Some know basic details, few know the full story. It’s hard to explain what happened to me on that night. There are two perspectives of the story: One from my point of view and one from my friend Cheryl. Cheryl’s perspective paints the fuller picture but for personal reasons I am not going to write from her perspective because I find it too disturbing. So, as confusing as telling the story from my perspective will be, you’ll be able to enjoy the confusion I felt as it was happening.
I had relapsed back into my addiction with crystal meth, though it’s hard to say whether that played a part in my overdose or not. See, I technically didn’t overdose on crystal meth. It was on a drug that used to be legal in Australia two years ago, a drug that is still legal in Canada:
Cheryl and I had just arrived to her house after watching a concert. I had a couple glasses of wine at the concert and I was keen to get stoned. She grabbed the bong and told me where to find the marijuana – it was in the coffee table drawer. The drawer was filled with all kinds of things; papers for rolling, lighters, small trinkets. In the back of the drawer I found a little bag of what I presumed to be weed. I brought the baggie to my nose and inhaled; it had an odd, chemical-like smell. I didn’t think much of it.
We went out onto her balcony and I sat on a chair opposite Cheryl. I packed a bowl for myself, sparked the lighter, and finished the cone in one giant hit. It tasted like bleach and I thought of how weird that was. It was hardly a few seconds before I felt something was wrong. I remember saying to my friend, “This is really strong.” She chuckled. But right after I said it I thought, this isn’t strong, this is really bad. Something is really wrong. I tried to scream for help but nothing came out of my mouth, instead Cheryl slowly blurred out of my vision. Everything went black.
The next part is hard to describe and I can hardly understand what happened myself, but after everything went black I still knew what was going on. I couldn’t feel anything, see anything, smell anything – all my senses were switched off and I was all alone in my own head. I seemed to be in my head for a while, wondering why everything went black, wondering why I was unable to feel anything. Was I dead?
Suddenly a flash – my vision was blindingly white. I could hear a familiar voice say, “He’s going to throw up.” I felt like I was spinning around in a dryer. Something was rammed down my throat and my whole body wretched. Everything went black again.
After an unspecified time of total darkness a white speck appeared in my vision. It was so tiny I hardly noticed it at first. The appearance of the speck was accompanied by a high pitched sound that sounded like the dial tone of a telephone, just at a higher frequency. The dot started moving in slow spirals. The movement of the dot caused the noise to grow louder. The dot started moving faster and faster and the noise began to get louder and louder. It was hell. I was sure of it. I was in hell. The noise became so loud I couldn’t even bare it anymore. It was splitting my mind apart. I was being ripped to shreds because of it.
I thought it couldn’t get any worse until a second dot appeared, this time accompanied by another high pitched wail. The old speck started to vanish but the noise it made remained at the splintering frequency. This new dot started spinning like the first, it’s noise also getting louder. Now I heard two different frequencies that were so unbearable I wanted to die. I actually was wishing for death. I’m not being dramatic or overreacting, the sensation was so powerful that I was hoping it was the prelude to death. I only wished for silence.
The sequence repeated with a third dot. And with a fourth. And with a fifth, and a sixth, a seventh, an eighth, ninth, tenth, twentieth, fiftieth… it seemed never ending. I was lost in eternity with a hundred different frequencies that looped over themselves.
But then there was silence. There was darkness. I was relieved. Maybe now I was dead.
The first sense to come back to me was my hearing. I heard a bunch of voices, one of whom seemed to be yelling at me but the words were muffled.
Next I was able to feel. I couldn’t move my arms. What the fuck is wrong with my arms?
I was underwater. I’m drowning, I’m fucking drowning. Air wasn’t passing through my oesophagus.
What is that fucking noise?
It sounded robotic.
Suddenly, I could see light. It was so white.
Someone was still yelling but the words didn’t make sense to me. I thought I heard a female voice yell, “Breathe Cody! Keep breathing!”
How can I breathe when I’m underwater?
I tried to move my arms again but I was still unable to move them. I felt claustrophobic and started to move my body around violently.
“Stay still, Cody!” The voice said, “And remember to breathe…. BREATHE!”
I was holding my breath. The voice got closer but I could only see white light. The voice said, “Cody, I know it feels weird, but you need to breathe. You have a breathing apparatus on which is why it feels weird.”
Something was ripped from my face and I could suddenly see blurry figures. A woman was bent over close to my face and she said, “Hey Cody, did you hear me? You have a breathing apparatus on and I need you to breathe. You need to inflate your lungs and deflate them. It’s weird because you can’t feel the air but I assure you everything is fine.”
