Nothing prepares you for some things in life, even if you have mentally contemplated some possible events in your future. Hundreds of times I have mentally played out scenes in my head about finding my son after an overdose. Thankfully when it did actually happened, the outcome was not what I have ever imagined, my son survived! However, though the outcome was more wonderful than anything I have yet to experience, the actual experience was one of the worst I have experienced. I think the only other experience that comes close was being there with my mother when she died. That was when I first heard the death gurgle, but then she took a huge gasping breath, as if she was going to go under water, and she was gone. A very important difference is that she was my parent, you expect your parents to pass before you. She was also dying of cancer so death was an accepted inevitability in her short future. We do not ever expect our children to pass before we do. We do not expect a self inflicted death of our children, whether it was due to an intentional suicide, or an unintentional overdose or accident. How parents survive the death of a child regardless of cause is beyond me. I do not know if I have the strength to carry on living if I lost a child, even though I have other children. My heart bleeds for those parents, but selfishly I am so glad that I have not joined that group of bereaving parents.
I carried on as normal after my son was taken away in the ambulance. I tried to look for his drugs and take them with me. I packed a bag to take to hospital. I phoned his new drug worker and explained what had just happened and that we need to cancel the appointment for tomorrow. I looked for my keys but could not find them. I looked around the mess that was my son's flat and how worse the mess was after the chaos and madness of what happened less than an hour ago when 6 emergency attendants and doctors crammed in and tried to save my son. I talked to the housing staff. I found my keys, which were in my trouser pocket, but had never looked there, and I drove home to my daughters.
When I approached home my thoughts were how am I going to disappoint my daughters that we will not be packing up and going to the seaside for a few days as planned. There disappointment in having mom let them down, and it was their brother's fault was how I perceived their reaction. I sat down and calmly told my daughters what had just happened, their brother almost died and I had helped save his life. I told them without a tear in my eye or a wobble in my voice. They did not react much. I told them we could therefore not go away today, I saw the disappointment in their faces. I proceeded to tell some people what had happened, but it was all very surreal not only because I was calm, but because there was not the outpouring of shock and sympathy with offers to help. It all seemed too matter of fact. Is this what everyone expected to happen one day? Did it not surprise anyone? Even if this was the case, for I have feared such an event and have often voiced my fear, did we not deserve some shock and sympathy?
Then the calls from my son started. He was agitated. He was upset that I left his flat. His fear was the police would be involved, his flat searched for drugs, being questioned about the drug he took and that he would be arrested for having purchased that drug! Irrational fear, but it was his fear none the less. It seemed that my son would stay overnight and that the psychiatric team would assess him the following day to assess whether he would need to be admitted or not. Then as I calmed down with relief that he will be safe, and I would go take him his clothes, toothbrush, underwear etc, I got another call from my son. My son had been DISCHARGED!!! He was waiting for me to collect him and take him home. No psych consult, no overnight observation, nothing.
So my son took too much Butyr Fentanyl because he was very stressed and anxious and did not receive his Valiums in the post. He had none at home. He was agitated and wanted to calm down. He knew he had his "free gift" however, and that would work as a quick fix to calm him and get him to his appointment without stress. He was conscientious though that he was "ashamed" of his behaviour and so he did not want his mother to know or to see him have a smoke of the deathly drug. There was no way of measuring it out as the tools he uses were in the room I was in and there was nothing in his reach except a spoon and he wanted to hurry before I came back in his room to see if he was ready. Quick, what should he do? He used the tip of the spoon, he looked and thought it was far too much but he will only smoke a bit and it will be ok (though in his own words to me earlier he said, "this can kill people if they aren't carefully). This was not because he wanted a quick fix since he is no longer addicted to opiates. This was not to get high. This was not to kill himself. This was because he was very anxious and had nothing to calm him. This was the young man who is always meticulous about precise measuring techniques to keep him safe. This was the action of a very desperate person to get a few minutes relief from his mental anguish. He got relief by entering total blackness and nothingness.
This was also the young man who has had three or four psychiatric admissions and suffers from long term drug misuse issues. This is the young man who had purchased said drug and still had it at his flat. This is the young man who lives alone in his flat. This is the young man who has enough issues to warrant him living in supported housing. This is the young man who was discharged to return to his flat, possibly with more of the drug waiting for him and with no one to monitor him. This is the young man who overdosed on a drug and had a very long period of being unresponsive and in respiratory arrest. This is the young man who had to be injected three times with Nalaxone to stop the opiate overdose from killing him. This was the young man who was discharged from the hospital with no evaluation done, no follow up assessment appointment give, no determination as to whether or not he will be safe on his own. Discharged!
My youngest daughter said she wanted to come with me to pick up her brother. I was not thinking clearly at all because I said that would be fine. I did not consider my son's state of mind, mental well being or anything like this. I was so disappointed in the hospital and so concerned how my son will behave and stay home safely that I went in and upon seeing him ignored the fact that he was alive and did not hug him or show any emotion. Instead I was more concerned in asking the nurse why he was being released. My son did hug his sister who was uncertain what all the implications were, and was nervous and confused I think, so she did not hug him back. This obviously was not the reaction my son wanted and was not what he visualised in his head when he thought of us coming to get him after such a horrendous ordeal. We got to the car and my phone rang from the only person who actually rang me to see if there was anything she could do and ask how things were. My son became paranoid who I was talking to and why I was discussing him. These two factors made him aggressive and his behaviour was very upsetting. My reaction was also aggressive with a bit of retaliation and fear. Because of our confusing behaviour we both managed unintentionally to frighten my daughter who began to cry.
The rest is a bit of a blur. All I knew was that this was not the way we were meant to be acting.None of this was suppose to be happening. We deserve better than this but we are just too screwed up as a family. How did it all happen? How did we get here and more importantly, how do we get out of this hell?
I also knew I had the"death powder" (as my son would later call it). I did not know what to do with it. I was worried and I was anxious and I wanted to get my daughter home but I was also scared to leave my son to his own devices.
After I was home, I can not even remember leaving my son's flat or what was said, my son and I spoke on the phone until the wee hours of the morning. He was very angry and aggitated. One thing that he was particularly upset about was my reaction when I saw him in the emergency room. I did not hug him. I did not say I love you. My son had every right to be upset about this because it is true and it must have been very painful for him. Despite everything that had happened and what had been said, I am sure that deep done my son was scared and just wanted comfort from his mother, the only person in his life, his only source of love. He received no loving greeting from his mother. The hurt must have been deep.
All the emotions of this this day hit me the following day........