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Thursday, 20 October 2016

Delayed Reaction

The day after my son overdosed I woke up tearful, I was tearful all day. Anything could randomly set me off. The simple and flippant usage of the word "die" was the worst though. To hear my youngest daughter say, "I died" when she lost in a game was torture to me and I had to tell her not to say that anymore, say anything else, even "I lost a life" was alright with me because I did not have to hear the word die, which was being repeated in my head over and over.... "he almost died".

I do not think I got dressed or if I did it was in the afternoon. I could not function and even though it was only 2 months ago, I seem to have lost a lot of my memories from that day. I suppose the stress was too high and I was in shock, maybe I blocked out my memories or perhaps I was unable to retain my memories in that mental state.

I do remember a volunteer from the support group I attend coming by unannounced, I was ashamed because I opened the door in my pyjamas and no make up. I can remember him saying he stopped by because he thought I could use a hug. Then while talking to him, the lead volunteer woman phoned me to see how I was. I thought I was fine since I  was talking perfectly fine about the previous days events, but somehow while I was on the phone and telling some more parts of the story I began to cry. My youngest daughter was in the kitchen with me and she swiftly went to get me a tissue to wipe my eyes and nose and smiled at me sympathetically.

I can not even tell you if I went out that day, if I spoke to my son, if I ate, if I fed my daughters, nothing. I think I must have been in a daze because all I remember is wanting to cry and scared that my son could have died. I could have been crying and mourning my loss, but instead I was not but I was so scared and therefor crying! Was I still going to lose him? Was he going to die? Was he going to die today or tomorrow or next week or next month or next year? I could not bare the thought. An even worse thought was that my fears were correct, I always feared this and it happened. Did this mean that since I also fear his death that that will happen in my lifetime? Please, no, that can not be! Please do not let life be so cruel!

Cruel. Ha, don't be so cruel. Was I telling life not to be cruel? That is very amusing because as many of us know life can be very cruel indeed. undeserved cruelty that life bestows on some of the less fortunate ones. I feel life is very cruel to us but then I also feel rather guilty for wallowing in our misfortunes because I know that life is much more cruel for some and I often fear that in the future I will also be one of those people that life has decided to be very sadistic to!

Somehow I can not recall that day yet I remember going upstairs around 10 pm and I began to call my son and there was no answer. I called repetitively making approximately 50 phone calls. With each call my heart beat slightly faster. With each call the tears welled up more and more. Should I go and check on him? Should I leave my daughters home alone late in the night? Will he have his keys in his front door so I can not get in. Will I need to call the police to knock his door down only to discover his dead, lifeless cold body? All these thoughts quickly raced through my mind as my heart sank more and more. I did not put on my clothes, I only put my jacket on over my pyjamas, slipped on my old sneakers and told my  older daughter that I had no other option but to drive out and check on him.

OH!!! As I am writing now a memory has resurfaced. I remember feeling horrible all day because I heard my son's voice in my head as he sadly told me that he didn't even get a hug when I picked him up at the emergency room! Yes, that haunted me all day.

As I drove late at night on the nearly empty highway, tears streamed down my face and my vision became so blurred that I feared my own life! I begun to imagine what my daughters would do if I died in a car accident. I imagined that my son was not dead, but because I drove over in such a state to see if he was ok, I killed myself in the process, which in turn devastated him so much he took an overdose and died as well and that my daughters would be damaged beyond repair! It is really amazing how many thoughts and scenarios and fears can flicker through your thoughts in such a short amount of time, minutes, seconds even and we have thought of so many horrible outcomes.

I tried to stop myself from crying so hysterically as I drove, but it was nearly impossible. I was saying out loud as I drove, "Please, please, let him be alive" I kept picturing myself running in and this time hugging him if he were alive. I could not get there fast enough.

I arrived. My heart stopped as I let myself into the building with my key and quickly went up the flight of stairs to his flat. This was one of the moments of truths....could I get in his flat???? It had happened in the past that I could not as he was in the same habit as I am that he locks his door behind him and leaves his keys in the door.


