Wait, I Was Gonna Split That...
Citation: Al. "Wait, I Was Gonna Split That...: An Experience with Heroin & Naloxone (Narcan) (exp68965)". Erowid.org. Jan 5, 2010. erowid.org/exp/68965
This is a summary of the time I ODed on black tar. Those who have ever wondered what happens in the ER in such a case might find this enlightening. This takes place in a medium/large midwestern city USA. Drug laws here are average, if such a term is applicable.
After a long day of classes, job hunting, and looking for a new apartment I found myself coming down with a cold. I had no desire to stay up feeling like shit, so this seemed like a great excuse to shoot some dope. I had been shooting dope for about 2 years, but in the past few months I had made a conscious effort to drasticly cut back from my 5 bags a day habit. Lately I had only allowed myself one or two bag/balloons a week and was able to maintain (no WDs, cravings, just good old-fashioned chipping). It had been over a week since I had last used, so I called up my friend who runs it to support her own habit. She said she could help me out if I bought 2 balloons for $25 each. I accepted, thinking I could always sell the other balloon but knowing in my heart I would end up using it myself, and drove 30 minutes to her downtown apartment.
When I entered, I immediately recieved the two balloons, odd since she usually had to go pick them up after taking the money, but certainly not unwelcome. Also in company was this guy who was staying there. He didn't really live there, but you might think he was. We went into her kitchen, were we all usually fix up as there is ample lighting, running water, and table space. I emptied out all the powder out of one balloon, which ammounted to about 3/4 of the total volume, and cooked it up in my spoon. It should be noted that this tar is usually fairly strong, and the ammount in the spoon was slightly more than I would normaly do, but solid tar is easier to keep than loose powder, so I always cook all the powder and divide up the doses in the syringe. The syringe I was using was not an insulin syringe, but a much larger TB syringe, 3 cc's with a larger gauge needle. I usually use the insulin syringes but had ran out and stolen this from my mom's house (she's in a medical profession btw).
I loaded up, found a vein, and slammed the whole thing, forgeting about dividing up the doses. The other guy was babbling on about something or other, and I think I may have said something along the lines of 'fuck...' Famous last words, right?
Waking up is not the term to describe what happened next. It was kind of like when you remember dreaming of waking up, all fuzzy like, but also less conscious. I could hear talking, could make out the words, but was unable to attach meaning to them. The concept of sight itself was foreign to me in this state, so the words 'open your eyes' were double meaningless. Slowly, awareness returned, and I could understand that people I didn't know were speaking to me, asking me to do simple things like sit up, open my eyes, tell them what happened. Though I understood, I didn't give a shit what they wanted and was content to lay there. Oh, I'm laying down. Where am I laying down at? Suddenly it hit me. I opened my eyes slowly and was face to face with a man in uniform.
Panic sets in. It's the cops, I'm going to jail, we're all screwed. I don't have a lot of time to ponder this (as if I could in the state I was in anyway); a man asks me what I took. At this point I will spare you the dull 20 minute dialogue and say that it was the paramedics, not the cops, they knew I had ODed on heroin, they wanted me to admit it, and I wanted to stick to some dumbass story about sleeping on the kitchen floor for no good reason. Turns out, right after my oh so inspired last words, I had collapsed on the kitchen floor, struggling for breath if breathing at all. My lips turned blue, and indication of immenent respiratory failure and coma. My friends tried slapping me, talking to me, dousing me with cold water, all to no avail. When they peeled back my eyelids, my pupils were fully constricted and unresponsive. My eyeballs would roll into the back of my head. They quickly called the paramedics. Normally, if you call 911, police and/or fire officials will respond as well. I'm not sure if they called 911 or a number specificly for EMD. Most if not all all areas will have a number specificly for EMD, so if you find yourself in this situation, have THAT number handy to avoid akward conversations with the local law enforcement. But I digress...
The paramedics administered Narcan, a Naloxone solution for IV or IM use for opiate ODs. Naloxone is an opiate antagonist, meaning it counteracts to effects of opiates. I am kind of a biochem/ pharm geek and would get into it's mechanism of action, but that is another story for another time. This chemical may have saved my life, and at the very least it was responsible for my ability to wake up, respond, and eventually move to the ambulance. Once I was roused, I was carefully escourted to the ambulance, IV already inserted in my hand while I was comatose. There I was instructed to lay down on the gurny and answer questions. I finally admitted to using heroin, though I said I snorted it. I was asked my name, DOB, SSN, address, phone, mother's name, DOB, addr, phone, and if I had insurance. I was able to answer quickly and correctly. By now I was fully alert, scared shitless, and complaining of a headache. The paramedic who I had the most contact with said that it was because I 'snorted that shit.' Actually due to the Narcon, but why argue. Fast forward to the ER.
I was wheeled in, through some hallways, and parked right outside a nurses station and two cops in the ER, transfered to 'hallway bed 2' one meter away, right in sight of the nurses station, merely lounging on a tiny bed no bigger than the gurny parked against the wall as the name implies. Maybe a got that treatment because my expected stay was so short, maybe they thought I would steal morphine ampoules or hang myself with a bedsheet of a was in a proper room, who knows. Nurses asked me the exact same questions as the EMDs, took my temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and insurance card. Then I waited. My friends came in and explained what happened while I was passed out. They left. I waited some more.
A nurse came to take blood. She tried very hard to severe my tendons by stabbing me in the side of my wrist with a very large needle. 'Do you have trouble giving blood?' she asked. Not knowing quite how to answer (except for, 'Do you have trouble taking blood?'), I said nothing. Digging around but nowhere near a vein, she pressed on until I offered not too politely to do it for her. At this point she realized I already had an IV with saline drip and drew brood from that. Genious. After what I estimate to be an hour after I awoke, a doctor visited me. He asked how often I used and if I tried to kill myself, and I responded with the truth. Remember, I don't use habitually at this point. He asks if I'm nauseous, and I lie and say no, because I know that if I say yes, that means that the narcan is wearing off but there is still a high level of heroin still active. At this point I should mention that aside from slight nausea, I'm starting to get REAL high. He asks me how long I've been here. I say over an hour and a half, because I REALLY want to leave. That was really the extent of his questions. 15 minutes later, a nurse came to get me discharged. She gave me some paperwork. One page described my intake and stay. It said I was admitted for 'heroin OD' and Dr. X's diagnoses was 'heroin dependence.' Guess Dr X doesn't know the meaning of 'occassional use.' Also included was a 'what to do if you want to kill yourself' article and more equally useless reading material. After signing the discharge, I was free to go.
Points of Interest
No police were involved.
I probably have the words 'heroin OD' on my permanent medical records. Some background checks for jobs check these, so untill I can figure out how to get that off my records...
I was never searched. I could have done a shot in the ER if I had anything on me (and my balls were made of brass).
My dope disappeared. Maybe the EMDs found it, maybe it found its way into someone else's pocket. Can't complain though. I might jack someone's stash if they ODed in my place and I had to call 911, too.
Insurance... I'm a student and covered on my mom's. In the past the insurance company has sent letters to my mom about whether I'm actually covered or some such BS. I don't live with her, so I guess that poses a problem, or rather a way to try to weasle out of paying. No letter to mom yet, but it IS possible.
Narcan OD kits are available to the public some places.
All in all it turned out better than expected. I would have bolted from the EMDs if I could, but that IV would have made a hell of a leash. No jail. No consuling. No charge. Nothing happened except maybe my life was saved. Haven't used since btw. Hope this shines some light on what happens when the paramedics come for you. I have heard stories of police involvement, all sorts nasty shit coming down because of this sort of thing, but none of this happened to me.
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