It was 1996. I decided to take a break from "dancing" . There was a little dive called "The Scoreboard". It was a strip club with a pool table, video games and a bar area. It was definitely a "3" on the scale of one to ten (with ten being the luxury "gentleman's club" like The Cheetah and one being barely a hole in the wall).
It was a step down from my home club, but I was waitressing and making great money.
It was April 18th. This night started like all the rest. I worked until two a.m. and Jesse came to hang out. There was a group of us that "partied" together; the bar tender at the time, the owner, D.J.'s, and a guy we called "Stick, Jesse and I. We all liked cooking up cocaine and smoking it. It's like crack, but not. It's simply cocaine, baking soda and water. No nasty additives. Well, no nastier than cocaine that is.
We all got quite high. Jesse and I got some more to take back to the house like usual. We were serious drug addicts. We were taking hit after hit for a good five or six hours when I started getting one hell of a headache. It was like someone had my head in a vice.
I kept smoking coke for about an hour longer when I began vomiting after every hit and rushing to the bedroom to lie down with my eyes closed from the pain. By this time, my headache was monumental. Jesse encouraged me to just stop and chill out. He was worried. We had done this for days straight sometimes and I never had this reaction.
After about another hour, I couldn't smoke. I just lied down and cried. In a few minutes I smelled burning rubber. It was so strong it was like someone was peeling out in my house! Jesse came running and demanded I let him take me to the hospital. I conceded begrudgingly.
I wanted my mom there and she did live on he same street up a ways. We rode by, but she was at the AA room collecting her chip for staying sober some odd number of years. The AA people didn't know about her crack addiction, but the chip was for alcoholism. At the time I didn't know this was where she was.
The hospital was a surreal experience. They did CT scans, and blood tests but couldn't see anything. They were just going to send me home with pain pills. While I was with Jesse in the room waiting to be discharged, a doctor we hadn't met yet came in. This was the first and only time we ever saw him. He explained that I shouldn't be having that much pain still and he asked if I'd sign the waiver allowing a spinal tap.
I was willing to do anything that would subside the pain. I agreed and soon thereafter another doctor entered. All I can remember is the doctor telling me to get in the fetal position and cough. It was over before I realized it. Jesse, being the jester he was told me to cough again. I was so out of it I thought it was still the doctor for a second. After I realized it was just him we both laughed.
When the results came in they said there was blood in the spinal fluid which indicated a problem. An angiogram was then ordered. For those that don't know, this is where you lie on a table and a needle is inserted into the groin area where they shoot dye into your vain up to your brain. This illuminates every vessel when they look at it through a scope.
Finally, a resolution! They found a berry aneurysm. That is when everyone stepped up the pace. Jesse had gotten in touch with Mom and she came in explaining an aneurysm. She said it's like an air bubble on a tire, the vehicle being my brain and the tire being a blood vessel . The bubble gets bigger and bigger until it pops. Once it pops death is imminent.
Two percent of Americans are born with a berry aneurysm. It is a congenital defect. There are usually no symptoms. As crazy as it sounds, had I not been smoking cocaine and agitating the aneurysm, it probably would have grown for years and one day popped with no warning in my forties.
Needless to say I needed brain surgery.
There were no guarantees on what my condition would be following the surgery. I remember telling my Mom to please "tell Daddy I'm sorry". Although he and I had a strained relationship, I've never stopped wanting his approval. Although becoming a stripper and drug addict weren't the best choices for that!
Once the doctors had cut open my skull and exposed the brain, my aneurysm ruptured. This added to the chance of paralysis, loss of memory, and speech impairment. Luckily, they were able to re-route my blood flow by putting in a titanium clip.
Miraculously I came out with everything "normal". I had staples from behind my left ear to the center of my head and much bruising on my face. It was a seven-day stay in the hospital after I got out of I.C.U.. I went to recover at my grandmother's after that for a month or so.
I'm amazed I'm alive. I'm amazed how that incident didn't stop me from doing drugs. I used for ten more years! I didn't stop with crack....
...to be continued