No More Pain. Heroin Overdose.
NO MORE PAIN. HEROIN OVERDOSE.
I was to makeup a fictional character to use as I complete assignments, exercises, and projects this semester. A pretend situation that would parallel real life occurrences with addictions. Unfortunately, my intervention is not a fictional character in a pretend addiction. The addiction and intervention is the story about my roommate who I will name Natasha to protect her true identity.
My other roommate is David. He has been very close to me for over 35 years. At one point in our lives we were together as spouses for many years. As we got older, the flame in our relationship burned out. The friendship bond remained. It was so strong from all we had endured together that we are the best of friends and are roommates. We share a house together. We spent 25 years battling an addiction to methamphetamines. We had the lead roles in the “Dope-Opera” with “As the Bowl Turns” a view into our lives. Our relationship was based on a vow that stated, “Till Meth Do We Part”.
David is the owner of an establishment where he has a few employees. One of his employees is a crack cocaine addict. She spends all her money feeding the monster of her addiction. She prostitutes to pay for cheap motel rooms for a place to stay off the street when she could. One day this employee, who I will name “Summer”, came to work and had a young adult female with her. It was her daughter who had just arrives from Chicago, Illinois. Summer was doing what she did and did not want her daughter’s presence interfering with getting high every day. She quit her job and took off leaving Natasha at the establishment while Natasha was occupied. Summer didn’t come back. Her phone was turned off by the cell phone company for lack of payment.
David brought Natasha to our house because we have two spare bedrooms that are unoccupied. After not having contact with Summer for a long period of time, we decide to let Natasha stay because she did not want to go back to Chicago, Illinois.
Natasha had lived her teenage years with her dad in Chicago, Illinois. Her dad was a top representative for one of the largest guitar manufacturers in the world. He traveled abroad regularly, and lengthy absences left Natasha to grow up on her own. Natasha was very lonely and no sense of belonging to a family. She began dealing with this pain by getting high on Black Tar Heroin. David and I knew nothing about her addiction, nor did we know all the trouble she was in when she arrived in Texas.
Natasha began to use social media and made a few new friends. She had started going out with some very strange people and would stay gone for days at a time. David convinced me not to be concerned. She was a young adult and was meeting people, having fun, and living life.
In October 2016, I heard a crash in Natasha’s room. David broke the lock on her door and busted in hoping to catch someone breaking in our house. Instead he found Natasha unconscious laying on the floor. A needle, spoon, and lighter were present. She had overdosed on heroin. David called me into her room and after17 long minutes of C.P.R. we brought her back. We had a portable oxygen tank that we let her use for the next 23.5 hours to help get oxygen. By the luck of the draw, she had recovered from the overdose. This was more than David and I were willing to deal within our home. She will to make other arrangements and leave.
Natasha told me about 75 of her friends in Chicago had all overdosed and died in the same night from doing bad heroin that was cut with. Come to find out Natasha had a few scathes with law enforcement in Chicago. She had been placed on probation with an electronic ankle monitor. She cut off the monitor and absconded from Illinois by fleeing to Texas.
I sat down with Natasha and talked to her about getting some help with her addiction. I was intervening into her problem with heroin in hopes that she is will get some help. She was very defensive with the attitude that reminded me of a rebellious teenager. There was a sweet talk, paint a storybook picture, and basically make a lot of empty promises that would make her life attractive in recovery. This was a sure deflection and would push her away to become like her mom, Summer. I couldn’t do that and feel like I would be responsible for her well-being. At least until her dad got back in the country, she was my responsibility.
When Natasha and I had this heart-to-heart talk, she didn’t care about her own well-being at all. She didn’t want to feel pain and she wanted to die. I had to get a little bit hardcore with Natasha. I gave her three options, or better yet, consequences.
First, she could go back to Chicago and face the warrants she had, spend two years in jail, and get clean without detox. Second, she could let me find her a long=term detox and recovery center somewhere far away and she could get clean. We could deal with the warrants and get those taken care of after she finished the recovery program. Third, she could continue on this path of self-destruction but she wasn’t going to live in our house doing it. It wouldn’t be long before death would be her consequence again. I wouldn’t allow the third option when it was the one she picked. She decided option two would be a lot better for her.
Detox and Rehab
We found an awesome recovery center in Malibu California. Heroin addicts were the main clientele and most were in her age group. Her insurance was awesome and this place was covered by it. Within two days, Natasha was on a plane headed to Los Angeles where Malibu is a beach-front suburb. The first 30 days were tough. By the time Christmas holidays were here, she had settled in for the long haul.
