A college girl struggles with addiction and mental illness:
Chapter 4: In Which Parade Day is Celebrated A Little Too Hard
The next day- Parade Day- started very early: 8 am. Parade Day is the big St. Patrick’s Day Celebration. . From the way the commuters described it they made it sound like the apocalypse. I feel like the university actually made it worse with the constant emails telling us no guests in the dorms, no underage drinking and no social hosting.
Alex and I both woke up to Snapchats of our friends drinking at 8 am (most of them were having breakfast parties, then heading off to the Parade once they were drunk).
“Hey, if you aren’t doing anything do you want to come over for a Parade Day celebration tonight?” he asked. Did I? Duh. .
Alex walked me back to my dorm en route to his breakfast party. As soon as I got home, I threw up (which was now almost routine) then slept for a few hours. When I woke up, I checked Snapchat and saw an abundance of people drinking, partying and climbing on roofs. From my window I could see a sea of drunk college students in green hanging off porches and balconies and roofs- and it wasn’t even noon.
I felt better so I found something green to wear (that greenish/ yellow sweater over a gray cami. It made my boobs look great) and then went to Amanda’s room to meet up with Amanda and Derrick- the three of us were going to the Parade and make fun of drunk people. As some of the only sober people there was plenty of material- everyone seemed drunk, from the college kids to the men standing outside the city’s many bars.
The three of us stuck together knowing the parade could get a little rowdy. The next day Alex showed me this video of an all out brawl that happened at the Parade which seemed to involve 20 college kids. Another kid was actually stabbed six times. But the three of us didn’t run into any trouble. After the parade, we met up with Ethan who marched in the parade. It was really nice out so we grabbed food at the Student Center before we headed up to the local park.
The Student Center was a congregation of drunk college kids who were sober enough to find food. We saw some very intoxicated kids playing the Penis Game and several others vomiting outside the front door. One guy who knew Derrick stopped us and asked Derrick (his voice slurring) “Man you drunk?”
“Nope” said Derrick who hadn’t drank since Halloween.
“High?” the guy asked.
“Nope” said Derrick.
“Maaaaaaannn” the guy said in a way almost too comic to be real. “It’s Parade Day. You gotta get smashed” Then he almost walked into the street. And for all this talked about tight security I didn’t see a single cop.
I figured I would be safe walking one block from the park to Alex’s place by myself but I passed by about six guys sitting on a wall who shouted things as I passed.
“Hey chica, wanna have some fun?” hooted some of the guys.
“Not with you” I thought but kept walking. Alex’s place was very low key compared to the giant parties occurring all over Scranton. It was Alex, some of his roommates and his rommates friends. We had Chinese food (my stomach was bothering me so all I had was rice) watched movies (including Charlie’s Angles Full Throttle which for some reason I remembered as being good) and yes there was drinking.
Unlike most of the campus, I only drank for several hours, not all day like most of the partiers at Scranton. Alicia was there but very very hammered and I actually helped her puke in the bathroom.
She thanked me in between heaves, then said (more to the toilet than to me) “Alex is a good friend. One time some guy slipped something in my drink. Alex was the first person I went to because I knew I would be safe. I was sick and shaking all night. Alex took care of me. And even if you and Alex stop hooking up he’ll still be nice to you and want to be friends. I mean look at him and Victoria”
Victoria had told me she might come over but when I texted her she sounded kind of angry saying how it would be weird.
It should be clear I asked Victoria very explicitly if she was cool with Alex and I and she said it was totally fine. Victoria did come by over to pick up Alicia and by that time Alex was almost passed out on the floor.
Victoria tucked him into bed, gave him water and a stuffed animal (which he apparently sleeps with) and told me take care of him. I felt weird watching that like I was a mistress or something. But I crawled into bed next to him and once he woke up we had a little fun.
The next morning the fairy tale ended. I woke up at 6 am and felt really nauseas which honestly wasn’t unusual so I didn’t think anything of it.
Then I vomited in the bathroom.
And then again.
And again. And soon I was in the bathroom for over three hours. I think at some point I became disoriented because I forgot how to leave the bathroom and even though I had my phone I didn’t text anyone. At some point I started worrying something was seriously wrong especially when I saw what looked suspiciously like blood in my vomit. Finally around 9, I messaged Alex I felt sick and he asked if I wanted him to take me back to my dorm.
“Can I have water?” I replied.
Alex opened on the door and saw how disoriented I was and how I could barely stand. “Let me get Kris” he said, referring to his friend who is an EMT and who I met the night before.
Some minutes later Kris arrived. She was so sweet and reassuring.
“This is way more than a hangover. She needs to go to the hospital”
So an ambulance was called. They loaded me into a chair, put an IV in my arms and began to carry me out.
“Are you going with me?” I asked Kris.
“No Alex is” I wasn’t sure if I wanted that (taking a guy to the ER with you isn’t exactly the quickest way to his heart) but didn’t really have a choice because I sure as hell wasn’t going alone. This time they gave me my own room but I found the nursing staff to be just as abrupt and rude as last time.
