March 28th, 2020
Karin and I came home this morning after making a trip to the grocery store. We had also stopped at Walmart to pick up an espresso maker. The young woman and Karin were excited about being able to make espresso and cappuccino at home. When we got into the house, I called to the girl to let her know that we were back.
I went into her bedroom. She was lying on the floor, drooling and moaning. She had a can a keyboard cleaner in her right hand. I pulled the can out of her hand. It was frosted over. That happens when a person sprays it for too long.
I walked into the kitchen. Karin was putting groceries away. She looked at me. I showed her the can. I told Karin,
“She was huffing again.”
Karin asked, “Is she okay?”
I started to say, “I think so…”
Then I heard a strangled cry from the girl’s bedroom. When she huffs, her voice comes out in a distorted and uncanny way. The sound is very disturbing, and easily recognizable.
I rushed back into the bedroom. The girl was on the floor again, unconsious. She had a another can. I took that one away.
I got the phone. I told Karin,
“I’m calling 911.”
The dispatcher answered my call.
“Where is your emergency?”
I gave the dispatcher our address.
“What is the problem?”
“A young woman is unconscious in her bedroom.”
“Is she breathing?”
“The girl was huffing keyboard cleaner. I think she is starting to come around.”
“Do you want us to send somebody over?”
“Is anyone there coughing or having difficulty breathing?”
“We’ll get somebody there.”
The paramedics arrived shortly. They were all wearing face masks.
They went back to the girl’s bedroom. They checked her vital signs.
I heard them talking to her, but I couldn’t hear all of her responses.
One of them told her, “You were huffing this cleaner. You know that’s an asphixiant? Your brain isn’t getting enough oxygen when you do that. You understand that, right? Do you want to come with us to the hospital for help?
She said no.
They asked her questions to find out how coherent she was. They asked her again if she wanted to go to the hospital.
She declined to do so.
They left. She went to take a shower. I called her parole officer.
I told the PO what was happening. I explained that things were out of control, and I had no idea what to do. He said that he would call the young woman.
After a while, the young woman went into the basement to wash some clothes. Karin and I were sitting at the kitchen table. Then we heard that awful wail.
We both went into the basement. The girl was curled up in a corner, clutching a can and moaning. I took that one away from her too. Then I called 911 again. I needed those guys back here.
The girl staggered upstairs to change clothes. Then she went back into the basement looking for her phone. She couldn’t find it. She freaked out. Karin and I went upstairs to see if the phone was in her room. We couldn’t find it, so I went back in the basement to check on the girl.
She was standing next to the water heater, a fourth can of keyboard cleaner in her hand. Her eyes were closed and she was swaying. Then she toppled over like a dead tree in a windstorm. She hit the concrete floor face first.
I turned her over to see if she was still breathing. She was. The young woman was bleeding from her mouth. The was blood on the cement.
I yelled up to Karin for her to watch for the paramedics, and send them downstairs. I tried to keep the girl from moving around. She pushed me away.
The paramedics showed up. One of them looked at her and asked,
“You want to come with us to the hospital this time?”
She nodded. Then she put her hand to her mouth and screamed.
“MY TOOTH! MY TOOTH!”
She had completely broken off one of her upper teeth. There was an ugly gap.
The paramedics took her upstairs while she was howling about her tooth.
One of them took the can from me. He said,
“Maybe I’ll take a picture of this, or I’ll just take it along. Then they know what chemicals are in this.”
I nodded to him. He left.
I followed the paramedic upstairs. The cops had arrived. I called the PO again. He wanted to talk with the policeman. I hooked them up. The ambulance took the girl to the ER.
I went down into the basement and washed up the blood.
I found her tooth.