Shit got real this weekend.
Friday night, went out to a techno night with two of my best friends. Jack invited me – a group of his friends were going and so I invited Alan, a mate of mine. The music was great. We had some MDMA… I was sharing a tiny fifth of a gram bag with Alan, not enough to go really mad but I had a great dance and felt very much at one with everybody there.
We danced til the lights went up, I thanked the dj profusely, dripping in sweat and oozing excitement, and the rest of the girls and I took some photos with him. Apparently he was a big name, but I never know about these things.
We spilled out into taxis and headed back to Mandy’s place.
Sat on the couches. I hit the whiskey. We had finished my bag of mdma but Mandy had some more. I took a dab and so did Alan, and then I thought fuck it, I’ve hit the high note, don’t take any more, it’s not going to give me any more of a buzz now. I let the euphoria mellow into chilled out shit-talking. We laughed, we talked utter nonsense. Alan was cold so I piled jackets and blankets on him and sat with him. I dozed off and woke up, Alan was feeling my arm and looking a bit lost. I guessed he was in the touchy feely zone, so I didn’t mind. Fell asleep again. The others were still up, I was comfy as fuck and just felt like drifting off.
And then it happened.
I don’t know…. I don’t remember how it started.
I just woke up and I was holding Alan in my arms and telling him “it’s ok… you’re here with me and it’s ok.”
I was repeating that over and over again, smiling at him and rubbing his back. Then the rest of the picture came into view.
His eyes were rolling around in his head and there was blood coming out of his mouth. He was making a croaking, gurgling sound. I noticed this sound… someone was banging the table. Why were they doing it?Why didn’t they stop banging on the table, couldn’t they see he was freaked out enough?
And then I realised it was Alan’s legs. They were banging off the table.
Everyone was gathered around, trying to help in the emergency we couldn’t really comprehend. One girl was helping me hold him sitting half up. The rest held his legs, trying to keep them still, or turned off the music, or did something else, I don’t know. I wondered vaguely had he swallowed his tongue and was this why he couldn’t speak. One girl mouthed should I call an ambulance and I nodded to her terrified but trying to make sure he couldn’t see me looking freaked out.
All I knew was he needed to calm down. I stroked his face and repeated “it’s ok… it’s ok… just relax, it will be over soon. Just relax, it’s all ok. I’m here…”
His legs stopped shaking after what felt like hours. But it wasn’t hours… His eyes darted around. I saw his tongue somewhere in his half open mouth. The blood must have been from where he bit something in his mouth. A small amount of relief washed over me but he couldn’t speak, he kept making this strangled noises. I stroked his head and talked to him calmly. The girl sitting on the other side of him , Amy, told me quietly, I’ve seen this happen before. He’s ok… he’s just too mad out of it. It’ll pass and he just needs to throw up and sleep. Throw up, drink water and sleep. Trust me.
From across the room I was asked again, should we call an ambulance. The decision was mine. He’s my friend.
I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to do. He wasn’t having a fit any more. He was in a pure state of panic. Maybe he was half asleep and his brain hadn’t caught up with being awake yet… like a sleep terror. I thought the sight of paramedics might freak him out again… I told them we would wait a few minutes and see if he calmed down. OK.
I held him and his eyes were crazy. He looked nothing like himself. The expression, the way he holds his face… what makes him look like him… it wasn’t there. I smiled at him like a mother at a child. Relaxed, indulgent. It’s ok. You’re ok. You just need to rest now. It’s ok. He gradually untensed and lay back a bit. He was cold and soaked in sweat. We put some cushions and blankets around him, and tried our best to shift him into the recovery position. He closed his eyes and groaned and twitched a bit but he seemed like he was nodding off.
As soon as his eyes were closed we discussed the situation. We spoke quietly and as calmly as possible. Looking around me, the eyes of everyone… saucers, black saucers. We were all still totally fucked. We could call the ambulance but Amy swore she had seen this happen before and the worst was over. We just had to look after him and he would ride it out.
