Monday, May 11, 2009

Wherein God Bugs Me



I don’t often talk at length here concerning my religious beliefs. Sure, I have no compunction about telling you I’m a Christian, but I rarely go into detail about it. Today will be different. If that bugs you, well, it bugged me over the weekend. Explanation (in detail, as usual) follows.

So, you know I had a whole bunch of teeth plucked last Wednesday, right? There’s some background HERE, if you’re some sort of completist. The short story is that I had most of my lower teeth removed. I’ll be getting implants later on this year. In the meantime, I have a lovely temporary denture glued onto three of my remaining teeth. Here are before and after shots.



I apologize for the "after" shot being so blurry, but nice difference, no? Yes, nice. Comfortable, good-looking, functional – no problems. I’m happy.

I wasn’t so happy the day before the procedure. As a matter of fact, I was rather tense. I knew that going through the procedure wouldn’t be a lot of fun, but I also knew that the best way for me to wrap my head around the whole thing, after the procedure, was if I had some seriously fun drugs to take the edge off. However, in the current hysterical climate, telling your doctor that you want seriously fun drugs to take the edge off will actually tend to reduce your chances of getting them. Odd, that, but true. So, since I didn’t relish the thought of sitting around the house for four days, with mouth pain, in a disgustingly sober condition, I prayed for the seriously fun drugs.

I don’t know how YOU feel about such things, but I generally try to avoid self-serving prayer. My utterly untheologically-divined sense about prayer is that asking things for others is looked upon much more favorably than asking things for yourself. In addition, all requests made in a prayer should probably look to glorify God in some way. Getting blasted wouldn’t usually qualify as a way to raise God’s profile with others. However, I assured God that, if He would see to it that I got a prescription for 20 Percocets, I’d find some way to make it up to Him.

Percocet - generically (and hereinafter in this tale) known as Oxycodone - is a synthesized derivative of Morphine. The actual drug is more notoriously known, in sleazy tabloid headlines, as Oxycontin. It is the drug of choice for junkies who rob drug stores to feed their habit. Oxycontin is the pure stuff, and it fetches a premium price on the street. Oxycodone, on the other hand, is a mixture of Oxycontin and Acetaminophen, a.k.a. Tylenol. Effects of both are similar to Heroin and other opiates: euphoria, drowsiness, and a way cool time as long as you don’t get hooked and wind up sticking a gun in some pharmacist’s ribs in your attempts to get more.

Before my dentist yanked the teeth, I discussed medications for afterward. He felt that a Codeine preparation would probably be enough to take care of the pain. Codeine can be a nice fog to travel in, but the pain-relieving efficacy is about 1/6 that of Oxycodone. I argued, successfully, for the latter. This doctor had been my dance partner in my previous bout with multiple extractions, when I had my uppers done some 7 years back. He had seen what a traumatic experience it had been for me; sweating in the chair, pale, and otherwise in a clinical state of shock. At that time, he had told me that he would have given me a sedative had he known how much it was going to bother me. With that memory in mind, he understood my argument for stronger post-operative medications, and he wasn’t averse to giving me something to make the after-effects as non-stressful as possible. Good, compassionate, logical man, my dentist.

So, I had five teeth out, getting perhaps 8 or 9 stitches in the gums; had 3 other teeth filed down to pointy nubs (to act as posts upon which to glue the temporary prosthesis); and was given a scrip for twenty-four tabs of Oxycodone.

All in all, I consider that a good day. Rotten teeth removed; nice, white teeth in their places; and a four-day buzz starting as soon as I could get the prescription filled, which was within twenty minutes of leaving the dentist’s office.


By the time I got home, the Novocain was rapidly wearing off. I had no desire to experience any pain between the time of its diminution and the onset of the effect of the Oxycodone, so I popped two pills immediately. Then, to be on the safe side, I popped a third five minutes later.

Onset of Oxycodone takes about 20 minutes, with peak efficacy starting somewhere around the one-hour mark, continuing to deliver pain relief (and other nice effects) for 4 to 6 hours in total, depending upon body weight, speed of individual metabolism, and so on. After about a half-hour, I found myself really digging just about EVERYTHING IN THE HOUSE. Very nice, relaxed, with a mellow yawny sort of background drone in my brain at all times. Don’t operate heavy machinery, but enjoying the company of YOUR WIFE, while watching the Celtics beat Orlando in the playoffs? Highly recommended.

*************************************************************

I spent the next two days in a percodanical haze. Scuse me while I kiss the sky.

