What I Learned From My Shower Sex Injury
In hindsight, there were probably smarter places I could have travelled to escape my addictive personality than Eastern Europe. Especially when a recovering junkie can get given a script — no questions asked — for morphine.
I could see the sun beginning to rise on the horizon of the abandoned Templehof Airport in Berlin from the window of our Airbnb. It was a nice change from the dirty backpackers I had been staying in for weeks, which reeked of desperation and Lynx Africa.
I had just polished off my second bottle of cheap Merlot, and was having a shower with a male acquaintance I had picked up at my hostel two nights prior. The bathroom was thick with steam hovering above the polished tiles.
As we soon discovered, shower sex is not as comfortable or convenient as it appears in porn; we were both struggling to find a position without a plug or a tap poking into one of our backs.
I had the great idea to pop a leg out of the shower to give myself more wriggle room, only to glide along the wet floor and smack my foot into the glass screen. Feeling a shrapnel-like pain ricocheting through my leg, I looked down to realise that while two toes remained in place, three were dislocated and hanging sideways like limp biscuits.
In a state of shock – and thankfully numbness from the amount of red wine I had consumed – I let out a loud, “Fuuuuuuuuck!” and decided to Skype my mother for some free medical advice.
“You’re going to have to crack them back in, and then go to the hospital,” she said with panic in her voice.
My friends, both supportive and utterly disgusted, rolled me a joint for the pain and tried to convince me to go to the doctor for a proper examination. However, being a naive 18-year-old with pre-existing addiction problems, I figured ‘she’ll be right’ and instead took a Valium and went to sleep.
Boarding a train to Prague the following morning, the weight of my 65L pack and relapse hanging heavy on my shoulders, I tried to disregard the internal throb that filled me when the crevices of plastic baggies had been licked clean.
After climbing 287 steps to the top of the Prague Castle, the external pain from the night prior had begun to sink in. This was quickly eradicated by a trip to the Absinthe Bar, where we sampled some Green Fairy, and the bud they sold us from behind the counter.
Three caps, two clubs and one horrendous comedown later, I decided I should probably listen to the advice I was receiving from everyone and head to the pharmacy. Within one glance of my swollen and battered blue foot, I was handed a script for endone and codeine.
My bad habits will die when I do, I thought to myself.
This was the beginning of my battle with my own ego and the invincibility complex I had adopted after months of consequence-free binge drinking and a reckless attitude toward healing.
Following countless examples of poor-decision making – encouraged by the fellow drunk Australians I had met along the way – backpacking solo had eradicated all of the normal self-care routines and standards I had applied for myself.
Snorting a bag of coke and stealing a segway is a sick idea, Jules, I thought.
By the time I had graduated high school, I had lost over half of my friendship group to incarceration, heroin and suicide. I thought then that chaos was a beautiful thing — that it was spectacular, even, to be dangerous, desirable and dead.
Coming to terms with my friends’ mortality, I had turned to illicit coping strategies to help me with my grief. With alcohol, benzodiazepines and depression having a strong hold over me, I ventured overseas to attempt to escape the grip of addiction.
The three-year struggle had stemmed from being surrounded by Melbourne’s drug culture and death, and the never ending cycle that this entails. Eulogies had replaced speeches at birthday parties and my classmates were making the front-page news.
The weeks that followed my injury were a blur of morphine-fuelled carelessness: buying pills from suspicious men in the town square, rolling between the soiled sheets of men and women and hallucinating at the Torture Museum. Prague – and its one-euro palinka shots – had consumed me.
Rather than confronting the problem I had with drugs or the stress I was putting on my body, I assumed they would dissolve like a tab on my tongue.
It wasn’t until an old friend from home came to visit me in the Czech Republic that the shield I had put up around myself began to show cracks.
“You’re a fucking idiot man,” he said. “Do you really want your friends to go to another funeral this year? If you keep acting like this, you’re gonna go back to Melbourne in a body bag.”
The sting of that hurt much more than dislocating three of my toes. I finally began to see that whilst the effect of my injury and consistent drug use didn’t appear to be harming me, it was, and it was hurting those close to me too.
I thought I was invincible because I was young, cashed up and irresponsible, and I learned the hard way that this was not the case. While I don’t regret anything, except maybe the fairly average root, I have learned how to get loose without it being detrimental to my physical and mental health.
I never anticipated that a shower sex injury would not only cause me to develop an opiod addiction, but would also be the thing that eventually saved me from myself.