Roy Exum: I Just About Croaked

Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

This time last week I was a guest in the Intensive Care Unit at Erlanger East Hospital. And had I taken up an offer to have my knee replaced in a same-day surgery, some of my loved ones would be spending today at our family cemetery singing “Bringing in the Sheaves.” I could have easily been the one in the box.

After last Monday’s surgery, I was eager to walk down the hall and I did. But anytime bones are involved in a surgical procedure, it hurts. And it did. So I took a dose of “blessed relief” and, when it didn’t work as quickly as I had hoped, I took another. I went to sleep and the next thing I knew I was surrounded by my newest friends – I had “coded” and when I was unresponsive, the quick thinkers snapped me back with some of that new drug-overdose medicine. My hospital room was filled with those who came on the run.

I don’t remember much except seeing the relief on all the medical folks’ faces and it was several days before I realized that had I gone home and self-medicated, I would have undoubtably gone into the afterlife as well. The pain meds caused my oxygen-saturation to drop into the danger zone. Without professionals who knew exactly what to do, the realization I could have died becomes a very scary thought.

Last winter I was able to get some Narcan that I keep in my glove compartment. Narcan is the brand name of a nasal spray that contains naloxone hydrochloride. Naloxone blocks or reverses the effects of opioid overdose and I had no idea the stuff would ever be used on me. My intent was that if ever I witnessed somebody having a drug overdose, I would be able to do something until the police arrived.

Since I obtained my Narcan, those concerned about loved ones who are addicted or horrified that they may witness an overdose, can obtain Narcan at drug stores without a doctor’s prescription. With it you can instantly try to save a total stranger’s life, which appeals to me very much. Without it, you can watch a total stranger die. I never want to be a watcher.

What has gotten lost in our frenzied opioid pandemic is the fact that right now – today – ‘meth’ is being abused in record numbers in Tennessee. It is startling. How have we ever reached this point? Chattanooga native Tommy Farmer, who leads the TBI’s drug division, told Knoxville’s WBIR that lab closures statewide are down 82 percent “yet the supply of Mexican methamphetamine, smuggling tactics, and what (the cartels) are using to get ‘meth’ into Tennessee, is unfortunately much, much better.

“The truth is that ‘meth’ use and abuse is at an all-time high,” Tommy told reporters. “We can easily substantiate this with every one of our partner agencies in mental health and substance abuse who see these increases.”

At the end of this month (July, 2018) over 20 drug-treatment centers in our state will suddenly close. It is anticipated “about 30,000” chronic pain patients will no longer have a ready access to opioid drugs like Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin, and Dilaudid. If state officials stand back and allow the drug center closures to take place without a game plan, some people will most surely die.

You see, they’ll switch to Mexican ‘meth’ or heroin, both easily attainable. But what a dealer will do to enhance his product, is to cut it with fentanyl. The drug, as easily manufactured on the black market as ‘meth,’ is 1,000 times stronger than heroin. One gram … the size of a match-head … will kill, most immediately, any person who comes in contact with it.

Every third-world country is an expert at producing fentanyl. You need to know there is no “quality control,” no manufacturing standards, no oversight. This stuff in raw form is as deadly as cobra venom but it is as permissive on our streets this very moment as a Krystal cheeseburger.

Now there is a new one that is completely and totally legal. Before long you are going to hear of a street drug known as “W-18.” It is the deadliest drug our world has ever known. Two years ago the police in Edmonton, Canada, seized four kilograms of the stuff and public health physician Hakique Virani immediately went on public TV to proclaim, “This is enough to kill every man, woman and child in Alberta 45 times over.”

To a user, a ‘doper,’ it is the same as a surfer. They seek the biggest wave, the ultimate high, and while fentanyl makes heroin seems tame, ‘W-18’ is 100 times stronger than fentanyl, which again is 1,000 times stronger then heroin. The user’s challenge is to cut it down repeatedly, time and time again, with the promise the high will be taller than the high-tops on his tennis shoes, yet the end result is always and forever the same. Death.

So here’s the lesson. Last Monday I go to Erlanger where I have hundreds of health professionals who I not only adore but who I believe care about me. I have no way of knowing I have an oxygen-saturation problem and the Erlanger staff follows strict and wise protocol for my pain management. Yet I “code,” and even with Nurse Rachet cooling my brow with a damp wash cloth, she would have had no possible access to oxygen or even know I keep Narcan in my glove compartment.

This drug game needs a far-stronger look. Here I am – everything by the book – yet please realize how very easily I could have croaked. The only way we’ll ever outfight drugs is with education. It is time we learn.

royexum@aol.com



Roy Exum: The Goal: The Truth

As of late yesterday afternoon, the American citizens have believed there would be a hearing this week like no other since 1776. No matter where I turn, it seems like the claims from a drunken night involving two minors, this over 30 years ago, has morphed into a political donnybrook, mesmerized our nation, and dashed any civility we have towards one another worse than when Moses ... (click for more)

Time To Address School Culture And Chronic Behavior Problems

School culture can have a variety of descriptors, that are not universally identified. In many ways it is similar to the characterization of pornography by Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart: “I know it when I see it” (Jacobellis v. Ohio, 1964). School culture is the set of core values that shape patterns of behavior, attitudes and expectations in a school. For educators it ... (click for more)

City Council Considering Possible Curbs On Steep Slope, Flood Plain Development

The City Council, which is considering possible curbs on steep slope and flood plain development, heard a presentation on the topic from the Regional Planning Agency staff on Tuesday. Councilman Darrin Ledford said a public hearing will come next. He said the council hears frequent criticism of development on steep hillsides and lowlands, "and I expect a great turnout for the ... (click for more)

Judge Denies New Trial For Unjolee Moore In 2010 Murder

Criminal Court Judge Don Poole has denied a new trial for a man convicted of a 2010 murder. Unjolee Moore, at a recent hearing, claimed that he made a confession after being beaten by a detective and held for over 13 hours while handcuffed behind his back. He a lso said he had ineffective assistance of counsel. His current lawyer, Daniel Murphy, said he was able to obtain ... (click for more)

Cleveland Sweeps Ooltewah 3-0 For Third Straight 5-3A Volleyball Title

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Tuesday’s District 5-3A volleyball match pitting visiting Ooltewah against Cleveland at Raider Arena was heavily weighted toward the Lady Blue Raiders. “I felt like we had a lot of advantages tonight,” Cleveland coach Patricia Flowers said. “Home court, Senior Night, Pink Out, with a lot of emotions and that helped us.” The Lady Blue Raiders started strong ... (click for more)

Silverdale Rally Clips Notre Dame, 3-2

Every high school volleyball team wants to be playing its best as the regular season winds down and the post-season tournaments begin. That is surely the case for the Silverdale Lady Seahawks as they won a big match at home against district foe Notre Dame. The Lady Irish had prevailed by a 3-1 margin in an earlier match at Notre Dame, so the outcome of Tuesday’s match determined ... (click for more)