Deep breath now, close my eyes for a second and then go in hoping with all my heart and soul that I will not find him collapsed somewhere.

The lights were on. He was in his bedroom sitting at his computer with his head drooping down, eyes closed and the right side of his tee shirt was drenched in saliva. But as I walked in his eyes opened wide! THANK GOD!!!!!!

I began to go went to him, crying, sobbing uncontrollably and he was so confused but I asked him to get get up and come over to me. We met each other in the middle of his bed room and I HUGGED him, I hugged him and hugged him and told him that I love him so much!!!!

We quickly tried to figure out what had happened. My son, as I mentioned, had drool all the way down his right side. He had a period of time he could not account for. His tongue was sore. We both concluded that he may have possibly had a seizure.

I got him a clean t-shirt, he freshened up and then we sat in his living room and talked. I was so HAPPY. He was alive, I hugged him, I told him I loved him and we talked about yesterdays horrific events and how terrible it was for both of us. My son did acknowledge that it was terrifying for me and he was very empathetic. He talked about "dying" and he told me that he does not want to die, but in a way it was "not bad" being in nothingness with no more pain or sadness. He sad that despite that he could never intentionally and knowingly cause me so much pain. I assured him that life is worth living and that we will make life better. It was a very nice talk and we hugged some more. I apologised for my coldness the day before and that I did not seem happy nor did I  hug him, but I explained that it was due to my shock and my fears. My son actually apologised as well for the previous days events, something I was not expecting because it was the furthest thing in my mind, because I did not blame him in the least. I blamed life!!!! I blamed the people who sell drugs on line and offer "free gifts". I blamed the cruelty of life and that it has made my son want to numb himself so much with drugs until he feels nothing. But I wont dwell on that now, I was actually happy that he was ALIVE.

I turned on the TV for him, he laid down on the sofa, I brought him a glass of water and covered him with a blanket and kissed him as if he were a child. Well, he is my child and I felt the simplicity of parenthood that it sometimes is, making the world right by tucking your child in bed and kissing him goodnight.

After a few more "I love you"s, I left, smiling, at 2 am and drove back home in the very darkness of night reassured that everything would be ok, for now.

Monday, 17 October 2016

That Day

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.

                                       Image result for GRIEVING MOTHER

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........

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Free Gift

On August 3rd I went to my son's to take him to a nurses appointment. It was the summer holidays, but I must help care for him despite having both my daughters at home. As per usual I arrive several hours before we need to leave for appointments, this is because my son is often in a deep drug induced sleep, or if no drugs were taken he is often up until the morning so again in a deep sleep, and then once awake he is then anxious. I need to allow plenty of time to rouse him and then he needs plenty of time to prepare himself to go outside.

This day started off as any other. I told my daughters I would be gone for several hours and made sure they understood that they would need to let the dog out regularly, make themselves lunch or go and get some chips if they like (french fries for my American readers). I left them a few pounds and left expecting to return and then pack to go away for a few days with my daughters to the seaside. My son was not answering his phone, so I knew he was asleep and I would need to wake him up. Also as usual, I parked at his local Tesco's and stopped in for a few standard thing; doughnuts, bread, ham, cheese, tomatoes, bananas, so he could eat something before we left.

I got there and he was asleep as expected, in his chair with his computer keyboard still in his hands.. I tried to say hello, but knew I would not get a response. I went around his flat assessing the mess and work I needed to do on my next visit. I put the shopping away and went back to try to nudge him awake. His post arrived and it was a long red envelop with his address handwritten on it which looked very similar to his Granny's writing. I said to my son, "Oh, look, it looks like you got a card from Granny and Granddad, and it s a bit thick, perhaps they sent you some money to help you out." That evoked some interest and he even managed to ask if the Valium he had ordered had arrived. It had not and he was disappointed as he had no benzos at home for a few days now. He did start to move about in his chair. I thought I would open the "card" and if indeed there was any cash inside, that might help him to focus on waking up as he was broke. I opened it and sadly discovered it was not a greeting card from his grandparents but some drugs. It was not his Valium however. I told him and showed him as he began to come around now. Eventually when he was fully awake he told me that it was his free gift, his free sample, from the seller who he had purchased the Valium from. It was a small amount of Butyr-Fentanyl, but he wanted his Valium instead.    

