I see her moments before her death; she’s sitting contentedly in the nook of her building across the street. Back against the wall, knees bent at 45-degree angles. Like so many around where I live and work, she clutches a small glass tube with both hands.
Her curly long blond hair and makeup contrast with her stubby beard and muscular frame. She glances up at me as I pass by. Moments later, out my office window, I notice a flurry of activity.
I think I hear someone yelling, “O.D!”
As I head for the exit, I notice a couple of staffers from next door hunched over a body. One of them moves up and down in a rhythmic pumping motion over the top of the body. CPR is underway.
When I arrive, I learn that the victim has already received two shots of Naloxone, but still no pulse. They pound on her chest some more and breathe air in through her mouth. I see her chest rise—one human breathing for another. I worry about that. Should he be putting his lips on hers?
A third shot goes into her arm.
“His pulse has started up again!”
“Her pulse!” Corrects an indigent bystander.
A small crowd has gathered. One offers colour commentary. It reminds me of a play-by-play announcer on hockey night in Canada. Another man, clearly under the influence, spurts out an emotional burp of words indicating that the men saving this life are superheroes. Most standing around, however, appear to care little whether she lives or dies. The atmosphere is eerily casual. What’s happening in front of me is so common that, for most, it’s barely noteworthy.
She coughs and sputters.
Like a WWF sportscaster announcing one of Hulk Hogan’s famous comebacks, one in the crowd shouts, “Sheee’s coming baaack!”
“I’m going to hit her one more time.” says the staffer.
Bang, into the shoulder, goes the fourth shot.
Her eyes pop open. She’s looks bewildered. Two emergency personnel show up in a fire department vehicle. Soon she’s sitting up. Two more EMTs on bicycles roll in, followed moments later by an ambulance. The guys that saved her head back to work acting like nothing happened.
Six medical professionals huddle around the victim, they try to check her vitals, try to help, but she isn’t interested in their assistance. She bums a cigarette off a bystander and pushes the EMTs aside; She’s out of here—the six stare at each other and shrug. One types a few notes into a laptop, another talks on the phone, then they fade away, on to the next overdose call.
I saw her today. She’s wearing a green floral print dress with a brown top. Dark sunglasses cover her eyes. She sits at a picnic table a few meters away from where she died yesterday. A man in black sits across from her. The exchange is made. She has what she wants.
Will it kill her today like it did yesterday?
Things are not as they should be.