Speed = Distance Over Time

Okay class, pencils down. I’m going to hit you with the truth really quick – the truth that your teachers probably never taught you in your classes. I’m talking about the real equation for calculating speed. Sure, technically yes speed can be calculated with the distance between two set points divided by the amount of time taken to travel from point A to point B. But, as I learned in the hospital, speed can easily be summed up with two letters: IV.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and in no way reflect the level of addiction of one Jillian Procope. Examples of medication received within this article are only examples and responses are exaggerated for comedic emphasis. They should not be utilized in real-world situations without proper medical supervision as they are based only on very limited and biased experiences. Do not try this at home.

Well, now that we’ve got that out of the way, I need to explain the basic science behind an IV, and why it is I think they’re quite the magical invention. You see, with an IV, the medication you need is transported directly into your bloodstream. Signed, sealed, delivered. This means two things:

  1. That you usually don’t have to wait forever and a day (note: fifteen minutes) in order for the medication to dissolve in your stomach and, by the grace of your digestive system, enter your blood in order to take effect.
  2. There’s really no need for swallowing any pills.

Let me tell you, as a very strong anti-pill person since the day I was born, reason number two was very appealing to me. When I first entered the hospital at nineteen-years-old, I had the pill-swallowing ability of a four-year-old. And honestly, a four-year-old probably could have done better than I could. In fact, there were many times when I would put off relief from a bad headache just to avoid taking even those small Tylenol pills. With an IV in, the medication went right into your bloodstream and you could pretty much feel its effect almost instantly. The medicine went in, pushed by a little pump machine which counted down the amount of time it took for all of the medication to go in, and once it was finished, a flush of saline would be pushed to clear the remaining liquid from the IV line. Let me tell you, as soon as that saline flush goes through, there’s a wave that takes over your whole body depending on what kind of medicine you just received. You can feel it from your head to your toes. This was instant gratification on the highest level, especially when the chemo-induced nausea rolled around. It’s an interesting choice, but when you feel nauseas at Hopkins, they give you either Benadryl or Ativan to combat it.

C’mon, Jillian. Who knows what kind of medication you were on, clearly you’re mistaking Ativan, an anti-anxiety medicine, for something totally different.

Nope.

Ativan it was, and boy was it strong. And when you add Benadryl, a medicine that, even in pill form, is known to knock people out, I was druuuunk. Both of these, in the beginning, were the equivalent of a 21st birthday’s shenanigans each and every time they were injected into my bloodstream. I’m talking hallucinations, nonsensical ramblings – the whole nine yards – before I would be subsequently knocked out cold for a good four to six hours.

This brings me to the first time I met my new best friend. At the time, I was suffering through mucositis, mouth sores caused by the chemo that made it impossible for me to eat and drink without pain. I was given morphine to combat the pain, but I had to be strategic about it and plain out my meals so that I had time to ask my nurse for it, wait for the pharmacy to send it up to the oncology unit (which sometimes took ages), wait for the pump to push it through and the medicine to take effect. Then one day, my IV pole got an upgrade, a makeover of sorts, and my metal boyfriend emerged rejuvenated and ready to better serve our relationship. A self-directed pain pump. This little box was like something straight out of my chemo-enhanced dreams: filled with pain medication and equipped with a little remote for me to click anytime I felt like I needed a little boost. And, because it was directed through my IV, the relief was almost instant; no more waiting on pharmacy or nurses. Heaven. Unfortunately, our relationship was one of the on-and-off variety, and was not made to last outside of Hopkins’ walls unless I wanted to make a brief stint on an intervention-type television show sometime in the future, but I still look back on our cherished eight months together with fondness (and IIIIIIIeyIIIIII will always love youuuuu).

Around the same time as my magical medicinal-based revelations, I was started on routine visits with the in-house psychiatric team. Now, I myself have had some experience with a little anxiety throughout my life, and I’d even experienced my very first full-blown panic attack just a month prior (which apparently can be caused not only by anxiety but when your body is trying to tell you something serious is going down. Sorry inner me, I missed the heads up). However, I did not think that any of this history warranted a daily visit from the psych team. I’d seen One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest during my senior year of high school; I was nowhere near Jack Nicholson status (yet…). They – I mean the nurses, not psych – explained to me that it’s only natural for anyone in my situation to feel a little anxiety throughout the process, so psychiatry was there to just offer a listening ear if I needed.

Which, I didn’t need.

Maybe I would have been more open to speaking to the psych team if they didn’t show up at 7:30 every morning. The first person I met was a petite Indian woman – a resident – who was very timid and hesitant when she wasn’t with her attending Doctor. Every morning, deep from the abyss of my subconscious, I would hear the faint creak of the door as she entered, then I would be awoken by, “Hello, Jillian, how are you feeling today?”

Then…nothing. Whether or not I actually answered her, she would just stand there and stare at me. Maybe a nod of acknowledgement if I said I was doing fine, but other than that it was just completely silent. I’m not sure what deep, emotional responses she was pulling from the far recesses of my mind telepathically, but after a few words muttered from my mom on my behalf, she would leave and I would happily roll back over to continue my pleasant dreaming (sometimes with an extra click of the pain pump to get through the painful conversation). And so it continued every morning for my first inpatient stay – all 30 days or so.

“How are you feeling today, Jillian?”

*Crickets*

 

I wonder what she would have said if I told her of my obsession infatuation with my pain pump.

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2 thoughts on “Speed = Distance Over Time

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