                      "Butyr-fentanyl or butyrylfentanyl is a potent short-acting synthetic opioid analgesic drug. It is an                         analogue of fentanyl with around one quarter the potency of fentanyl. Wikipedia"

                        "Fentanyl (also known as fentanil) is a potent, synthetic opioid pain medication with a                            rapid onset and short duration of action.[6] It is a strong agonist at the μ-                                                  opioid receptors. Fentanyl is estimated to have about 80 times the                           
                         potency of morphine."  

He looked at it and was surprised how much he got and said, "shit that is more than I expected, that is even to kill a few people if they aren't careful!" So I asked him what it was and he told me and I even wrote it down for myself so I could research it later. Time was getting on though and my son needed to get ready. He was stressed and anxious and on edge because he did not have any benzos for a few days and was worried how he was going to manage going out to the nurse without it. I reminded him of the time and also told him that he has his first meeting with his new drug worker tomorrow and asked if I should come over early tomorrow to clean up , but leave before his worker arrived. These comments and questions were causing him some anxiety, I could see. He then received a phone call from a worker of his supported housing asking if they could meet up tomorrow morning to discuss any debts my son has. He was visibly agitated during the phone call and possibly even mildly aggressive, which I understood was a consequence of the uncomfortableness of the phone call. I also started to become stressed that this call was delaying us from leaving for his appointment.

My son's agitation grew with the minutes, the minutes that were quickly passing and I was worried we would miss another appointment which he could not afford to miss. The stress levels were rising and my son was pissed he had nothing to calm him, He resigned himself though to that fact that we would be late if he didn't start getting ready, so since he was just in a t shirt and pyjama bottoms, he asked me to go into the other room while he put his boxers and trousers on. I did and sat down. A minute later I heard the click of his lighter. I loudly said, "are you getting ready, or smoking your pipe?" I heard no answer so went in and saw my son slumped over in his chair, a familiar sight I have seen many times before, that is what I walked into earlier as a matter of fact. I started to walk over to him and could see something was different.

And before I go on, let me stress to you that the time that passed from me leaving the room to going back in and walking over to my son was no more than 5 minutes.

This is when my world changed and time stood still.

I went over to my son and he looked very pale, his lips were slightly blue, and he could not be roused. I shook him, slapped him, shouted at him, felt for a pulse....something was very wrong and my heart sank. Strangely enough I walked across the hall very calmly and asked the office to phone 999 because something was very wrong, I walked back to my son and punched him in the chest, over and over again crying. He could not die! He could not die! He was not allowed to die! No this isn't happening! I was crying and I dragged him off his chair unto the floor. By then the staff member was with me and talking to 999. I was not sure what to do, I was asking out loud, "should I do CPR, what do I do?" I was asking no one but I had to shout out my thoughts. I began CPR, the staff told me to put him in the recovery position, the 999 operator told her no, to continue with CPR. What was happening? This was not happening? My son looked like an angel, he looked dead, he looked helpless, he loved like a little boy, he looked like an overdose victim, he looked so sad. I looked at him, he was my world, like all my children are. NO! He CAN NOT DIE!!! NO! He WILL NOT DIE! I was shouting his name, I was crying I was counting my compression. His jaw was locked and it was hard to open it to breath in. Was that because he was already dead? Is that why? What am I doing? I don't know. As the staff member spoke on the phone, she excited said, "oh, he is making noise", as if that was a good thing because she probably naively though he was coming around. I knew different. It was the death gurgle and I knew I was very close to losing him FOREVER! NOOOOOOO, it can not happen. More compressions, more counting, more hoping, more crying. I was no on the phone with the 999 operator and she was counting compressions with me and assuring me I was doing a great job. I was loudly sobbing and saying "no, no, no" and "please, please, please" He can not go!!!! More gurgles, louder cries of desperation. Continue compressions, don't stop, keep repeating his name, let him know I am there he he must stay with me. Roughly 10 minutes later the paramedics came.