While it was all very nice, the problem with Ox is that extended use, without adequate sleep, leaves you very shaky. And I mean physically so. The thing is, you know you should get some sleep, and both your body and the functioning part of your brain tell you to go to bed, but things are still so damned interesting that you don’t want to. In addition, when you finally stop moving and put yourself under the covers? Nerve synapses that haven’t been firing go into overdrive. Not pain, mind you; that’s still being taken care of. But you find yourself with twitching legs and mildly itching skin. The itch is pleasant to scratch, but the twitches suck.

Being a person who drank about three pots of coffee, without eating a lot of actual food, did not help to alleviate this condition. I got some sleep, but only in fits and starts. In addition to the twitches and itches, all of the coffee had me getting up to pee every hour or so. I took a short nap the next day, and that helped a little, but I also took more Oxycodone. No complaints, overall, as the waking hours were just fine. No pain, and that’s what I had paid for, but I knew, in the back of my flitting-from-one-subject-to-another-because-all-of-them-were-interesting mind, that getting to sleep again would be a problem that night.

Night came, and I was over-tired. You know the feeling? So tired that you have a long constant yawn going on in your head, but when you lay your head down, and just start to drift off, you tend to wake with a small violent gasp, a sharp intake of breath? There was that, and the twitchy legs and slightly itching skin. I knew I needed to somehow calm myself, otherwise I wouldn’t be any more successful in attaining rest than I had been the previous two nights.

I decided to read a little bit. I picked up a bible study that I’ve been enjoying, written by the late evangelical pastor, Dr. J. Vernon McGee.

Reading from The Word Of God never hurts. In this case, it helped a bit. I was still having some physical shakes, but my head was in a better place. I decided to see if listening to The Word might also be helpful. I slipped a CD into the bedside player. It contained a sermon delivered by Dr. McGee.

(Before you start thinking that I’ve gone off the deep end and put myself in the company of charlatans, let me tell you something about McGee. Not only do I find his teachings enjoyable, and his West Texas drawl entertaining, but he does one thing that no other TV or radio pastor does, and that’s why I’m more-or-less a disciple of his. He NEVER asks for money.)

(Well, let me clarify that. He’s dead. He died back in the 1980’s. So, if he DID ask for money, it would be something of a miracle. The organization he set up prior to his death, Through The Bible, also never asks for money. Sure, if you want to buy a book or a CD, you can. But there is never a broadcast appeal for funds, nor written exhortations via the mail. They are the only ministry I’m aware of with a perfect track record in that regard, so naturally, with my being a contrarian of the first stripe, what dollars I do donate to ministries, they get.)

So, I listened, and got into it somewhat, but still was not peacefully drifting into the arms of Morpheus. Well, actually, since I was taking Oxycodone, it was the arms of Morpheus that were shaking me now and again. I resigned myself to another night of off-and-on sleep. That’s when I heard the small noise.

There are Venetian blinds in the bedroom, thin aluminum ones. And I heard something hit the blinds. Since I had the window open, I assumed a slight breeze was knocking the pull-cord into the slats. I went back to listening to the sermon. Then I heard the noise again, and soon after, again. That’s when I knew that I had a bug in the room with me. It could only be a bug, throwing itself against the window in an attempt to get out, which would have made that noise on such an irritatingly constant basis.

I sat up in bed, turned on the lamp on the nightstand, and looked at the screen. No bug. I looked around the room. There he was, buzzing around fast, bouncing off of every surface available. He hit the blinds a couple more times, but mostly whizzed around near the ceiling, panicked and directionless. Being a bug, he had not devised a systematic approach to his problem. He trusted to blindly flinging himself in random directions, hoping that luck would result in his once again finding the opening he first came through, thus depositing him back outside in the cool night air.

I sighed heavily, I suppose trying to let the bug know my displeasure since no one else was around to hear it. I went and got my Bug Buddy.

Bug Buddy is a marvelous invention for those of us who try to relocate insects rather than just stomping on them. Here’s a picture of one.


You try to put the large end of it, which has a receptacle of sorts, over top of the bug. There’s a lever, built into the handle, which slides a small piece of hard plastic over the opening in the receptacle. Once you trap the bug, you can release him at your leisure. If you’re into such things, you can study him for a while through the clear plastic. I’m more into expediency. I tend to bring the bug outside as soon as I catch him, releasing his sorry bug ass back into the wild.

OK, I got my Bug Buddy and proceeded to chase this bug all over the room. He was moving way too quickly for me to get a real good bead on him. As a matter of fact, he was moving so quickly, bouncing from wall to ceiling to bookshelf to lamp to wall to window to top of a pile of boxes, that I wasn’t even sure what sort of bug he WAS. The configuration definitely wasn’t that of a moth, nor was the speed, but he appeared too small to be a proper bee or wasp. In any case, he was a fast bug and might have had the ability to sting me, so my tracking was also hampered by a fear of being attacked in a fit of buggy panic.

