Woman’s blog post warns of the dangers of binge drinking
Doctors thought Hanna Lottritz was brain dead when she arrived at the Renown Regional Medical Center, Nevada, last summer with a blood alcohol level at five times over the legal driving limit. Fortunately, she lived to tell her story, and it’s one of a terrifying recovery from binge drinking.
Lottritz wrote that on the morning of July 25, 2015, she thought she was going to have a fun day with friends at the Night in the Country music festival in Yerington, Nevada. “I woke up, had breakfast and started what would end up being the worst 48 hours of my life,” she wrote. “The first part of the day was a lot of fun. We met new people, played human foosball and had a really good time. After dinner we went to the Joe Nichols and Jake Owen concert. At the concert I had two beers. Many of the people I was with had been drinking throughout the day and were already feeling good. I hadn’t started drinking until a little after dinner and I felt a little behind.”
Lottritz said her problem began after the concert had started. “I was beginning to feel a little bit of a buzz and drifted off from the people I went to the concert with. I ended up at a campsite where I found some of my other friends. I am a competitive person by nature and this group was mostly guys who (for some reason) I promised I could outdrink. Around 11:30 pm, one of my guy friends and I were seeing who could take the longest chug from a bottle of “Black Velvet Whiskey.”’
By the time midnight approached, she has no recall of events. Lottritz said she had to rely on the information she gathered from friends. “I have zero memory of anything after that.”
She said she had apparently chugged a solo cup full of “Black Velvet Whiskey” after chugging from the bottle. “Immediately after this I told my friends I felt fine, and about five minutes later I collapsed. I wasn’t breathing. My friends picked me up and started carrying me to the medical tent. From there I was intubated and taken to Renown hospital in Reno, Nevada via care flight. Meanwhile, the police showed up at my house to tell my parents to meet me at the hospital.”
Lottritz was in critical condition, suffering from acute respiratory failure and acute alcohol intoxication. Her blood alcohol concentration was .41 when she arrived at the hospital, five times over the legal limit. “The doctors thought I was brain dead because I was completely unresponsive. My pupils were sluggishly reactive, I had no corneal reflex and I wasn’t responding to verbal or painful stimuli. I finally woke up about 24 hours after I arrived at the hospital. I had a tube down my throat and my hands were restrained so I couldn’t pull it out. I was unable to talk with the tube down my throat, making it hard to tell my parents and the nurses that it was extremely uncomfortable,” she recalled. “I had to pass a respiratory test to prove I could breathe on my own before they removed it. I failed the first respiratory test I took, and I had to wait several hours to take another test. When I passed the second test and the tube was taken out, the doctors and nurses told me how lucky I was to be alive. They told me that they didn’t think I would make it through the night. They asked me if I was trying to kill myself by drinking so much.”
Lottritz said being asked if she was trying to kill herself hit her hard. “From my hospital bed in the Intensive Care Unit, my eyes were opened to the seriousness of being irresponsible with alcohol. The next day when I was discharged from the hospital, I realized that the way I looked at alcohol would be changed forever,” she concluded.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks on one occasion for men, and four or more drinks on one occasion for women. Heavy drinking is defined as 15 or more drinks per week for men, and eight or more drinks per week for women.
Binge drinking is a growing problem with young adults. As reported binge drinking causes an average of six deaths per day.
Image: Flickr/Stop Alcohol Deaths, Inc.