As I write this post, I am about three weeks into my recovery for a fairly major abdominal surgery. I was under the knife for almost three hours and now have seven healing incisions in my belly. It also required an overnight stay in the hospital. I’m happy to say that the surgery was successful and I am healing up ahead of schedule, but I suffered quite a bit of pain and loss of mobility in the days immediately following the operation. It altered the way I had to think about personal defense.
Go read. Another great post by Greg.
I was going to write about my experience when I came across Greg’s article, but as usual, he does a much better job that I could do.
Two weeks ago I went to the hospital for an outpatient procedure which required full anesthesia and I wanted to share what I learned from the event. I won’t go into the details about what was my defensive strategy going back and forth the hospital, but I felt rather covered as I had properly armed back up. But the great teaching moment was back at home, still under the influence of post-op drugs.
The first thing I noticed was that my brain was able to think coherently, I was not tripping or saying stupid stuff. I felt that my body did seem a bit slower and I had to be more cautious and “think” more about doing something. Still, I thought “This ain’t bad. I can control it” but I needed to compare it to some task that required decision-making and fast action. Guns were out of the question so I went with something that had the same requirements but without the danger: World of Tanks.
OK, stop laughing. I play almost exclusively Self Propelled Guns and my favorite is the M37 pictured above: It is fast, accurate, has a great reach and I am damn good with it. It is very rare that I don’t make money out of a battle even when I get killed and lose.
So I loaded WOT and played seven games in a row to make sure I was not being lucky/unlucky. I won the first one and was decimated (not killed, not crushed but embarrassingly decimated) the next six. What I found out was that I was not only brutally slow reacting (seek target, aim, shoot) but the simple process of identifying a target took and ungodly amount of time. If you are not familiar with WOT, the targets are easily identified by the red tags and markers, it does not get any more user-friendly and still it took a certain amount of willpower and a lot of time to “pull the trigger.” But it went beyond that, I was not hitting what I was aiming for either because by the time I clicked on the mouse, the target was already moving from its original position or possible path (You don’t go far in Arty unless you get to hit moving targets from far away.)
So basically being under the effects of medication screwed with both the decision-making capabilities, the reaction times and manipulation: You can see the danger, but you are too slow to take appropriate action, will not be taking appropriate action and you will not perform the required drill to ensure a hit. As silly as it may have been testing on an Online Game, it was an eye opener and a humbling experience.
I was prescribed (standard) a schedule II narcotic for the post-op pain and although I weened myself out of it rather fast (went with ice packs and Motrin by the end of day 2 instead of the standard every four hours of narcotic) I still had to take one at least once a day for the worst wave of pain. After the learning experience with WOT, I made the decision not to touch a gun until 24 hours after I had my last schedule II pill. Basically I was a real Gun Free Zone for 6 days.!
It does not matter what your brain might be saying when you are under the influence of an intoxicant. The reality is that you will be affected and that is not kosher in both moral and legal terms. Do not make checks with your Ego that somebody’s life (yours included) may have to cash in blood.