Still Recovering: A Junkie Confession by Kerin Sommer

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boiling-pot-of-waterThe nurse is prepping me for my procedure, an upper endoscopy, and I inquisitively ask him, “How are you going to sedate me? Because I read that sometimes people remain awake for this procedure.” But what I am really asking is, “How are you going to sedate me?—because I’ve been fantasizing about the possibility of an opiate-based IV rush for days.”

He wouldn’t suspect this; I am too healthy, too happy, too pretty, white and well-spoken to be drug-seeking.

The nurse answers with the names of two drugs. The first I’ve never heard of but hope to be a benzo. The second is Fentanyl. Just the recognition of the name, the queen of synthetic opioids, fills me with anticipation, guilt, and fear. Anticipation because I fucking love Fentanyl. Guilt because I feel that I should confess this to the nurse. That somehow I am manipulating him by pretending to be naive to the name. And fear because I fucking love Fentanyl. I feel that I shouldn’t be doing this. I drift off with a mantra marching through my head: don’t say anything, don’t say anything, don’t say anything. This is in hopes of overriding any drug-induced impulses I might have of clearing my conscience and simultaneously branding myself an addict for the entire duration of my relationship with this gastroenterologist.

Becoming lucid in the recovery room, I immediately think: This feels good. This feels soooo good. It takes about six hours for me to feel the regret. Standing at the stove, boiling water, I feel weak and heavy. The euphoria is gone and the anesthetic cocktail hangover is setting in. I think to myself: Good. This feels bad. Remember this.

At 2:30 a.m. I wake up with the nerves in my arms screaming at me. Just as I awoke in the recovery room and intuitively recognized the numbing warmth, I recognize the restlessness of withdrawal. Am I dreaming? Am I really feeling this? I can’t be feeling withdrawal from one dose. No, it’s not real withdrawal. It is my body screaming, “I want more!” My body hasn’t forgotten. Eight years, one marriage, two children and a designer dog later, my body still remembers.

kerin-sommerBorn and bred in almost-working-class Detroit, Kerin Sommer has been assimilating to suburban motherhood in northern Virginia for nearly a decade. Slowly losing her central eyesight to a rare degenerative retinal disease has her looking inward for vision and remembering that creative nonfiction has always been her connection to, and often her escape from, the rest of the world. She’s learning how to Tweet: @KerinSommer.

  11 comments for “Still Recovering: A Junkie Confession by Kerin Sommer

  1. Powerful and so true had surgery myself in Dec and was afraid to take any of the meds they gave me for pain. didn’t know if it was the pain or my wanting to use. Thank God for healthy fear

  2. When I experience a euphoric recall type reaction by simply reading, I am experiencing the epitome of writing. Well done, well done.

  3. Powerful! I realized after I had finished that I held my breath through most of the essay. You had me there. I was feeling it, too. Well done!

  4. This piece is riveting, so much so, that I don’t want it to end. Beautifully done, and so honest. Thank you for sharing something personal, and provoking. Loved it!

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