I aimed the Bug Buddy this way and that, going from foot to foot, clad only in my underwear I might add, and ran after the bug as he flew crazily around. He lit for a few seconds on top of a volume of encyclopedias, and I thought I might have him, but just as I climbed up a half-shelf to reach him, and brought the Bug Buddy down near him, he took off again. I climbed down and resumed the chase.

Finally, after about five minutes of this futile hunt, I decided that the only way I’d get the bug out of my room was to throw open the screen window and try to herd him in that general direction. I opened the screen, grabbed a newspaper, and tried to work the bug in the direction of the window.

I lost sight of him. I stopped moving. And I heard no sound! The bug must have flown out the window. I lowered the screen, got back into bed, turned the CD on again, shut out the light, and tried again to drift off to sleep.

And that’s when I heard the sound in the Venetian blinds again.

This time, I didn’t sigh so much as growl. I again turned on the light. The bug was definitely caught in the blinds somehow. I heard him there, but didn’t see him. I grabbed the Bug Buddy. I opened the blinds slowly. And there was the bug, crawling on one of the slats, seemingly unaware of my presence. I brought the Bug Buddy down swiftly, trapping him between a slat and the chamber of the tool. He had stopped fighting. I slid the hard plastic into place, completing the temporary bug-holding chamber, and I then carried the bug to an outside door. Looking at him inside of the Bug Buddy, I still wasn’t sure what he was. My best guess is a small wasp of some sort, but I wouldn’t risk cash on that opinion. I released him outside and he flew away quickly (and, I’d like to think, with gratitude.)

I went back to the bedroom and that’s when I realized something delightful. All of the bug chasing and shelf climbing and shifting from foot-to-foot and other ridiculous activities had calmed me down considerably. I wasn’t shaky in the least. I felt peaceful, relaxed, and definitely ready for a good night’s sleep. And that’s when I remembered my promise to God.

Remember? I had asked for 20 Oxycodone? And I got them? Well, I had said "Thanks!" to God, in prayer, but I still hadn’t made good on my end of the bargain, to somehow glorify Him in return for the favor.

I am of the firm conviction that God sent that bug into my room to accomplish a number of tasks. First, to exercise me in such a way as to calm me down and get me ready for a good night’s sleep. Second, to remind me of my earlier prayer and my need to tell you about it in some way. Third, to supply me with a decent little story via which I could accomplish that task, and I hope this has succeeded. Fourth, to remind me that what appears, at first, to be a curse, often turns out to be a blessing. Fifth, to be reminded of the fact that my willingness to help another creature in peril will often result in more good for me than for the other creature. Heck, if I had just been satisfied with crushing that bug with a swat of some sort, I’d still have been shaking and itching and twitching in bed, and with no good story to tell, but here I was feeling like a new man. And, finally, to get me thinking about how often I’m like that bug, blindly throwing myself around in hopes of luckily coming upon a solution to my problems, when all I have to do is be still and trust in God’s help.

And that’s the story of how God bugged me. It’s a weird little testimony, but it’s the best I’ve got at the moment. If you’re not as religiously inclined as I am, you might just dismiss it as coincidental silliness heightened by drug abuse. Me? As usual, I expect...

... more better stuff, soon.


46 comments:

Michelle H. said...

The Good Lord works in mysterious ways, either by large occurences or tiny miracles as small as a bug.

Your choppers are looking good!

Ruth and Glen said...

Well, that has got to be one of the best testimonials I’ve heard. As I’ve suspected, you’re a man of your word. Glad to hear the dental ordeal is over and you’re back at work with your dazzling new smile.

R

Expat From Hell said...

Thrilled to see you back in the Blogosphere again, my friend. As a fan and follower of J. Vernon in m college years, the testimonial is all the more appropriate. Glad also to hear that you are on the mend. More than I can say for the Celtics.

EFH

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Oh Jim...this is why I love your writing so much...you can move from hilarity to sublime with such agility and skill! This is another wonderful post! And btw, McGee is/was great...and his broadcasts very influential in my father's life. So glad you're back!!! Missed you! But glad to see you flashing those pearlies...and glad you got that oxycodone...my mom was on that before she died...pretty amazing stuff!!!!! Again, another winner! Always more and better, that's you! ~Janine

endangered coffee said...

Nice story, although I was disappointed that the Bugs Buddy had nothing to do with Looney Tunes. Then again, you running around with the thing, very Wile E. coyote.

Jewels said...

