A few weeks back a friend of mine and local news reporter, Laura Monteverdi, witnessed an overdose and Narcan saving a young woman’s life first hand. Personally affected by the crisis, Laura also lost her fiance to the opioid epidemic and she wrote the below powerful account about the experience and why Narcan needs to be widely distributed and available nation wide. Even while hundreds are dying each day, our law enforcement, ambulance teams, and communities lack critical access to Narcan. I asked her if I could share this through our blog because I feel it captures why Narcan truly is so important amidst this horrible crisis.
“To the woman who died in front of me,
You don’t know me, but I know you. I was the woman in the car four vehicles behind you on Tuesday afternoon as you sat at the yield sign on the corner of Sam Peck and Cantrell.
I had just dropped off the little boy I nanny at swim practice at the athletic club and was on my way to pick up the other little girl I nanny. I got to the turn lane like I do everyday and put on my blinker.
I sat there with my foot on the brake waiting for cars to move. I fiddled with the radio. Listened to music. Waiting. Not really paying attention.
Then someone honked. I glanced up and realized your car still hadn’t moved. No cars were coming. You could have gone. I sat there wondering if you were on your phone and not paying attention. Then someone honked again.
I watched the light change yet again and then I moved to open my door. I figured you were having car trouble and needed help.
I imagine the man two cars in front of me thought the same because he got out of his car and walked up to yours.
I watched him, my hand still on the door handle ready to get out. I saw him walk up to your window and look inside and then watched as he opened your door.
Then I saw your body fall out.
Without thinking, my hands flew to my phone. Before I even heard him shout it, my fingers began to dial 911.
I jumped out of my car and I ran to you.
I stopped short when I saw you. The first thing I saw was your eyes. They were blue and huge. They were wide open. Staring at the sky.
Then I saw your lips. They too were blue. Your face was as well. It was terrifying. You arms and your legs were sprawled out. You weren’t moving at all. But your eyes. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from yours.
When I finally did, I looked in your car and I saw it. The needle. The spoon. The residue on the seat.
I looked back at you. The man who had walked up to your car was giving you CPR. He shouted that you weren’t breathing. He continued to pump your chest, but your body remained lifeless.
While all this was going on I was on the phone with 911. I told them where we were and we needed Narcan right now. You were not breathing, I yelled at them.
The 911 operator asked me how old you were. I told them I thought you were in your mid-30s. I shouted at them again that we needed Narcan.
At this point a small crowd had gathered around you. Two women held your head while the man continued to pump your chest. You still were not breathing. Your big blue eyes, empty, staring straight up. Lifeless.
Still on the phone I began to run up to cars that were driving by. The drivers only pausing to stop and stare. I was frantic. I shouted at them “do you have Narcan? Do you have Narcan?’ I knew that’s what you needed to reverse the overdose. Instead of Narcan, I was met with blank stares. One woman just shrugged from inside her car.
I ran back to you. At this point the man who had been doing CPR had jumped into your car in the driver’s seat. He began to search through your wallet and your glove compartment. He was looking for Narcan. You did not have any.
Because your car was at a yield sign, it was still in drive. When the man jumped in, your car began to reverse. I remember screaming and holding on to the car, I guess trying to stop it. The front wheel almost ran over you, but I kicked your leg out of the way. The man quickly put your car in park and began CPR again.
It felt like hours at this point that you had not been breathing. That you had no pulse.
The 911 operator told me to put the phone to your mouth so she could hear your breaths. I crouched down next to you and held my phone to your mouth. I I was so close to you. I couldn’t stop staring at your eyes. Those blue eyes. It was haunting.
Finally one of the women shouted that you were breathing. You were not alert, but I remember thanking God in that moment that you were breathing. The man and another woman propped you up against your car.
An officer finally showed up. I ran up and shouted at him that we needed Narcan. He told me he did not have any. We needed to wait for the ambulance. I was terrified. I was crying. A woman I did not know put her arm around me and comforted me promising you would be ok.
