Drinking Responsibly

Today is my 21st birthday, a day I have been looking forward to for quite some time now. Due to an event that happened about six months ago I will not be taking birthday shots and getting wasted tonight. Instead I plan on having dinner and maybe a glass of wine with my closest friends and family. I am writing this because I didn’t realize the importance of drinking responsibly until I was waking up from a coma, and I don’t want anyone to go through what my family and I went through. I ask that you share this with your friends, family or anyone who may benefit from reading this. If I can help just one person by sharing my experience, then I will be absolutely ecstatic.

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Reno, Nevada- July 26, 2015: A photo from the emergency room an hour after I arrived at Renown hospital. At this point I was not responding to verbal or painful stimuli and the ventilator was breathing for me. I was completely unresponsive.

July 27, 2015: The first thing I remember is my mom holding my hand, telling me I was going to be okay. I felt like I was dreaming. Everything seemed foggy. I drifted in and out of consciousness for the next few hours. I was coming out of a 24 hour coma.

On the morning of July 25, 2015, I thought I was going to have a fun day with friends at the Night in the Country music festival in Yerington, Nevada. I woke up, had breakfast and started what would end up being the worst 48 hours of my life. The first part of the day was a lot of fun. We met new people, played human foosball and had a really good time. After dinner we went to the Joe Nichols and Jake Owen concert. At the concert I had two beers. Many of the people I was with had been drinking throughout the day and were already feeling good. I hadn’t started drinking until a little after dinner and I felt a little behind. My problems started after the concert. I was beginning to feel a little bit of a buzz and drifted off from the people I went to the concert with. I ended up at a campsite where I found some of my other friends. I am a competitive person by nature and this group was mostly guys who (for some reason) I promised I could outdrink. Around 11:30pm, one of my guy friends and I were seeing who could take the longest chug from a bottle of “Black Velvet Whiskey.”

July 26, 2015: Everything that happened from midnight on is information I gathered from friends because I have zero memory of anything after that. Apparently after I chugged from the bottle, I chugged a solo cup full of “Black Velvet Whiskey.” Immediately after this I told my friends I felt fine, and about five minutes later I collapsed. I wasn’t breathing. My friends picked me up and started carrying me to the medical tent. From there I was intubated and taken to Renown hospital in Reno, Nevada via care flight. Meanwhile, the police showed up at my house to tell my parents to meet me at the hospital.

I was in critical condition, suffering from acute respiratory failure and acute alcohol intoxication. My blood alcohol concentration was .41 when I arrived at the hospital, five times over the legal limit. The doctors thought I was brain dead because I was completely unresponsive. My pupils were sluggishly reactive, I had no corneal reflex and I wasn’t responding to verbal or painful stimuli. I finally woke up about 24 hours after I arrived at the hospital. I had a tube down my throat and my hands were restrained so I couldn’t pull it out. I was unable to talk with the tube down my throat, making it hard to tell my parents and the nurses that it was extremely uncomfortable. I had to pass a respiratory test to prove I could breathe on my own before they removed it. I failed the first respiratory test I took, and I had to wait several hours to take another test. When I passed the second test and the tube was taken out, the doctors and nurses told me how lucky I was to be alive. They told me that they didn’t think I would make it through the night. They asked me if I was trying to kill myself by drinking so much. This question hit me the hardest. From my hospital bed in the Intensive Care Unit, my eyes were opened to the seriousness of being irresponsible with alcohol. The next day when I was discharged from the hospital, I realized that the way I looked at alcohol would be changed forever.

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Reno, Nevada – August 5, 2015: Bruises from blood tests during my hospital stay. This picture was taken several days after I was discharged from the hospital.

I’ve heard a lot of rumors about what happened to me. I heard a rumor that I overdosed on drugs (blood tests found ZERO drugs in my system). Someone even told a friend of mine that I died. I received texts from people asking me what happened without asking if I was okay. This event taught me a lot about who is there because they actually care, and who is there because they are curious about what happened. Despite the handful of people who didn’t really care, there were so many people who genuinely cared about my health and safety. I appreciate every one of these people and can’t thank them enough.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks on one occasion for men, and four or more drinks on one occasion for women. Heavy drinking is defined as 15 or more drinks per week for men, and eight or more drinks per week for women. The CDC also says, “Very high levels of alcohol in the body can shutdown critical areas of the brain that control breathing, heart rate, and body temperature, resulting in death.” About six people die from alcohol poisoning each day in the US. I’m not asking that everyone avoid alcohol altogether because that is unreasonable, but please try to avoid binge drinking and heavy drinking because the consequences are not worth it.

This situation could have been so much worse. Fortunately for me, I had good people around when all of this took place. I could have easily been taken advantage of when I passed out. I could’ve been left alone to “sleep it off.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase, “Let them sleep it off, they’ll be fine in the morning,” but I’m alive today because my friends got me help. Don’t take a chance if you see a friend passed out from drinking too much. Get them help as soon as possible. I’m very lucky to have made a full recovery, but I know there are others who won’t be as lucky. So please drink responsibly and make sure your friends do too. Watch out for friends, family, even strangers, and take care of them when you suspect they might be suffering from alcohol poisoning. Know the symptoms and be safe.

