I think it was after I fell asleep during drum rehearsal that me and Flip and Carynne re-evaluated our strategy for the remaining scant Vitamin F supply we had. I seem to recall being in a van when we had this conversation. It’s difficult for me to remember certain details, for the obvious reason my brain wasn’t working very well.
I do remember Flip saying, “Cold turkey is wrecking you, D.”
“Uh huh.” Hard to argue with that.
“I thought Flexeril wasn’t that strong?” Carynne was massaging one of my forearms with her hands and it felt better than her not doing it. It gave me a sensation to focus on other than pain, anyway.
“Technically it’s not, but given the way he’s reacting, we should think about dosing him tonight. Otherwise he won’t sleep again. It’s that or go to something stronger and I know that’s not a good option.”
“But Flip, if you give me one tonight, what about the show doses?” We had been saving them, remember, for show time.
“If you’re this much of a wreck now, I’m not sure it’ll even help by then. This is what I’m thinking. Divvy up everything we have left into measured doses that taper down. Spread them out over the next few days to lower you back to zero, and maybe you won’t hit bottom so hard. Give your own brain chemicals a chance to fill back in gradually. We’ll still run out of supply around the same time, but by then it won’t hurt as bad as it does now.” He seemed very sure of himself.
“It’s hard to imagine feeling worse,” I admitted. “It’s worth a try.”
“Why didn’t we do this in the first place?” Carynne asked.
“Because who knew D was going to crash this hard?” Flip replied. “It’s hard to watch him suffer, isn’t it?”
So back at the hotel Flip went into chemist mode, crushing up all the remaining pills we had and measured out the diminishing doses into Gatorade bottles, writing the intended time and date for each on the bottle with a Sharpie. I think that as the amount of Vitamin F in each bottle went down, the alcohol level went up. He’d switched to doing it with vodka, which was pretty much flavorless so I couldn’t really tell. It was better than wasting good bourbon.
The good news was that my pain level did go down some after that first bottle. My jaw and legs didn’t hurt as much.
The bad news was I still didn’t sleep much that night. My appetite was non-existent so I mostly just ate when Bart did in order to keep myself from getting bored, and then I tried to go to bed when everyone else did. But for the second night in a row I really didn’t sleep. I lay there quietly with my mind going in circles, and once in a while I would have the equivalent of a nice daydream before stressy thoughts came back, but that doesn’t really count as rest, does it?
We had one more “off day” and then the shows. Over both those days since my “Ziggy day,” it was really, really difficult to keep my emotions on anything like an even keel, what with my pain levels going up and down, plus the various management-substances in my system doing the same. I’m not saying that as an excuse, just as a fact. It’s so difficult to tell why you feel crappy at any given moment–is it real or is it Memorex?
It was tempting to blame any bad feelings on my hand, my head, my cramps, or my addiction(s), but I knew there were real underlying issues, too. I thought I was doing the right thing by considering myself too mature to ignore real issues.
But I really had almost no ability to gauge which were real issues and which were figments of my imagination. And that ability only continued to erode the worse I felt.
The two shows in Sao Paulo went pretty well, though. Maybe it helped that I’d let Star*Gaze go for the rest of the tour. Everyone else on the crew seemed freer and lighter without worrying about Star*Gaze, too. That should have made me happy, right? I made the right decision.
Except that it didn’t make me happy, because then I felt weighed down by the feeling that I’d forced everyone to go along with my whims. They’d all just been indulging my stupid pet project and had been waiting for me to come to my senses.
Those are not the thoughts of a person who is coming to their senses. I’ll be really, really honest here. I was heading for a crash, and part of me knew it and hoped someone else was going to be able to pull up on the stick in time to bring us in for a landing.
I think Ziggy thought he pulled up on the stick when we had that day together. And Bart, and Flip, and Colin all did co-pilot duties at various times. But they were human. They had to sleep sometime.
And like I said, despite the new drug management plan, I still wasn’t sleeping. I was maybe dozing a little here or there, in the van on the way to or from the venue, or in the early hours of the morning before the maids would start their vacuuming. But two or three total hours out of twenty-four, for a few days in a row, is not a good recipe for mental health.
But like I said, the two Sao Paulo shows went well. Rogelio’s samba crew was excellent and they joined in for the encore dance-party number, too, and made it finally really work like it was supposed to. He and about a dozen of his guys were all booked to come with us to Rio to end the tour with a last show there. That was all good news. The bad news, though, just to be really clear about it:
-Flexeril withdrawal absolutely sucks
-I wasn’t sleeping
-I was in pain a lot of the time
-My self-esteem was at a historic low
-I was afraid I was permanently broken mentally and physically
-I was terrified of going to rehab
-I’d convinced myself everyone was humoring me
Paranoia is an insidious thing. And lack of sleep is a one-way ticket to temporary psychosis.
Jeezus. I thought I was ready to tell you this. I’ve been working up to it for months, you know? And I know you guys can take it. You made it through Ziggy’s suicide watch and what I did to myself over Jonathan and that time I told Ziggy after not talking to him for a year that he was a whore.
I know you won’t get so wrapped up in my pain that you’ll forget all the times he proved he loved me. Like I did.