Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Percocet Theory

This is going to be one of those days when I am glad that few people read my blog. I am going to do some fairly heavy speculating, but it is all coherent speculations, and not without foundations in medical fact.

I am going to tell you precisely what I was thinking as Jimmy Clausen slid down the board for 1.5 rounds. As we now know, he went dead-middle of the 1st round: Pick 48. Why?

I participate in a number of social networks related to sports. Some of them are more cordial and formal than others. Some are downright nasty, with high school and college kids throwing hand grenades at each other. Explosive allegations were made against Clausen one of the 'hand grenade' boards. Specifically, several guys who claimed to be from Notre Dame, and who claimed to have had negative run-ins with Clausen, declared that he was a Percocet freak.

They usually brought this up whenever Notre Dame hommers praised Clausen for playing injured all season long through his Junior year.

The allegations were clear: A Narcotic painkiller known for being addictive and having negative psychological side effects was responsible for Clausen's ability to practice and play with two torn ligaments in his big toe. The negative side-effects of Oxycodon, the synthetic narcotic in Percocet, are the reason he is considered cocky, pompus, arrogant, and a bad teammate.

I brushed it off, at first, disregarding the claim as a low-blow. I presumed they had an ax to grind with him. Perhaps Clausen got the girl at the party, and these guys were pissed off and jealous.

Well, I did a bit of investigation, and what I found out tweaked my curiosity. Clausen claims that his doctors prescribed Torodol for him. He claimed he had to take a Torodol pill each day before practice just to be able to practice. If so he would be dead or in the hospital right now, recovering from a sleeve gastrectomy and the shortening of his intestines.

Also, it would not have killed the pain in his toe.

I know a little something about Torodol. My doctor prescribed it for me twice. Torodol, better known as Ketorolac, is an extremely powerful NSAID. It is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent. Consider it super-Naproxen. It has great power to reduce inflammation, and very limited ability to kill pain.

It also rots the stomach lining and eats your intestines. My two bottles of Torodol came with stern written warnings from the doctor, the pharmacist, and the pamphlet not to stay on the drug for more than 5 days at a time. They warned of increasing intestinal upset after use of the drug. The warnings were true. I got nauseated around day 3. I started suffering heart burn continuously. I stopped taking it early.

This was not an allergic reaction. This was the expected side-effect of the drug.

I knew Clausen's claim was bullshit immediately. Further, I knew that orthopedic surgeons don't prescribe Torodol without also prescribing a narcotic pain killer to go with it. Torodol doesn't really kill pain. The dirty little secret that the medical establishment keeps in the closet is that only narcotics kill pain. Only the stuff that grows in Poppies can stop your pain receptors from firing signals to the brain.

My doctor prescribed Vicodin first, and when that didn't work, he upped it to Norco. I learned all about painkillers at this time in my life. Two knee surgeries will do that to you.

Vicodin and Norco are based on the same chemical agents, and they are different from Percocet. Vicodin and Norco are based on Hydrocodone. This is the least addictive narcotic pain killer currently known to medicine, but it is still addictive. Brett Favre had a problem with this agent. Hydrocodone is rated at half the power of Morphine, unit for unit.

Percocet is based on Oxycodone. It is a lot more addictive that Hydrocodone. Many people have addiction problems with Oxycodone. It is called 'hillbilly heroin' because of its tremendous popularity in the Appalachian mountain region. There were alegations that Mike Vick had a problem with Oxycodone before he was shipped off to Fort Leavenworth Kansas. Oxycodone is also rated at half the power of Morphine, unit for unit.

Vicodin, Norco & Percocet all have varying amounts of Paracetamol in them, but that is of little importance.

The important difference between Oxycodone and Hydrocodone is this: More thebaine vs. less. Thebaine is one of three primary chemicals found in Opium Poppies that are useful to Orthopedic surgeons. The others are Morphine and Codeine. Unlike Morphine and Codeine, doctors never prescribe thebaine directly for patients. However, it is on the controlled substance list of the FDA.

Why is thebaine controlled? Because thebaine is chemically similar to Morphine and Codeine, and it can be chemically synthesized into all manner of narcotics, if you know how. One of those synthetic narcotics is Oxycodone. Some thebaine is also required to manufacture Hydrocodone, but not nearly as much.

Thebaine is a curious chemical. It is a powerful stimulant. It will cause strychnine-like convulsions at higher doses. This is the only member of the opiate family that is s stimulant. All the rest are depressants, and mildly hypnotic. All other narcotics suppress your cardiovascular system, and they make your drowsy. Thebaine does not. Neither does Oxycodone.

If you are an athlete or mind-worker in pain, Hydrocodone may kill the pain, but it messes up your work schedule. Oxycodone does not. Rather, it kills the pain and kick-starts your ass at the same time. You can understand why football players would consider it fantastic.

Like all narcotics, Oxycodone tweaks the Mu receptors on your neurons... unless you are narcotic resistant like me. I have the rare mutant Mu-Beta receptors. Tweaking the standard Mu receptors blocks pain and triggers a big release of Serotonin from the brain. That makes you feel fantastic; on-top of the world. The serotonin, the pain-free state, and the stimulant makes you want to go out and do battle.

This is why it is frequently prescribed for those dying of cancer. It helps them avoid becoming bed-ridden shut-ins for as long as possible.

I myself have never experienced the Serotonin rush from narcotics. It's all my doctors can do to keep the pain down. I am a narcotic resistant guy by genetic endowment. Only 3% of the world is like me, though. Almost everybody I know, reports feeling absolutely incredible after taking Norco. I just transition from a state of greater pain to lesser pain, and that is all. That is good, but it is not pure bliss. Others experience pure bliss.

97% of human beings feel super-human, even god-like if they take enough of it. Delusions of godhood and extreme cockiness are side-effects of a good dose of Oxycodone. Rush Limbaugh manifested extreme cockiness before he went away for rehab. Same thing was true for Mike Vick.

That brings us back to Clausen.

Suppose you have a turf toe with a couple of torn tendons. You can't take Torodol for long. It will rot your intestines, and it won't really kill the pain either. A friendly and helpful Notre Dame doctor gives you a prescription for Percocet, knowing it won't hurt, but indeed help your performance. It's good. It works. You like it. You can practice and play like a million bucks.

You have to come out of it sooner or later. It's hard, but you do it.

Unfortunately, the NFL has it's own version of the Black Water Security consultants. They can find out anything. They find out about the Percocet from websites where kids throw grenades. They investigate. They find out it's true. The NFL knows you used Percocet for an entire season. They know that would explain the cocky arrogance. This information is released to the 32 NFL teams under an NDA.

Nobody wants a drug problem at the Quarterback position. Just the off-chance that you may have a tendency to like Oxycodone is cause for concern.

Suppose, in the first place, that the candidate is not really as good as Mel Kiper Jr says he is. Suppose he might come bundled with the Oxycodone baggage.

That's enough for mildly interested parties to become totally hands-off. I think that is what happened during the 2010 draft.