Thursday, September 2, 2010

Luck when it counts.

I've done some incredibly stupid things in my life. I am lucky not to have not gotten arrested and jailed for many of them. There are a few other incidents that I am lucky to have lived through.

One night, in the winter of my sophomore year, I was in rare form and managed to polish off nearly an entire bottle of bourbon. Only 20 years old, I already had plenty of experience drinking hard alcohol and knew my tolerances... or so I thought. I failed to take note of the fact that this stuff was 103 proof. So when I approached what I thought was pushing the limit... it was already far too much. As I downed the last swig from the bottle, I knew I was going to regret this night.

I remember walking home in the snow, and collapsing about a block from my house. I managed to crawl the last 200 ft and made it into the side door, soaking wet and cold. I lived in a room off the basement that shared a wall with my roommate Chris. I dragged myself towards my bedroom. I didn't quite make it. I laid in the doorway, half in and out of my room. I felt like every breath was an effort. I tried to get up.. and fell back down. My stomach tensed and I threw up. I didn't have the energy to even lift my head, so my head rested in my own vomit on the carpet. I could barely breathe now. I was so weak I felt like it took a conscious effort to keep my heart beating. I lost all control of my bladder and bowels. When that happened, I felt there was a very good chance I was going to die. Even in this most depraved moment, I was able to comprehend what a tragically pitiful way this would be to end my life. Even having lost control of nearly all body functions, my mind was still aware of the severity of the situation. I knew I was in a bad spot. I was unable to physically help myself. I could not move, so I could not get to the phone to dial 911. My only hope was to try and get the attention of my roommate.

"Help," I mumbled. Nowhere near loud enough. I took a minute to save up the energy for another attempt.

"HELP!" I gasped. It was louder but still probably not enough to rouse him from bed. I figured I had enough energy for maybe one more attempt... so it had better be good. I rationed up the energy and yelled with everything I had left.

"HELPPPPPPPP!!" That was it. I had nothing left. I was resigned to whatever happened at that point. I passed out.

I woke up to freezing cold water blasting my face. Chris and his girlfriend had heard my cries for help and saw my legs extending from my doorway. They found me unconscious in my own piss, shit, and puke. They rolled me onto my comforter and dragged me to the downstairs shower. I sat in the water for a bit. Still too weak to move, they helped get me out of my clothes...which Chris threw in the garbage. I tried to drink some of the shower water but I kept choking.

"hospital..." I whispered.

"OK...I'll get the car."

I nodded..."hospital..." and lost consciousness again.

I woke up in the ER, with an plastic bracelet around one wrist and an IV in the other. There was a cord with a red button at the end of it laying near my hand. I pressed it. A nurse eventually walked in.

"How are you feeling?" I thought about it for a moment and answered honestly.

"Fantastic." I really did.

"I'll let the doctor know you're awake."

I looked around at the equipment in the room. I had a pulse monitor on my index finger and saw the readout on the digital machine it connected to. 72 beats per minute. There were several bags of IV fluid hanging from a hook above me, some empty. A clear liquid quickly dripped through a tube and directly into my bloodstream. There was another larger bag hanging from a hook below me. It was almost full. I traced the tube from that bag up underneath the sheets and found it ended at the tip of my penis.


Beep Beep Beep Beep. The machine now showed my heart rate at 110. Suddenly I did not feel so fantastic anymore. the severity of the ordeal was becoming clear to me. I was also incredibly uncomfortable having become aware of the long plastic tube that had been jammed through my prick to siphon the urine directly from my bladder. I knew that thing was going to have to come out... and I was not looking forward to its removal.

The doctor arrived and wasted no time explaining to me what a colossal moron I am. He explained that I arrived unclothed, wet, wrapped in a blanket, and near death. I was in hypothermia with a body temperature of 95 degrees. My pulse had slowed to 48. My blood alcohol content was .37. They jammed a tube into my stomach and filled it with charcoal to absorb anything still left in there. Then they pumped it out. They pushed fluids intravenously to rehydrate me. They inserted a catheter to remove that fluid as it passed through me. He explained that I surely would have died without treatment. He was not gentle about it. I believe the question he asked was, "Do you have any fucking idea how lucky you are?"

If his scathing admonishment didn't make enough of an impact on me, the agonizing pain I felt when they removed that catheter... did. It hurts just to think about.

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