On Jan. 20. 2000 I took an overdose of psych meds. Prior to this I was bounced from psych hospital to psych hospital until put back into a situation I wasn’t okay with. The last hospital I was calling homeless shelters instead of going to groups. Insurance basically ran out so hospitals didn’t want to keep me. I saw an intake worker for the county I moved to and begged him to place me in a state hospital though I knew they were horrible–he refused and said wait to see the new therapist. So the day of the appointment I took the meds. The new therapist knew something was wrong but took time to get it out of me. Instead of calling an ambulance I’m told the police were called and I was handcuffed though I could barley walk —I don’t recall any of this. I was finally taken to a local hospital where i was given charcoal to induce vomiting. My family was told not to hurry I would be fine. They got there and knew right away something was wrong and begged to get me transferred. Their request fell on death ears at first but finally I was med flighted out to UW Madison. I aspirated on the charcoal and it went into my lungs which lead to my ARDS.

My parents took turns staying with me and when their vacation was running out my grandma would stay with me. My lungs kept collapsing and ended up with 9 chest tubes and they almost glued my lungs to my chest wall due to them not healing. I had one infection after another to fight. I was in the TLC (tramua life center) for 6 weeks, vented, then trached. Thankfully PT moved my limbs during my 6-week coma ordeal. Spent a total of 3 months in the hospital and it lead to some ICU psychosis. People can hear in a coma. My mom read me angel stories and when I woke up she would read them again and i knew the endings. My sister who I’m super close to and best friend came to visit, while I was still in the coma and paralyzed I sat up and opened my eyes (staff had no clue how since I was on enough drugs to knock out an elephant).

When my sister did the long drive to visit me she heard a song by Faith Hill and though not about what I went through it fits–It as “just breath’ and that song brought her comfort each time she heard it on the way to visit me

when I was in TLC and in the coma I had a nurse named Pete. I wasn’t expected to make it but every person whom he handmade a bracelet for pulled through. Right after I woke up I no longer had him (he didn’t feel I would be comfortable with a male nurse).

One of my ICU hallucinations was someone cut that bracelet off and I was in a panic that I was automatically now going to die. I remember his sister was a news reporter. One night the power went out in TLC and the backup generators failed to work. My Mom was the only person with a loved one that night. Me and one other person were too sick to transfer to the VA part of the hospital. I was on an inflated bed at the time and it deflated of course. The news reporter hunted my Mom down the next morning for an interview (it was supposed to be her first day going back to work). My sister had it on VHS and I got to watch it once.

22 years later I still struggle with some mental health but fight to live daily. I have pulmonary fibrosis but by the grace of God it never progressed; though I have to be careful because when I get sick the infection goes into all the scarring (my lungs look like ground glass). I was too afraid to try running until recently and pleased I can do it–people on the ARDS Facebook group inspired me to try.