dropping such gems as: “I hate my hair now. It’s not fair that my hair can’t be purple anymore.” (Tear slips down cheek).

When they put it in the IV, and then into me, it HURT. And I mean, it was like suddenly hot lead was being poured through my arm, across my shoulders, out my other arm and down through my head into my neck. It physically felt as though a great hot weight was suddenly forcing me down. And the taste in the back of my throat was awful.

After they sent me home I spent the night having crazy fucking vivid dreams and hallucinations. I literally could not tell awake from asleep, and I couldn’t do anything about it but ride it out. This resulted in my not taking ANYTHING for the crazy pain – that is nowhere near resolved – for the next few days. Not an unreasonable reaction under the circumstances.

Unfortunately I can’t keep up the pain side of things, and have succumbed to the prescription I was sent home with.
Right now I’m just trying to head the pain off at the pass until some better plan arises. I am taking the ‘conquering a migraine approach’.

So that’s been fun…

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