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Tingles and flushes

July 7, 2009

You know, it’s funny — sitting here reading the yrstruly section of Infinite Jest (p. 128) — when I first read this book six years ago, never did I think I’d be Identifying, even on some small level, with the heroin junkies in this chapter and others like it.

And yet.

When yrstruly speaks about the “noses’ mucis” and the “Shivers” — it all comes close to home.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a bunch more times too — tramadol isn’t heroin. Compared to any of the hard drugs extensively chronicled in IJ it’s “about as potent as a kiss on the head from Mom.” Compared to something like heroin or even your more serious painkillers like Vicoden or Percocet, going through the addiction/recovery cycle with tramadol is probably like comparing the Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studious with the experience of actually getting chased and maybe even eaten by a giant-ass T-Rex. I sometimes think it’s like an addiction amusement park ride for yuppies.

But dealing with tramadol — experiencing the rushes, getting hooked, trying to come off — makes me appreciate the addiction sections of IJ in a way my arrogant 23-year-old Liberal Arts Major mind, 6 years ago, never could have imagined. Seriously. And oddly enough, in dealing with all the bullshit that comes with trying to boot a tramadol dependency you sometimes get these crazy flashes of what I guess you’d call Beauty? To wit:

Imagine stepping out of your hot-ass car into the sweltering 90-degree heat of a Costco parking lot. Your undergarments are shellacked to your dirty bits like a clammy cottony plaster-of-Paris cast, because you’ve been sweating like a filthy little animal on the drive over. And then, as you walk toward the store, wherever the sun hits your exposed skin, your skin bursts into goosebumps. And you can feel these like trails of goosebumps zipping all around your body, because even though you’re balls-hot and sweaty you have the chills, wicked funky chills that come in waves every few minutes or so. You’ll feel a chilly tingle rush up the back of your neck and melt into a hot flush that spreads across your neck and face, like a hot-buttery feeling. You can see pinpricks of sweat forming on the goosebumps on your forearms, which lately you’ve noticed are skinnier-looking than you’re comfortable with. And on top of all this, imagine stepping into the aggressively air-conditioned atmosphere of the Costco warehouse and feeling each of these sensations basically invert itself — this is truly a fucked-up feeling, and if you have the presence of mind to try and distance yourself from everything that is happening to you you may find yourself, on some abstracted addiction-tourist intellectual level, enjoying the sheer tactile novelty of it all.

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