You are way more paitent than me. I would have left the window open and went to sleep on the couch!

Buck said...

Wow... quite the story, on ALL counts. I'm glad everything went well... dentist-wise... and your prayers were answered in every regard.

The thing that strikes me is how different we... each of us... are in our pain and trauma tolerance. It's a wonder doctors and dentists are even able to come close in the area of pain management, given the wide differences in our abilities to tolerate pain. And we've all heard horror stories of failures in this area, too, wherein doctors afraid of the FDA/DEA refuse to prescribe adequate drugs for things such as chronic pain.

I managed to get by on Tylenol-3 after my Adventures In Modern Dentistry... and only used the stronger stuff (i.e., "the three") for a couple of days afterward before going to OTC ibuprofen. I've found through bad experiences in the past that I absolutely do NOT tolerate opiates well. I hope I never get in a situation where I NEED that stuff...

Pat - Arkansas said...

Aaahhh! A bright smile to match the rest of you (bright, that is).

Glad all went well with your post-op period. "Better living through chemistry," as they say.

God DOES work in mysterious ways, and your bug story is more substantiation.

MVD said...

I think my front stoop is infested with carpenter ants. Can you buy the Buddies in bulk? Also, I recall burning flies with a magnifying glass in simpler times, but yours is definitely the Lord's Way.

Shammickite said...

I have some oxycodone tablets upstairs in the bathroom cabinet.... got them when I had foot surgery a couple of years ago and didn't need to take them all.... but I don't remember being high on them, more like mildly relaxed. Good to see your winning smile.

Suldog said...

Well, as Buck opined, each person tolerates pain and pain medications differently. And one person's "mildly relaxed" may well be another person's "WOO-HOO!" on the same meds.

Suldog said...

Also, of course, Oxycodone comes in differing strengths. Usually, the Acetaminophen component is constant (325 mg.) but the Oxycontin is variable. The possibility exists that you had a milder version.

Ananda girl said...

Now that is a handsome smile Suldog! So glad its over for now.

I love this story and intend to point some others this way. What excellent points and reminders. You have kept that promise with a pinch extra I believe. This one I'm keeping. Thanks.

A Woman Of No Importance said...

Great shaggy Suldog tale, Sir!

Glad to hear that the gnashers saga is going so well... Fuelled by not-so-illicit drugs and the love of God... Best of luck with the next steps!

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

Looking gooood Suldog Sir. Great post.x

Nana Net said...

What a beautiful smile you have Suldog! And yes the Lord does work in mysterious ways! Thank goodness he answered your prayers and you did his!
Now as to the drugs, unfortunately I am allergic to all of those you mentioned. But luckily when I have certain procedures done there are ones they give me! Mostly Demerol or Darvocet! YIKES! Did I just say that?? LOL Anyway I also get that there Phenergan with them too! Oh well, just know I am wishing you a speedy recovery from your foggy existence and praying you get some sound sleep soon! Oh yeah without any bug interference.

Jeni said...

Well let me say that the teeth look fantastic and also, that they make me very, very envious too! Wish my dentist had done as nice a job with my set of choppers! (All I ever wanted was nice straight teeth!)
Your Buggy story though really was excellent! Typical of your prose, nice humor to it, along with the lesson to be learned in how to pray and how God operates. I tend to agree with your theories on both points. Some very good stuff here, Suldog.

Anonymous said...

You look MAAHVELOUS.

connie/mom said...

That anonymous person was your dear old mom.

Verification word is "conic". I guess they were trying to guess.

Theresa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Theresa said...

Welcome back! Your chompers look faabulous. I had surgery two years ago and had a lovely cocktail of Vicodin and Soma. I didn't feel a thing for two weeks. God does work in mysterious ways. Glad your experience went as well as it did. Again, welcome back.

dmarks said...

"Bug Buddy is a marvelous invention for those of us who try to relocate insects rather than just stomping on them"

There's a lot more prank potential in relocating bugs than in stomping them.

Jazz said...

Or maybe you were so stoned you hallucinated the bug.

As for your ordeal, ow ow ow ow ow...

And the word verification: gnat

I swear.

lakeviewer said...

You got my attention starting with the pictures. Then, you got religious on me. Ah, what drugs will turn you into!

Thumbelina said...

Well I for one think that's a great testimony!
Glad the teeth got sorted - been thinking of you and wondering...
Glad the bug got released from the blind!

It's nice to hear of a pastor who does not ask for money. Most evangelical orgs do some sort of advertising so that is refreshing. The only ministry I know of that don't ask for money or charge for literature/CDs etc are the Jehovah's Witnesses. They only accept donations and don't charge for bibles or anything. :)

Good to see you writing again friend.

