This is a preview to the Prologue from the book Don't Tell Me What To Do: A Spiritual Memoir by Ron Alexander.
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I am strapped to a gurney. My arms and legs are limp and numb from the tight strap. I’m dizzy from the rush of blood bulging in my head. My breathing is heavy and hurried from the pressure of the rigid straps crossing my chest.
As the screaming siren pierces my ear drums, I can picture the ambulance maneuvering through the traffic, squeezing be- tween cars and trucks, opening up a path leading to the nearest hospital.
The medic tells me to inhale slowly. “Calm down,” he says to me. “You’re going to be alright. Just relax.”
I try to talk through parched lips, wanting to tell him that I don’t want to be alright. I want to die.
I don’t know how much time has passed when the ambulance finally pulls up to the hospital. I am rushed into the emergency room, then to a private room where I am lifted from the gurney and strapped onto a bed. A doctor asks me a flurry of questions. Why did I take the pills?
I describe the pills I had taken, which the doctor identifies as Lithium, an anti-depressant lethal enough to kill me. The doctor gives a choice to either drink charcoal or get my stomach pumped. I don’t want a tube shoved down my throat, so I decide to go with the charcoal, not knowing how repugnant the taste will be.
A cup of charcoal is held to my mouth. I quickly gulp down the pasty, bitter tasting liquid. I had taken over fifteen Lithium pills. Death, if it comes, will be slow and agonizing Unlike swallowing a handful of Valium, I will not die quietly in a coma. There is the high probability that my heart, liver or kidney will fail, a very good chance that I will die from a complete breakdown of my organs instead. Even worst is the possibility that I just might survive, only to have to live with multiple damages to my vital organs.
Within minutes of drinking the charcoal, I begin to throw up. My lungs, chest and stomach heave up and down, out of my control. I spew out mouthfuls of black, sticky, clumps of vomit, speckled with a smattering of bright, red shells of the undigested pills.
A large bucket is held under my mouth, which I can barely reach because the straps holding me down are tight and unyielding. I’m drooling. No one wipes my mouth. I’m left grasping for air, sweaty, nauseous and convinced that the vital organs the hospital so desperately wants to protect now lay in the bucket.
“I don’t want to die,” I manage to say between breaths.
“That’s not up to me,” he responds. “You better pray.”
The young, ruddy-faced, smiling doctor informs me that in order to flush the remnants of the pills from my body, I will be catheterized. I angrily protest against the catheter, fully anticipating how painful the procedure will be.
Unmoved and seemingly unsympathetic, the doctor reminds me that I have no choice in this matter. The thought of a catheter been being forced down into my penis is more of a consequence than anything I’ve experienced in my addiction.
The doctor approaches me with the catheter in a hand. He props up my penis in his other hand, caressing it for a moment and smiling down at me. He begins to push the catheter into my penis. I wince and squeal in pain, recoiling from the catheter searing through the shaft of my penis.
I push my weight up against the straps, desperately trying to break free, shifting my body from side to side, and screaming profanities at the doctor. The catheter finally in, I’m also hooked up to an IV that will continuously flush saline through my body. The catheter will be attached to a waste bag to catch my urine.
I try to relax the aches in my muscles. “You really enjoyed playing with it, didn’t you?” I say, half joking,