Saturday, January 28, 2012

"The Incident"

I'm currently working for an adult drug and alcohol rehab in Utah which has been both rewarding and challenging. I enjoy helping people, especially those who are trying to improve their lives and progress to reach their potential. It's not always easy but I feel needed for both patients and therapists and I have learned a lot and grown.

However last week was by far the worst day in my year of working there. I took half of the group to a recreation activity at a local trampoline gym. Unfortunately one client had smuggled drugs into the facility after a weekend pass (he had almost completed 60 days of treatment). He shared it with two other clients on the way to the activity and then decided to elevate their high by taking more when we got there. The used a synthetic drug that can't be traced in your urine but took way too much and by the time our session was over one client was babbling and acting stupid. He is a total jokester so I thought he was messing with me and after prodding him and telling him it wasn't funny anymore I told him to follow us out to the car.

When I got outside I found another client just sitting on some steps near the van and when I told him he needed to always wait for me he turned around and starting slinging a bunch of profanities. This didn't face me just caught me off guard but I don't think I'll be able to forget the look of his eyes. His pupils were the size of pins and it was as if he was possessed. I mean I could not even glimpse a part of his goodness or anything true to his nature. When I looked back inside and realized the first client had not "snapped out of it" I knew something was really wrong. I'd love to say how strong I was and how I heroically controlled the situation and made everything better.

In reality, I was completely overwhelmed and out of my comfort zone. The clients continued to be aggressive and incoherent and although the other clients were trying to help I was so lost. I started calling my supervisors only to completely start crying and already being sick and losing my voice they couldn't even understand me. We eventually got them the info and were instructed to load everyone up and head back to the house immediately.

Easier said then done, the client who was sitting out side was hitting and biting and cursing as two boys guided him into a bench seat. The other client was holding onto a fence and screaming and when they tried to lift him up went crazy swinging at anything he could. Finally once he calmed down they tried again and this time he started to pass out and go unconscious on us. Now I knew we had a bigger problem and that these boys were in danger of an overdose. Another call to my boss and we were now headed straight to the hospital. Oh it gets better, on the way to the hospital the unconscious client is turning grey and not breathing well and another client leans forward to inform me that she is positive a third client is high as well - I look in the rear view mirror and she similar eyes and know that we'll have to take care of that soon as well.

I pull up and have everyone wait in the car - come inside and while yes still crying explain my situation to the nurse who grabs some friends, I don't want the clients to hurt anyone, and they come out to the van to help get the clients onto beds. From there a lot was happening fast and slow at the same time, I'm trying to provide information to the hospital while keeping my other clients in sight, and giving co-workers updates and directions to the hospital.

The first client has a strong reaction and after not breathing well on his own is eventually intibated and moved up to the ICU. The second client when he wakes up is so violent (and a strong person) so he is eventually restrained in the ER. The third client eventually had a gradual reaction in the waiting room, passed out, wet himself and also landed in his own room.

So on my watch 3 of the 7 clients ended up in the ER. I cried pretty much consistently from 3pm - 10pm when I finally was home and went to bed. They say I saved someone's life by getting him to the hospital but I was so frustrated/hurt/and scared that it had to even come to that. All three clients were discharged and although I still hope for their recovery I personally can no longer be involved.

Addiction is a real disease and it kills people, lots of people, everyday. From my observations there is no "high" or "buzz" that is worth even an once of the pain, sadness, hopelessness, aloneness, fear, and frustration that it causes to all those who have to share the consequences. I just needed to share my experience to try to let it go. I won't blame myself for someone else's choices and I don't have to hold onto any of the emotions that I felt that day. I will not be able to forget this experience but I pray that I never have to be present for something like this again. I choose to be clean and sober because I want to be present for my life and I never want to let something control me and take away everything that I am.

We end every AA/NA/CA 12-step Meeting with the serenity prayer: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."


Annie McAferty said...

Oh my goodness Janel. I am so sad for those people and I'm so sorry that you had to go through such a traumatic experience. While reading, I thought about how all people have their agency and they're going to make their choices and it's no reflection on you. You did your best to handle the situation and I think you did a great job. My prayers will be with you that you'll be able to process all this and come out even better.

To quote a great movie, " Drugs are so bad!" Let's never do them!

The Grimmetts in Real Life said...

I feel for you. Trust me I know what it is like to have someone you care about become a totally different person when they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Why do you think it was so important to me to marry someone who didn't do those kind of things. Just to hear you voice how you felt about those things and how you don't want to ever cuz hurt to people you love, I wish millions of people could hear that. I still think you would make a good motivational speaker for youth and young adults. You could volunteer your time with the church addiction recovery program also if you had some spare time. Maybe you could post your ending feelings on facebook so more people could read it. It was well said!!!