Written in 2001
Where: Korolev, a town on the outskirts of Moscow. I taught English in this town and in another called Mauticia
When: December 20th 2001. I leave for Canada on the 23rd.
What happened: While celebrating in class I fell into a coma from alcohol poisoning
Why: afterwards I tested positive for barbiturate. The test and other facts point to a student putting drugs into my drink, it is less likely the hospital used barbetuate, then I could have fallen due to poor alcohol quality or a reaction to Yorsh
Note: I'm not someone who drinks a lot, only on occasion, when I go out or at parties. When I do I have a good tolerance and I stay in control. This is not a normal case.
My level two class in Korolev, it happened with this class
I had been teaching English for three months in Russia and was two days away from going back home. On my last day in Korolev a student brought vodka and beer to celebrate, and we all did. The next thing that happened was I woke up and found myself in an unknown room with both my arms tied to a bed. I had no idea where I was and couldn't remember anything after that little party in class. I got out of the knots and got off the bed to find that I was naked with a tube going into my penis, I pulled on it but couldn't get it out. I also didn't notice I had needles into my right arm and was now bleeding. Two guys dressed in white came and I struggled with them, but they were able to put me back on the bed, this time they tied both my arms and legs with sheets and a strap. Not knowing where I was I kept saying I was from Canada, and asking where I was but they didn't speak English. It didn't look like an hospital and I was freaked out. I waited and broke the sheets off and took the strap off, waited some more, and then ran for the exit in the hope of running away to my friend's flat. By looking outside I thought I was still in Korolev. A woman that worked there saw me and started screaming, I couldn't find the exit and was cornered by the same guys. Ready to fight them off one pointed to the telephone, and at that exact moment my school administrator was on the line, saying she would be there in a few hours. I was in a hospital, I apologized, thanked them, and went back to bed. And this was only the beginning.
What had happened?
A few hours later I was woken up and told people were waiting for me outside. I was given my clothes but all the pockets were empty. I had kept all my money, my passport, and many other important items with me and now it was empty. I was feeling sick and tired, as soon as I walked outside I vomited. My school administrator and a friend, Zhenia, were waiting for me. They told me during my second class I had been drinking with them, everything was normal, until suddenly I fell head first to the floor, and into shock. An ambulance was called and I was brought to the hospital, at some point I fell into a coma. Usually I would call this falling unconscious, but I'm being told it was a coma. I was told several times I could have died right there. My friends that saw me in that state thought that someone had put something in my drink. And I thought so too. First off I only had a few drinks, second it all happened within one class, which was less than one and a half hours. The student that had brought the alcohol and served it had been sick too and had disappeared, also this class supposedly did not want me to go to the hospital. This is what I was told anyway and is of course just speculation. I would later take a drug test in Canada to find out what had happened and I tested positive for Barbiturate. It all suggests that one of my students might have put something in my drink for a joke. I was told it is less likely that the hospital used barbiturate on me, if so then I might have fallen from poor alcohol quality or a reaction to Yorsh, which is a half beer half vodka mix. I've read about people falling into comas from Yorsh, but since I dranked it before and that night only drank a little, it doesn't add up. So now where was all my stuff? I was worried. Fortunately some students took all my belongings and money and had put them in my backpack at the school. That was good news. The bad news was I wasn't feeling well. The bottom of my nose, my chest, and some parts of my arms were bruised from the fall. My right arm was also bruised with needle marks and one vein in particular that became hard and sticks out up to this day. One of the worst moments came when I tried to urinate in a public bathroom, remember that tube I pulled? I screamed out loud how much it hurt and I couldn't do it. My bladder was then full and I had trouble walking. I didn't know how I would do it. That day I rested at a Zhenia's flat in Moscow and kept trying to go to the bathroom, I got through it slowly and often screaming. Later that day Nina came to visit me before I left for Canada the next day. But now, fresh from the hospital and with little rest, I had to stay up all night working on my motorcycle, preparing it for storage. Not to mention I had to go places to take care of some things, and pack.
The train station in Korolev, near the school and where I used to live
It wasn't over
Later that same night after some rest but almost no sleep I set out to prepare for my flight the next day. I had to go pick up a tape recorder I had left at a previous party and bring it back to my apartment, then I took my tools and my maintenance manual and went to the garage to prepare my bike for the winter. At this point I was already not feeling good and I worked on it until 5 am. Then it was back to my flat to pack. Later that morning the driver came in late and he took me to the airport. Even then it wouldn't get any easier, I was directed twice through the wrong gate and security checks, and finally went through on the third attempt. Already late I was then told at check-in that I was missing my entry stamp on my passport, a mistake from customs when I rode in, and it would be a problem. In Russia that isn't good. I knew of a Canadian that was sick and had to be flown back on an emergency to Canada, due to some red tape Russian control prevented him from going for three days. So I wasn't happy. Russian control kept me waiting until the last moments, not sure what to make of it. At this point my body was tired enough that I was shaking a little and felt chilly, and almost to the point of falling flat on my face. Finally they let me through and I was on the bus for the airplane. But all these complications left me without time to exchange my Russian Rubles. My trip home included one overnight stop in Frankfurt, Germany. With trouble falling asleep on the flight when I got to Frankfurt I needed to get a hotel to finally get some sleep, so I went straight to the currency exchange booth, only to find that no one would accept Russian Rubles. Now I had no money for food or hotel, and no operator number to reach Canada. It would take hours to sort it all out, contact my family, and get a hotel. That night I felt weak and had trouble sleeping, and was also worried on how I felt. It was fitting in a way that the next morning, even after I had double checked with them, the hotel would drop me off at the wrong terminal. It would take a quick train back to the right one. I was a happy person when I got on that airplane. While my trip in Russia had been great, it ended in a crazy way. I arrived home tired and beat up, but it was good to see my family again.