“We are going to have to put this tube inside you to drain the blood” the doctor informed me.
“Okay” I assumed they were going to put the tube through my mouth. I was wrong.
“It is going to go through your nose” said the doctor, rubbing some petroleum jelly on the end of a large tube.
“No it’s not”
Look, I’m cooperative. I swear. But if you tell me you need to shove a tube down my nose, I am going to resist. It’s human nature.
“We need to do this” Apparently the doctor did not like taking no for an answer.
If I had thought kneeling on the floor in front of a toilet was unpleasant I hadn’t experienced anything yet. They showed it through my nose (my nose! Smaller than most). I gagged as I felt it go into my stomach- it was close to the worst pain I’d ever know.
“You’ll adjust to it. Sorry” said one nurse not seeming at all sorry. They left, with me still struggling to breath. Every time a nurse came by, I signaled to Alex to ask about the tube and every time the answer was “no”.
At one point, I broke down crying. I didn’t care about being in trouble or what my parents would say, I just wanted the tube out. It hurt too much to talk and even swallowing was painful.
Nurses came in and out taking my blood, my urine and the doctor even did a rectal exam (thankfully Alex left the room for that). They took me for a cat scan but no one removed the tube. My dad began driving down from New York and Emily and Brandon came by the hospital with clothes and a phone charger. They were great.
But Alex was amazing. He kept me calm despite the awful tube, rubbing my back and calling me sweetie. If he wasn’t there I don’t know what I would have done. It was so nice to see a kind face. Many of the nurses and doctors were so callous. There was an especially rude insurance agent who came in as I was gagging and retching on the tube and asked me (despite my obvious distress) to sign some forms.
When I wasn’t able to (there were about a dozen forms) she said in a very disgruntled voice like she was the one with a tube down her throat “All right, calm down, I’ll be back” like she was doing me the world’s biggest favor when she was actually being the world’s biggest bitch.
Eventually, they told me they were keeping me overnight and moved me upstairs to the observation floor. My room number was actually 420. I liked my hospital room way better than the ER- it was a lot calmer upstairs and I felt my heart rate returning to normal. Plus now I had an actual bed. I kept telling Alex he could leave but he instated on staying until my dad got there. By this point I was point I was communicating with Alex via text message because it hurt too much to talk. At some point, I asked him about the breakup with Victoria and a look of sadness appeared.
“She told me she had too much emotional baggage to date. I told her I was willing to work through it but she didn’t want to”
Dad eventually arrived.. I still had that damn tube in my mouth so I couldn’t say goodbye to Alex verbally but he texted me later that evening “Hey sweetie, how are you feeling?” The answer was lousy. The tube was draining my blood in a bucket (I watched the blood go right past my nose every time. Good thing I wasn’t squeamish). It was incredibly uncomfortable especially when it shifted and I gagged on it. The worst part was I couldn’t drink any liquid (not even water) or eat anything (not that I was hungry). I never considered myself much of a water drinker but soon I was literally begging for it. They gave Dad sponges he could wet my mouth with and told me I could put ice cubes in my mouth the next day but that it was too soon. The brusque nurse told me I would have to have it in overnight. I had no idea how I would get any sleep and I was still furious I couldn’t talk so I started texting Mom and Dad.
Some of my choice messages:
“I’m so thirsty I wish I was dead”
“Can I have an ice cube mmmm”
“I can’t do this. I don’t care if I die. I can’t. It’s my body and my decisions and none of these assholes know any fucking thing. I want a different hospital. Get me out of here or I’m going to lost it”
They gave me some medicine through the IV to help me relax and I began to get sleepy. I did get panicky when they told Dad he couldn’t spend the night because it was a female patient room. I was sharing the room with a sweet, elderly lady.
She heard the nurse ask Dad to leave and said “I don’t mind if he stays”
“But it’s the hospital policy” said the nurse not sounding apologetic.
Somehow I made it through the night. The nurse gave me some spray for my throat and I would have to buzz for a nurse every time I needed to use the bathroom so I could be disconnected from several tubes (not THE tube though). I had to sleep sitting up so the tube didn’t choke me and I didn’t get much sleep. Once Dad came back I finally managed to sleep. There was a new nurse, Jennifer, and I liked her a lot more. I nodded off and when I woke up she was next to me as she cleaned the table.
“Guess you’ll be feeling a lot better now that the tube’s out” I was still groggy but then I realized the tube had fallen out when I was asleep. I had told the nurses I was getting uncomfortable because I kept choking on the tube and the nurse had told me it was secure and all in my head. How secure was it if it came out in my sleep? I liked Jennifer a lot more than the other nurses.
I had doctors in and out all day (GI specialists were called which means gastrointestinal specialist) but the day got a lot better after the damn tube came out. They gave me water and tea and they started me on a liquid diet of jello (which felt really wonderful against my irritated throat), tea and soup. I spent the rest of the day messaging my friends, watching TV (being depressed at the lack of anything good on) and napping. Even though the tube was out I still didn’t feel well. They gave me antineasea but it seemed to have adverse side effects because I soiled my bed (thank God none of my friends were around for that. Or God forbid Alex). Then later in the day I got a fever and chills (at one point there were four blankets on me. They were hospital blankets, though, so it’s not like they did anything). But at least the damn tube was out (my throat was sore for days though).