I knew it was all on me, the decision, the responsibility. But I didn’t want to panic him any more. I didn’t want to put a freaked out guy who wasn’t lucid, into a stretcher, into an ambulance, with strange faces and cold and white and more stress. I made a decison, to give him half an hour and if his condition improved, we would try to deal with it ourselves.
He was sleeping fitfully. I let him go but kept a hand on his back, partly to comfort him if he could feel it, partly to check he was breathing properly and to notice if he went into another fit.
Suddenly it occured to me, what had actually happened. What was still happening. I burst into silent tears. I shook and wept and they brought me tea. Jack hugged me and told me I was brilliant. I coped with it amazingly, I was so calm.
I cried and cried. I wanted it to be true, that I was coping well… but I wasn’t. I really didn’t know what I should do. I didn’t want this to be my responsibility. If anything happens to him… if anything happens to him it’s all on me. I can never forgive myself if I do the wrong thing here.
Jack said, we all make a choice when we take drugs. We make a choice. It’s not your fault this happened, maybe he took a really big greedy bit from Mandy’s bag at the end of the night. Maybe he came up in his sleep and woke up having a panic attack. I don’t know… I don’t know. Amy insisted, I know what this looks like, I know what you’re afraid of, but honestly this is going to be ok. I haven’t taken anything tonight. This is something I’ve dealt with before. I wanted to trust her but I didn’t want to misplace my trust.
After a while he stirred. I held him up and we talked to him. He muttered a little bit, incoherently. We talked breezily to him. Ah you’re fine, it’s just a bad time. It’ll be fine soon, ok? You know what I think would be nice? A bit of water. Oh that would make you feel better. We tried putting the straw in his mouth but he rejected it. We tried and tried and he vaguely swiped it away. Ungh. Mmmm… Uhhhh…
I held him to me and rubbed his back. You’re ok. You’re ok. I’m here, it’s all ok. I know how you’re feeling. It’ll be fine. It’s ok. It’s ok.
I wasn’t sure what to do. I was afraid of setting him into another fit. It felt like that was the most dangerous thing. He seemed to get some comfort from being held in my arms. He recognised me, but his eyes… his eyes were pure lost and frightened. We talked to him and he breathed in, racking gasps.
He fell asleep again.
I felt sure that if he did sleep a bit more, he would come down from the drugs and be, if not 100% ok, at least coherent enough to tell us what he needed, how he felt…. it couldn’t take long for it to wear off. The worst was over… it must be.
I drank some tea and put whiskey in it. As soon as he was asleep the panic set in again, and I let myself cry and shake.
I was still really out of it too. We all were. We were out of our minds, and trying to deal with the sort of situation that would still be really, really hard sober.
When he woke next, about half an hour later, maybe… we tried to encourage him to get sick. He smelt like sick. He was belching and swallowing the belches. I could tell he wanted to get sick but was afraid to. I know that feeling… We got a big bowl and tried to coax him over it. come on now, you’ll feel better. I promise. It’s what you need. Eventually, fighting all the time, trying to swallow it back down, he produced some puke. Mostly into the bowl. He puked and it was liquid and he retched and tried not to puke again and I held him up because he kept trying to lie down.
Eventually he seemed finished, and he lay back down to a jerky, feverish sleep. I said, this is it. Now he has gotten sick. If he isn’t considerably better when he next wakes up, I am calling the ambulance. That’s how we’re going with this…
They all agreed, it was my call. Oh fuck, that was too much responsibility for me. How can I decide this?
He slept a little while, then struggled to his feet. He looked around. His eyes were wild, darting and bulging. He looked so lost and freaked out, and then he saw me and something seemed to register and he fell towards me and I held him and told him it was all ok. I felt immense guilt over not bringing him to the hospital but I felt 90% sure that the worst thing was to set him into a panic again. I have had panic attacks for years and I’ve fought them on drugs too, but never like this. But I thought I understood… some part of what he was going through. I was terrified of the doctors being brusque and uncaring with him just because he did it to himself…. recreational drugs. Stupid….
