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Carry Naloxone Or Carry Guilt

A young man was dying in front of me and I was unarmed and ill-prepared to deal with it.

My two-block walk home from work is more routine than memorable. Like I'm on autopilot. That would change when this beautiful, sunny day quickly took a dark turn.

As I was walking south on Jarvis St, I glanced across the street to see a woman huddled over a man. He was lying in the middle of the sidewalk. She was frantic, yelling at him and smacking her hands on the ground.

She was causing quite a commotion.

I looked around. To my surprise, nobody reacted. A man casually passed by. Others carried on with their commutes, sunglasses and earbuds blocking out reality; life continued just as life stopped.

I crossed the street in support of the woman who was yelling at the man repeatedly; "Hello! Excuse me, sir. Are you awake?!”

As he lay motionless, the woman tells me she was biking behind him and saw him collapse to the ground.

I dialled 911. I also noticed the woman was wearing a food delivery shirt. On her bike was a pack of food. I could tell she was conflicted on whether to stay or go. Someone, after all, could complain about a late food delivery, I thought.

I told her I would stay with the man if there was somewhere she needed to be. Then I looked down at the lifeless body. He was a teenage boy. Likely only 18 years old. My heart sank and I started to panic. Was this young man dying in front of me? He was unconscious and barely breathing.

Suddenly, a young couple rushed in. The lady kneeled down, opened her purse and pulled out a pack of Naloxone. Shakily, she ripped open the packaging, read the instructions and sprayed the bottle up the young man’s nose.

He moved slightly and made a grunting noise. A life was saved!

As we sighed in relief, I asked the lady why she had Naloxone in her purse. "I watched someone overdose and die a few months ago,” she said. “I’ve carried this with me ever since.”

That day I learned, you can carry with you the guilt of doing nothing or you can carry Naloxone.

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