Citation: Samanthe. "Having Trouble Discerning What My Body Needs: An Experience with AMT (exp17730)". Erowid.org. Sep 28, 2002. erowid.org/exp/17730
||(powder / crystals)
In retrospect, itís a little surprising that I got myself into this predicament. Nonetheless, I had several lapses in judgment that lead to my visit to the medical tent at burning man.
Set and Setting:
Trying the newest research chemicals holds virtually no interest for me. I guess Iím a reluctant psychonaut. I will only try something if Iíve heard consistently good things about it. Iíve not been interested in 2C-T-7, or 5-MeO-DiPT, or ethylocybin, or anything like that. If something is described as significantly similar to something I like, like 2C-I is to 2C-B, then Iíll sometimes make an exception. Even then, I generally start out with an extremely small dose, in an intimate setting.
At burning man this year, I was feeling comfortable, connected, and safe. I was eager to trip with a group of friends I generally donít get to see. I was a bit too quick in my decision-making when I decided to do AMT with them. The funny thing is Iím generally the really really really cautious one in my circle of friends. I guess I didnít feel like wearing that hat on this occasion. Here are my errors in judgment:
Trying a new material at Burning Man
In retrospect I thought Iíd made the decision never to do that. However, I also thought I was doing a low enough dose of the material that it wouldnít matterÖ I donít know if I can promise myself Iíll never do a new material or combination on the playa again, but next time I will certainly do much more homework beforehand.
Eating a material in a harsh climate that makes a significant percentage of people sick
I suppose this could be said of high dose alcohol, which I certainly avoided. In a reasonable climate, my vomiting might not have not resulted in dehydration. But in harsh conditions like the desert, it was dangerous.
I took too much
As in twice as much as I should have. Which seems like a mindboggling misjudgment. I have never made that kind of mistake before. What happened? I didnít research doses sufficiently beforehand. I relied on the experiences of three people -- two men whose typical dose is 80 mg and who agreed half that dose was a reasonable dose for a woman my size, and one woman who takes this dose. I should have: 1) read all the notes in TIHKAL [why the hell I didnít, I canít explain], 2) asked more people, 3) taken less than a 'reasonable dose' for anyone, considering it was my first time and Iím sensitive to most psychedelics anyway.
Despite my trust in the veracity of the information provided to me by my friends, I should have been a more of a skeptical consumer. This is, after all, a research chemical, with very little data on it. Just because others had loads of fun on it, didnít mean that I could ignore my normally cautious attitude. I suppose part of the misjudgment lay in the fact that effects were rightly described to me as 'similar to MDMA' [as well as to LSD]. But thatís like believing a cat is similar to a ferret. Or, itís reminiscent of the parable
of the blind men all touching an elephant and trying to describe it. It was dangerous wishful thinking on my part that I would be fine because AMTís effects were 'MDMA-like' and I was with seasoned trippers who described it as highly controllable and quite pleasant.
The course of events
On Monday, I was excited to see friends. 'Letís trip together on Wednesday! Letís take AMT!' I thought this was a good idea. Note, this wasnít a split-second decision -- I had two days to research AMT; I just didnít do it. On Wednesday, I met my friends at 3 PM, and had a brief consultation about dose.
I decided to take 40 mg. I ate two pills of non-drowsy-formula dimenhydrinate and some papaya enzymes, to help with the anticipated nausea. Then I went to a shaded space and sat on a couch with friends. I was making sure to drink water regularly, and Iíd eaten breakfast about 4 hours earlier.
T+1: Iím certainly feeling alerts, but donít have a feel of a distinctive signature for this material.
T+2: One of our group -- woman my size who took same amount at the same time -- is feeling extreme discomfort and has wandered away. I donít get alarmed, though I try to offer whatever assistance I can to her worried boyfriend. Nausea and all-over body stimulation/discomfort are creeping in. I get someone to go with me to the toilets. We both get sick, and emerge relieved.
After that, I enjoyed pleasant MDMA/LSD-like sensations of languor, little rushes, satisfaction, good humor, glee, voluptuousness. I felt good, grounded, connected and pleased with where I was in life, although psychological and emotional insight went no further than that. Although my body was stimulated, I didnít feel like leaving the couch and walking around. It wasnít stimulated in a 'letís run around and do stuff' way. Sounds were a bit strange, as if my hearing was slightly more acute, and some of the normal filtering was off, and I was in a giant metal chamber. I remember feeling the dose was 'just right' -- not too little, and not so much that I felt I had to 'maintain'. I experienced no significant visual effects. I didnít feel like talking much.
At around T+4:30 I slowly began to feel nauseated again, and spacey, 'not quite right', and a little bit confused. It was as the momentum of the trip had disappeared, and had started to get a little 'lost'. I remember feeling, 'OK Iíve had enough of tripping now.' I went over to a couch and curled up, as if to sleep -- I was seeking comfort. I wasnít feeling distress, I was just feeling 'off' and uncomfortable. A co-tripper noticed this and came over to snuggle and talk with me. I was enjoying our talking. My condition, however, was slowly deteriorating. A couple different people came over to check on me, all of them attentive, but not 'concerned' or 'worried', which I have found is just the right tone to take with me. I can sometimes be quick to think that a simple effect like elevated pulse is far more worrisome than it actually is, and then I obsess on it, and thatís no fun for anyone. This time, however, was a little different.
