While in the hospital for two months I had very little control over my day-to-day life. I couldn’t walk, I had to poop into a bag and I was dependant on nurses to drain my urine. I had to find ways to make myself feel like I still had some shred of control over my life and that I wasn’t completely helpless. So, I became a “pill hoarder,” or, if you prefer, a “doll hoarder” (“Valley of the Dolls” is one of my favorite movies – not sure what that says about me).
Like any skill, pill hoarding requires practice. Since I was trapped in bed for so long I had lots of time to perfect my craft. But first, I should mention that I also had my own personal stash of pills with me in the hospital – technically I wasn’t allowed to, but it’s not like anyone checks your bag. I had Xanax tucked away in my toiletry bag, under my facial wipes, hand cream and tinted lip balms. I had been given the prescription by my Doctor to help with the epic panic attacks that began a few months before my diagnosis. I’m actually very grateful to those panic attacks (I still occasionally have them). The attacks served as a huge Red Flag Warning: “Something is f-ing wrong with your health! Don’t stop harassing your doctors until you get to the bottom of this!” is what my “I can’t breathe” attacks were telling me.
Every night I was allowed two Ativan, (small dosage), but I had to take them both at the same time. I assume that rule was in place so that a patient couldn’t hoard them and then take a whole bunch at once. Ahem…The overnight nurse would always ask me “do you want one or two pills?” Well of course I always said two – who turns down perfectly good drugs? And thus would begin my nightly pill trickery. Though I adored most of my nurses, I still played this game every night and I had a 75% success rate. Being a Chatty Cathy I would engage them in conversation and then like a magician I would swallow only one Ativan and pocket the second one. Later when the nurse was gone I would reach over to my toiletry bag and add the pill to my growing stash. I had no grand plans to take them all at once and overdose, I just liked knowing that I was well-stocked. Of course there were a few hard-core nurses who knew all about my kind of crazy. They engaged in no conversation and stood over me like drill sergeants, watching me with frown-y faces as I swallowed both pills. Those nights of defeat were always hard. Afterwards I would lie in bed, high from my pain killer drip and the two Ativan and try to come up with new tactics to outfox the frownies.
During this period of intense vulnerability, my pill hoarding gave me the strangest sense of hope. With each pill I pocketed, I felt one step closer to getting out of the hospital and reclaiming my life.
Editor’s Note: I do not condone pill trickery – please don’t copy my crazy ways! I had amazing nurses & I am forever grateful to them!
**I wish I knew who created this fab glitter pill image, thx you!**