My head hurt so much and her words took a long time to make sense. I stopped holding my breath and I could feel my lungs expand even though air wasn’t passing through my mouth.
I realised then that my mouth felt like it was pried open. I could feel something down my throat.
The blurry figures were slowly coming into focus. I tired to lift my head but the woman said firmly, “Don’t move your head.”
I tried to yell at her but something was pressing my tongue to the floor of my mouth.
I finally understood why I couldn’t move my arms; they were tied up. I started to panic again and began to pull at my restraints. Tears rolled down my cheeks. The woman said to me, “Cody, don’t pull at the ties. We had to restrain you because you kept ripping out your IV’s during your seizures.”
My seizures? What seizures?
The woman continued, “I’m gonna untie you now though, but please don’t move around. Can you do that for me?”
I obviously couldn’t answer her but I stopped struggling.
“Ok I’m going to untie you now.”
As soon as my one hand was free I brought it up to my face, ignoring what the woman said. A large apparatus protruded from my mouth, it felt plastic. The woman grabbed my hand and said, “We will remove the breathing apparatus soon, but please keep your arms by your side.” I put my arm back down. My vision was coming into focus and I could see that she was in a nurse uniform. The nurse untied my other hand. There were two other people standing around me as well: one looked like a man and the other was definitely a woman.
“Cody, we will remove your breathing apparatus now. We just need you to hold still please.”
Someone unclipped something close to my face. I felt a pressure being relieved around my mouth.
“Ok, we are going to remove the tube now. It’s going to feel really uncomfortable so please don’t struggle. Ok, removing it now.”
I could feel something rip up from inside my body right out of my throat. It scratched as it rose and made me unable to breathe for a second. I coughed as air passed through my mouth for the first time. I was catching my breath and trying to speak, my voice was weak and hoarse, but I managed to say, “Where am I?”
The one nurse got close to my face and said, “You’re in the hospital. You had some seizures and are coming out of a medically induced coma.”
I was too fuzzy to even try to make sense of what she was saying. I lifted my head slowly and saw three IV’s coming out of my left arm, two coming out of my right.
I noticed I had two hoses going up my nose as well and I realised there was something snaking up my leg and right to my… FUCK! I thought, NO NO NO NO! It was a catheter.
I slowly drifted from being fuzzy to slightly less fuzzy. I was exhausted. I wondered where my friend Cheryl was. The nurses were trying to get my medical insurance details from me but I was hardly in the mood for formalities and didn’t know where my insurance card was.
The nurse handed me a phone, it was Cheryl on the line. She said, “I’m so sorry, Cody. I had to go to work and I thought that Shane” – another friend of mine – “would be there when you woke up. I’m so sorry.” She offered to go to my house after her work and look for my insurance card. I understood why Cheryl was unable to stay, she had a very prestigious job. She’s an amazing friend for keeping me well until the ambulance arrived when I first started having the seizures. I love her to bits.
Shane arrived not long after the phone call and sat with me all day. He’s the greatest friend I could ask for.
Aldo brought me flowers and came to see me even though he was hungover. He’s so special to me it’s insane.
My friend Kathleen brought me underwear (I woke up naked and in a diaper for gods sake! They had to cut all the clothes off me in the ambulance.) She’s like my fairy godmother.
I was visited by another friend and he brought me some soul food… McDonalds. It was awesome. There was a couple other’s as well who came and I am so happy they did.
The doctor came when all my friends were by my side and officially explained what had happened. He said I had about sixteen seizures in a row and was placed into a medically induced coma to stop them. When I arrived to the hospital in the ambulance I had stopped breathing and was a code red (I can’t remember what the code was actually called but lets just say it was ‘red’), which meant that all the doctors in ICU had to stop what they were doing immediately and come help me. All up I had eight doctors trying to save my life. I thank them for their work.
When I heard the story from Cheryl’s perspective I was deeply disturbed. What happened during my seizures is something I never would want to witness myself and I am deeply thankful to Cheryl for keeping her composure.
I am thankful every day for the friends who came to see me after I woke out of the coma. They’ve always been like family to me and I keep them close to my heart always.
I am now predisposed to have seizures. Because I am more susceptible I have a blacklist of things I’m not allowed to do to my brain; including taking crystal meth. So in a way, my overdose on synthetics saved my life. I’ve been free from crystal meth for a year and a half now.
The first day I was discharged from hospital I was with Cheryl and we went to this market that was outside in the parking lot. In the market I saw two earrings: A bird and an elephant. I bought them and wore them for a year and a half. I thought of them as my ‘healing earrings’. This weekend I took them out for the first time and replaced them with two new earrings: A peace symbol and a diamond.
May I never overdose again.