Tag Archives: talwin

Dad teaching me to play checkers

Dad was never one for playing games. I can’t imagine him sitting down to play Tiddlywinks or Monopoly with me. Mom was my go-to game-playing parent.

But Dad did teach me how to play checkers.

My parents bought me one of those dimestore affairs, with a paper board that we taped because it fell apart and cheap plastic chips.

I was four years old.

I don’t remember much about the games we played. What I do remember is the brightly-colored plastic bowl by Dad’s side, filled with carrot and celery sticks. Dad was far from a vegetarian, and normally hated crunchy things, as he was afraid he would crack a tooth. I remember him crunching loudly on those crisp vegetables, sweat on his brow, his eyes ablaze with more than just someone playing a casual game of checkers with his young daughter.

Dad was kicking his Valium habit, the one he picked up after his brief run-in with Talwin. The Valium habit became pretty bad, even I could tell at that young age. I remember the fights, the retreating into the bedroom for days at a time, the growling bear that would emerge when he would join us for dinner.

So he quit. Cold turkey. He never touched Valium again as far as I know. (The psych meds he received at the end of his life were not his choice.)

In the end, it didn’t matter who won or lost all of those games of checkers. There was another game being played amidst those red and black squares, and Dad proved to be the winner.

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Dad’s trouble with Talwin

Last week, I wrote about how Dad ruined Mom’s first Mother’s Day by landing in the hospital for foot surgery. He ended up in a tremendous amount of pain from the procedure.

In walked Talwin. It became my dad’s new best friend and my mom’s worst nightmare.

Talwin (Pentazocine) is intended for moderate to severe pain and actually had been tested by several legitimate organizations in the 1960’s which had lauded the drug for its non-addictive properties. Well, Dad and some heroin junkies looking for a cheap fix proved them wrong. “Ts and Blues” was all the rage briefly circa 1978. Some enterprising heroin addicts had found that by crushing up Talwin along with an over-the-counter antihistamine (tripelennamine—the pills were blue) and injecting it, they could produce a high similar to heroin. Dad was terrified of needles, so I’m sure he stuck with the pill form.

Mom swears Talwin was banned at some point. From my research, it seems another drug, naloxone, was added to Talwin to block the drug’s use recreationally, which caused its illicit use to plummet, therefore the drug remains legal. Perhaps Mom is just having some wishful thinking. According to Mom, while Dad was in the woozy grasps of Talwin, he somehow managed to work and pay the bills but he would park the car in the middle of the street. When he was at home, he would sleep. And sleep some more.

Eventually, he ran out of any refills he might have been given for his recovery from foot surgery. He went with Mom to the doctor to beg for more pills. The doctor refused. Dad tried to wheedle some more drugs out of the doctor, but the doctor just looked over at Mom, who said nothing but nodded to show she supported the doctor’s decision. Dad had Mom wait outside and he went back in for a final plea. Rejected again, he walked out, angry and in need of some T’s.

Ultimately, he switched from T’s to V’s, as in Valium, until he gave up his pill popping phase for good. Well, that is, until he was fed a steady stream of mind-altering drugs in the care center at the end of his life. Of course, pill addiction now has reached epidemic levels in the U.S. We were fortunate as a family that Dad was able to escape from the cruel jaws of addiction back in the 1970’s.

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