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Styrofoam Pills MAG
I wake up to the sound of my mom’s voice. I open my eyes to see nothing but inky darkness outside my window. Groggily, I check my watch: 2:19 a.m. Instinctively, I curl back up under my warm nest of blankets. But my mom grows frantic, and as I become more awake, I start to make out her words.
“Oh my god, oh my god! What did you take? What did you take?!”
Fueled by sudden fear, I jump out of bed and rush into the hallway to my younger sister’s room. Something is very, very wrong. The lights are on. My mom, close to tears, is trying to drag my sister out of her bed.
She’s so pale, trying and failing to keep her dilated blue eyes open. Her skin is paper white. Blond curls lie plastered to her head and her face is slick with sweat. Weakly, she tries to move her arm, only for it to slump back to the floor. Her blue bedspread is tangled in her legs, revealing the rumpled sheets below. Within seconds, I can tell that she has overdosed.
I run to wake up my dad and older sister, pulling them out of bed as I urgently explain. A few minutes later, my dad is holding my sister upright over the toilet as she attempts to throw up. As the seconds tick by, I can tell she is getting worse. Her eyes close even more, and she can now barely keep her head from slumping to the side like a toddler on the verge of nodding off.
“Call 911,” Dad tells me in a tense voice. Retracing my steps to my bedroom, I reach for my phone and dial the dreaded number. The operator picks up.
Trying to stay calm, I explain the emergency. He adds another operator to the call, and asks me a number of questions: What’s your name? what’s your address? Has anything like this happened before? The questions blur together. His voice is neutral and professional as he tells me that an ambulance is on the way. Eventually, he asks me the question that I’ve been dreading answering out loud.
“Did she overdose by accident, or was it an intentional act?”
“It was intentional,” I manage to reply.
My mom runs up to me, holding a clear box with five medicine bottles. She explains through tears that most of my older sister’s bottles had been emptied. I quickly relay the information to the 911 operator. My mouth feels numb, as if the words that are leaving it aren’t my own. This can’t be happening. Or … is it?
What seems like seconds later, I’m standing at the front door, leading the EMTs to my
sister as the chilled night air fills the front hall. They lay her on her side in the hallway, and she starts to throw up. With it comes what looks like bits of Styrofoam, littering the carpet. Looking closer, I can see that they’re small white pills, yet to be fully digested. My sister is still barely conscious, trying to answer their questions. They bring her downstairs in a stretcher, carrying her to the ambulance. We are told to meet them at the hospital.
I drive with my elder sister in one car, and my mom and dad take the other. All the while, the image of a weak body in the orange stretcher is all I can see. After silently waiting in the ER lobby for 30 minutes, we are allowed to visit her.
She looks terrible. Paler than she’s ever been. She is so tired that she starts to nod off every few seconds. Her now ruined shirt has been replaced by a thin hospital gown, and she shivers beneath the thin blanket on the bed. We talk to her for a while, and eventually find out that she is going to be transferred. She needs to be monitored for seizures.
She doesn’t come home for almost two weeks. My sister was admitted into an inpatient program. I visit her and am relieved to see her moving around and interacting almost like normal. But I can see the fear and stress in her tense muscles and quick temper. By the time she comes home, we have hidden everything that she could use to hurt herself. Knives, scissors, medicines, razors.
She’s terrified of loud noises now. She flinches when I use the ice dispenser, or if anyone yells. Her room is her safe place, and you have to be invited in, otherwise she grows frantic.
My sister doesn’t remember anything from that night. But I will never forget the terror I felt, seeing my beloved baby sister laying on the ground surrounded by pills and paramedics.
Every day, I walk over a beige, fluffy rug outside my room. Beneath my feet are the remaining stains of the Styrofoam pills that once scattered on the floor. I continue walking, uncovered feet feeling soft wool concealing forever marred carpet.