I was texting Alex pretty much continuously (well in between naps). Alex had stayed with me for over five hours. Even though I told him multiple times to go, he wouldn’t leave. Alex’s actions really touched my heart.
I stayed overnight in the hospital again, this time Dad went back to get Mom and bring her down for the next day. The next night went a lot smoother than the first and when I woke up the next morning Mom and Dad were there. I was discharged around four that afternoon after they saw I could handle food (which honestly sucked. I preferred the jello) and I even showered. I was discharged with very strict instructions- no drinking, no Advil or Motrin (but Tylenol was okay. Tylenol is now my new best friend) and very very little caffeine (so no Monster energy drinks . One cup of coffee minimum). They also gave me a prescription for anti nauseas meds which I’ll be on for at least another week (once in the morning, once at night). They prevent vomiting and any acid reflux which could reactivate the bleeding. It helps my upper gastrointestinal tract but trust me, my lower gastrointestinal tract is not so happy with it.
My parents were debating taking me back to New York to rest up but I had already missed two days of classes and didn’t want to miss anymore class time so they came back and helped me get settled and I went right to sleep for a nap first thing.
When I woke up I was too exhausted to go to the dining hall to get dinner so Emily came with me to get Mac and Cheese from the Pod. Emily also gave me a card that she made and all the group members signed. The outside of the card was surrounded by cats. It was so cute. Everyone wrote sweet and encouraging messages on it. Emily wrote “I’m so glad you’re back to Lynett. I hope you get better soon and you stay as strong as you’ve always been”
March 18th 2016- Wednesday (the day after I was released from the hospital) I fully intended to go to all my classes. But I never accounted for Daylight Savings time or set my clock back so when I woke up it was 8. I pulled myself out of bed decided geometry wasn’t happening and then met my friends for breakfast.
Instead of my usual morning Monster I grabbed a water bottle and embarked on a destination of caffeine withdrawal. I went to my 11 am psych class and fell asleep but I stayed after and explained how sick I had been. I had theology but I didn’t feel well enough to go to it. Maybe it was recovery from the hospital, maybe it was the caffeine withdrawal but I felt exhausted. Even walking was tiring especially stairs (on my discharge papers it told me to avoid stairs. It hurt my chest_.
After psych I went right back to my dorm. I didn’t even have the energy to make it up the stairs- I just fell asleep on a couch until Brandon woke me up for lunch. Water was still not a substitute for caffeine but I drank a ton of it so I would be more alert. After DeMarzio’s class (he was very understanding. I’m grateful I had him first semester so he understands that I am usually a hard worker and that I was actually sick. Not just lazy) I went back to the dorm. I fought the urge to nap and worked on psychology that afternoon. But I had incentive.
Earlier that day Alex offered to come by after work. This meant that after I did my homework I really needed to clean my room. By the time Alex showed up my room was transformed (meaning it looked halfway decent. Compared to usual that was a miracle). I told Alex I wasn’t feeling too great so I didn’t want to do anything physical so he said “I understand. Though, trust me, I want to” The first hour (or half hour. I’m bad with boys and time) Alex and I talked for a while and then lay down next to each other.
I snuggled up against him and we lay in silence. I felt his breathing grow deeper so I pressed closer. After a while I titled my head upward and then we were kissing. We kissed for about an hour. Kissing with Alex is more than that. It’s this feeling like I need as much of him as possible…I guess that’s lust. But there’s the fact that he is sweet and kind and gentle and waited with me in the hospital for five hours. And knowing his kindness and how he genuinely cared about me…that turned me on even more.
And even though our clothes barely came off it was so sexy. And there wasn’t pressure to do anything further. It was all about us about the moment, not what was coming next. At one point he flipped me over on my stomach and pressed against me from behind. It was so dominant and masculine but he was also gentle, the way he pressed against me. He even gave me his fingers to suck on.
After a while, we stopped hooking up just lie there and cuddle and talk. After a while Alicia messaged him.
“So what do you want with Hope?” I lay there as we both paused after reading the text.
“What should I say?” asked Alex. I had my head pressed against his chest so I couldn’t see his face.
“What do you want to say?”
“How about we spend more time together and see where it goes” he said gently, “Is that okay?”
A flush of heat moved through me at his words, especially at the gentle way he asked me.
“Yes please” I said quietly. It was a very intimate moment even though we weren’t looking at each other.
At around midnight he left after several long, deep kisses. Something I did learn was that Victoria apparently texted Alex saying it would be too hard to be around us if we were together. I was really happy Victoria didn’t tell me that as I knew it would put me in an awkward position. On the one hand, Victoria is one of my closest, most loyal friends but on the other hand she introduced me to Alex. And I’m not like most modern girls- can’t do the hookups without feeling something. I can’t give my body without investing some of my soul. Well the bit of soul I have left at any rate.