17-year-old Emily Bauer from Cypress, TX nearly died last year after smoking what is known “synthetic marijuana,” which caused her to suffer from a series of strokes that left her brain damaged, paralyzed and unable to see.
According to reports, Bauer smoked the legal substance — often labeled as “potpourri,” “Spice” or “K2 (an herbal mixture soaked with chemicals that trigger a high similar to smoking marijuana) — with her friends last December, and within 15 minutes, she told her boyfriend that she had a migraine headache and needed to lay down for a second.
She then reportedly suffered several strokes that put her in a “psychotic like state,” which made her run into walls, urinate on herself, hallucinate and act violently towards everyone, her sister told CNN’s iReport.
The police were called to help restrain her into an ambulance, and she was taken to Northwest Cypress Hospital, where she bit guardrails and tried to bite medical staff. After she was in this state for over 24 hours, her doctors, and especially her family, knew something wasn’t right.
“We thought once she comes down off the drug, we’d take her home and show her the dangers of this drug,” her 22-year-old sister Blake told CNN. “We didn’t think it was as big of a deal until 24 hours later she was still violent and hurting herself. We realized you’re not supposed to stay high this long.”
Doctors put Emily in the ICU and placed her into an induced coma for the next 4 days while they did multiple tests on her brain.
The doctors soon found out that Emily had suffered multiple strokes, which caused vasculitis — meaning that parts of her brain were permanently shut down after being damaged from the blood vessels contracting and cutting off oxygen to her brain.
“In four days’ time, we went from thinking everything is going to be OK and we’ll put her in drug rehabilitation to now you don’t know if she’s going to make it,” her stepfather Tommy Bryant said.
After doctors at Northwest Cypress Hospital did all they could do, she was transported via helicopter across town to Memorial Herman Hospital Children’s ICU.
Doctors there soon found out the blood vessels in Emily’s brain were expanding again, which the family saw as a sign of improvement.
But unfortunately it wasn’t, as the pressure on the teenager’s brain grew rapidly and dangerously, forcing doctors to drill a hole in her skull to relieve the pressure, which by then, had damaged at least 70 percent of her brain.
“We met with Neurology team who showed us Emily’s brain images,” her mother Tonya Bauer said. “They told us that all white areas on images were dead. It looked to us at least 70 percent of the images were white.”
Emily made it through the surgery, but doctors said she wouldn’t be able to recognize her family, and would never be able to see, eat on her own, or move her arms or legs ever again.
With that information about Emily’s grave condition, her family made the difficult decision to take her off life support on December 16th, just a few days shy of her 17th birthday.
Doctors told them that Emily would pass within 30 minutes of being removed from life support, but miraculously, the next morning, her mother went to her bed to tell her “Good Morning, I love you,” and was stunned to hear a hoarse voice speaking back to her saying, “I love you too.”
Emily’s sister Blake wrote in her CNN iReport:
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.
Emily’s family said they had no idea how dangerous “K2” or “synthetic marijuana” could be, and are now spreading awareness to educate others about the dangers of the substance.
Her stepfather said he knew she used real marijuana occasionally, and told her she would be grounded if he ever caught her smoking weed.
“Had I thought that there was any chance that she could have been hurt by this stuff, I would have been a lot more vigilant. I had no idea it was so bad,” he told CNN. “I’d never have thought we’d be in this situation. If she had bought it off the street or from a corner, that’s one thing, but she bought it from convenience store.”
While “K2” has been outlawed by many states in the U.S., manufacturers go around the laws by lightly changing the compound used to the make stuff so that it can return to gas stations and “head shops,” where anyone over the age of 18 can purchase it. And it’s 100% legal, unlike marijuana, which is only fully legalized in 2 out of the 50 states — Washington and Colorado.
It goes without saying that what happened to Emily would not have happened if marijuana was legalized nationwide. Because of the legal ramifications of marijuana possession, she turned to a purported “legal alternative,” which basically ruined her life. Something that would never have happened with 100% natural, earthborn marijuana.