Gennasus said...

So glad to see you back and beaming at us! Your posts have been missed.

I've had a couple of teeth pulled out and got by on nothing more than a couple of Ibuprofen. Have I got the pain threshold of a superhero?

lime said...

ya know, i just like you better and better all the time. you're good to your word and no one else could have given such a testimony and made staggering around after a bug in your underwear while under the influence of drugs sound so intelligent and meaningful. rock on and hallelujah.

Fire Fox said...

Doesn't it feel good to smile without inhibition? That was what I felt for quite a long time after I finally got my teeth fixed. No more hiding behind my hand. No more forcing the lips together. Just straight up, broad beamed smiling! That in itself is a gift from God. Thanks for making me smile today.

The Things We Carried said...

Sadly, I am allergic to Morphine, Oxycodone and all of the cousins...It started with itching. I hope you are not becoming allergic. It is terrifying to imagine pain without those drugs available if you really NEED them, and after the dentist sometimes you DO.

Hope you feel better and better. Your new top teeth are amazing! God works in so many different ways, I have no doubt, He heard you and bugged you for your own good :). BTW I like JVM, I think he was a truly sincere man.

I am still on a blog break, but had to read your latest post. Take care.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Sul, so glad the whole ordeal is just about done, AND that you got the bug bonus. Only you could share a personal witness story with such flavor without turning off the reader.

Here's to a twitchless itchless night as an attaboy!

Ericka said...

and then god had the added bonus of watching you flail around, which had to be entertaining in the extreme.

after watching the walls breathe after having my wisdom teeth out, i decided the pain wasn't THAT bad and went without the drugs. glad your drugs worked better for you!

Granny on the Web said...

I am greatly heartened by this tale. What a wonderful testimony it makes.
Hilarious, and yet so down to earth.
I look forward to seeing the perfect smile too, and I hope you recover fully, from your drug induced frolic around the bedroom! LOL
Love Granny

Carolina said...

Great post! I'm impressed and slightly concerned by your knowledge of drugs....

I'm glad my mother doesn't read (or speak) English. She might want to switch from the cocaine to the stuff you were enjoying.
Just last week I had a post combining bugs and drugs too (not nearly as brilliant as this one though), explaining why my mother is taking cocaine. Weird coincidence.
http://brinkbeestinenglish.blogspot.com/2009/05/some-unexpected-wildlife-in-hayloft-and.html

Moannie said...

Dazzling smile darlin', suspect it was worth all the pain and night time shenanningans. Was the WIFE in fits at the sight of you in your undies?

Great post as ever.

Suldog said...

Moannie asks: "Was the WIFE in fits at the sight of you in your undies?"

My dear, she is ALWAYS in fits at the sight of me in my undies.

i beati said...

how many days is your wife living in a hotel???

Sandi McBride said...

You know what? I loved this post as much for God working in your life as I did for your act of grace for the small bug...catch and release...now that was a God-like thing to do. I am sure He is quite proud of you! And that is one good looking smile you have there mister!
Sandi

GreenJello said...

God accomplishes many small miracles in our daily lives through others, even bugs. :)

Anonymous said...

Cuz,
First of all let me tell how wonderful it will be to see you "on the other side". Second as I read your story I couldn't help but be reminded of Gods sence of humor:)
Deb

Stu said...

Your writing continues to fill me with awe.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

You're the best...Have I told you that you're one of my favorite bloggers? If I haven't I should...remind me to do that sometime...As a bloggie friend of mine would say, "More better stuff soon..." ~Janine

rhymeswithplague said...

Well, that was one great post! What I (and probably God) want to know is what did you do and for how long for your teeth to get in that shape anyway?

The new you is going to look much, much better.

And we all know (thank you Billy Crystal) that it's not how you feel, it's how you look.

Jenn said...

Must say I am not really a very religious person, I do have belief and faith however and I tend to subscribe moreso to the theory that you get what you ask for so be careful what you wish. You had asked for the limited number of pills and probably by the night of the bugging, a better night's sleep and voila, you got both! This is, in my view due to when you said to remind me that what appears, at first, to be a curse, often turns out to be a blessingNo truer words ever were shared. The after shot is great, hope you're feeling well rested!

Hilary said...

I love that you worked so hard to release that bug. Most wouldn't. And your new lowers look wonderful.

Karen said...

I'm glad the bug was just hitting the blinds instead of buzzing, else I'd sworn it was just the buzz in your head. God bugs me sometimes, too and when I realize it, it makes me happy.

Sarah said...

Very nicely put. I'm glad you're doing better...