In the late seventies my mom and dad split. My dad had found himself a young woman and ran off with her, leaving me, my mom and my sister to fend for ourselves. It took Mom 6 months to find him and another six months to get a divorce. My dad was a CEO of an international company so with the divorce settlement and child support we had enough money to live comfortably.
Mom had started suffering migraine headaches during the divorce process. The doctors told her it was psychosomatic but it didn’t help moms headaches. Sometimes she would be awake all night with a headache. The doctors finally prescribed a sedative that was guaranteed to let her get some rest.
The first time mom took a pill for one of her headaches she sleep the entire night. She woke the next morning rested with no memory of suffering from a headache. From then on when she felt a headache coming on she would take a pill and wake the next morning rested.
I didn’t realize the total effect of the pills until one evening when my aunt called. Mom had taken a pill and gone to bed an hour and a half earlier. Aunt Carol called and wanted to talk to mom. I told her mom had already gone to bed but Carol insisted I wake mom so she could talk to her. I told my aunt I’d wake mom and have her call Carol back.
I went up to moms room and knocked. When there was no answer I opened the door and found mom sound asleep. Normally I wouldn’t have bothered her, but Carol had been insistent. I walked over and gently shook moms shoulder calling her name. She didn’t respond. I shook her harder. She still didn’t respond. I shook her even harder and was almost yelling her name.
Finally moms eyes fluttered open and she said,”Wha….what?”
“Carol wants to talk to you.” I told mom.
I picked up the bedside phone and said to Carol,”Here’s mom.” and handed it to mom. She fumbled with the receiver and I had to help her get it to her ear.
I could hear Carols voice as she spoke to mom. Mom was responding with,”Uh, hu. Yea. Uh, uh. Ok.”
Finally after a few minutes mom mumbled,”Goodbye,” dropped the phone in the cradle and flopped back on the bed.
I pulled the blankets over her and left.
The next morning as we were eating breakfast I asked Mom,”What did aunt Carol want last night?”
“Aunt Carol? I don’t know. I haven’t spoke to her for a week.”
“Mom you talked to her last night, don’t you remember? I woke you to talk to her on the phone.”
“No I don’t remember. I took one of those pills. I must have been out of it.” She replied.
I started to wonder about her actions while under the influence of the pill. Before I left for school I copied the name of moms sedative so I could look it up later. That afternoon on my way home I swung by the library. I knew they had a copy of the Pharmacists Drug handbook. I found the book and after a bit of browsing found the page with the drug I was looking for:
The side effects of Rohypnol
“The effects of Rohypnol use may be felt within 15 to 20 minutes of administration and may last for over 12 hours. Symptoms associated with use of Rohypnol include drowsiness, lowered blood pressure, muscle relaxation, dizziness, slurred speech, poor reaction time, confusion and memory impairment. One side effect associated with Rohypnol use is retroactive amnesia, where the person who takes the drug can’t remember events that occurred while under the influence of the drug. Although Rohypnol is a depressant, it may produce excitability, talkativeness, or hyper sexual behavior.”
The term “retroactive amnesia” hit me and I reread that passage. That sounded exactly like what had happened with my mom. I put the book away and walked home thinking about the implications. The term “hyper sexual behavior” kept buzzing in my head.