Drugs and medication have an interesting way of interfering with my mindfulness practice.

I spent much of Tuesday and Wednesday drugged on Tramadol, which I’d taken to deal with the pain/fear spiral that was going on this weekend. The Tramadol made me groggy, sleepy, and ill-coordinated. My brain felt like someone had shoved cotton balls into it, and I couldn’t get to all the important bits.

I suppose the Tramadol did its job in other respects: I wasn’t in as much pain, I could walk (or hobble) when needed, and I wasn’t having panic attacks from fear about how long the pain would last. The pain was not out of control.

I decided to try some mindfulness meditation to cope with my relationship to the pain.

When I started doing some breathing and focusing inwards, I really felt as though my brain was on some bad carnival ride. When I closed my eyes, I saw a pink trapezoid that kept moving and rolling as though it was in a fun house. There were pink elephants and other objects that kept shifting in and out of view.

When I tried to focus on my body instead of on the happy-fun-trip going on inside my mind, it was like wading upriver through sludge. I could kind of feel myself through a dim haze, but it was a lot of effort. The pink elephant kept calling me back.

Eventually, I fell asleep.

I suppose the mindfulness didn’t work in the way I intended or expected, but it did give me insight into the workings of my brain when I’m taking “heavy duty” painkillers. (Tramadol is a “mild narcotic.”) It feels like the medication is closing a door on the parts of my mind which might experience pain. Clobbering them over the head and sticking them in a closet, if you will. Then it distracts the rest of my mind with smoke and mirrors.

This doesn’t usually happen – as much – when I take Tramadol. I think it was because I took a larger dose than usual. However, the feeling of “wading upriver” when trying to practice mindfulness while on Tramadol has happened before.

Fortunately for me,  I managed to see a podiatrist yesterday. I’m narcotic-free today, and I feel like I have my mind back.

Note: This is another early post (Thursday instead of Friday), because it again relates to how I’m doing right now. We’ll see what the weekend holds, and if I do a “weekend extra” or not. It probably depends on how much pain I’m in, or what medication I’m on.

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