Saturday, January 17, 2009

(part 116) THE CIGARETTE

The symptoms of brain damage appeared immediately in my behavior while in the hospital. The day after I came out of the coma, I asked for a cigarette, which I was told I couldn't have because it might kill me in the condition I was in.

This observation by staff was ridiculous to me because I had just attempted taking my own life. I laughed sarcastically at whoever it was who told me that, saying, "I don't care if it kills me, I was trying to kill myself anyway."

The battle of wills had begun in earnest and I was determined to smoke. My poor mother was caught in the middle of this fight and tried to reason with me unsuccessfully. "I want a Goddamn cigarette and I don't care what it does to me."

With that, I began ripping out the intravenous needles and tubes from my arms and lunged out of bed and into the hallway, as the sound of beepers and buzzers filled the air.

The area quickly filled up with doctors and staff, who attempted to corral and calm me. My single focus at that moment was a cigarette, and no amount of coaxing could dissuade me from my mission.

As I became more and more agitated, I took off down the hallway wearing only a hospital gown. I marched through the corridor, with my ass hanging out, yelling, "I want a Goddamn cigarette."

Finally, security showed up, and I was now being approached by uniformed guards who were still some distance away. They began gesturing with their hands for me to calm down, and attempted to flank me with several staff members.

As they moved in on me, I grabbed a glass I.V. bottle off a rolling stand and threw it down the hall at them. The glass shattered through the hallway and the group stopped in disbelief, looking at the glass and then back at me.

I turned away, and headed down another hall, ending up in what appeared to be an auditorium. There were long and heavy drapes hanging at the sides of the windows, so I grabbed one and yanked it down to the floor. From it, I removed a very large curtain hook, used for hanging the drapes on rods.

It looked somewhat like a big fish hook, and I held the sharp end to my wrist yelling, "Stop, Goddamn it, or I'm gonna shove this fucker in my wrist and rip out my veins." They all stopped! "All I want is a Goddamn cigarette, man. I just want a cigarette," I said.

I stood there with the curtain hook dug into my wrist and dared them to come at me again. They all milled about in a tight little crowd, when somebody finally moved forward with a lit cigarette. "OK, Bobby, here's a cigarette, now try and calm down."

I motioned the person forward with the cigarette and took it from their hand. I dropped the hook on the floor, after taking a couple of long drags, and sat down on a folding chair in front of the auditorium stage.

I sat there quietly taking in the smoke, as a staff member approached me with a syringe full of sedative, plunging it into my arm. I offered no resistance at that point and muttered, "All I wanted was a cigarette."

* * *

There are at least two primary ways of observing my actions, which I have just conveyed to you here. (1) I was an ungrateful, obnoxious asshole, which is true, and (2), I was damaged at that point, in such a way, as to not have the capacity to self regulate my behavior.

Inappropriate emotional outbursts of anger, coupled with pronounced swearing and changes in personality are hallmark symptoms of brain cell damage caused by Anoxia and Hypoxia, which simply stated, is what occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen for too long.

In my case, that had taken place prior to this event. Some brain cells start dying within 5 minutes in an anoxic or hypoxic environment. I was in such an environment for as much as two hours before reaching UCLA.