I’ve been a Bowie fan for a while. It began when a friend introduced me to Labyrinth in the late 80s, and it’s never really ended; though lately it’s come to something like fruition.
I think Bowie was hard for heroin.
Well, duh, it was the 70s, he did drugs; it is generally presumed that he did coke.
But there are hints in his songs of something deeper, and until August of last year, I didn’t get them; now, maybe, I do, a little.
It started like it usually did; a deep ache near my solar plexus, a churning sense of inflation that was not, was not right. I’d had it before, so I figured that if I let it abide for a while, it would ease off — after a few hours. As it had done before.
Those hours passed, and by 2 or so AM, I knew it wasn’t going to ease off. It wasn’t anywhere near easing off. It felt like I was being punched in the solar plexus, hard, about once a minute. So I managed to make it to my car, and dragged myself to the ER, and everyone from the admitting nurse to the attending physician asked me one question first: Do you still have your gall bladder?
And I thought, oh no.
Things came and went, and drugs came and went, and long and short was that I had the worst gallstone experience in my life — 20 hours all told — still have the damn gallbladder (I’d rather eat chicken and fish the rest of my life than be cut open like a Christmas turkey, thanks, to have my giblets sucked out) — and we’re still learning if my diet change has had any effect on the 12mm stone in my gut.
12mm, yes. About the size of a .50-cal rifle ball. I’ve seen biopsied gallbladders that looked like they were full of gravel. Not there yet, and do not intend to be.
But that’s not the point. The point is what happened to me about 20 minutes or so after I was palleted in the ER.
They shot me up with 10 mg of Morphine.
It didn’t ease the pain for more than about ten minutes, but for a brief time, it was … just astonishing.
Coolness filled my limbs, and for a while, everything just … floated. I felt at ease, calmed, soothed. I felt like I feel after really, profoundly good sex. You know how it is after you come, and you relax into your lover’s arms, and you really, truly believe that everything is going to be okay, even if there’s no reason to believe it at all?
And the first lucid thought I had then was, Wow, I can see how people get hooked on this shit.
From what I can tell, coke is a bit like a caffeine high. But junk seems to be a lot closer to what I had with Morphine, a general sense of — of total detachment, and relaxation. I gather Morphine and heroin do the same kind of things, for the most part, in that they emulate endorphin release. And I really can understand how you can get hooked on junk.
Because, for that few minutes, I really was quite pleasantly serene.
When I was in college I avoided the hard pushers because I didn’t like the idea of shooting into a vein. I don’t like needles; never have. Now, I would avoid heroin because I can see, quite entirely clearly, just how stuck on it I could be. Stuck with a valuable friend, as Bowie said, or hooked to the silver screen. (Ibid.)
Pot isn’t like it. Acid — hell, LSD is nothing like it; acid is just an array of synesthesia. Boring, pretty fast, I think. Did pot, did acid, twenty years ago, meh. But that damn Morphine — it’s hard for me to forget. Five months ago, just 10 mg, and you betcha, I wouldn’t mind feeling that way again. It’s not intense enough to be called a craving, but it’s definitely a desire. I’m nowhere near as hooked on Morphine as I am on nicotine, for instance.
But I could be. I could be.
I didn’t ever want to do IV drugs for years, because I hate needles. Now, I know a much better reason.
Because if I ever shot up, I’m quite sure I would trade anything, do anything, to keep that vein tapped.
It’s haunted me for half a year. I hear the ghosts in Bowie’s music. And I don’t know how he got clean — I know he didn’t stay clean; from time to time he shot that silver again — I can hear it in his music — but my non-god, how could he have had that monster on his back, in his soul, and how could he have turned from it?
I used to think of junkies as degenerate. They’re not. Maybe when they’re trying to get their fix, they are; but when they have that nectar flowing in them, they are not degenerate at all; for a while, for a few minutes at least, they are the happiest people on the planet.
So, maybe a bit more now, I get Bowie, and I know why no one should ever try heroin. It’s not because it’s illegal. It’s not because of all the punishments you get if you do it.
It’s not even because of how bad it is, after you’ve had it, to live a normal life.
It’s because you will never, ever let it go. There’s no patch for this. There are no gums you can chew.
10 mg of Morphine was enough to prove to me just how badly I wanted, and still want, this forbidden drug; and in my lucid moments, it’s enough to convince me that if I ever really shot the hard H, I would follow its path into self-annihilation rather than be without it again.
Don’t know how anyone breaks the habit once they get it. But I sure as hell do respect those who tried it, used it, lived with it … and left it.
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