He stumbled around and nothing he said made sense. He seemed to want to throw up and I walked-carried him down the hall to the bathroom were he vomited on the carpet, on me, on himself, in the toilet, all the while saying Oh please… oh please… oh no… I held him up as he puked, retching up green slime. One of the guys was with me helping me carry the weight.
Then we put him in a bed on his side and the rest of us discussed the situation while I drank tea with whiskey and cried.
It’s a good sign that he got up to get sick. That’s an improvement, it’s slow but it’s an improvement.
I looked in the door at him every minute or so. He seemed to be snuggling into the bed. I felt slightly reassured but was still beating myself up about maybe making the wrong call.
We sat and I chain smoked and we took it in turns to check on him.
He woke again after maybe another half an hour and got up and wanted to use the toilet. I brought him into the toilet as he mumbled nonsense. Something about a boat. Oh please. Oh please.
I need to go toilet.
This is the toilet. Look, this is it. He saw his reflection in the mirror and it was obviously a terrifying sight. I held him up and hugged him tight. He groaned and said oh please, oh please. He started thrusting his pelvis against mine. It saddened me that he was doing that but I knew he wasn’t himself, he was completely out of his mind. I rubbed his back and said shhhhh while he grinded against me, and then he gave me a tentative kiss on the cheek, smiling shyly. I hugged him tighter and said it was ok. He said I need to go toilet. I said you’re here, look. He looked so confused, so I took off his trousers for him. Look, there you go. You can go to the toilet. He swayed and looked frightened. I stood in the doorway trying to give him privacy without leaving him alone. He didn’t make any move. Eventually I tried to pull down his briefs but he yanked them back up no no no… I need to go toilet. He started wandering out of the bathroom and I tried to coax him back. I need to go toilet… he wandered into the living room and didn’t seem to recognise anything. He tried the front door but I stopped him.
Here’s the toilet, look, here it is!
He didn’t recognise the toilet. He wandered into another bedroom and flopped onto the bed. I covered him in blankets.
Retreated to the living room.
Look, I said to Amy, this is too much. It’s not getting better. He got sick and now he’s still totally fucked. He won’t drink any water, he doesn’t know what’s going on. I’m really, really worried. What if he doesn’t get better?
He’s dehydrated, she said. He needs to drink. He needs to replace the salts.
They boiled some 7up… a typical Irish cure all. I brought it in to him with a straw. Rubbed his back. Come on now, Alan. His eyes opened. He groaned. Come on, a little drink. A little bit to drink and you can go back to sleep, I promise. come on now, I’ll put it in your mouth. I blocked the top of the straw and placed it over his mouth. Just a little drop. I deposited a few drops on his mouth and he moaned and thrashed away from me. Come on now just a little bit, and then you can sleep. Come on just a little bit.
He refused it all, spluttering indignantly with mad eyes.
I told him, look, you can drink a bit now, for me, or the doctor will make you drink. Drink now, and go to sleep, or you are going to the doctor. It won’t be nice. You won’t enjoy it one bit, but it’s very easy to drink now. Come on, just a bit.
I tried for a long time, and then I knew it was no use.
Make the call.
One of the guys made the call. The ambulance arrived and two friendly, lovely paramedics came in. I explained honestly and in detail everything that had happened. And what did he take, are you sure it was mdma?
I said yes, it was mdma, and I took almost exactly the same amount as he did. It wasn’t much, but maybe he didn’t drink enough water or maybe he was greedier with his doses. I don’t know.
The paramedics told me they thought he would be fine, they could either take him in or leave him there, monitored.
