She felt shamed. Almost stupid this time. As her head swam, one thing was clear, it happened again. How did she let this happen AGAIN!? She hadn’t moved off the couch to do much of anything all day due to the pain in her left shoulder. She had complained about it throughout the night. And all she longed for was sweet relief. Thank God her doctor increased the dosage of her muscle relaxer last week. But sometimes what’s good ain’t good for you.

When it was about time for her nightly meds, she thought about the cold medicine and ibuprofen she had taken a few hours ago. She reached for her pill organizer and dumped the four and two half of tablets in her hand and popped them in her mouth like she did every night. But she spit the extra half of muscle relaxer out because she decided to wait to take it in about an hour or so. The second Netflix movie she had chosen to watch was halfway through. But she was in the middle of the third before she remembered to take the extra half.

She instantly felt different. It seemed in a matter of seconds, she felt as though she had been roofied. The room swirled. Her forehead felt heavy as a brick. She kept falling forward. Not again, she thought, Jesus, please don’t let me die. Silent prayers soon turned into a plea for her mom to call 911. The EMS was only a few minutes away.

The EMS driver was the rude guy who had taken her brother to dialysis many times. His countenance was holier than thou and he always carried himself like he was too good to walk in their house. Out of sheer ignorance and belittling, he asked the question, “Why did you call the ambulance, ma’am?” Though her speech was slurred, she managed to murmur, “Something’s not right”.

Through her lethargy, she could see the disdain on his face and in his actions as he made her walk or stumble outside with no assistance from him to the stretcher outside. Yes, OUTSIDE! Had she been herself, he would’ve been cussed out. In her altered state, she could only manage to sarcastically slur, “What, am I sitting up front with y’all?”, as she stumbled through the kitchen and out the back door.

Even as she lay on the stretcher, the whole world started to spin and she felt herself losing control. What in the world was happening? By that time, she couldn’t put together one single intelligent thought. She tried to answer their questions but what she wanted to say and what came out her mouth were two different jumbled things. She faded in and out of consciousness as they rushed her to the nearest hospital.

Being that she came by ambulance, she went straight back to triage. Those attending to her were three busybodies, gossiping, young nurses who were complaining about the administration. The one in charge talked loudly at her. Through her fog, she was able to briefly stay awake and her chest felt heavy. She was being shocked away either by the irritated nurse yelling that she needed to stay awake to answer her questions or the sound of herself snoring.

Although she felt no sense of time, on the clock it was just after 3:30 am when they told her she was getting an IV and fluids. They were taking blood and needed a urine sample. Never had she ever had so much trouble giving a specimen! She tried several times for over an hour. Finally, the nurses took urine through a catheter and left her alone. She fell asleep.

She woke up two hours later. The IV fluids finished and she had slept off most of her overdose. With her head somewhat clearer, she spent the next forty minutes calling for a nurse who never appeared. Her dizziness was wearing off. Finally, a nurse came in to check her vitals and a doctor soon followed. He said she had taken a little to much of her medicine but offered no other information or solutions. As soon as he spoke those words, she instantly felt ashamed. She knew better than to not pay more attention to the time between meds and to never mix medications. She had been doing it for a while with no problem until tonight.

She was released home with paperwork stamped, Accidental Overdose. Her momma wouldn’t be able to take losing me like that. I hate those words. Accidental overdose. Those words were stamped on her oldest son; my oldest brothers death certificate. I can’t allow those words to take me too. I’ve got to be more careful. I’m not trying to leave here before my time. I can’t do that to my family!

Everyone makes mistakes. Most of us are ashamed of some of the mistakes we have made. The only way to stop repeating them is to learn from them, change the behavior causing them, and don’t get so stuck in your shame, that you can’t move on. Life is hard. We all are struggling. Let’s reach out a hand to one another.

This is why I share my experiences such as this, to let someone know they are not alone. And to let them know they can recover and move on as long as they move differently. I have a set time for my day and night meds. If I’m two hours off I will not take them. I’m also not taking Ibuprofen anymore. I am making an ENT appointment next week for my allergies.

I pray all those who struggle with chronic pain and/or drug dependency find just one person to talk to and rely on. We can win the fight if we fight together. Contact me anytime here, through my email (vfurrms@yahoo.com), or on IG @my_poetic_life_. I will be happy to be your person.


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Valerie Collins
Valerie Collins was born in Tucson, Az, the last of six children. She has loved writing since a child but decided to pursue a career in Orthopedic nursing. Shortly after her marriage and birth of her first child at the age of 22, she was diagnosed with the chronic pain disease, Fibromyalgia, its subsequent conditions, illnesses, and syndromes. Once the disease disabled her in 2001, she revisited her passion for writing poetry and short stories and has accumulated over 100 poems and spoken word pieces over the years. She became a member of the International Society of poets in 2002 and The International Who's Who in Poetry in 2006. She currently is a member of Realistic Poetry International, Who's Who Among American Business Women, and Women of Facebook Create. Her accolades include 2005 Poet of the Year. She was awarded both the Outstanding Achievement Award in Poetry and the Official Commemorative Poetry Ambassador Medal while serving as a Poetry Ambassador associate in 2007. She wrote a play entitled “Fix Me Jesus” in 2012 for Alabama 1st COGIC State AIM Youth Convention Competition drama category which was awarded second place. Currently, she is in rehearsals for her second stage play for the local playwright, Shawna D. Moore which will be on stage in August 2019. She is in the process of compiling a two-volume poetry book entitled My Poetic Life: A Memoir of Love and a book detailing her life with Fibromyalgia, entitled Behind the Walls of Silence. In July 2018, she created her first blog site My Poetic Life (The Book) as @vfurrmstheblogger to act as a launch for both books and it has taken on a life of its own. She also owns a small crochet business, Val's Gifts of Warmth, where she sells her handmade crochet items.
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John Dunia

Thanks for sharing your story, Valerie. That was very brave of you. Also, you must be commended for being a go-to person.

Larry Tyler
Larry Tyler

Thank you Valerie . As John says you are brave and willing to reach out and help others.

Joel Elveson

Valerie, you went through hel-l that night. If you take many different medications it is easy to forget what you took or wound up taking another medication not knowing if it would interact with your other medications. You need not be ashamed about what happened. The “professionals” who were responsible for getting you to hospital as well as those whose job it was to administer care to you should be ashamed. More appropriately they should all have been fired or at the very least sternly disciplined. To offer help people with some of the difficulties you mentioned in your article is a sincere, kind and caring act. You are very courageous not to mention seemingly very strong. Your article itself was a powerfully gripping story that should help many people.