Citation: Matt Himself. "The Untimely Death of Matt Himself: An Experience with Heroin & Naloxone (Narcan) (exp73437)". Erowid.org. Jan 26, 2009. erowid.org/exp/73437
This is going to be a hard story for me to write. Most of the time I have written reports about drug experiences in the hopes of sharing profound experiences. I hoped that my writings could teach others. I even thought that perhaps my own insights could be applied to another person’s life and benefit them in ways I couldn’t imagine. But the days when I felt like that seem so far away, as if they occurred in another life…
…and in a way, they did.
Several years ago I fell in love with opioids. While I originally was just using pharmaceutical narcotics I ultimately progressed (as many addicts do) and found myself using heroin intravenously. The first time I ever shot dope was like the first time I ever had sex; I finally understood what all the fuss was about. Everything about the experience appealed to me. I enjoyed making trips to get heroin. I enjoyed prepping shots. I enjoyed the little prick of the skin and the little red cloud. And most of all, I loved the rush.
At the time I started injecting heroin I was already on Suboxone (buprenorphine / naloxone) maintenance. It went well at first, until I got an urge. I needed to experience the feeling again. I needed to taste the dope in the back of my mouth. And so I started getting high again. This cycle went on for some time…
Fast forward to July 2008:
I entered a detoxification / psychiatric facility in Connecticut to try to break my addiction and to try to regain control over my emotions. I suffer from bipolar disorder, as well as chronic insomnia (which makes me lose touch with reality), and was feeling a bit suicidal. At this point I had been off of Suboxone for about two weeks and been using heroin nearly every day, struggling when I couldn’t get any. I knew I needed serious help and so I entered the program. When I went in I was already feeling very sick. They offered a methadone taper over five days. I thought this seemed a bit faster than a methadone taper should be, but for once I decided to trust to doctors over what I had read.
Well lo and behold, five days later then had reduced my methadone dose from 25mg to nothing. I was feeling rather ill, depressed, and very tired. I requested to remain in the program longer, but they assured me that I was done detoxing, as they said five days on methadone is plenty of time to break my heroin addiction. Disgusted, I asked if I would at least be given something for sleep, since they had confiscated my other medicine (Seroquel and Trazadone) when I entered. They said no, as they didn’t know me well enough to prescribe sleeping pills. I asked again if I could stay, but they said they needed the bed and I was no longer medical in any danger.
I got home from the hospital on Monday, July 7 in the early afternoon. Within three hours of getting home I began vomiting from withdrawal symptoms. I could not tolerate the pain I was experiencing, and so I told about twenty-five loperamide pills. They eased the withdrawal enough where I was able to get up and move around. Unfortunately though, without any sleep aids I did not sleep Monday night. I stayed up through Tuesday, popping more loperamide like it was candy. Early Wednesday morning I managed to get about four hours of sleep. I was excited to get any. Wednesday night, after a repeat of the past days, I got five hours of sleep. My mental stability had been returning, but this lack of sleep crushed all progress I had made. I couldn’t stand being awake any longer, and so I turned to something else…
July 10, 2008 - 10:30 PM:
My girlfriend had left my house a few moments before. I was feeling exhausted and was becoming a bit delirious (I felt). I wanted to get a good night sleep for the first time in ages, so I decided to use my stash. I pulled out my supplies and went to work. I had gotten ten bags of what was said to be “pretty good” heroin. I took two bags and cut out a line to sniff (in order to taste / sample). The sniff made me decide the dope was in fact pretty decent stuff. This didn’t stop me from cooking up the other eight though. After all, I had shot close to twenty-five only about nine days before.
I emptied the chemical into my spoon. I used a 27g 3ml syringe to suck up 1.5ml of water and then squirted it all over tan powder, stirring, heating, and filtering as necessary. When I was done, I placed the side of the syringe in my mouth to hold it while I prepared to tie off. I removed my belt and slipped it over my right arm, just over the elbow. I pulled it tight, trading the syringe in my teeth for the loose end of my belt. I saw the liquid in the rig, and I noticed something. The mixture seemed much lighter than usually. I am more used to a dark brown, but this was much paler. I assume it simply was just due to the large amount of water I used.
