In the shadows of every individual’s life, a unique tapestry is woven with threads of joy and sorrow, triumph and defeat. Our journey through existence is often marked by moments that test our resilience, spirit, and essence. And within this intricate mosaic are those whose battles are fought on the battlefield of addiction, a struggle that can lead them to the precipice of life itself.
This woman’s story is one of raw vulnerability, a narrative that whispers of the depths to which the human heart can plummet and the heights it can once again ascend.
The battle escalated one fateful day for her, reaching a crescendo that left her teetering between life and death. In this desperate moment, the universe intervened as if to proclaim that her story was far from over.
The hands of fate guided skilled and compassionate medical professionals who arrived armed not with judgment, but with a vial of Narcan. In the blink of an eye, this medication jolted her body back from the precipice and thrust her into a second chance at life.
But this is not just a story of medical intervention but of humanity’s unwavering capacity for empathy. It’s about the dedicated souls who choose to stand on the frontlines of addiction, armed not with weapons but with compassion, patience, and a belief in the dormant strength of every individual. It’s a testament to the power of connection, reminding us that we are not alone, even in our darkest moments.
It was the summer of 2019 and my addiction to heroin was in full swing. I had always sworn to myself that I would never become an intravenous user, but when you’re addicted to heroin, you don’t make promises to yourself that are likely kept, which is exactly what happened to me.
My days consisted of chasing this powder that in a few short moments, would end my life completely if it were not for the person I was using with as well as the first people to respond to my lifeless, naked body in the parking lot of Stephens hospital. It was a normal summer day, driving around with my best friend, selling and using the poison we were riddling our “friends” bodies with. It was hot, mid-August and we had pulled over on the side of the road up by Stoney Brook which we had done so many times before, planning to go skinny dipping in a 3-foot river. (I never said these ideas were good). I had undressed completely except for a pair of hot pink Victoria’s Secret underwear I had just gotten and really loved. We had just picked up some new heroin, which we heard was “killer,” but in that game, that’s what they all say. So, to say we believed it was that good would be a far reach. I did my first shot and actually pretended to go out to see what my friend’s reaction would be. He smacked me and told me not to “fuck around like that.” At this point, my tolerance was that of a full-blown heroin addict, higher than a Georgia pine you could say. So, I loaded up the spoon with the rest of my precious supply, stuck the needle in my arm, and that’s the last thing I remember until I was jolted awake by the powerful reversal drug, Narcan. I can’t say I was laying on the cold examination table in the ER because my body was reacting so violently to the Narcan that I was convulsing off the table, sweat pouring off me as I had actually made it to that river to skinny dip. I had no recollection of how I had gotten there, who I was with, or what had happened. I actually thought I had been in a car accident, but the reality was far worse. I had caused my own death for 4 minutes and 12 seconds.
ER personnel, who we’ll consider the first responders, had hit me with 4 doses of Narcan after pulling my blue, lifeless body out of the passenger seat of that car I was in, in just my hot pink underwear that I loved and had brought me back to life. When I came to, I was scared, crying, confused, terrified, the list of emotions I felt at that time could go on and on because, you see, when they gave me the Narcan, it pushed all of the heroin from my body and allowed me to feel emotions for the first time in many years. I hated that feeling. I instantly began asking the nurses for something to calm me down because I could not stop convulsing. It was the worst feeling in the world, and it seems the nurses may have known that because they gave me IV Ativan to calm me down long enough so they could talk to me. They were all very kind, but you could tell they had done this with many people before me. They knew exactly what to do and what questions to ask. Once the Ativan kicked in, they wanted a urine sample to see exactly what drugs I was on, but I could not give them one because I had already urinated all over myself and the passenger seat of that car in the parking lot 10 minutes earlier. At this point, they decided to put a catheter in (which I do not recommend) so they could get the sample they needed. The results of that drug test came back much more than just the drugs I had been doing, which the nurse let me know as kindly as she could. She was even shaking when she told me the news. I saw pity and sadness on her face for me; if only I had felt that for myself at the time.
These first responders saved my life. They acted swiftly and quickly to reverse the hell I had just unleashed on my body, and they did it with compassion, empathy, and knowledge. To this day, it makes me sad that our ER personnel even have to know how to bring someone back from the dead who put themselves there.