- Posted December 14, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
16 year old is brain damaged from smoking "synthetic marijuana"
Update: Nine months after the incident, Emily returned to school. Read the follow-up story on CNN.
Related: Retail marijuana sales will begin in Colorado on January 1, with Washington following suit later in the year. We’d like to hear stories from people who use marijuana recreationally. Do you smoke pot? Share your story.
- zdan, CNN iReport producer
Emily Bauer was a normal 16 year old girl full of light and laughter, until she decided to try and smoke "Kush", a synthetic marijuana sold under the name potpourri by corner stores and headshops in the area. Emily figured because her friends were doing it, and all seemed fine, that she would be okay. She was terribly mistaken, as is thousands of others who have suffered complications from smoking "fake weed". Kush is unregulated, and you never know what's in it, since the makers are constantly changing a chemical in the compound to find a loophole every time it is outlawed.
Within 15 minutes of smoking, Emily told her boyfriend that she had a migraine and was going to lay down. She then suffered strokes which put her in a psychotic like state, where she proceeded to urinate herself, run into walls, speak gibberish, hallucinate and act violent. The police were called to help restrain her into an ambulance, where she was taken to Northwest Cypress Hospital. The doctors put Emily into an induced coma, where she spent the next 4 days in ICU as they did multiple tests on her brain.
The doctors quickly found out she had strokes, and it had caused severe vasculitis and that parts of her brain were permanently shut down and damaged from the blood vessels contracting and cutting off the oxygen to her brain-- but they also gave us hopes, one as such that she could hear us talking, because her heart rate would rise while we were in the room holding her hand, and stroking the hair off of her swollen face.
After they did all they could do, they life-flighted her in a helicopter to Memorial Herman Hospital Children's ICU on Fannin, where the family learned the hope that her blood vessels were starting to open back up and allow blood to reach her brain. We all grew overjoyed, little did we know this would become our next nightmare.
The open vessels allowed too much blood to reach her brain, and the pressure around her brain was a 28 (a normal human brain is between 1 and 10) and she would need a life or death operation on the brain immediately or she would die. And the other head of the coin stated that if, by chance, she made it through this operation, that the state we saw her in now.. would be how she would be forever -- a vegetable. My mother decided quickly to give Emily the operation, she signed the papers and gave Emily her last goodbyes as they wheeled her off to the Adult Neurology ICU of Memorial Herman and proceeded to drill a whole into her skull where they could insert a tube to drain fluid from her skull.
The family waited and cried, we had no idea if we would ever see Emily again, but we knew that even if we did, we will never have our old Emily back.
Emily made it through the surgery, and she now lays in the ICU, looking peaceful and heavily sedated, as the doctor monitors her and the family waits. It could be days, weeks, months; She will probably never be the same.
I am trying to get the story out about this so called "legal weed", which corner stores sell and do not card for because it is considered aroma. Kids and Adults are smoking this and it's been having serious consequences. Get this story out for Emily, please. So that maybe our tragedy could help others.
EDIT AND UPDATE TO THE STORY (1-04-13):
Just to give an update on my beautiful little sister-- A long time has passed. She is blind, mostly paralyzed, but fighting every day to make progress.
The day we decided to pull her off life support, just a few days short of her 17th birthday, Emily fought hard to keep herself going in her vegetable state even without the feeding tube or ventilator she had been previously attached to. The next morning, even though she was supposed to pass within 30 minutes of being removed from life support, my mom walked by her hospital bed saying "Good Morning, I love you." to surprisingly hear my sister whisper back, in a hoarse voice, "I love you too."
Since then, she has miraculously started breathing on her own. On her 17th birthday, even though she couldn't move, is blind, and could hardly be aware of what was going on around her, she laughed with us as we made jokes and listened to her soft whisper replies. It is my little sister shining through, in every way she can manage, with every ounce of strength.
She fights every day to move a finger. She fights every day to whisper out a reply to let us know she is aware, and ready to get out of that bed. She is in so much pain and confusion, but the family is thankful every single day to still have her alive.
Soon we should be moving her to TIRR Rehab where she will learn how to see, walk and talk again hopefully within a few years.
Our mother, has started a charity for Emily called S.A.F.E. (Synthetic Awareness For Emily). It will go towards spreading the word about this awful drug and hopefully open up ears and eyes to the dangers.
Here is the link to the Facebook page for Emily Bauer, please "like" and spread the word!