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  • ericaanne

Hiding the Percocets: Part II

Updated: May 27, 2022

The prescriptions were for percocets and another drug used for kidney stones; although I forget which one. I put the prescriptions in my purse. I'd fill the prescription in the morning - or rather, later that morning as it was about 2am by this point. Nick asked the nurse if he could go to the bathroom and she said yes. She helped him out of the hospital bed. Her and I slowly walked him over to the bathroom and he closed the door. As I stood outside the door I started to hear him gasping and whimpering. The sounds quickly turned into yelling.


"I'm peeing straight blood!" he screamed. Nobody had warned him how painful it would be to go to the bathroom after an attempted kidney stone removal.


I felt bad for him. As I stood there listening to him cry out in pain, I thought two things. First, there are bodily fluids (blood) in places where they shouldn't be. Second, I asked myself what I would do if I were in his position at this very moment. My answer: I'd faint.


I immediately started to feel the blood drain from my face. I started to get dizzy and my body took over. I felt myself walking back towards the chair next to Nick's hospital bed. As I started to sit in the chair, my whole world went black. My body went limp and I fainted. As I fell forward, I smacked my head on handrail of the hospital bed.


Nick emerged from the bathroom just as I was fainting.


"Did she just faint?" the nurse asked him.


"Yup."


The next thing I knew, I was looking at the nurse hovering over me and I was being offered apple juice and cookies. I became a patient for the next 30 minutes while my blood pressure and blood sugar stabilized.


We were able to leave a little while later after I reassured the nursing staff that I felt okay to stand and drive. I pulled the car up to the ER entrance while Nick waited. He hobbled into the car.


"Of course this happens to me," he muttered.


"I'm sorry, babe. We'll just have to get it taken out in two weeks," I replied.


"We don't have the money for any of this and they missed it, Erica."


"I know. I'm frustrated by it too. But hey, we both got to be patients tonight and I got free cookies!" I joked, trying to make light of the situation.


He smirked and chuckled, "yeah, definitely our luck."


I got him home and got him into bed. I went back to sleep for a while before waking up to go to the pharmacy.


When I finally got to the pharmacy and handed the woman the prescription, I started worrying about the cost, as I started doing with most things. I handed her the GoodRx card I had found at first urgent care. Money was becoming a huge stressor and even a small, unexpected $30 expense was sending me through the roof. I reluctantly handed her my credit card, knowing it was almost maxed out, and hoped it would work. It did. After she explained how to take the medications, I turned and headed for the car. Once I sat down, I took the medications out of the bag and immediately put them in my purse. There was no way I was letting Nick have open access to them. I decided then that I'd be administering them to him over the next couple of weeks.


This meant that I took the meds with me to work every day. I would walk into the clinic and hope nobody would hear them rattling around in my purse and think I had a pill problem. Nick wasn't able to work during those weeks, either, because he couldn't treat patients under the influence of narcotics. He took this as an opportunity to play video games even more than he already was. Every time I came home, he was either sleeping or playing video games. That's all he did for two weeks straight.


I continued to worry about what Nick would do while I was sleeping, whether that was taking percocets or driving up to a mountain road in the middle of the night. So, I'd put his keys and medications in my purse and put my purse next to the bed, trying to ensure that I'd hear him if he went rummaging through my purse while I slept. Every little noise in the night would wake me.


Nick also started to develop a habit of waking me in the middle of the night, almost every night, to tell me, "today is my last day on earth. I can't do this anymore." I would try to diffuse the situation and calm his thoughts, then I'd scratch his back. Scratching his back seemed to be the only thing that was somewhat effective in calming him down in the middle of the night. But no matter what I tried, nothing was enough to calm him down permanently. We would always end up in the same spot: with Nick waking me up in the middle of the night describing ways he wanted to kill himself. It felt like we kept going in circles; tired and draining circles.


Those two weeks before his final surgery were also filled with financial stress. Not only were we in tons of medical debt, but we were now only living off of one paycheck. I started to watch our bank account dwindle and as we got closer to March, and I started to realize that we weren't going to make rent.


Nick finally went in for his final surgery to have the stone removed. The woman in the billing office told us that if we paid for the surgery in cash today and didn't go through insurance, we'd get a significant discount and only have to pay $4500. I had an extra credit card linked to my Canadian bank accounts that had just enough space to cover the surgery. I reluctantly handed her the card, knowing this was the last of our financial wiggle room. After this, all of our credit cards would be maxed out. She swiped it, had us sign a few documents, and then told us to head upstairs to wait.


When they called Nick back, I gave him a kiss goodbye and wished him luck. The end of the hallway had a window with a beautiful view of the mountains. "At least there's a view like this I can appreciate under these circumstances," I thought to myself while I hoped for a better outcome to this surgery.

View from the hospital

This procedure was quick, just like the last. They were successful this time and Nick was in better spirits when they called me back to see him. He was still in pain from the procedure, but he was just happy the ordeal was over with. They told me he would probably still need a few days to recover and might still need some medications to help with the pain. Rent was still looming over our heads, so I was hoping he'd be able to return to work faster than that, but I had no such luck. They sent us on our way and Nick returned home to do more of the same: sleeping and playing video games.


When I got back to work, my boss pulled me into his office and told me they'd pay Nick for a week of work. I nearly cried as I walked back to my office. They had no idea how much we needed the money. We'd have a roof over our heads for another month.


We were now heading into March 2020 and we had no clue what was coming for us next, but the news was telling us a virus was starting to impact Colorado.

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