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  • Lawson D'Nago

6 Hours

Las Vegas. Pushed into the opportunity to finally see the magical city because my best friend was getting married, Larry and I made a trip out of the occasion and spent a few extra days in Sin City. The trip was amazing!

We attended the 2019 Billboard awards and got to experience red carpet interviews and performances from iconic musicians. We saw shows, gambled for the first time, walked down the Las Vegas strip and Freemont Street just taking in the culture of Las Vegas, which is deeply rooted in history and art and stories. The trip had been amazing.

I got to witness my best friend marry her person. I got to see them start a new chapter together and marriage looks good on them!

Larry and I were mourning the end of our trip that Sunday. We packed up our suitcases, did our rounds of the hotel, made one last drink before closing the door to a view that left me speechless.

Before our flight home, we went to a pool party to celebrate with my best friend and a group of the bridal party. We were 6 hours away from our flight home. We were 6 hours from checking our luggage onto the flight and working our way through the machines waiting for our flight to board. 6 hours from being home in our bed and spending our Monday binge watching Netflix on the couch. 6 hours from doggy kisses and snuggles.

I had three drinks. Correction, two and a half, I spilled the last one. I only remember the one at the hotel and the first one at the pool.

6 hours of my life I will never remember because I got drugged 6 hours away from completing the perfect vacation.

It was 8:54 when I woke up in a hospital bed that I knew nothing of how I got there. I looked around and could not find Larry anywhere. Immediately, I thought, he must've left me.

"She's up." the nurse called out. I sat up and got the attention of the female nurse and asked for socks. I was under a blanket and looking around to see if any piece of the room would trigger how I got here. I looked down at my arm to see an IV port was twisted into my arm but not machine or monitor was close by to show that any fluids had been running.

The female nurse came back and gave me the socks. I asked to use the restroom and that's when she looked under the blanket to see that I was only wearing my red bikini. She handed my some throw away scrubs and pointed to the restroom. No watch, phone, or understanding of how I got to the hospital, I looked in the restroom mirror to see that my eyes were blood red.

What happened?

I got back to the bed and under the blankets and examined the room. I was in the hospital equivalent of a drunk tank. Everyone in there was passed out or delirious. One guy got there and was told he would have to just stay there until they felt him sober enough to call someone to get him. No one was hooked up to an IV. It was a legitimate drunk room with the nurses doing nothing but babysitting the room.

Confusion set in when the male nurse came and sat by my bed. "How're you feeling?" he asked. "What happened," I asked. "Well you got drunk. You had too much to drink this afternoon."

My mind started racing and my heart sank to my stomach. "No I didn't. I only had two drinks at the pool and one at my hotel prior to getting there. I did not have enough to be drunk."

His face shifted from dry and sarcastic and "oh shit," was written all over it. He immediately got up and walked back to the nurses station. I sat there trying to count the drinks I knew I was handed. I only got to three and even that was fuzzy. One-the hotel room. Two-when we first got there. Three-...I got one, took a sip, and handed it to...Larry? asking for orange juice to be added. Did I finish it? I couldn't remember.

Meanwhile the male nurse went back to the nurses station and is now speaking with the female nurse and a police officer, "She said she only had two drinks at the pool party. Paramedics said her alcohol level was a .3, I think she was drugged." I hear another male voice, but I don't want to look. I feel paralyzed in my bed and feel like they will move or stop talking if I look their way. It's the doctor. "Did we do any blood work when she arrived," doctor asked. "No, we just went with what the paramedics said," male nurse, I don't like him, he mocked everyone who came in. "So you're telling me a girl comes in here unconscious and we don't think to run any tests to see if she'd been drugged?!" The doctor is now yelling and all I keep thinking is that I want to go home and where is Larry. Then the doctor asked if we had gotten a urine sample since I've been up. "She used the restroom already." "Yeah, and did we test it." "We didn't think to so we just let her go." "So, we have no blood work and no urine sample to test and she only had two drinks and came in withe a blood/alcohol level so high she should be dead right now and no one thought to test her for drugs?! It's been several hours! It's too late now!" The doctor is yelling and the nurses aren't speaking.

That's when I heard a group of footsteps coming toward my bed. Then, the male nurse asked, "were you always with your husband at the party?" I knew what he meant when he asked this. And truth is, I wasn't. I broke down and started crying. I told him no and then was asked if I wanted to file a police report. "And say what? I don't remember anything. I don't even know how I got here." "Do you want to wait for your husband to get here?" I shook my head and started to just cry.

I felt violated and scared and lost and alone. I heard them announce that "her husband was here," and I could barely look up at Larry because I felt so ashamed.

They pulled the bed rail down and told me I was free to go.

I ran to Larry and just cried hard. He held me so tight and I could feel the energy in him shift from pissed to fear.

I cried all night and tried to piece back the last period of time I remembered. I couldn't get my timeline straight.

I went to the restroom twice, I only recall the first time.

The second time, I'm told, I threw up and security had to get me out of the restroom. They then escorted me and Larry out of the pool party and right in front of the group we were with. Then Larry said I asked to pee but the hotel would not allow me to use the restroom in their hotel and kept telling Larry he needed to get me out of here. Then, he placed me on a bench and I fell over. Then security asked me some questions. The only this I remember ever saying in this black moment is "Las Vegas," and "four," but I couldn't remember why until Larry said that the guy asked me where I was and how many quarters in a dollar. Then I threw up on myself and they had to call paramedics.

I don't remember any of this. I don't remember being pricked for an IV, being wheeled into a hospital, being carried by Larry and escorted out of the party. I don't remember ever getting sick and I don't remember when I started to feel bad.

I sat there in a new room at our hotel crying and feeling violated and humiliated. Humiliated for myself, Larry, and my best friend. Violated because though I was not raped, someone took advantage of me and I felt dirty and ashamed.

An amazing weekend filled with laughs, memories, and new experiences are smeared by 6 hours of my life that I won't ever get back.

I got to the hotel from the hospital and took a shower. I looked in the mirror and wanted to crawl out of my skin. I took off my bikini and hospital socks and threw them in the trash. I never wanted to see either and recall the day that I was publicly shamed and erratic because my drink was out of my sight for, what the doctor said, could have been seconds.

I didn't think something like this could happen to me. I am always so good about being aware of my surroundings. I'm married!! I didn't think I'd ever be a target now that I'm married. But it did happen. And it is scary. My therapist told me that my mind will be trying to grab for memories that are not there because those drugs deplete your ability to make them.

I am physically healing from the soreness throughout my body that I feel. But it is the emotional battle that will be long going. It is the mental fight that I will have with myself to understand this wasn't my fault and was not my intension. I have a new journey of healing that was not a souvenir I planned to bring back. However, I have a tribe of humans that I know I can call on for help and I plan to utilize them.

This isn't the Las Vegas story I intended to tell, but here it is. I was not above being targeted, and if my story saves at least one girl becoming a victim, then my story has done its job. I will fight to not let the violator control my fear and paralyze me from living my life. It will take time, but I know where I can be when I am centered in my strength.

I was just 6 hours away from a happy ending to a wonderful trip.

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