After passing beyond the immediate danger of lung infection and blood clot, pain control has been the main theme of my recovery. I’m on a transdermal patch of fentanyl, an opioid 100 times stronger than morphine, with as-needed pills of oxycodone. I’m taking one oxycodone every 15-20 hours, which is down from one every 6 hours when I was first released from the hospital.
One of the interesting side effects of this has been the total disappearance of sexual desire. I still have some attraction to people–I recognize beauty–but the idea of actually engaging in sex (or even imaging engaging in it) seems infinitely tiring. And this has led to some interesting observations about life in China.
One major attraction of living in China, for many (most?) a white dude, is the ready availability of Chinese females. I’ve long suspected that if the local ladies weren’t attracted to foreigners, there really wouldn’t be much of an expat scene here. I think the pleasure principal runs that strong.
And I wasn’t much of an exception really. It’s a banality to say guys think about sex a lot, but in China they probably think about it double. And even if I was far more restrained in my actual behavior than many guys I know, the thought process was always there churning away on an hourly–nay minutely–basis. It colored the way I saw the world, influencing the way I interpreted things, interacted with people, and planned the future.
There were times when I strongly suspected this was not a good thing, that it was pushing me in a bad direction, that it was taking me further from goals I had set for myself, that it was wasting lots of time, that it would severely limit the list of accomplishments I would be able to hold up at the end of my days. But it was, at bottom, simply impossible to change. I made up various excuses why ridding myself of desire would have all sorts of unforeseen dismal consequences, most of which circled back to the idea it would rid me of creativity–as if somehow the desire for sex was analogous to the desire to live. And anyway, I couldn’t.
Until now. Over the last ten days, I don’t feel that my creative juices have ceased to flow or that my desire to cycle the Himalayas has evaporated. I do feel that I occupy a different echelon–one soundproofed from the one most people exist in–but the newness of the space doesn’t terrify. I look around and see individuals, not bodies to either possess or to fret about never possessing. I look around around see people that frankly do not look very interesting. And on the rare occasion when I do see interesting faces, I can put so much more meaningful effort into it.
Painkillers are the ticket out of Asura, the Buddhist equivalent of a TV soap opera world where everyone is beautiful and conniving and trying to fuck each other or murder each other. And that’s what China has become, at least in the wealth bubbles of first-tier cities. There is a lot to be written about opioids and their benefits beyond merely helping you survive physical trauma. I don’t recommend breaking 6 ribs as an excuse to try them, but if you do, well, there’s something to look forward to.