In January, something triggered Natasha’s craving and she awakened the monster of heroin that still had the control. She began to lash out at others and provoked a large enough physical confrontation that she was discharged unsatisfactorily. The director of the recovery center notified us that she would be released and needed an immediate plane ticket back home.
As David and I made the arrangements and she was home by 10:00pm that evening.
I left with my boyfriend and was spending a lot of time helping him. I wasn’t home as much as before. Natasha was having her mother, Summer, staying with her at the house the first week. David was not happy with this arrangement, considering the whole picture and that the relationship between them was not in Natasha’s best interest. Summer was asked to leave our house at the end of the week. The next week, Natasha begins contacting old friends. She uses the excuse that she is bored and wants to see her friends. So, David drops her off at a friend’s while he is at work. When he calls me to tell me where Natasha is, I tell him she is doing heroin with those friends. He assures me that’s not the case and that Natasha doesn’t want to get back on it. My gut feeling tells me different. David picks Natasha up from her friend’s house after work. She is irritable and aggravated when they get home. My opinion is that it’s because she is wanting a “fix”.
The next day, David takes her to work with him. It’s a Saturday night and there will be a lot of people at his place of business. He thinks that Natasha won’t be as bored as she was just sitting at home nor that she’d want to go to her friend’s. While at David’s work place, Natasha calls her dad in Chicago. She talks him into wiring her $50.00 through Western Union. Then, she talked a guy that she’d just met into giving her a ride to the closest location. She told David the guy was going to give her a ride to the store and she would be right back. As the night ended, there was still no word from Natasha. David calls me to come home because he is worried about her. I go home and he is bolting out the door. I asked him what was going on. He tells me he’s on his way to the hospital. He had been calling her cell phone over and over. Finally, someone answered it and it was a nurse in the emergency room. She wanted David to come identify Natasha’s body and would have a doctor talk to him when he got there. They told him that she was alive and that was all the information they would give him. I get in the car with David and we go to the emergency room.
When we get there, we both identify Natasha by the clothes, jewelry, scars, tattoos, etc. We are not allowed to see her and we are asked if we can contact anyone in her immediate family. David calls her dad in Chicago while I try to locate Summer. Her dad lets the hospital know that David and I are her household and we were given consent to oversee Natasha’s medical care. Her dad gave the hospital Natasha’s insurance information and said he would come in a few days. A doctor came out to talk to us. He said the paramedics found her body, D.O.A. (Dead On Arrival), in a hotel room in Fort Worth. They performed CPR on her for 32 minutes which is 12 minutes longer than the legal time limit of 20 minutes. One of the paramedics saw her eyelid twitch and refused to stop the CPR procedure at 20 minutes. Her heart restarted but she was unable to breathe on her own. They were still trying to stabilize her and assess the damages. He said she had overdosed on heroin. The paramedics were called by the hotel when housekeeping staff discovered her lifeless body in the hotel room. There was no way of telling how long she had been unconscious at that time. The doctor went on to explain how brain damage is a probability and her survival chances were very low – less than one percent at this point. Her dad had told the doctor that he would allow the life support for a short time and then signed a No Resuscitation paper after 30 days. Natasha was in a vegetative state. We stayed at the hospital that night to wait for a progress report. The doctor returned with another report several hours later. Natasha has severe damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs, and her brain activity was very weak. I get on Facebook and start searching for prayer warriors out of my 2600 friends.
Power of Prayers
The power of prayer begins! It was huge before morning – over 4000 people were praying together for Natasha. The doctor that took the morning shift and assessed Natasha’s condition said it was grim. He had induced a deep coma where she couldn’t wake up for three days. He had her body temperature lowered as she was place on a life support system that included dialysis for her kidneys. He said that her body needed to try to heal and begin repairing its vital organs and brain. The less her body had to work allowed for a better chance at survival. From that point through the next three days, Natasha’s condition remained the same. David and I remained at the hospital. After three days, the doctor wanted to raise her body temperature and see where her progress was. There was none. However, she had not worsened either. This was good news. Another three days go by, and no improvement. But her kidneys are beginning to function and, hopefully, the dialysis will only be temporary. After 12 days of the life support system, the doctor wanted to see if Natasha could breathe on her own (even though she was still in a coma). They removed the trach tube and her throat closed up. She couldn’t breathe on her own. Her chances of survival were very slim but better than the first three days. We were told that she would probably be severely brain damaged and on a respiratory system if she wakes up. The days go by while David and I stay at the hospital. I continue to post Natasha’s progress on Facebook and continue to as for the support of prayer. I started posting prayer requests publicly on Facebook, as well. By this time, I had developed a prayer circle of over 10,000 people. David shut down his office and I had stopped going to classes.
