Take Two Percocets and Call Me In The Morning

Covid Diaries Part 2 — March 19th

The world is a chaotic place filled with idiots. But the coronavirus has people really acting nuts.

I get it. It’s a deadly virus. There is no vaccine. Its symptoms are like the flu, but much more severe, which means it is more deadly, or something.

Still, I think people are overreacting. They’re hoarding toilet paper. And pasta. Well, I guess you know why they’re hoarding all that toilet paper. To clean up all that pasta.

But anyway, if you read the first entry to this stupid ass diary, you’d know I had surgery last Friday — (well, technically not last Friday, but Friday March 13th, as this is being published in May, two months after the diary was written; but work with me here).

The surgery was a hernia repair, a standard surgery that every jerkoff surgeon in America can do with their eyes closed. I think they even give them out as Halloween gifts sometimes.

Right, so the hernia, which I got playing basketball — a sport I am likely too old and fat now to be playing — was scheduled long before the virus had become a big issue. And like an asshole, I kept the appointment. And I got the surgery.

But during the surgery something went horribly wrong. They opened me up and said — sir, your bones have been fused with adamantium, are you sure that you have not been secretly selected by the United States government to take part in a program called Weapon X, and that your name is not Paul Cantor but Logan, and that you sometimes call yourself Wolverine?

I told them I didn’t know anything about that, but that it was pretty cool, that I might try out for the X-Men. They told me I’d never make it and went back to the surgery. In the end, everything went alright and I came home.

The doctor told me I would have an easy recovery. Literally, he was like “Dude, you’re gonna have an easy recovery.”

I was like, “You sure man? After all, it is surgery.”

He was like, “Trust me, you’ll be fucking these hoes the same night.”

I said — “Sir, please, I’m married.”

And he said, “Right, exactly.”

Maybe he had a reason for being so confident though. After all, he prescribed me some opioids.

“Here’s some Percocet,” he said. “Now, don’t be a fucking idiot. Take it as prescribed. If you don’t, basically, you’re gonna die.”

I was like, shit, I don’t want that. So I told myself I wouldn’t take them. And I tried not to. But after two or three days feeling like the little alien from Spaceballs was in my stomach, I gave up, broke a pill in half, and downed it with a half bottle of Johnnie Walker.

Within minutes, the pain went away. I was only halfway to a heart attack, so I took twelve more. Then I became a full-blown opioid addict. And I left my wife and kid and resigned myself to a life of crime.

No, but seriously, I could move again. I had never taken a prescription pain killer in my life. Afterward, I could definitely see the appeal. “Get that shit away from me,” I told my wife. “Because I am going to abuse them.”

Anyway, a week has gone by. I am still in pain. I mean, my pain threshold is pretty high. I’m a writer, so you know I like torture (and not the fun kind). But when I’m walking around, bending over — pretty much doing anything except sitting in one place — the pain is bad.

On a scale of 1 to watching the Knicks play basketball, this is like having to sit through the past twenty seasons, including the ones with Eddy Curry, all on the same night.

I wonder why I’m in so much pain. To fix a hernia, they put a plastic mesh inside you. Which is fucking disgusting, let’s be clear. But yeah, is the mesh rubbing against a nerve? Did I reinjure the hernia walking around too much or by picking up my 16-month-old daughter?

The doctor told me not to do that. “Don’t lift anything more than fifteen pounds for at least two or three weeks,” he said. “You’ve got a daughter, right?”

“Yes,” I said. “A cute little baby girl, the love of my life. She is about 25 pounds.”

“Right so, here’s the thing — fuck her. Forget about her. For the next few weeks, every time you see her, I want you to think of a piece of shit. She is a 25-pound piece of shit. You wouldn’t pick up a piece of shit, would you?”

“I guess I wouldn’t, no.”

“Okay, there you go. Listen, dummy. You are getting hernia surgery. Which means you can’t lift anything. Not even your daughter. You fuck this up, we’re gonna have to do this whole bullshit ass procedure over again. Got that?”

“Yes sir,” I said.

Then I came home from the hospital and picked my daughter right up. Because, fuck that.

So I call the doctor today. Remember, it’s a week later. And I still have pain.

“I need an appointment,” I say. “I’m in some pain. And don’t tell me take more Percocet. I was in pain before surgery. You should have given me the Percocet then. I’d have saved my insurance company ten grand or something; not that I give a fuck about those assholes. Just saying.”

The receptionist says — “Well, the doctor can see you tomorrow.”

For a moment, I pause. The coronavirus. A doctor’s office. Hmm.


The phone is silent.

I mean, if anywhere is safe now, it’s probably a doctor’s office. They’re likely sterilizing the shit out of that office, and only like idiots like me are going.

Still, it’s a place where strangers gather.


“Okay — fuck it,” I say. “Tomorrow is good.”

So then I try to go downstairs. Because I’m in pain, it takes me about three weeks to get there. But eventually I do.

My wife is like — “Doctor’s office? Now? What about the virus? You’re not taking this seriously. You’re putting us at risk.”

I’m thinking, really. It’s not like going to a fucking nightclub. It’s just a doctor’s office.

And it’s not like I have another choice. Let’s say he fucked up the surgery. Which is likely, considering my luck. How the hell is he gonna know unless he does a physical examination?

To spot a hernia, the doctor puts his hand on your nuts, and while you’re standing there pretending it isn’t awkward, he asks you to cough. If things move a certain way down there, he knows: this motherfucker has a hernia.

So, let’s say I go to the doctor tomorrow. He grabs my nuts. He’s like — hmm, this doesn’t feel right; maybe I did make a mistake.

He can’t do that on the phone. I guess he could ask me to grab my own nuts. But that would defeat the whole purpose of why he became a doctor.

I explain all this until my wife. She kind of hears me but doesn’t until she throws her hands up like, fuck it, do what you want to do, it’s not like they’re my nuts.

And it’s not like I don’t know it’s risky. I know I could hold off until next week. I could even do it the week after, or shit, ten years from now. I think my brother has had a hernia for a decade, and with the way his life has gone, I’d be surprised if his nuts were still there at all.

In all seriousness, my only real worry is that if I cancel, things will get worse. Either with the hernia, or with this fucking coronavirus crisis.

Within weeks, the hysteria, at a fever pitch already, will have only increased. It will be impossible to get an appointment then. Or toilet paper.

In that case, I guess you could say I’d be shit out of luck.

Written by

Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store