Let me remind you: I was completely, helplessly immobile yet undeniably aware of what was going on around me.  It reminds me of the movie ‘Awake’ where the guy is getting open heart surgery and is supposed to be anesthetized, but is actually still conscious.  He could also feel everything, as did I.  Thank goodness none of these dizzy broads were operating on me, but they were wreaking havoc for poor Jen, who was flying down the highway with all the windows down.  If I were choosing music for this scene, it would be very abrasive heavy metal with an electric guitar solo.  And it would be a horror flick.  What happens next is a bit gruesome.

I don’t know where we are.  I know that the cool night air feels fabulous on my burning skin.  As the car starts to slow down, I’m hoping that we’re getting back to Jen’s where I can just sit in a tub of cold water and then go to sleep.  The car comes to an abrupt stop as Jen slams on the brakes.  I hear my door open.  Someone unhooks my seatbelt and I am shoved out of the car.  Face first.  My face hits the pavement so I’m actually half in and half out of the car, slowly slipping further out as the weight of my body drags me forward.   There’s yelling that confuses me at first, but I’m just grateful because, once again, the cold pavement was heaven to me.  I felt the sear of pain on the bone underneath my eye, which is what hit the concrete first, but that was nothing compared to my body bonfire.  To this day, I can feel the dent in my bone in that very spot.

After her yelling, she gets in the car and speeds off.  It got pretty quiet, but I was still content with the cold concrete and the fact that I was laying down.  It felt good to rest.  I still didn’t know where I was.  I couldn’t, nor had I attempted, to open my eyes.  One thing her outburst accomplished: attention.  Someone very strong picked me up and hurried away.  I really just wanted my pavement back.  And they were taking me toward noise.  That was something I didn’t want.  No more clubs, no music, no bar, no loud.  But in I went.  Through one door and then buzzed into another.  It smelled familiar.  Some more walking and through another door.  It was a little quieter in here.  And then I heard my name.  People were shouting and girls were crying.  I wanted to tell them to quiet down, everything was alright, I’m okay, I just need some very, very cold water.  But I couldn’t move.  And then everything faded into silence.  I was completely unconscious.  The next few moments were retold to me by the manager, bouncer and my best Tampa friend (the one I called earlier).

The security guy saw Jen dump me next to my car, which was parked in the lot next to the club where I worked.  Our original plan included coming back here to end the night at both Jen’s club and mine.  I suppose she dumped me next to my car hoping that once I came to, I’d just hop in and drive my ass home.  She yelled a few choice words, including ‘bitch’, ‘fucking bitch’, and ‘beat your ass.’  Seeing as how Jen is only about 5’1″, the only chance she had of beating anyone’s ass was if they were unconscious.  She sped off as security ran toward me, not knowing who I was at first.  Once he carried me inside the office, he laid me on the floor and, with the manager, tried to revive me.  At that point, they said I wasn’t breathing, unresponsive and my pulse was weak.  They called my friend into the office to ask her what kind of drugs I was into.  That’s the crying I heard: “She doesn’t do any drugs, I swear.  She’s not like that!” And more tears.  Of course, seeing me carried in grabbed the attention of other dancers, some of whom were rather fond of me.  They knew who I was out with that night.

That’s one thing I can say about my fellow dancers: once you’re in, you’re family.  A number of them, without any managerial permission, got dressed and jumped in their car in search of Jen.  I’m not sure exactly how they planned on finding her: follow the scent of vomit?  find the nearest all-night car wash? Still, their hearts were in the right place and I still much appreciate the effort.  Meanwhile, I was down for the count.  All jokes aside.  The manager, thankfully, was a former paramedic and after an ambulance was called, he ‘thwacked’ my chest.  As he explained it to me the next day, he was thumping my chest in a certain spot that supposedly helped a person gain consciousness because they were responding to intense pain.  I didn’t move a muscle and he knew then that I was in serious trouble.

I came to when I heard my name again, this time by an unfamiliar voice.  By came to, I mean that I was once again aware, but still immobile and speechless.  He asked that all too familiar question in strip clubs, “What drugs did you take tonight, #$%^%$?  Through the oxygen mask, I told him I didn’t take any drugs.  Of course, my response was all in my head.  I couldn’t move.  This time, his chest thumps I felt, but just couldn’t move to tell him to stop.  He asked the manager, my friend and whomever else was standing around what drugs I had been known to do.  ‘None.’  Of course, they didn’t believe it, but what could they do.  All of this happen fairly quickly.  I had started breathing again, but it was very shallow and they had to get me to the hospital.  So they strapped me up and wheeled me out through the club and out the front.  Em-barrassing.

