Someone was nice enough to leave a question on my personal page asking about the specific meanings behind “Tramadol” and I had some time on my my hands so I tried my best to go into detail about it. Here’s what I answered. I’m not sure how the internet works so I just copied and pasted. Thanks y’all.
“Since the summer before my sophomore year of highschool (so summer of 2008 I think), I have struggled almost daily with Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s is an autoimmune disease that attacks the intestines. It causes inflammation, chronic pain, digestive issues, and can lead to full digestive shutdown/perforation/rupture (which if untreated would certainly lead to my slow and painful death). Sometimes its little things that just nag at me, like general pain, discomfort, nausea, and fatigue. Other times it can reach a fever pitch emergency point where I have to be admitted to a hospital right away and usually stay there for days at a time stoned out of my mind on high potency painkillers and massive amounts of steriods.
At its very base level that is what Tramadol is about. To a point I feel it is unnecessary to go further, but you seem like you really do want to know so I’m going to give you about as much as I can here.
About two days before Xerxes left for Europe in late November, I was at a girl’s parents house who I had been with off and on for about a year or two. We had a fight of some sort, definitely having to do with my being away all the time and her need to move on from a relationship that was essentially unsustainable in my absence. At that conversation’s close, she went to her room and I fell asleep on the couch. Most bad Crohn’s flares are triggered by stress and I actually remember thinking before I went to sleep (with no sarcasm at all) that this balancing act of being on tour and being in love was going to kill me.
I woke up at three AM and knew right I needed to go to the hospital. She, of course, was the only person available at the time to take me and truthfully the anger and frustration from that fight before melted away into compassion because it was plain to see that I was in pain and needed help. I will say that is one concession the song doesn’t make. There’s a lot of anger wrapped up in it, but this girl that is the subject of the song at times did save my life that night and I do owe her one. We’ve talked since then and I think she understands.
So eventually it ends up with me and her sitting alone in the emergency room and I’m kind of writhing around every thirty seconds or so because the pain comes in waves and I hadn’t been given any drugs yet and she is nothing but sweet and wonderful to me the entire time. There’s a point when I’m laying there that I’m sure I told her I loved her and she told me she loved me. I’m thinking through all this, though the distance and the pain and then anger and frustration, there’s hope for us.
Flash forward to getting home from Europe, through the entire time I was gone, we stayed in touch as much as possible and we held it together pretty well across continents and time zones. But once we were together again at home, things just continue falling apart. That point from the end of September to mid-December was the worst stretch of time I’ve ever had in my life. Not only were things bad in that relationship, I was also not just broke, but in an amount of debt I saw no end to, I was to a point homeless, and I had Crohn’s rearing its head at me all the time.
The thing about Crohn’s is that when you’re not lying in a hospital bed writhing in pain, its impossible for anyone to really see or understand what you’re feeling. I think its that way with a lot of diseases that cause chronic pain/nausea/fatigue. I know Evan (our drummer)’s older brother has a chronic fatigue disorder and when Evan showed him Tramadol, it automatically clicked. The line about “…the fatigue / not so much that I needed sleep / just how some things make you weak / so you don’t notice the blood until the knife is twisting” is exactly that. These things wear you down, they make you weak, they ruin things around you because you can’t physically deal with them. The segment of the song that deals with the relationship I had with this girl is about that. How in the emergency room she could show me compassion and understanding, but outside in the real world when this disease was hurting me in a way she couldn’t see, I felt like she didn’t care to understand anymore.
(This is funny because I’m trying to describe what I’m trying to describe in the the song and wondering if you’ll understand)
Moving forward, the end of the song describes a pretty dramatic moment when I kind of realized I was going to die and that my life was insignificant and that for all the pain and fucked up things I have to deal with that no one knows nor cares about most of the time, there wasn’t a point in trying anymore. All of that is very extreme and not even true but your mind thinks funny thoughts sometimes when what happened to me that I’m about to describe in detail happens to you.
Me and my brother had a lunch date with our Dad. We have those often. Often these lunch dates are on an afternoon following a night of heavy drinking between us. Coincidentally this one did. I mention this because I’m sure being up until 4 AM and not getting a wink of sober sleep and passing out on my brother’s bedroom floor all had a possibly major effect on the events that followed.
Me and Jake grabbed coffee on the way to lunch and the caffeine dulled the headache I was having. Once we got to Panera Bread in my Dad’s end of town (Me and Jake live nearer to downtown, admittedly in the hood. Dad lives in the suburbs) I tried to down as much water as possible to give the impression to my father that I wasn’t extremely hungover. When my food came out, I nibbled on a crouton on top of my soup before I excused myself to the restroom.
There was someone washing their hands so when I locked the stall door I tried to hold in the vomit until I heard the door open and close but I couldn’t. So first came cold water. Then hot black coffee. And then to my wonder and amazement, thick red blood. So I just kind of sat there in the bathroom and cried for a while before I went back to the table and told them I was sick and called into work. I popped a Tramadol and spent the rest of the day on my Dad’s couch wondering when I was going to die and if I cared at all.
This wasn’t very well thought out at all and I’m probably leaving things out but that’s the general gist of it.”