When I was 20 years old, I was visiting with friends in an apartment in downtown Cincinnati. My homeboy and I had been saving a few precious bags of dope to do when we were alone. Dope wasn't cheap, it wasn't easy to come by, and it was going to be a good night. While the friends went out to the state liquor store to get booze, we thought we would be sneaky and do our issue. The point of doing it then was 1. we didn't want to share 2. fuck you. Just kidding, sort of. Anyway, since we had to share the syringe (with no way of cleaning it), he decided I would go first since I was a lower health risk. I was a few steps away from a virgin and had barely done drugs so my blood was safer. This was how we made decisions since we might have one syringe between four people for months at a time. He had been turning tricks since he was 12?13? and had a long drug history so he was willing to share my blood.
Once the process started, death wasn't what I expected. I was dreaming about football. The I formation, as if a game was in process. I felt someone smacking the shit out of me as I was coming up from the dream.
"Why are you smacking me?" I asked.
Then I realized I was on the floor under a table. I had fallen off the futon, smacked a glass table, and went down for the count. So much for the peaceful exit people had described. I had heard of people waking up from ODs with their legs twisted under them to the point they damaged everything. They would walk with what we called "a gangster lean" or the "stroke shuffle". Some older junkies would blaze rocks, only to get mini crack induced strokes that made one side of their face sag and have them drag the opposite leg. They would keep on stepping though.
My friend was crying. It was touching really. The last girl who had ODed on drugs he had seen was at a anonymous dope house. In some cities, there would be a shooting gallery or cheap apartment sealed off from the rest of the house where you could pay $5 to go in an use drugs off the street. People inside may or may not know each other. The general rule was no talking. Do your business and leave. In unison, after a girl had fallen on the floor, the patrons started moving a coffee table then rolling her up in a rug. As she was being hauled off to a frozen dumpster, she started screaming "I'm alive!" Well, fuck it. Unroll the bitch then, he told me. I, at least, got slaps and tears.
This was my first experience with overdose but certainly not the last. I am certain I saved five different people from overdose. One person had open sores around his mouth. He was HIV positive. I was to afraid to give him rescue breathing. So I called the paramedics from the corner and talked them through until they found him. He was drunk, did some dope, he didn't even remember what had gone on that day. I will always remember. I could have left him. I was just walking by, really. Chalked it up to the game. But I didn't. I know some people who would have gone through his pockets, called it a day. I am not that person.
If you don't have naloxone, don't leave a person to die. Someone loves them liked someone loved me. If you don't know what to do, breathe in their mouth, put them in rescue position, and call 911. Slapping, ice, coke, all the shit they told us don't work. My friend breathed life into me in between slaps. It worked. The person needs oxygen. If nothing else, call 911 with the door open so the paramedics can get to them. Care. The next time, it could be you.
My kids need me. I love them. I thank all the Gods every day I get to be in their lives.