In the ambulance, I was still out like a light.  And then I had trouble breathing again, so the lights came on and they sped to the hospital.  At the time I didn’t realize it, but two friends from the club followed the ambulance to the hospital so they could make sure I was alright.  I’m sure they were scared and the next morning I was so incredibly appreciative that they stuck it out with me.  But my nightmare wasn’t over.

Once I arrived at the hospital, I crashed.  I remember being surrounded by a bunch of people: various voices yelling above me, hands on me transferring me from one gurney to another.  A woman asked yet again what drugs I did, as she kept shaking and lightly tapping my face to wake me.  ‘We can’t help you if we don’t know what you took.’  I tried to speak but couldn’t.  ‘Get her dress off.’  I wanted to tell her that it was a pantsuit and then I thought, why the hell are you taking my clothes off?  You see, I used a set of those stick on bras since I was wearing a halter-style outfit.  They worked great, but don’t look so hot when you’re laying on a gurney with various men and women looking at you.  But they needed to get to my chest.  They were putting round, sticky things on me.  (I only know because the nurse pulled them off of me the next morning)  Apparently, my heart rate was an issue.  I don’t know if it slowed down too much or if it was going too fast.  I don’t remember, but I’m glad they kept an eye on it.  More voices, beeping noises and then the needles.  They were shoving needles into me and I can’t stand needles.  I didn’t move an inch.  I was screaming on the inside.  They couldn’t find a vein in either arm.  Their words: “Her veins have collapsed.  I can’t get a line.”  I was on the set of ER.  I knew at that point that I was going to die.  After all this.  I was going to die and here I was with a stick-on bra, wild, frizzy hair with vomit in it, my pants around my waist and no shoes.  That’s right, no shoes.  They never did turn up either.  My guess is some very lucky homeless woman in Ybor City got some expensive silver lace-up heels.  Finally, they found a vein.  And then everything stood still.  I don’t know what they gave me, but they waited patiently to make sure it was working.  And it did.  I fell into a deep sleep.

Only to be awakened the next morning by a very rude nurse.  “Get up, $%^%$^, we need your bed.  You gotta go.”  I slowly sat up to gather my surroundings.  I had no idea where I was at first.  I had to take it all in.  My clothes were clean and I was fully dressed.  The nurse pulled the round stickies off of me and, thankfully, gently pulled the needle out of arm.  “What drugs did you do last night?”  I guess she just wanted to know out of curiosity, but she was going to be disappointed.  “I don’t.  do.  drugs.”  She gave me a look that I don’t even have to describe: she didn’t believe me.  She asked if I had someone to pick me up.  I said no.  She handed me my small silver(?) clutch purse and told me that she’d arrange a cab for me.  I was still pretty disoriented, but otherwise okay.  I noticed my absence of shoes as soon as I stood up on the cold floor.  I asked her where my shoes were and she said they didn’t come in with me.  Oh.  Great.  I had to get into the wheelchair for her to push me out.  I never even signed anything, which was odd, but I didn’t know that my friends had filled out all of my information the night before.  I knew a couple of months later when I got my bill, though.  Thanks!

As she wheeled me through the hospital, staffers and random patients took second glances at me.  I was em-barrassed.  My hair was everywhere, I had no shoes and I was wearing a freaking sparkly purple pantsuit at 10 in the morning.  I guess I’d stare at me too.  As I was being escorted out for my ‘ride of shame’ I took a gander inside my purse, hoping that everything was there.  Wallet, check.  ID, check.  Money, check.  Phone, negative.  Keys, negative.  But there was a note from my best Tampa friend:

‘Do not call Jen.  Call me first.’

Awesome.  A clue!  This is fun first thing in the morning after a night from hell. How do you call someone without a cell phone?  These days it’s impossible, but then…eh…still difficult when you live 1.5 hours away.  The nurse parks me outside on the curb.  Yep, on the curb.  A cab will be by shortly to take you wherever you need to go.  I thought she was going to wait with me.  She was rude and thought I was just a drug user who wasted her precious time, but someone waiting with me would have been nice.  No such luck.  I wonder how mad she would have been if I had taken the wheelchair.  But they probably would’ve just billed me.

So when the cab pulls up and asks me where I’m going, my first thought is…blank.  Where am I going?  Oh yeah, my car next to the club.  The drive was surreal.  I really can’t explain it.  I was looking out the window and taking things in differently because in my mind I knew that I almost died the night before.  Like, really died.  How did this happen?  What happens next?  Do I pray?  Do I play the lottery?  The sun was really bright.  I didn’t know if it was significant, but I felt it deserved mentioning because as the cab pulled away after dropping me at my car, I remembered:

1.  I have no shoes and the pavement is burning up.
2. I have no keys to open the car and actually drive it.
3. I have no phone to call someone to find out where my shoes or my keys are.
4. I don’t know anyone’s number by heart to be able to call if I so happen to come across a phone.
5. I’m so screwed.

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