I told them I had been watching him constantly but I didn’t know how much longer we could all be relied on… none of us had slept yet. If this is going to be another 12 hours or so we won’t be able for it, I don’t think…
The tried a few tests. Squeeze my hand. He thrashed on the bed, saying please no please no.
Flashed light in his eyes. Pulled the blankets off him and he struggled to pull them back up…
That’s a good sign. He knows he’s cold. that’s good.
God, that’s nothing… he knows he’s cold… A worm knows it’s cold. What if he’s done damage… permanent damage. What if I was so stupid, and I should have called the ambulance straight away… what if he’s never the same. I watched as they tried talking to him. I tried talking to him.
There was nothing to do but bring him in to hospital.
They told me, I’m sorry but we are going to have to call the police. Not to get anyone in trouble, just to protect ourselves. He’s not going to come out easily. It’s for our own protection, we can’t risk it.
I nodded. I understand, if that’s what it takes then go ahead. But can we try first… I know he won’t hit me. He won’t.
I pulled the blanket off him and tried to get him sitting up.
Alan…. it’s me. It’s me. You can have a blanket, if you get in this chair, ok? Get in this chair now and we’ll give you the blanket.
He allowed himself to be lifted to his feet. Just sit in the chair.
He started rotating on his feet. Where’s the chair… where’s the chair… oh please I’m cold… oh please.
It’s here… it’s right here, just sit.
We guided him into the chair and a blanket was put on him and they strapped him in. Another blanket on top.
He was scared, really scared but he seemed to be grasping something about the situation.
They lifted him in the chair and took him down the stairs. I had borrowed shoes from Mandy and trousers so I wasn’t wearing heels and vomit soaked tights.
I followed them down the stairs as he vomited.
We were outside and the neighbours were gathered, spectating, curious.
They loaded him in the ambulance and I had his trousers in my arms and one of the guys I had only met that night, was coming with me. My friend Jack was going to follow in a taxi.
We got into the ambulance, Dan the other guy went in front and I sat in the back witht he paramedics. They made cheery conversation. I saw a drawer in the ambulance labelled maternity suits body bags. I cried a little because I was so afraid, because I was so close to something big and important and dangerous and my friend, my dear friend, was there… and maybe I had done something stupid, maybe I had decided something wrong that harmed him, maybe I had really really fucked up and I would never, ever be able to forgive myself for doing this.
I told the ambulance guys everyhting I could think of about what happened. I told them why I didn’t call sooner, although I didn’t know now… my reason sounded feeble… they told me it was ok but it wasn’t ok, here I was in the back of an ambulance with one of my closest friends, and he wasn’t ok.
It was all surreal. We got to the hospital and they told me they were taking him in and I needed to register him at the reception. I went in with Dan and told them what I knew, his name, his date of birth. they asked for his address and I didn’t know it, I don’t know why but I didn’t know it.
I tried google maps but it wouldn’t load. I know where he lives just not the address.
I remembered I had his phone on me so I got his best friend’s number and called.
I told him what had happened and could he give me the address?
He said he had just gone to sleep two hours ago but he was coming in.
I smoked outside and the day cleared my head and it was pounding. Jack had arrived in a taxi.
We sat, three of us and smoked.
I went back to reception and they said he was with the doctor, they’d tell me when they knew something.
I sat there for four hours. Alan’s friend arrived, and I filled him in.
Dan went home. He was so tired… but he did more than he needed to, he doesn’t know me or Alan at all..
We waited and waited and eventually I went up to reception again. I just want to know if there’s any news, or how long he will be in, or something. I want to wait here for when he wakes up but if it’s going to be hours, it would be better to know now..
She went and asked and told me he was on a drip, it would be at least a couple of hours.
We decided to go home and rest a bit. I gave the receptionist my number and his jeans and we took a taxi back to mine. Jack went home and I told him to stay home and get sleep.
