Citation: Celest. "Nocturnal Journies: An Experience with Zolpidem (Ambien), Tramadol & Nortriptyline (Pamelor) (ID 72097)". Erowid.org. Nov 26, 2008. erowid.org/exp/72097
This story is completely true. And rather funny after the fact. Fortunately, I had an understanding sheriff’s department and hospital staff. What makes this even more bizarre is that I was simply following doctor’s orders.
Most drugs don’t have a great effect on me. I haven’t delved into illegal substances so I don’t know if my same tolerance and lack luster happenings apply to them as well. I can take high level opiates (this includes IV morphine in the hospital) and not get high. Regretfully this means I also don’t have as much pain relief as others. In some ways I wouldn’t be surprised if I had muted reactions to illegal substances as well, seeing all the extreme medications I have been given to deal with chronic pain. Let me tell you, taking prescribed doses of some things, like seizure medications, can supply their own surreal worlds. So far, I guess, I haven’t had the need (or want) to experiment. I have a deadly world right in my medicine cabinet.
I have been dealing with chronic pain for some time, and one of the pitfalls is not sleeping well. I am also a disabled veteran and it has been my experience that they simply medicate you to make you go away. Instead of getting me to a doctor to have a simple laser minimally invasive surgery to trim the offending discs in my back, I get more medications.
My doctor told me he was starting me out on 5mg of Ambien. His explicit directions where to take a second one if the first one didn’t work. At this time they had me on Tramadol 100mg x3 and Pamelor (nortriptyline). For those that don’t know, while Pamelor is used to treat depression, it is also a standard medication for the treatment of chronic pain. I want to say I was at 50mg x4, some large amount – what I remember was that it was a higher dose then what is normally used to treat depression, the main reason the drug exists. I wasn’t tolerating it very well – in fact I became depressed while on it, but the doctors insisted I keep going despite the crippling sadness, lack of pain relief, not to mention that I wanted to constantly sleep for 12 hours straight and was constantly tired, but had difficulties falling and staying asleep. Which really doesn’t help when you are working 13 hours days. Hence the sleeping pill.
This is where the whole things gets rather humorous – now after the fact. I was very lucky, and I feel utterly blessed that no one else got hurt that night. Regardless that I had been the victim of bad medicine mixing, if I had hurt someone, I never would have forgiven myself. Tramadol was still helping with my back pain (one of the few pain medications that works for me), but I had pain all through my hip from the nerves being pinched in my back. So I took one 5mg Ambien to see if I could lay down and get some rest. Pamelor was essentially useless, but I took it as prescribed at bedtime also, hoping it would help me fall asleep quicker.
An hour goes by and I’m staring a the ceiling, thinking “This is fucking ridiculous.” The bad thing for me with Ambien is that it may not work, but if I try to sit up and do other things I get dizzy and sick really fast. So once I take it I’m stuck. So I took the next 5mg as per my doctor and laid back down again. The next thing I know I am waking up while my car is rolling over in a ditch and water is drenching me.
Wow – talk about a change of scenary.
Apparently – I have no recollection of anything after taking that second pill and falling asleep – I decided to go out for a drive. Thank God I put clothes on – well close enough. I wasn’t dressed great, I had no undergarments or socks on and my shoes weren’t tied. But hey – at least I wasn’t naked. And since I am a freak about seatbelts (I’ve seen the damage not wearing one can do) I did manage to put mine on even in my sleep. Which probably saved my life. Even with the seatbelt on I hit my head on the windshield because of the way the seats sit, the low upper curve of the windshield and my height. Without it I probably would have been thrown.
So there I was, sitting on the side of the road – in God knows where – really confused. I don’t recognize where I am and I don’t know how I got out there. A few cars are speeding by on what appears to be a back country road. Finally one stops and a lady gets out just as it is starting to rain. I later learn that this is about 4:30 in the morning. She talks to me and I guess I was really disorientated for a while. She asks if I need an ambulance and calls 911 for me. She actually navigated the drainage ditch that my car rolled through (and thankfully turned back upright) to give me a blanket. She asks for my cell phone so she can call my family for me. She later told me that I kept telling her that it was “all wet” and “I was supposed to be asleep.” I am still floored by the kindness of this woman – an absolute stranger. Fortunately we were able to laugh about this later as she gave my family her phone number. Apparently, she was worried about me all day and she didn’t even know me!
So any way, the fire truck rolls up, followed by an ambulance. Someone how my Buick – one of the last models made of steel instead of a lot of that crappy plastic – wasn’t extensively damaged or collapsed. So they had no problems getting my door open – although the seatbelt was attached and they strangled me for a few seconds while I tried to get it undone. At least that helped show – along with the massive bruise across my chest – that I was wearing one. They got me into a cervical brace. Later on, when I returned to the car, I found the instruction manual laying on the passenger seat. Comforting. Then they pulled me out of the car and after slamming a backboard into my previously injured back they got my loaded up. There is no experience like being disorientated, wet, in a strange place with a strange person and having to have your clothes cut off of you. But because I was so cold the paramedics had to cut off my clothes on the way to the level II Trauma Hospital. I later found out that all head injuries go there.
After I recovered a bit and woke up, finally convinced I was not dreaming, I was able to answer the paramedics, the cops and the doctors questions about what happened. Amazingly enough they only drug tested me for alcohol at the hospital. Apparently I didn’t have any of the physical symptoms of being high – which saved me a lot of worry. My family came to the hospital, happy that I was okay, and the doctors and nurses thought it was the funniest thing ever.
The other weird happening in all of this, is that the lead doctor treating me had a doctor friend of his take Ambien a few days earlier and go out and mow his entire yard in his sleep.
Anyway, I had a really nasty concussion which I was told might have lasting effects for a couple of months, and my back was causing more pain for a while after that due to the stress – but nothing serious. The cops came and asked me a couple of questions at the hospital but for the most part they took their information from the doctors and paramedics. They were happy with what I was able to tell them and said I was not going to be charged with the accident or fined in anyway.
Finally – the last weird fact I learned was where I had went. I was 25 miles away from home in a place I had never been to before on a side road I didn’t even know existed. How I ever got there or got out there without incident before I drove off the road somehow is beyond me. Someone far greater then myself was watching over me that night.
Let this be a warning to those who experiment with downers or with drug combinations. While this is a rather funny incident in retrospect it was scary and could have been life ending/altering for me. I was following a doctor’s orders. And to those who are wondering if they might sleep-drive or whatnot – I have a history of sleepwalking and night terrors as a child. I continually talk in my sleep in multiple languages no less (I am a polyglot) and have had full conversations with one of my roommates before she would realize I was asleep. That always freaked her out – though she thought it was kind-of cool also. I will talk about anything truthfully in my sleep, although it may not make sense to the listener depending on the language.
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