Finally I heard the siren from the ambulance. I watched it pull up. Another officer showed up too. The officer told us to move our cars so the ambulance could get in.
I realized I left my car running and ran back to it. An officer came up to get my statement. She told me another officer gave you a shot of Narcan and you were breathing.
She told me that because I saw the heroin in your seat and the needle, as did the other man, that you were being given a choice. Jail or the hospital for medical treatment.
I left not knowing what happened. I was rushed to move my car, but I wanted to find the man who did CPR on you and saved your life. Unfortunately he drove off before I could get his name.
I couldn’t sleep that night. Every time I closed my eyes I saw your eyes. Your big, blue eyes. Staring up at me. I was traumatized. I still am.
The next day I asked a police officer I know to send me the report. I wanted to get the name of the man who saved your life. I wanted to call and thank him for getting out of the car. For doing CPR. I don’t know what I would have done without him.
Unfortunately when I got the report his name wasn’t on it. But yours was. Your name. Your age.
You are 29. Just a week younger than me.
I searched your name on Facebook. I knew it was you because of your eyes. I will never forget your eyes.
You are beautiful.
So is your daughter.
Your sweet, beautiful little girl.
You look like a normal 29 year old woman. You look happy. You look loved.
But I can’t look at you without seeing your lifeless body sprawled out on the pavement. The image is forever ingrained in my mind.
I continued to read the report and I saw that you did not go to the hospital. You refused. So they took you to jail instead.
I don’t understand.
I pray for understanding.
To the woman who died in front of me and came back to life, you don’t know me, but I know you.
Some people have told me I saved your life by calling 911 when no one else moved from their car. But I will forever credit the stranger who, without hesitation, began CPR on you. HE is your guardian angel.
To the woman who survived, I don’t know you, but I would like to. I would like to hear your story. I want to help you. I want you to know that you scared me to death. I want you to know I lost the man I loved to a heroin overdose. I want you to know that I never wanted to know what Brock looked like when he died, but now I know.
To the woman who has a second chance, I don’t know why God put me in your path that day. Even though I wish I never had to witness what I did I’m thankful I was there to call for help. I don’t know you but I am here for you when you are ready to get help. There are so many people who, like me, want to see you thrive. We want to see you reach recovery. We want you to live a long life. We want you to be the best mom you can be for your beautiful girl.
To the woman who God saved, I don’t know if this is your first time overdosing. I don’t know if it’s your third or fourth or tenth time. And I don’t care. I would save your life every single time because THIS time might be the time that sets you on the path to recovery.
I don’t know you, but because of you I signed up for CPR classes. I also signed up for a class on how to administer Narcan and will soon have my own kit that I will carry with me.
To the woman who is still here, I am praying for you. I am praying God uses you in amazing ways. I am praying someone reading this right now makes the decision to get their own Narcan kit.
To the woman who lived, thank you for opening my eyes in a new way to this disease. Thank you for allowing me to share about this today to a room of 1,500 people at the Arkansas Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit.
I have been struggling the last few months sharing my story. I’m tired of talking about addiction and my loss because it makes me so sad. Today I had a speech planned about my career and the fun stories I’ve done. But instead God told me to share your story. After I did a man approached me and told me he was going to the pharmacy to buy Narcan. He told me your story moved him and he wanted to be prepared at all times.
To the woman who God is holding in the palm of his hand, you are more than your addiction. God has big plans for you.
I believe in you.
We believe in you.
Don’t give up. “
– Laura Monteverdi
When you can, please take the time to get yourself some NARCAN to have on hand, you never know who’s life you are going to save. Most insurance covers it, some in full, see below on how to get it.
Finally, here is some documentation on how to use it in an emergency situation. There are also many community training sessions throughout all corners of the country.
Narcan saves lives, and with tens of thousands each year dying to overdoses, the more widespread accessibility to Narcan, the better.
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