Stuart, Alan’s friend, stayed in mine. I pulled out the sofabed for him and we chatted a while and then drifted off. Got about two hours sleep and woke up. Made some food. Watched my phone… nothing.
We talked about Alan, the stupid shit he does. Like telling a story and leaving out the incriminating part that makes it all make sense. We said he would probably tell people “I was in the hospital on a drip… eh…. because.. I just was.”
We laughed far too hysterically. We’re his best friends, he’s a massive chasm between us. He should be here. I said, I wish Alan was here because he would find this really fucking funny.
We ate and he had a shower and then the phone rang, the doctor. Is this Abby?
YES! Yes! Hello.
I’m here with Alan. He’s awake now… he’s asking for you.
Is he.. ok? Is he back to normal?
Yes, he’s groggy but he’s back to normal.
Oh thank you. Thank you.
I’ll be in soon.
Do you have his shoes?
No but I’ll get them. I live close, I’ll just get a taxi now… with his shoes.
He wants to talk to you… here.
Yeah. How are… you ok?
Yeah.. eh what happened?
You… freaked out. You freaked out a bit and you didn’t know what was going on so we had to bring you in to hospital. It’s ok, I’ll be in soon.
I have your passport, your bank card, your phone.
Oh thank god.
Yeah I’ll be in soon. And your shoes. I’m so glad you’re all right.
See you later.
We walked to Mandy’s and she gave me the shoes. Is he ok? Yeah, he’s ok again. She hugged me. I’m so glad… I’m so glad. thank you for everything. I really, really appreciate everything.
Stuart and I took a taxi to the hospital and only one could go in so I went in, and I saw him walking towards me down a corridor, weirded out and nervous but ok. He had colour in his face. He looked A LOT better than any of us.
He asked me questions, I gave him vague replies. Here are your shoes. I have all your stuff.
Do we have to discharge him? No, he’s already been discharged. Thank you.
We walked out, past the fresh round of inpatients.
He was surprised to see Stuart. I told him a bit of what happened but left out the embarassing stuff.
I told him he got sick, yes, but into a big bowl. Oh ok.
I knew he was still freaked out. There would be time tomorrow to tell him about how big a deal it was and how he should stay away from drugs.
He asked me tentatively, where are we going?
You can come back to mine. He looked so relieved. Can I? Can I?
Of course. You can stay at mine as long as you like. Oh thank you.
Stuart left us and we went back to my place. He had a plaster with stale blood on his hand.
We stopped at the shop and got a pizza and some milk and hot chocolate and went home. I put him in my bed and made him tea and told him a little more about what happened, and he told me about how he woke up and had no clue what had happened or why he was there. He thought he was on a boat at first.
I hugged him and he hugged me and I realised it was over and I burst into tears, and I didn’t want him to know how freaked out I had been but he was probably in better shape than me at this stage.
He seemed genuinely shocked that I was upset. Really, really surprised.
I said I was just glad he was ok. Really, you mean a lot to me. I could never have forgiven myself if I made the wrong choice and something happened to you and it would be my fault and I couldn’t bear that.
It’s ok, I’m ok, you did the right thing.
I didn’t do the right thing I was stupid, I should have called the ambulance straight away, what if you weren’t ok?
Thank you… thank you so much. You’re an amazing friend. Seriously, thank you so much. I’m so glad I’m here now and not in that hospital.
That’s why I didn’t want to bring you to hospital because I knew it would be horrible for you. I’m sorry though.
It’s fine, you did the right thing.
I don’t know.
We ate pizza and watched episodes of Red Dwarf. I put my arm aruond my friend and I was so glad it was him again and not that guy who was too fucked to know anything, and I was so glad he knew where he was and that we could be friends and he would be ok.
We watched some episodes and I had been going to let him have my bed and sleep on the sofa bed but I could see he was still panicky and so I cuddled up to him and we slept curled up together which I think was the best thing for both of us after the last 24 hours.
