It was a miserable rainy morning on the east side of Oakland. The run down neighborhoods and their unfortunate residents seem to look more desperate when they are soaking wet and put against a background of brooding, rain laden clouds. It was very close to Christmas and this time of year and a few of the bungalow style homes had some cheap lights strung haphazardly to combat the annual blahs that plague California in the rainy season.
You can ask anyone in the emergency business, this time of year our calls take on a different light. I don’t know if there is any documentation to back this up or if it is just superstition because we are more sensitive around Christmas. Perhaps it is just how shocking it is to see some of the scenes we walk in on against the familiar backdrop of red and green holiday decorations that for the first half of our lives invoked cheer, magic, and wonderment.
For our patients, and really everyone in general, there are indeed more stresses this time of year. There are many unwanted family interactions ending in violence and sometimes even death. Depression is common even among people who do not normally exhibit psychological problems throughout the year; and for those who are normally clinically depressed, it can be more profound in the face of the expectation they must be happy. People also tend to eat much more than they normally would; gorging ones self can compound any of the pre-existing medical complications they already have. Anyone who has ever tried to be on a diet during this time of year knows the pressures to make poor food choices are crushing at best.
There is one other seasonal factor that is responsible for bringing Party Boy, the subject of this story, into my life. Typically around the holidays, people tend to overindulge in the intoxicant of their choice, be it alcohol, narcotics, or whatever else they can get their hands on.
The call came in for a residence that was on one of those strange little streets that keep starting and stopping depending on which block you were on. You would hit the dead end, but then go around a block and pick it up again. Of course the map book does not reflect these little idiosyncracies. This made us a little later to the call than we like to be, but still well within our allotted time.
The house was a multi-unit, single story house and the address we were looking for was in the back of the building. The door was open and we were met by one of the firefighters walking out.
“You guys might want to bring some extra sheets and towels, he’s all covered in vomit and blood” she said punctuating with a look of exaggerated disgust.
“What’s the deal?” I asked. We still didn’t know. The call was for “unknown medical” which could be anything from a hangnail to dead.
“We don’t know yet, he’s spitting up blood and has vomit all over him.” She said.
“Great”. I said not meaning it at all.
“I’ll get the blankets and tarp” my partner said, “you can go ahead and see what we have”. She was telling me not to worry about the equipment, she would get it for us. Partners who are helpful in this way are like gold.
I walked down the walk with the firefighter and she and I made small talk. She had been in the house and knew what she was about to walk back into. I didn’t but had a pretty good idea. We wanted the next twenty feet to at least be somewhat pleasant.
I stepped up the steps and knocked as I usually do on the doorframe even though the door was open to announce my entrance.
The apartment was shockingly neat and tidy on the inside betraying the shabby exterior. Recently refinished hardwood floors. Modern colored paint on the walls with white crown molding. The kitchen looked like it had been updated recently. Not at all what I expected from the outside. There was a thirty-something young lady sitting on the couch in an oversized white T-shirt pulled over her black legging covered legs. Her knees were drawn up to her chest under the shirt and she looked as if she had been crying. She had long dyed black hair and acne and piercings on her face. Her look screamed “I just woke up!” She just pointed to the bedroom off to the side.
As I entered the bedroom, I couldn’t see exactly what was going on but could hear guttural and inhuman noises coming out of the room as if someone had captured some prehistoric animal. The firefighters were shifting their weight back and forth like they were trying to trap the animal.
It was then I first saw Party Boy.
Party Boy was about thirty years old, Caucasian, short black hair, dark eyes, and shaved hairless. Everywhere. He was completely naked, very thin, covered in random tattoos, vomit, and had blood streaked all down the front of his chest from his obviously broken nose and busted lip. He had a wild, wide-eyed stare that matched the bizarre noises coming out of his mouth. His head twitched back and forth over-reacting to every noise, but with a thousand yard stare that seemingly looked through walls. He was fully sexually aroused and was attempting to manually pleasure himself while using his free hand to ward off the would be captors. His mouth was hanging open except when he closed it to gather bloody saliva which he spit at the firefighters. They did their best to dodge the flying blood globules. I felt like they were doing a great job, nothing I needed to get involved in, so I backed out of the room and approached the young lady.
“Who is he to you?” I asked her.
“She’s the girlfriend” the clipboard wielding lieutenant responded for her. “But she doesn’t seem to know much about him at all.”
“EX-girlfriend!” she corrected with emphasis on the “ex”. “As of right now, phhssssssstt” she said drawing her hand across her throat in the universal symbol for cutting. I felt like I was in the movie Scarface.
“Oh excuse me” the lieutenant said feigning respect “The EX-girlfriend says our guy in there has an addiction to GHB and took too much of it.” He said with mock emphasis on the “ex” and an additional eye roll.
GHB is a powerful illegal drug that works as an intoxicant as well as an amnesiac. It’s used mostly as either in small doses as a performance enhancement drug for athletes or in larger doses as a date rape drug. Some more adventurous types take it themselves to get ultra-high.
“Do you know anything else about him?” I asked the freshly available ex-girlfriend over the crashing of what sounded like a lamp hitting the floor in the bedroom.
“You know what?” she said springing to action and jumping off the couch with a sudden burst of happy energy. “I have the number to the perfect person to ask about him” she ran to the kitchen where she rummaged around in a drawer before producing a small telephone number book. She thumbed through the book, mumbling names to herself as she passed through them alphabetically before exclaiming in success “Here it is!” She held out the book and pointed to a name and number “She will tell you all you need to know about him” she said with a smile, proud of herself for setting up this little piece of drama.