It ‘s day 17 and Natasha wakes up! She is confused, frightened, and doesn’t recognize anyone. She can’t move, she can’t talk, and she doesn’t comprehend what has happened. The doctors run all kinds of tests on her and she is scared to death. The doctors pull the trach tube out again. This time it’s replaced with an oxygen mask and tubes through her nose. She remembers her name. After another two days, she begins to recognize me and David. Her parents finally show up after 20 days. Her dad immediately informs us that she can’t stay with him because he is going to have time to be there for her every day and be her babysitter. Her mom definitely cannot take on the responsibility. So, the responsibility of overseeing Natasha’s recovery has been left to me and David. David can’t devote 100% of his time to her because our financial situation is not allowing us to afford to be off work too much longer. David and I split the responsibility the best we can and I have most of this responsibility. 27 days have gone by and her progress is very slow. She can move her hands and clumsily use her fingers. Physical therapists begin to work on her muscular/skeletal issues so that she will be able to eventually walk again and prevent any further atrophy setting in.
Then a setback when she is rushed into emergency surgery to put tubes back in her lungs because she has fluid on them and developed pneumonia. She began having seizures and bad headaches. She has absolutely no cognitive skills for problem solving. She began to try to get out of the bed and leave the hospital and is placed into restraints. She becomes very angry and it’s almost an animalistic behavior. This lasts for a few days. Recognition is beginning and she recognizes David and me and remembers where she lives. She gets mad and cries when either one of us leaves because she still doesn’t understand what happened to her. Another week goes by and she has blood clots in her arms and legs as a result of the lowering of her body temperature, heartrate, and being bed-ridden for a while. They give her blood thinners. She has a heart condition and goes into cardiac arrest. Her heart doesn’t have a regular beat or rhythm any more. She constantly cries and screams from the physical pain along with the emotional toll and it’s hard! She wants to die and take away the pain. She doesn’t care about herself. She hates herself and wants to end her life the first chance she gets. Her coordination has improved and she can get around with the help of crutches.
The doctors decide that Natasha is ready to be released from the hospital. However, David and I agree that she needs to have some psychiatric help before we are ready for her to come home. With consent from her parents, we have her placed in a mental hospital upon her release from the hospital.
Natasha stayed at a transitional psychological facility before coming home two weeks later. When she got home it was not a bed of roses by no means. She suffered severe pain in her legs from having atrophy in her muscles. She had blot clots in her legs which she was put on blood thinners. She had a look about her than seemed like she was in absence of everything going on and had a hard time keeping up. Her cognitive and reasoning skills were no longer capable of her being able to care for herself and made her seem childlike in those areas. She had constant supervision and it was hard for her since she had no recollection of what had happened to her, the addiction to heroin had also disappeared in her amnesia from the previous four months of her life. It was still a long road to recovery.
Moving to Chicago
It was time for Natasha to move on. She was going to her dad’s house in Chicago where she could face her criminal charges and get that part of her past behind her. It took 5 times to the airport because missed her flight. She would get lost, forget to board, be in the restroom, and etcetera. She would be chaperoned, and even left with an official airline escort, as though she was a child, and they would not stay with her helping her board. Finally, the 5th time was successful. She landed in Chicago. She was put on a probation for a small amount of time and sent to a rehab there. When she completed her probation, she got a job and decided that it was better for her to remain in Chicago.
Natasha was very blessed and lucky to have survived her overdose. She does not look like the same person. She has evolved into a very beautiful young lady. She has life and she loves it. The old Natasha has gone, and this new Natasha is who she was meant to be. Not everyone is so fortunate. Matter of fact, few people rarely pull through an overdose, resuscitation for over 20 minutes, life support, and woke up with blood clots, pneumonia, and more. Today, she is not recognized as the heroin addict she used to be, but a wonderful inspiration to those that fight their addictions. She has become a speaker and reaches out to those who need a friend. She assures them that they are not alone and they no longer have to live entrapped in their darkness. When there is a pinhole of light then its not dark any more!
To Other Addicts
If you are in your addiction seek some kind of help, please. You are not alone, and many people are willing to help you. If you do not seek help, then it is enevitable that this disease will destroy you. You are too valuable, and you are loved. It is not cute to see your body lying on a gurney while your loved ones cry over you, and a medical staff tries to revive you. It is an experience that most do not survive. Drugs are not cut by pharmacists on the streets. They are cut by drug dealers! The concentration of adulterants and dilutants are not evenly distributed throughout the drugs properly, and it is toxic, it is dangerous, and its not for you. Please belief that you are worth every breath you take, and you deserve to be released from the hold of addiction. Call someone and make a decision to start getting well. God bless you.
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Regina Groves