Slept pretty well and in the morning when I saw he was a bit too fucking breezy I told him, look I don’t want to make you feel shitty or anything, because what happened just happened to you, you didn’t do anything wrong… but I don’t want you taking this in your stride because it was not ok. It was the worst night of my life and you need to really look at why that happened and you need to stay away from drugs and you need to stay away from anything that could fuck you up, for a while anyway. IF you remembered what you had been through you would never want to touch a drug again, but you don’t remember which is lucky. But your body will remember and it is going to make it difficult for you, for a while anyway… You need to avoid getting into any stress now. No big drinking, no late nights. Eat properly, get enough rest… and really look into what happened. Because that was fucked up.
He nodded and agreed. Eventually he was getting a lift from his mum, so he thanked me again, he claimed I saved his life but instead of making me feel good about myself that made me feel like a disgrace…
I know I cared for him as best I could, and maybe I did a really really good job of keeping calm and looking after him while he was in that awful condition, but I let someone else convince me there was no need for an ambulance when my better judgement says I should have called the ambulance just in case. He’s ok so no harm done but I did not act in good judgement, I don’t know but he thinks I’m brilliant for what I did and I don’t feel brilliant, I feel like I fucked up.
But then everyone says it was a really hard thing to deal with and I hadn’t slept and I was wired to the moon and I was great but I can’t help feeling like shit. I did test my mettle and find out I’m strong in a crisis, and I can hold my shit together if it’s important, but my judgement…. I’m not sure about my judgement. I guess it could have gone either way.
My indecision could have put him in danger, but then maybe if I had called the ambulance straight away he might have had another seisure from the shock of being manhandled when he was in that original worst state. I don’t know, I’ll never know.
I’m all over the place.
He went home today and thanked me again and again and I sat and thought about it and ran it all over and wondered what would have been right. And I beat myself up for not staying in the hospital because he was freaked out when he woke up and didn’t know anything…
And then a friend invited me to the cinema and I thought yes, get out, go out, distract yourself.
But we sat down and I ate half the popcorn in the trailers and then the movie started (Total Recall) and it was all flashing lights and gunfire and I closed my eyes because it was too much but even through my eyelids it was too much and it was all in my head and I thought of seisures and I saw his face gargling at me blood out the side of his mouth and his eyes like some strange creature’s eyes and his legs jerking and no intelligence in his face, it was like a chicken… it was like a man’s body, my friend’s body, with a chicken’s mind in it, gurgling and croaking and confused and I told my friend I’m sorry I can’t… I can’t.
I tripped out of the cinema and the lights in the foyer were even too bright and I went outside and it was jarring, the people, the street, everything had sharp edges and I wanted to cry and curl up in my bed. I called my best friend and we talked about what had happened and I declared that’s it, that’s it.
I always knew there would be one day when I stopped doing drugs because I’m not doing this shit for the rest of my life, I can’t. And that’s it.
If this is a possibility and of course it fucking is, of course… I’m not putting myself in that position and I’m not putting my friends in that position ever, ever, ever.
It was fun.
It was a lot of fun, doing drugs.
I had some fucking awesome times.
But I don’t care how awesome, I wouldn’t endure what I endured on Saturday morning again for a million amazing parties. Nothing is worth the feeling of holding someone you care deeply about in your arms and cooing at them while they are unable to speak and their eyes dart around void of their personality.
It’s been the best of times and it has been the worst of all times.
And that’s it for me…. maybe I’ll fall into the trap again, because yes it’s fun… but as far as I feel and want right now I am leaving that all behind me.
We were really lucky that happened in Mandy’s house, with kind, caring people. If I had gone home with Alan… if that had happened in my bedsit, just the two of us… what would have happened? If we had gone back to a party somewhere full of total strangers, a rave… oh fuck.
We were lucky.
It’s all over now but fuck my brain is still in tatters.
But I have my friend back and he’s ok.
And that’s the end of my lusty affair with drugs.