Filed under: JUNKe life
Dirty hit! Fuck! last night I had my first bout of cotton fever in damn near a decade. Thank gawd it wasn’t one of the worst bouts. But it was bad enough. I realized it was coming on when I started feeling my muscles in my neck, lower back, and jaw start tensing up. Then I started feeling cold, and soon was freezing, with literal convulsions of spasms of cold shooting up my body. These effects started happening about two hours after injecting, and went from first noticing, to full blown, in about ten minutes.
But I wasn’t really cold, although I felt freezing; in fact, I was getting awfully hot with a fever. I dragged myself to bed and lay there, teeth chattering, muscles tensing up so powerfully that I could hardly breath at times. My partner kept applying ice on my head, and cold clothes to my neck and chest, blasted a fan at me, and I just lay naked on the bed, holding on. I kept going through convulsions of shaking, during which it felt as if my lungs were being squeezed shut. I couldn’t control my moaning and talking aloud, “oh fuck this is awful, oh shit god stop!”. I kept telling myself to try and relax, but the seizures of muscle tensing and shaking were uncontrollable. This real acute phase lasted about an hour, then diminished somewhat, and then returned again for another half hour. Finally I just fell asleep. And then awoke about three hours later, drenched in sweat, and sore all over.
I remember my first bout. It was in the early-90’s, about six months after I was using regularly. It came on similarly as I explained above, but at that time, I really had no idea what was happening. When I got to the uncontrollable shivering phase I was starting to get scared. I realized it had to have something to do with some reaction to shooting up but I didn’t know if it was an allergic reaction to the dope, or god knows what. But it was powerful, and every muscle in my body seemed to have seized up, and was hurting. Like I was in the throws of a big beast that was squeezing and shaking me. I crawled over to the telephone, and crawled back to my futon with the phone. I told myself if it got any worse I would call an ambulance. Eventually I just sort of passed out, and when I awoke several hours later, I ached all over. It was like I’d strained all the major muscles in my body, and I was sore to the core.
Subsequently I’ve had a half dozen more cotton fever bouts. Then I finally stopped using cottons to cook up MS Contin morphine pills, and since then, I hadn’t had a session for nearly a decade until last night. I don’t know what caused it last night. I guess some little particle of dirt or something managed to get into my fit. Usually I’m very careful, and I notice any little bits that might be in what I’m cooking up and pick them out with the tip of a used needle. But I guess one minuscule bit of dirt managed to slip by last night.
Cotton fever is uncomfortable, but it’s usually not serious.
Symptoms may include:
- Shaking that you can’t control
- Hot flashes
- Shortness of breath
Symptoms usually show up right after injecting, but may take up to an hour. Taking a second hit will not make them go away. Instead, grab a blanket and let the infection take its course.
These days “cotton fever” is pretty much a colloquial term for experiencing a dirty hit. Most of what’s called cotton fever really isn’t cotton fever in the classic sense. It isn’t some bacteria from old cottons, but rather a piece of dirt or a piece of filter (usually cigarette filter) that was in the liquid that’s injected. And then the body recognizes this foreign element, tries to isolate it, and develops a rejection response of fever and shaking.
It’s no fun at all! And I hope I go at least another decade before experiencing it again. And that’s for damn sure!
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