Monday, January 19, 2009

(part 118) COMA # TWO: L.A. GENERAL

L.A. County Hospital

I have no real memory of what I was doing back then, but know at some point I went to stay with Carol Paulus for awhile, something I continued to do periodically for years, for a couple of reasons.

I had nowhere else to go, and Carol was better than most at dealing with me in the state I was in. Again, I have almost no recollection of what I was doing after getting out of the hospital, which probably means I was extremely loaded.

The constant intake of both drugs and alcohol into my already weakened system was sure to have made a bad situation worse. My mother had gone back to San Jose and I assume she was getting information from Carol as to my whereabouts and condition.

Nothing had improved in my life and that's the one thing I am sure of. Each destructive episode lent itself, in part, to the cause of the next debacle, which I seemed incapable of preventing or avoiding.

By the end of the summer of 1972, I believe, I found myself once again in the Park Sunset motel/hotel, across the street from the Continental Hyatt House on Sunset Blvd., where I'd started my suicidal journey sometime earlier.

It was now months after I'd overdosed at Gavin Murrell's house and I again found myself isolated and alone. Fueled by nonstop drinking and lack of sleep, I continued to obsess over my past and current negative belief that life for me was no more than a series of failures.

I had thirteen 3-grain tuinol capsules that I'd stolen from Carol's apartment. These are powerful barbiturates used for sleeping, and are extremely lethal when taken in sufficient quantities and mixed with alcohol. I swallowed all of them along with a fifth of scotch. I was found unconscious in my bathroom at the Park Sunset, after falling into a coma.

Once again, it was Carol Paulus who found me, and who called the paramedics. I was taken by ambulance to USC Medical Center in downtown Los Angeles, rather than UCLA in Westwood.

L.A. General, as it was known, was where everybody went who couldn't afford a choice. It was a huge place and packed to the rafters with indigent and poor. In this second attempt on my own life, I was just another person carted into the bowels of L.A. General like so many others that day.

Although it's an incredibly gloomy place, it was still a damn good hospital if you overdose and are in a coma. This time there were no round tables and men in robes, no little gray man, or anything else. This time there was only blackness.

I came back to consciousness in a huge open ward with beds shoved into every possible open space available. It was stark and poorly lit. It seemed to stretch on forever, with bed after bed containing ill and distressed human beings.

Every kind of person imaginable was represented in that ward. As for me, I was just another one of the poor unfortunates who'd found my way there via my own actions and piss-poor choices.

I knew then that I was not doing too well with this suicide business, but I was winning the battle of how to slowly, or perhaps quickly, destroy myself piece by piece. As I lay there, trying to focus my vision, I felt utterly alone and completely worthless.

About that time a black nurse approached me after noticing I was conscious. She had a nice face, and smiled at me, asking how I felt? I couldn't really respond very well to her question, because I was so groggy from the beating I'd taken with a second overdose.

I stared up at her through blurry eyes and tried to speak but have no certain memory of what I said to her, possibly something about killing myself. All of a sudden, this seemingly pleasant lady's entire personality changed, and she began preaching in Bible verses to me.

She was now emphatically saying I had sinned against God Himself, because I had tried to kill myself, and that I had to repent then and there, in front of her, or my soul would be punished for all eternity in hell. "Fuck my soul," I yelled at her, "and fuck God too."

I was suddenly far more alert than I'd been and angrily reacting to her religious views. I freaked out and screamed at her to get the fuck away from me.

As had happened at UCLA, the area quickly filled with hospital orderlies who tried to determine what was wrong. Since I was yelling when they arrived, "Get this crazy bitch outta here," they decided I was the problem and tied me to the bed with 4 cloth restraints, and left me there freaking out.

Completely demoralized and exhausted by the event, I finally cried myself to sleep still tied to the bed.


  1. So much for bedside manner towards patients. What a bitch.


  2. You may not have been lucid then but you sure are now. J D Salinger couldn't have written it better!