Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The cough syrup inquiry

As most people know, I have not partaken or indulged in any intoxicants since the year 1993. This was a monumental decision for me as I have a strong addiction to alcohol. I've been told that in my Irish-American heritage it is actually referred to as "the sickness." Anyhow, I stopped cold-turkey and have never looked back. I don't casually drink either, as somehow I feel that my participation in social drinking would lead me back to a full-blown 12 pack a night habit. So with exception to prescribed pharmaceuticals, I have been intoxicant free for 11 years and some months...but there was that one night in college....

To set the stage appropriately I must provide a bit of background: I was taking a general anatomy course and studying between two and four hours a night on that course alone. I was cross referencing the illustrations to the reading material and back again to the lab sheets. At this point in my studies we were learning the circulatory system, the names and locations of blood vessels and such. . .

There is a drinking game called "asshole" and though I do not remember how the dynamics of the game proceed, I do recall that it is usually played with alcoholic beverages. And that there is someone, the president I think, that is in charge of saying to the rest of the players "drink, asshole!" Alas I played this game one night after having visited the local infirmary for a semi-serious cough. Seeing as I had no desire to drink alcohol, and still wanted to join in, I allowed myself to be convinced to drink cough syrup. The first bottle (only 8 ounces, thankfully) went down in about 45 minutes. I couldn't really feel the effects after just one bottle, though my throat did feel quite soothed and my mouth had that lingering sweet syrupy feel to it.

After another round of "asshole" the second bottle was drained and I was quite hyper, feeling energetic and just a tiny bit disoriented and dizzy. The third bottle was about halfway drained before I decided "to hell with it, I'm finishing this thing even if the game is over." I drink it down as if it was the sweetest elixir known to man.

My head began to swim, my pulse raced, I coulc barely stand still as the active ingredients had their way with me. After another hour or so of hanging out with my friends I decided to return to my dorm room. My roommate immediately knew I was a bit intoxicated and kept pressing me for answers as to what I had been drinking or smoking. I told him "I'm not drunk, I'm medicated..." and I continued my stumbling, rambling ways for about 45 minutes. So as I lay down to attempt sleep my head was spinning, as was the room. I dropped off to a very troubled sleep...

I vividly remember my dream that night, though it might better be classified as an hallucination. I was walking through a cavernous artery peering closely at the structure of the arterial wall, noticing where the smaller arteries branched off, the capillaries and such. From around the darkened corner I felt a vibration, as if an army was marching towards me. I also heard a song, the theme from the cartoon "Mighty Mouse." "Here I come to save the day!." My confusion broke long enough for me to see a formation of elongated white blood cells swaying from right to left, "marching" past me.

A phone call aroused me from my hallucination at about 7am, I proceeded to the dining hall and related the entire episode to my friend as I played with my food while he ate.

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