Warning: Trip Trigger. You might get stoned reading this, or just confused….this is a story of my confusion.
Yup, I did it. Did what I have taken meticulous precautions not to do for the last two-and-a-half years, since I’ve been taking the heavy meds. The fail-safe system failed, because I simply paid no attention to it, and I did it, and it blew my day away.
I took my night-time meds in the morning.
Night-time meds: Ativan, Clonapine, Zolpidem, Seroquel, Lithium. I took all that, by accident, in the morning. And not just any morning: it was the morning of the day I closed on the lease of the most adorable tiny apartment in the most amazing neighborhood in Jerusalem. Yep. That morning. The morning before I got on a plane for a 14-hour flight back to the States. That morning.
I didn’t realize what I had done until the effects started coming on. At first I was puzzled and thought I might be coming down with something. I had the whirly-heads: perhaps an inner-ear infection, my rational brain reasoned. Then my vision started going double. Not a good sign. And finally the side effect I dread every night when I have to get up to go to the bathroom: the floor seems to move and roll around, so that I never know where my body is in space. Since I had never had this happen in broad daylight, I had not noticed that when I try to walk anywhere in this condition, I weave and stumble like a drunk. That’s when I realized what had happened.
And then there was the issue of trying to stay awake. Actually, since what I was experiencing was all the side effects that I normally don’t notice because I have been drugged to sleep by a combination of all that plus a shot or two of hard liquor (yes I know, don’t waste your breath), I found it hard to actually relax enough to fall asleep. And yet I wasn’t quite awake, either.
I admit that I often forget to take my morning meds, which is not a good thing since my Lamictal is in there. But I never forget my bedtime meds, because they are the means by which I sleep. At all. Ever.
So I checked my med box, and as well as I could make out through my double vision, it looked suspiciously like the little compartment for tonight’s bedtime dose was empty. Shit. Now what am I going to do?
Roll with it. What else is there to do about it? Suck it up. Live through it. Fuck, what am I going to do about the lease and the landlord? Can’t put that off, because just to make things even more fun, I am leaving the country at midnight tonight. Shit. Double shit. Good thing my OCD demanded that I pack yesterday, so at least I didn’t have that to obsess about in this deplorable condition.
You know, this is the only time I can remember being glad I did so much acid as a youngster. It trained me to “maintain.” I don’t know if that term is still in service, but I’ll explain anyway, in case it isn’t. To “maintain” means to act normal even when you’re tripping your ass off, the walls are melting in psychedelic flashing colors, and the floor has become like one of those funhouse rollercoaster tipping floors, which by the way is how the floors started feeling about mid-day. Add to that trying to navigate the uneven cobblestone streets of Jerusalem, and the crooked ancient stone steps, and the gaping holes that appear without warning due to the recent construction boom, and you can bet I wished I had a pair of crutches, or at least a walking stick to keep from stumbling from one side of the narrow alleys to the other, like a green sailor without sea legs on a rolling deck. Oy gevalt.
The landlord called and wanted to meet in a place called Givat Shaul, which would have been two bus rides away from where I was staying. I don’t recall what I said to him. I think I just said “Ee efshar,” which means in Hebrew, “that is not possible.” Then he suggested somewhere else, which I also nixed. He finally got the idea that I wanted him to come to my place, and since he wanted to sign a lease, he consented. I have mastered the concept that if someone wants something from you that involves money, it is a good time to maximize your negotiating power.
By the time he showed up at my place with the lease in hand, I was feeling miserably sick. We filled out the form and then had a sudden moment of joint panic when we realized that we each needed a copy of the lease, and we only had one. He would go and get another form, he said, and we would fill it out again from scratch. My head was pounding and I wasn’t sure if I could get through another lease form without throwing up. No need, I said; the friend with whom I am staying has a copier. He answers one of his three cell phones. Most Israelis have at least two: one for business, one for friends and family. I guess he has more than one business, or more than one family, or something. None of my business.
Gotta go, he says. You make a copy of the lease, and I’ll meet you at the Betzalel stairs at about three. (You don’t really need to know what the Betzalel stairs are, except that they are made of wavy, slippery Jerusalem limestone and require navigating several narrow alleys to arrive at them.) OK, I say merrily, happy to have him out of my space for a while. Maybe I can take a nap and wake up feeling peachy.
No dice: lying down just increases my nausea quotient. I grab the oil of peppermint bottle and stick my nose deeply into it. My stomach quiets a bit. Exhale.
I totter over to the copier with the lease. At least I can get this simple task done. Fuck, out of toner. Shit.
Good thing I still remember where that copy shop is, in the Binyan Clal, which is a great big building full of random shops, locksmiths, seedy restaurants and a pool hall, about five blocks away. The sun is blazing. It has to be a hundred out there, at least. Where’s my big floppy hat? Oh god, please don’t tell me it’s anywhere where I might have to bend down to get it. I’ll puke for sure. Oh there it is, on that chair. Sigh of relief.
Desperately wishing not to be apprehended as a potential terror suspect by Israeli police for acting weird, I adopt the strategy of hanging onto the walls of the stone buildings as I navigate to the Binyan Clal. That’s pretty normal, isn’t it? I got across Agrippas Street without being run over by a passing bus. Small victory, but still.
After passing through security, just like at the airport (we have to do this when entering any public building), I got to the copy shop. A sweet lady copied my lease for me, for two shekels (about fifty cents). I wove my way back to my friend’s apartment and waited for the call from the landlord, which came none too soon. I wanted to get this overwith.
The landlord called at three exactly: American time. If I had been an Israeli it wound have been four or five, but I’m American and he wanted to get this deal closed, and collect his checks. This was duly accomplished, along with an agonizing half-hour of small talk, obligatory when doing business.
After being released from that exhausting ritual, I wove my way home from the Betzalel Stairs (remember them?) and had a blessed half-hour to myself, before Simha the tree surgeon, who doubles as a real estate agent, showed up wanting his commission for having found me the apartment.
Did I have cash, he wanted to know? No, I didn’t. Well, why don’t you go to the Caspomat (ATM) and get some right now, he says amiably. Because I don’t feel like it, is why. I’ll write you a check. No, don’t do that! I’ll have to pay taxes on it.
I got out of patience and roared, “HONEST BUSINESS PEOPLE PAY THEIR TAXES!!!” He roared something back; I don’t remember what. He got a check. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass, I thought, as my head swam and I fell into the nearest chair.
Evening came and it started to be time to go to the airport. I wondered what the night flight would be like. Certainly this shit must wear off at some point. Is this the reason my brain has stopped working in general? These awful meds that I take every night? Could be. But they also keep me from killing myself. That’s the trade-off, I guess.
The flight came off without incident, thank God. I took a couple of Ativan just so I wouldn’t have a seizure from skipping my night-time meds, the ones I had taken in the daytime and was damned if I would take them back-to-back, and managed to sleep fitfully through the 14 hour flight.
Moral: Be really, really vigilant about which meds you’re taking when, unless you want a really, really bad day.