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271 thoughts on “Drinking Responsibly

  1. Thank you for sharing your story with others, and I’m glad you were surrounded by people who got you to safety! It’s an important message for all men and women, teenagers, and early twenties folks – or for everyone really when alcohol is around. The dangers are often downplayed or overlooked and accepted because it’s a social thing, and it’s talked about so casually. I’m glad you are okay and are able to tell others your story! Thank you 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I once read about a girl who got into a car accident while she was using her cell phone and not paying attention. For 6 months, she decided not to use her phone while driving. In time, she started to feel more confident about her driving skills and started to use her phone on occasion. Almost one year from her accident, she died in a car crash from using her phone. True Story. I believe this happened in Northern California.

    Please don’t become too confident to think you can escape this experience again.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you Hanna, this took courage! Please DO NOT focus on the negative comments you read. I once watched Justin Timberlake being interviewed and he didn’t know how many grammies he won (crazy!), but he knew exactly how many times he didn’t make the cut. That made impression on me that we, as humans, focus on the negative. So don’t be pulled down or derailed by the negativity. Focus on the gratitude and love that you are receiving from this post. Hugs!

    Liked by 2 people

      • When I first saw your medical photo and read your story I was like it was the most biggest mistake you ever made .but I am much glad that you are safe and sound
        Dont risk your life ever. ….and dont give damn to those negative people its ur life but dont risk it….

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I just read this story because of a friend. He posted it because we here in Wisconsin have to laugh at this kind of crap. You chugged a half glass of whiskey and blacked out.. We chug half glasses of whiskey and call that the start of a night. Really, your story isn’t that big of a deal, nor is it “courageous” or whatever. Yours is the story of a dumb rookie drinker. You thought you could hang with the more experienced people and you toasted yourself. Boo-Hoo, you went to the hospital for alcohol poisoning, that’s not really a big deal. Yes, friends and others were worried about you, and because of social media and instant communication, stories got blown out of proportion. You wouldn’t have even rated an editor’s sniff if this had happened to you even 5 years ago.

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    • James,
      I’m not sure where you came up with the half glass info. I’m also not sure what the point of your post was. A grown man is bragging that he can outdrink a young woman who is 5’0″ and weighs 130. Congrats do you want a medal?

      There was no exaggeration in this post, everything is straight from my medical records. The doctors thought I was going to die. That’s more than my friends being worried.

      I wrote this blog to warn people about the dangers of overconsumption. Based on what you said of you and your friend’s drinking habits, you might benefit from the message but you’re too stubborn to take it seriously. Overconsumption is serious, people die from it more than you’d think.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank goodness you lived to tell your story! I made the mistake of drinking all night at a concert on February 28, 2015 and getting behind the wheel to go home. Police officer pulled me over for speeding and the. Smelt all the alcohol on me and I knew then I was going to jail. dont let the haters bring you down!!

    Were you charged with anything, by any chance? Just curious. Stay strong!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, I appreciate your comment! No I was not. I found out afterward that there is a medical amnesty law in Nevada so people who are underage are not afraid to get help for themselves or friends who need it.

      Like

  6. Binge Drinking! Is a universal culture. But thank god I don’t possesses this sinful habit.
    My point to Miss Hanna is that you have been blessed with a reincarnation by the almighty. So I hope you won’t jump the barrier of Lord after your deadly incident due to that notorious act. Though i am an stranger to you on this platform but as a mankind we all hold a humanity connection so, I will pray to the father in heaven for your serene life ahead. God bless you my dear sister. AMEN

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  7. Thanks alot hanna..
    Once i have suffered the same as yours but i was not caring it. Your fact about overdrinking will me to think twice before taking alcohal…
    Thanks alot..
    God bless u…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hanna, you are an inspiration to many of us and very courageous for sharing your story. More people need to hear your experience and others like it, we are human, but we are not perfect. It’s how we handle these situations that truly makes us stronger as well as educating others. You’ve been able to recognize a serious problem at such a young age and dealt with in a positive way. You appear to be a strong woman, so I know you won’t take the negative comments to heart. A negative thinker sees a difficulty in every opportunity; A positive thinker sees an opportunity in every difficulty. Your message is very powerful and can actually save the lives of others. Thank you again for sharing your story!! Bill

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hannah, when I first read your story I copied two pictures. One of your smiling face with the cute lil blue ribbon and the other one of you with your wrists tied and intubated. I have been a heavy drinker on and off my entire life since my cousin bet me two dollars to drink a glass of wine. I was 7.

    I now suffer from A-fib. When I do drink heavily or even a light binge I fear the night as as I know irregular heart beat and night sweats will follow. It’s horrible. I knew binge drinking would affect my heart and give me night sweats but was unaware that breathing and temperature control were directly affected by it.

    I, like you, have decided to be more responsible. I’m taking a month off and will drink more responsibly in part by your courageous sharing.

    Ironically enough, one of my fears in life is waking up, intubated and hands tied to a bed. I’d gone so far as to tell my wife if I was ever intubated to PLEASE make sure I was also heavily sedated.

    Your warmth and courage has no doubt touched many people.
    Thank you for sharing and know that you are a hero to many. As a cartoon nerd let me paraphrase from Hercules, ‘it’s not the size of your strength but rather the strength of your heart’.

    Hugs,

    Manny P.

    Liked by 1 person

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