Death Grip by Matt Samet

Death Grip by Matt Samet

Author:Matt Samet
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi
Publisher: St. Martin's Press




Four milligrams a day, Xanax, January 2005:

“You’re chewing?” It’s my psychiatrist on the phone. I stand beneath the Highway 82 bridge over the Colorado River in downtown Glenwood Springs, in a redbrick pedestrian zone lined with tourist bakeries, bars, and boutiques. It’s a dishwater-gray Saturday and my father has ducked into a bookstore for The New York Times. Cars and semis rumble past overhead, kicking slush over the guardrail where it slops to earth, forming raw, sooty ridges. My dad flew out from Baltimore one day earlier, after I’d confessed everything to him and my therapist, unable to take the anxiety and the drugging anymore. I also called Kasey, in Boulder. She’s finishing up a graduate degree in journalism and now, perhaps, has a lens through which to understand my cracked behavior.

That Friday, my father and I visited the Glenwood ER, where the doctor offered a prescription for the opiate antagonist Naltrexone to wean me off Vicodin. I sat in the waiting area afterward spacing out on a bright-blue aquarium full of exotic fish, holding the prescription, weighing the pros and cons of taking yet another drug as the creatures brushed against the glass. At only two pills (twenty milligrams) of Vicodin a day, it seemed simpler just to taper, but first I needed to tell my psychiatrist everything because I wanted his help quitting benzodiazepines, too.

“Not to get buzzed, no … I—I have trouble swallowing, Dr. Porridge, especially later in the day when I’m more anxious, so sometimes I chew the Xanax just to get it down,” I say. I know this sounds a little lame, but it’s the truth.

“And you were abusing Vicodin, too,” he says flatly. “Look, Matt, I could get into a lot of trouble over this. I’m supposed to be seeing you in my office, not just consulting over the telephone.” He’s on his speakerphone; his voice has a metallic echo to it. Because I’ve lived on the West Slope for the past three years, most of our check-ins have been via telephone, with the occasional sit-down in Boulder. He pauses as I collect my thoughts; he’s jotting notes.

“Why? You weren’t prescribing the Vicodin. And I never abused the benzos you gave me.”

“I’m not sure I’m able to believe you right now.…” His voice has a hard edge.

“Well, it’s true, Dr. Porridge. I’ll admit it—I did smoke pot for many of those years, and was taking Vicodin the last two winters. But I haven’t smoked pot in a year, and the Ativan, the Klonopin: I took exactly what you prescribed. Nothing more, nothing less.”

“I always wondered why your anxiety kept getting worse, why the pills stopped working. Look, Matt, you lied to me.”

I pause to let this sink in. Technically, he’s right—it was a crime of omission.

“Yeah, I know. I am sorry. I really am, Dr. Porridge, but I’m telling you the truth now. And I don’t know if the other drugs caused all this anxiety anyway, at least, not totally.” My voice wavers.


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