I stepped aside and let them work on my son. I informed him on his drug history and told them what he took and that he smoked it. They intubated him and started breathing for him. There were 2 paramedics, 2 staff members, myself all huddled around my son in his small and extremely messy room. Everyone was talking and I was telling him as much as I could to help and still shouting out my sons name from time to time. I heard that the air ambulance was called, and they were waiting for a second unit. One paramedic was trying desperately and failing to access a vein so that she could inject my son with naloxone.

Soon the next ambulance arrived and more paramedics were on the seen and I can remember one rummaging around my son's flat and came into the bedroom "Sharps box, he is a user",(meaning a heroin user) I interjected that he is not a heroin addict but does inject benzos irregularly. I kept saying that he smoked some butyr fentanly and that is what he overdosed on and he is no longer a regular opiate user. Finally they succeeded with injecting my son with the Naloxone but to no avail. Another injection was giving and still nothing. Now two doctors from the air ambulance arrived in their special suits and began working on my son and talking to him and I just stood there when all of a sudden I saw my son come around. I remember looking at the clock and thinking in fear that it had taken 45 minutes to bring my son around! Surprisingly I was very calm from the moment the first ambulance arrived, my tears stopped and I was very focused and I suppose I put all my faith in them that he will survive this!

When he came around I noticed they had already taken the air tube out of him, I hadn't even seen them do it! He was coughing and was groggy and confused and then immediately started to freak out. This is a common reaction to the drug they use to stop the opiate overdose, Naloxone. I have heard stories of how angry and aggressive many OD patients can be as a result of this drug. It is because of how the brain receptors work and because it blocks opiate receptors and endorphins. All pleasure receptors are shut down.

From here things are somewhat blurry because my son's anger made me very sad and the tears began again. Though I was so relieved that he was alive, he was being aggressive and shouting and swearing at me and blaming me. The paramedics were throwing things around in the room in order to create space to take my son out on the stretcher. The doctors were trying to get a needle in him for any further intravenous medication and this made my son freak out and start shouting at the doctors and they had to restrain him because he was refusing. I was crying and unsure what was happening. Would I come with him, will I stay here, what will I do with my daughters who were waiting for me and expecting to be going a a short caravan break that day? What do I do with the drugs in his flat? The mess? When will he come back. Will the staff speak to me and want to demand answers? Will the police be called? My son was shouting at me to stay in the flat because he was not going to prison? His thoughts were irrational and filled with fear. His main fear was that the doctors and or staff would phone the police that he had overdosed on a Class A drug and therefore was in possession of it and that would warrant the police coming to search his flat and arresting him for the drug he only consumed a very small portion of! It was chaos in every sense of the word!

As they boarded my son onto the ambulance and it was clear I was not going with him, one of the doctors took me to the side and rubbed my shoulder telling me that I did a great job and I kept him alive. She also said that she knows how upsetting it is because with an opiate overdose the person immediately looks dead. She wanted to make sure that I seek out some help or have someone to talk to because it is a traumatic experience and I need to make sure I am ok, but again told me that I did a great job!

They left and I was left there feeling numb. I was numb and on auto pilot all day, the reality did not hit me again until the following day. I am feeling all the emotions surge through me once again and it was indeed the most traumatic event of my life that I am still suffering from flashbacks and will randomly burst into tears. So bearing this in mind, I will write my next post on the after math.

My son finally did what I have always feared, overdosed. All that I have to say now is that I am so glad he did it while I was there and I was able to help him, otherwise I would have seen my son buried.  Gladly I have not had to bury him and he is ALIVE and I intnd to help him stay that way for a very long time!