The thought, 'Am I having a bad trip?' briefly crossed my mind. What this would mean is, 'Am I imagining that I am in distress, but itís actually the psychological effects of the drug that are making me overly anxious, and Iím actually physically going to be fine.' Iíve been in that place before, so it was a natural question in my mind. Also, I was attempting to describe my psychological state, and it was really difficult, and basically along the lines of 'lost'. By then, several factors suggested that I might in fact need medical attention. I commented to one friend, as I was trying to remain lucid and communicate my mindstate and needs, 'I am having trouble discerning what my body needs right now.' This was not scaring me, but it was concerning me.
My friends, meanwhile, were noticing that though I was responsive -- sitting up and answering their questions -- my responses were coming much more slowly than normal, and they were getting slower. I was really spacey.
A sidenote: One of my 'isssues' has historically been a difficulty to ask for what I want and need -- Iíve put other peopleís desires and needs ahead of my own. Tripping has helped me face this, and reminded me of the importance of setting out on my own path, trusting my judgment, and having the courage of my convictions. This situation was a test of what I had learned. One of my closest friends was getting restless and wanted to leave the camp, but she was wondering whether to stay and take care of me. When she asked me if I wanted her to stay, I was able to say, 'Yes, I need you to stay with me.' Sometimes itís hard admitting I canít do something by myself and Iím vulnerable; lots of people have this challenge. This time, I didnít worry too much about it. Yes, I needed help.
I canít remember who suggested it, but about an hour after my discomfort started, either the two friends attending to me [Iím going to call them my sitters at this point] or I suggested it might be time to go get myself checked out at the medical tent, because I seemed to be getting worse, not better. Now this was a big decision. It would mark the transition from, 'I feel funny' to 'I need professional help.' This is a big deal because so many medical professionals are in fact clueless and often judgmental about drug-related effects. Who were the experts, us or them? The balance of power was going to get tipped. Iíd have to interface with someone outside our close-knit group, and we didnít know how I would be treated. We knew more about research chemicals, but they were the ones with the blood-pressure monitors, thermometers, and IV drips.
Fortunately, my sitters were keeping the mood light. I was very weak and could not walk on my own. I hoped I wouldnít pass out, It was a risk at this point. I think my body was starting to shut down. They propped me up between them and I was vaguely aware that we were travelling quite a long way to get to the med tent. They kept talking to me and I kept trying to answer them [at least I think that was happening].
We found the med tent. I tried to answer questions as lucidly as possible, and I was able to remain lucid. Additional information was expertly provided by my sitters, one of whom is a professional harm reduction worker. Med tent attendants were courteous and didnít freak me out too badly. I donít remember the actual words exchanged, but they went something like this:
'So what happened?'
'Sheís getting spacey, we want to get her vitals checked.'
'Did she take anything?'
'She took alpha-methyl-tryptamine. Its effects are similar to MDMA, and itís quite dehydrating. We think sheís dehydrated.'
[obvious confusion from attendants whoíve never heard of AMT]
'Is she keeping water down?'
'She threw up about an hour ago. Sheís lost a lot of fluids.'
'Weíre going to give her some water to see if she can keep it down.'
I think the attendants remembered a person from our camp whoíd been there earlier with the exact same symptoms. My friends tried to express that they knew what I had taken, that the dose I had taken was reasonable and not an 'overdose', that the dehydrating effect of the AMT was the thing to be most concerned about, that it wasnít a grand mystery what was going on, even though the attendants had never heard of the drug. They were trying to take the attention off the material and onto what I was actually experiencing. I think I was able to say, 'Please check my blood pressure' or something like that to communicate to them that I was informed and still somewhat calm.
I donít remember what happened next but they realized that oral electrolyte drinks were not going to be enough and they hooked me up to a saline IV. Now it was just a matter of waiting and seeing how I would respond to the replenishing of fluids, and hoping I wouldnít throw up or worse. My sitters were helping to narrate for me [in addition to the information coming from the medical tent person] in an easy and matter-the-fact way what was happening, 'Theyíre going to get this IV drip into you as quickly as it can go, youíll feel cold because the liquid is cold, it will tingle, then youíll start to feel betterÖ' which helped me a lot. I was either asking people, 'Iím going to be all right, right?' or telling them, 'Iím going to be just fine.' I canít remember. I also sort of remember trying to figure out whether the blood pressure and pulse rates they were telling me were at levels that indicated I was within 'OK' range and not hurtling toward 'intensive care' or something.
