Note: Please make sure you read the first part of this blog, “Nine Circles of Bhang Hell” here before reading this post to know about my descent into insanity on a bad trip.
Bhang, oh bhang….
Wednesday morning I expected to wake up feeling healthy and ready to begin my day. Instead I could barely open my eyes when my alarm sounded, my entire body felt frail and limp, and a sharp pain blasted across my abdomen, already stiff from a continuous dull ache. I smacked my tongue around inside my dried-up mouth, hoping this would create some semblance of moisture; the thought of walking to the refrigerator for water seemed too exhausting.
Honestly, most of the day is blurred in my memory. I recall it mostly as a wrestling match between my toilet and my bed. As soon as I got to one, I immediately needed the other. I ordered Gatorade from Grofers, an app service that allows you to grocery shop and delivers things to your home, but they would only deliver after 5pm. I would have to wait. I managed to stumble to the kitchen for water but the taste made me more nauseous. I ate an entire half of a cracker the entire day. Watching television became too exhausting; I couldn’t concentrate on the screen when my stomach felt like it was about to drop out of my bowels or claw itself out of my throat. I wasn’t sure which was happening at any given time.
At 4pm the Grofer’s delivery guy buzzed, arriving an entire, glorious hour early. With as much dignity as I could muster I walked to my balcony and motioned for him to come upstairs. I had an inkling that walking down to the gate would result in me getting bodily fluids all over the driveway and/or myself and thought I would save everyone the embarrassment. Once he arrived, I sat awkwardly on a dining room chair at the front door, my head propped against the doorframe, while he found my receipt and I paid him. Then I chugged a fourth of blue Gatorade and immediately threw it up. And so my day continued.
Later Rohit, Gk, and Pranav came over. All of them looked a bit groggy and said they also felt sick. They brought me powder to mix into water for rehydration and restoring electrolytes, along with some various medicines. I laid face down on my sofa. At some point I told Pranav this was his fault for making me eat that last pakora, assuming bhang to be the source of my ailment.
That night I tossed and turned in my bed, covered in sweat, thinking that Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton were standing in my bedroom, debating each other, both trying to personally secure my vote. For some reason, I felt under an immense amount of stress from this debate, and couldn’t make a decision, my thoughts racing back and forth for who was a better candidate.
Side note: In my still-high state the previous night, I had managed to sign, scan, and submit my ballot request for North Carolina absentee voters for the Democratic Primary. For real. Not in the dream. NC is a state cutting back on voting fraud and a person high on bhang in India can easily email-in a ballot request.
Thursday I didn’t feel significantly better. Though no more vomiting, I still couldn’t eat anything. I couldn’t remember if I had ever felt this exhausted before. Then I couldn’t remember what not being exhausted felt like. I googled if you could die from bhang. I googled if cannabis caused unremitting diarrhea (it turns out that, in the right dosage, cannabis is supposed to help stop diarrhea). Considering I mostly just watched Charmed reruns, I also don’t remember much from this day, only that my entire body still ached and I laid on the couch instead of my bed. My mattress had started giving me back pains.
I felt guilty about missing work and depressed, alone in my dark house, imagining all the fun everyone else must be having.
By the evening, I had eaten a bit of cereal, taken a lot of oral rehydration and anti-nausea pills, and, as long as I didn’t stand up or move, felt okay. One of my colleagues from work brought me more Gatorade and we talked about the US elections some. By the time he left, I felt optimistic about my health. Tomorrow everything would be back to normal.
That night I slept on the couch and dreamed that I had many visitors staying with me. One of these visitors was a talking parrot named Sam that I met backpacking (this didn’t seem strange to me). I slept on the couch so that Sam could have my bedroom. Still in my living room, still on the couch, I dreamed that Sam stoically sailed into the room, landing on the back of the couch, starring blankly into the distance. Concerned, I asked, Sam….is everything okay? He didn’t speak. Then I realized, Sam had taken bhang. He had become a maniac. I worried he would try to peck my eyes out. Sam turned and looked at me, and then gracefully flapped his wings once or twice, landing on my shoulder just as I pulled the blanket over my face, hoping to protect my eyes with my arms against his oncoming violent attack. But he didn’t want to kill me. Instead, the horny fowl began trying to kiss me. His beak felt hard on my face and I began thrashing around, trying to get him away.
I woke up in my living room. The room spun violently and then the voice returned. You’ve been here before, you’ve been here before, you’ve been here before…. I closed my eyes as tightly as I could and tried to calm myself down. I told myself to go to sleep and the next day I would be fine. But part of me wondered if this was it. Over 72 hours after consumption and I’m still feeling high. Maybe I get stuck like this. Maybe I never go back to normal.
Friday I moped around my house most of the day. I decided to go to the market at one. In the ATM I almost passed out. Then I bought some food which I barely ate. Back at my house I took all my couch cushions onto the balcony and laid in the sun. I wondered if I was dying or I would ever feel normal again. I wondered why I was having such a bad reaction to the bhang and why it felt like food poisoning. I wondered if maybe we actually got food poisoning from the pakoras. Even the Indians said their stomachs still felt strange (though I clearly was doing the worst). I felt sad and wondered if I would ever feel happy again. Then I read some short stories by Kurt Vonnegut outside in the sun and they were beautiful and I felt slightly better about the world.
Rohit came over that evening and we both pretended like we could eat but only nibbled at some noodles. I drank a diet coke and decided that counted as dinner. And besides not wanting to eat, I felt okay.
Saturday I didn’t want to leave my toilet for too long but managed to go to the park with Rohit in the evening. I hadn’t eaten anything that day and desperately wanted to but everything I imagined appeared repulsive. Finally, I had a waffle (I found waffles in India!). We watched Rang de Bastani and I felt happy that I went the whole evening without any serious stomach problems. Then about two and a half minutes after he left my apartment I start throwing up again.
I woke up in the middle of the night to the room spinning and thinking that I was one of the witches from Charmed. A voice in my head kept telling me you’ve been here before, you knew this was true. You can’t escape the truth. Then I remembered that I’m not a witch with magic powers and I’m not on the television show Charmed. Yet, 120 hours after I consumed bhang, I still was waking up spinning and high.
Sunday I didn’t leave my couch and the weakness of not eating became unbearable. Gk and Rohit took me out of my house at night and I had two pieces of toast.
Monday I went to the doctor. He told me this wasn’t bhang, this was a bacterial infection. I’ve concluded the bhang water as the source. He gave me some antibiotics. A bit of an anti-climatic blog letdown, I know….but a relief that simple antibiotics would fix me and that I didn’t need to get checked into a hospital.
Obviously, this isn’t my most interesting blog post. But the moral of the story is just that I’m not a drug addict and my week-long bhang high was mostly very bad food poisoning. Aside from the episodes in which I woke up in the middle of the night to everything spinning and panicking.
Though sometimes, unfortunately, I still get a bit dizzy and I worry that no one actually exists and that I’ll wake up next to those boxes. So if I do, in fact, go completely nuts in the future, you can all say you witnessed the beginning of my descent into insanity. And I hope that is a good consolation prize for reading this entire blog post about me vomiting.