“Is this a family member?” I asked.
“Nope, this is the bitch who was his girlfriend before me. She would looooove a call from you guys. She can have him back, I’m done with him. Her problem now I guess” She said with finality and a smirk that seemed to indicate that her role in this was over.
“So this is the number to the EX-EX-girlfriend?” the lieutenant teased pointing to the number.
“Yeah, something like that” she said with an icy look.
The mood in the room was broken by the arrival of my partner.
“So what do we have?” she asked me.
“Probably OD, they have their hands full in there.” I motioned over to the room with all the commotion in it. “He’s naked and filthy.”
“Who’s this?” my partner thumbed to the ex-girlfriend.
“The girlfriend, but she’s not helping much.” I said loud enough so she could hear.
“EX-girlfriend!” she corrected. This was getting comical.
Now that everyone had arrived, it was time to corral Party Boy and get him out of the ex-girlfriend’s house.
“How do you want to do this?” I asked the lieutenant.
“I guess we just grab him and go.”
“I’ll get the straps and the gurney ready” my partner said and stepped out.
One of the firefighters went high, the other went low and quickly he was off his feet and struggling. The rest of us jumped in, everyone got a limb. We were walking in short little steps since Party Boy was doing everything possible to free himself by writhing around and flailing his restrained arms and legs. I was walking down the steps backwards when stepped in something squishy. Immediately everyone smelled it.
“Who stepped in the dog crap?” one of the firefighters asked wrinkling his nose as we negotiated the corner on the landing.
I knew it was me. Great, this was all I needed to make this call better. A naked guy, his pain in the butt ex-girlfriend, blood, vomit, and now dog poo on my boots. Just great.
“I don’t think it’s our guy” one of the firefighters said looking for feces and not seeing any.
“No, that would be me.” I said. “I stepped in it on the steps.” I would have to clean that up later. Right now, it was time to take care of Party Boy before he hurts himself worse.
As soon as he hit the gurney we wrapped him up and tied him down. He had a wild look in his eye like he wanted to communicate, but his brain was way too blotto to allow for words to be formed. Instead, he was left with grunts and snorts to work with.
We wheeled him into the ambulance and I was for the first time able to really assess him. He had a broken nose, from what I am not sure. He kept opening his mouth so I could see there was no other oral trauma other than his split lip and the nose. I think the blood was from his nosebleed dripping down the back of his throat. I had to sit on him to get a blood pressure and pulse since he was thrashing around careful to avoid his erection standing at full mast under the blanket. Then it came to me, all the while he was pleasuring himself as we were trying to corral him, that was what he wanted to do. I freed one of his hands and he immediately went to work on his penis under the blankets. It significantly cut down on his manic behavior, but the way he was staring right through my partner with this hypersexual behavior was giving me and her the creeps. His grunts and snorts switched to noises that sounded happier, so I guess we were meeting the need of reducing his suffering. This distraction bought me time to get an IV and get some Benadryl on board to calm him down which significantly reduced his manic behavior.
We brought him into the hospital, masturbating vigorously the entire time through the ER and onto the hospital bed. I gave my report and left, happy to be rid of Party Boy. Besides, I had to hose the doggy doo off the bottom of my boot.
About three hours later we were back at the same hospital wrapping things up with a different patient and we saw Party Boy in one of the observation rooms. He was awake, sitting up in bed and looking bewildered. His hair was messed up and he was now clothed. He had a look in his eye that told me he was much more oriented. It’s funny how when the lights are on inside someone they look like a different person, almost unrecognizable as the wild man we had met earlier. I decided to pop in and ask him some questions since I was missing a lot of info from my report and I wanted to be sure we could bill him for this one.
“Hey dude, how are you feeling?” I asked.
“Like crap. He said.”
“I need to get some info from you” I asked getting what I needed out of the way. I got his name, address, phone number, SSN, and insurance info.
“You don’t remember me do you.” I said.
“Nope. I don’t remember anything.” He said genuinely.
“You OD’d on GHB. I brought you in.” I said.
“What? What the heck is GHB?” he said. He was a skilled liar.
“It’s a drug. Some people call it a date rape drug. It’s an anesthetic used recreationally as a hypnotic.”
“Never heard of it. I don’t do any drugs. That can’t be. I’m totally clean.” He said flatly.
“That’s funny, your girlfriend, uh I mean EX-girlfriend says you are addicted to it.”
“I don’t know anything about that.” He said knowing that I knew very well that he was lying. “Can I go home now?” he said.
“Not my call, bud. That’s up to the doctor. Feel better.” I said and left the room.
He was yelling after me tugging on his wrist restraints as I left and that was the last I saw of him. Fitting given the hell he gave us back at the house.
I stopped back in about an hour after that and asked the nurse about him.
“So where’s Party Boy?” he knew exactly who I was talking about.
“We took the restraints off and he took off leaving the hospital in his gown only. He didn’t have shoes, a wallet, phone, nothing. “
“Did he ever cop to the GHB?” I asked.
“Nah, he just kept on denying. Deny, deny, deny.”
“How did his tox screen come back” I asked.
“Pretty much positive for everything. He was tanked up on everything including alcohol. I’m gonna say that was one hell of a party going on in his head.”
“Yeah, something tells me we will be seeing him again.” I said.
“For sure.” The nurse said before turning and getting back to his other duties.
I turned and walked back out of the sliding double doors feeling the cold blast of damp air hit my face. It was still pouring rain out there. Another call was out there waiting for me. Another adventure just over the horizon.