The feeling of the IV was weird and uncomfortable, and I was starting to feel like I had to pee. But the prospect of getting up, carrying an IV bag with me, and peeing in a dark portajohn was downright unpleasant. I tried to deny it as long as possible, but I realized I needed to go to the toilet and I needed help doing it. One of the med attendants, the least hip one [although she was still courteous] escorted me. I needed her help holding the IV while I went to the toilet, which was disconcerting, but I realized I had to let my sense of decorum just kind of flop around for a while. I tried to hold it together but it was stressful and I was very glad to get back to the tent. My friends were paying attention and noticed the IV bag had gone empty and I was leaking blood back into it, so a second bag was quickly provided.
Now I felt a glimmer of, 'OK, I think Iím getting out of the weeds.' I still had some vague, 'Shit, dying would kind of suck right now' thoughts, but they werenít dire thoughts, just passing wan thoughts, in keeping with the tone of the trip so far. I firmly realized, 'Itís really not my time to go, Iím fine.' It occurred to me that it was possible that something even more unexpected could happen -- like my passing out and having a seizure or something -- but fortunately this thought didnít freak me out. Hard to discern at this point how high I still was, but it was dawning on me, 'Oh gee, Iím tripping again.' Which was a relief, because if I was cognizant enough to realize this, I must be emerging from the sense of confusion that had characterized the last several hours. Now I was feeling a little silly for having ended up in the medical tent, but my sitters were gently joking with me and were sweetly reassuring.
Other co-trippers and friends were visiting me, all with the right tone of attention and comfort, no one freaking out. I was feeling like, 'OK, this is just one of those things that happens.' I am so glad I hadnít ended up alone in that tent, with no friends.
The most unpleasant thing that happened was getting asked things like my name, address, and social security number. I was spacey enough not to have the wherewithal to lie. I was glad my friends helped me to give the minimum of information. In retrospect, from here on it, if I ever get into this predicament again -- as long as I have friends with me -- I will give a false name, a false address, a false phone number, and especially a false SSN. The most worried I think I got in all this was realizing after the fact that Iíd given unknown people my actual physical address. I got all paranoid about it, but then decided fuck it, itís done, I canít take it back, and thereís only 1 chance in a zillion it will ever cause me or my friends any harm to have done that. But damn does it seem totally unnecessary to have those thoughts. In fact, it reminds me of one of the reasons I donít feel attracted to trying research chemicals -- there are too many unknowns, and the prospect of having to deal with any unsympathetic and judging members of society is just enough of a disincentive for me. I suppose, if I was ever going to have a medical emergency -- a place where the medical personnel in attendance would have the minimum of judgment was the best possible scenario.
Once the second bag of saline had uncomfortably dumped into my vein -- and it was really really uncomfortable -- I was alert enough, and the consensus was I was well enough to return to our tent. My friends helped me get back by holding me around my waist and walking me back to our camp. This time, much to my relief, I felt weary and tripping and freezing cold, rather than spacey.
The next 6 hours or so were one long feeling of, 'I am SO tired of tripping.' The body load was really annoying, it felt like a serotonin fiesta, my mouth was chronically parched no matter how regularly I was drinking, and it didnít feel very good. I was tired and overstimulated. All I could do was lie on the couch and let my beloved friend and sitter give me electrolyte drink out of a sippy bottle and feed me crackers. I was grateful to be keeping food and drink down. It was bonding to be with my friend in this vulnerable state and have her take care of me. But it was annoying. Meanwhile, I learned my other amazingly talented and patient sitter was back in the medical tent taking care of another AMT casualty.
People came by to visit and discussions began on where things had gone wrong. Certainly, the new local rule seemed to be emerging, 'People shouldnít really be doing AMT in the desert if they havenít done it before.' I think that if I had to do it over, I would have taken 20 mg. Also, one person was surprised to learn I actually considered this to be a good trip, even though I got sick. I was enjoying myself up until I started to get spacey. And I had had the most feared experience I could think of, 'The Medical Emergency,' and emerged fine on the other side. Not that itís great that it happened -- it sucked and I hope no one should have to learn lessons this way -- but I had been living with quite a bit of anxiety about the prospect of this sort of scenario, and having had it took a lot of the 'charge' out of it.
Right after sunrise, I finally was fitfully able to doze for an hour or so, enough to get my strength up to ride my bike back to my sleeping tent. I went to sleep for about 3 hours and woke up feeling tired but fine.
Yes I might do AMT again, but at 20 mg.
When I got home, I heard from a friend who hadnít been to burning man that 'one of our friends freaked out on AMT' and I knew this was referring to me. I admitted that I had been to the medical tent for dehydration, but this certainly didnít qualify as a freak out, and I set the record straight. It was irritating to experience the game of telephone that people play when they start to hear things 2nd and 3rd hand. I hope to never participate in this sort of gossip, and to stick to the facts about such things. This same friend expressed total disbelief that I would have tried AMT at the dose that I did. OK fine, so again I admit it was a mistake not to have read TIHKAL and the AMT reports online. Iím just relieved my mistake didnít end up with worse results than it did.
Even though I consider myself to be informed and cautious, this happened to me. I had a medical emergency, my body was starting to shut down. If I hadnít been around friends who closely keep an eye out for each other -- and who were knowledgeable and had the courage to seek medical attention in time -- my mistake could have been life-threatening.
Be careful out there.
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