I cleaned the tip of the needle and my arm and I placed the needle nearly parallel to the vein. I bent it just enough where I was able to pierce the skin, enter a vein, and comfortably keep the syringe there without having to use my hand much. When I thought I found my vein I pulled back on the plunger. Sure enough, the beautiful red cloud entered the brown water, much like if Jaws had taken place in a dirty river. I depressed the plunger slowly until it was empty. I quickly removed the syringe from my arm and put a compress on the vein (I always try to remove the needle before the rush hits). I waited for the taste in my mouth to manifest, but it never came. But then the rush hit…
I had always read that the rush of intravenous heroin was better than sex. In all the times I have done it though I think I can count on one hand the number of times I would compare it to an orgasm. This however, was above and beyond. The feeling was indescribably wonderful. Then however, things changed. I noticed a strong tingling sensation running through my body. It began to burn in my extremities first, and then moving inward. I was wondering if I maybe got a batch cut with antihistamines, as I read they burn when injected. However, before I could answer, everything went black…
---The following was told to me by family and others. I have no reason to doubt it anything they told me. For this reason, and for the sake of trying to write an interesting report, I was write this according to how it was probably perceived---
Matt Himself fell forward from his bed, smacking his face against his end table, and then falling down against the table and his bed. This alerted his mother, who was watching television in the next room. She came to his door and called his name. There was no answer.
She opened the door and saw Matt Himself slumped on the floor. She began shaking him, trying to wake him up. His sister quickly called 911 and informed them that her brother had overdosed, which was evident by the needle that had fallen next to his body. As his father entered the room they realized that he was no longer breathing and was beginning to turn blue. While the paramedics rushed to his house, his father performed CPR in hopes of preventing any brain injuries due to hypoxia.
When the paramedics and police arrived, they rushed in to the scene to find Matt Himself unconscious and unresponsive. At this point they said they could no longer detect a pulse. For all intents and purposes, Matt Himself was dead.
After several shots of naloxone, other various chemicals, and an oxygen mask, they still could not detect a pulse in Matt Himself’s body. They began calling his name, begging him to wake up. His father heard the paramedics announce that if the next shot did not bring him back, they would call time of death. They administered what would be the final shot of naloxone and epinephrine. After this they noticed a weak pulse returning to Matt Himself. At this point he began to open his eyes…
---Shockingly, I remember from this point on, and I remember it as clearly as I do anything that has ever happened to me. So at this point, I’ll resume the story---
I opened my eyes and was confused. The first thing I noticed was my center of gravity was off. I was definitely on my back. But where was I? And who were these men over me? After a few surreal moments, I realized they were police and paramedics. At this point I knew I had either been mugged or something, or I had overdosed and needed to be revived. Sadly, I hoped I had been mugged…
They questioned me, asking if I could breathe, which I could, although it was labored. They continued asking questions, but I was unable to answer. My breathing was too shallow and I could not squeeze words out. While the paramedics worked on me, the cop lectured me about how I was ruining my life and how I should be sickened my family had to witness this. I would have conveyed that I already felt horrible for what had happened. I already felt intense guilt. However, being unable to breath and therefore, unable to speak, I couldn’t respond.
The paramedics wheeled me down to the ambulance. As I left my house strapped to a gurney I had to pass my family, my girlfriend, and my girlfriend’s family. It was the most shameful thing that I have every experienced. As I entered the ambulance, the paramedics asked if anyone wanted to ride with me. They all declined. At this point I started crying. My going to the detox facility was my last effort to get clean. My parents had warned me that if I continued getting high that I would no longer be welcome in my house. My girlfriend had also given me a similar ultimatum. And now I had to roll past them; my presence on the stretcher being a testament to my failure as a human being. It was more than I could handle.
On the ride the paramedic shook his head at me, and asked what me what I was thinking. And I answered as truthfully, and bluntly as I could, with a phrase I will remember till the day I die…
“I just wanted to sleep…”
I arrived at the hospital some about 20 minutes later. I was shocked to see my family there. I had completely expected them to turn their backs to me. As I was wheeled through the emergency room, I noticed that people were rushing to me. I had been to the emergency room before for an overdose, but never had I received the urgent care I was getting. I was quickly strapped to machines to monitor all my vital signs. At this time I noticed the taste of blood in my mouth. I also had a bad cough. I told the doctor about what I was experiencing, and all he said was that I should spit out the blood. I assumed it was blood from a cut in my mouth, caused by the fall. The doctor told me he didn’t think that was the case, and that the blood was almost certainly from burst capillaries in my lungs. The doctor managed to quickly get me in for a chest x-ray.
While I waited for the results, my parents came in. My mother was crying, but she quickly went over and took my hand. At this moment I realized that despite the trauma I had put my family through, they were not just going to discard me. This filled me with a sense of hope. Unfortunately, it was not a sensation that I would feel much more that evening.
The doctor arrived with my x-ray results. Sure enough, the blood was coming from my lungs. The doctor told me I had acute respiratory distress syndrome. He spoke very bluntly (which upset my mother a great deal). He said people with acute respiratory distress syndrome oftentimes only have a one in four chance of surviving through the night. He then added that in order to get those one in four odds, you most likely will need to be intubated. I had been suicidal in the weeks leading up to the overdose, but suddenly I felt fear. When I learned I only had a twenty-five percent chance of survival, the fear was unreal. How could I have wanted to die so deeply a week before, and now fear death so greatly. Maybe it was because it was out of my hands? I don’t suspect I’ll ever know…
As I lay there in the emergency room, coughing up large (frightening even) amounts of blood, I began to notice a familiar warmth slip over me. The heroin was beginning to re-grab my receptors. This both scared and pleased me. I was afraid of what that dose of heroin might do to my body (since it had already killed me), but part of me felt that I was going to be stuck here for awhile and that I might as well feel nice! This was also short lived.
Once the doctors noticed me beginning to nod off, they came in with some naloxone. They gave me a shot of it despite my pleads. Within seconds, the warm fuzzy content feeling was stripped away. It was replaced by anger, burning, and the most intense pain I have ever felt.
When I tasted the naloxone as it was pushed, I immediately started getting nervous. When the drug hit me itself though, I screamed, I cried, I thrashed around, I screamed “You should have let me die!”. As the heroin was viciously ripped from my mu receptors my entire body screamed in agony in unison. My parents and a doctor had to grab my shoulders and pin me to the bed to ensure my thrashing around didn’t cause any accidents or injuries. As I screamed and cried, the doctor came in and begged me to try to relax. My pulse had jumped over 200 BPM. The doctor had someone ready to knock me out, as they thought I was about to have a heart attack.
As every bone in my body screamed, every strand of hair on my head suffered. Having broken many bones in my life, I can safely say the pain of naloxone while under the influence of heroin is unreal. It is indescribably pain. In fact, the pain reached such an unbearable peak, that I went into shock. Suddenly, all the agony occurring in my body ceased. I was still in extraordinary pain, but my body would not allow me to feel it. I turned to my father, and in a very calm collected voice I simply said “The pain is unreal”.
After some time in this strange state of agony and peace, I began to feel my nerves starting to work again. The feeling of napalm in my bones was fading fast. My skin no longer felt like it was soaked in liquid nitrogen. And shortly after, I began to feel a slight sedation again. But this time I made a point to force my eyes open. I would not allow them to see any signs that might indicate that I needed more naloxone. As sick as it sounds, I would have chosen death over feeling that again.
I was moved into a room with more space, as I was told I would probably have to be intubated. At this point though, I didn’t care. Whatever else they wanted to do to me would pale in comparison to what I had already experienced. I lay in my bed, feeling very slight effects from the heroin that was still in my blood, and just relaxed… waiting to have a tube stuck down my throat…
…but it never came.
I spent the next two days in the intensive care unit. The next day was surreal in a horrible way. Relatives came by to simply yell at me. They were furious that my selfish choice had nearly made them mourn me. I simply did my best to go numb to the shouts, because it was too overwhelming, and my mental state was too fragile to handle this. This did not help the suicidal ideation I had been experiencing. As the onslaught continued, I did my best not to cry…
Later that night I began to experience withdrawal symptoms. I asked the nurse if I could get anything, but she said she couldn’t make that decision. As I shook and sweated, I told her to do whatever she needed to do to get me some methadone or buprenorphine. After about two hours of discomfort, I was given 30mg of methadone, which helped me considerably. I made it through the night fine, and was discharged the next day.
When I arrived home I found that my parents had hidden my Suboxone, thinking I wouldn’t need it coming from the first detox. I got pissed saying that if I had it, I wouldn’t have had to get heroin. I really upset them then by shouting “My death would have been for nothing.” I was mostly angry that I had been forced to suffer for several days with no benefit. That night I began looking at rehabilitation facilities.
Having returned from a twenty-eight day stay at a hospital in Connecticut, I can truly say I am a changed man. For the first time in years, I feel no opioid withdrawal symptoms, though I did feel like horrible for about fifteen days in there. I also found the right combination of medicine to help my bipolar disorder symptoms. I no longer spend my days thinking about whether or not I want to live till tomorrow. I finally feel that perhaps there could be a bright future for me. I am still a bit of a pessimist, but you can’t change everything in month.
I now attend meetings regularly. I also spend more time with my family. Fortunately for me, most of my friends are completely sober (I was the black sheep), so I don’t have to avoid them. I am returning to school soon, and hoping to graduate in December. For once, things are really looking up for me.
So why did I write this? It wasn’t to discourage drug use; far from it. I still feel it is up to each person to decide what they want to do in their life. I just felt sharing this experience might help keep the potential risks of drug use real. Perhaps this can help someone be a little more cautious in their use. But ultimately, I wrote this for me. It was a very cathartic process. By writing this all down and sharing it, I feel I have unloaded baggage and can finally move forward.
So thanks to anyone who reads this. Hopefully it can help someone, but if not, at least it saved me.
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