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  • Richard Cree

Monkey Dust

Updated: Aug 12

11th August 2020

UK COVID Deaths 21 / Total 46,526

James Cook Hospital – Total COVID deaths – 255

All COVID cases within South Tees Hospitals Trust – 4

James Cook Critical Care COVID cases – 0

The local and national press has announced an outbreak of coronavirus infections in Middlesbrough over the past week. The outbreak is small and has apparently resulted from household-to-household transmission within a particular area of the city. There has been no need for a local lockdown although a temporary testing station was set up to deal with the increased demand. We have been told that case numbers are now decreasing and the hospital has not seen a rise in patient numbers which is reassuring.

However, we did admit another COVID patient onto the ICU a few days ago. The patient had been transferred from another hospital for complicated surgery and was someone who had contracted COVID-19 some time ago but is persistently testing positive weeks later. As a result they had to be isolated and so we admitted them into one of our side rooms. Surgery was uncomplicated and after a brief stay with us for observation, the patient was discharged to the COVID ward according to protocol.

I’m pleased to announce that my patient from last week who was unfortunate enough to suffer a cardiac arrest whilst gardening has done well and has been discharged to the cardiology ward. He had suffered a heart attack and was very lucky that his neighbour witnessed his collapse and started resuscitation whilst calling an ambulance. I suspect our patient will owe his neighbour a debt that might take many, many cups of sugar to repay.

Many of our admissions continue to be overdoses. There is the occasional suicide attempt involving prescription medication but most are the result of recreational drug abuse. Not that this doesn’t often involve prescription drugs, they just happen to have been prescribed for somebody else. Drugs like gabapentin, and opioid painkillers are very popular as are a whole host of other substances. Normally we don’t get to know what these other substances are as the consumer is unconscious by the time they get to us.

However, the other day we admitted a young, unconscious gentleman who was accompanied by an associate who was able to provide us with details of exactly which illicit cocktail was responsible. There were various apéritifs and chasers involved, but the main culprit was something called ‘monkey dust’. Sounds magical doesn’t it? The associate looked surprised when we had no idea what monkey dust was and had to rely on Google to find out.

Fortunately, it is not dried simian faeces. Nor is it a term used when snorting the cremated ashes of Bubbles the chimp. Instead it is one of the vast array of ‘psychoactive substances’ which had been legal prior to 2016. These used to be called ‘legal highs’; drugs that have been specifically synthesised to mimic the effects of the classics (cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy). The effects of monkey dust are a bit like mixing some of these together, unless you take a shed-load of it, when the effects become not too dissimilar to having a piano dropped on your head.

But do not fret, thanks to the hospital’s hard work, our patient will be fine and will undoubtedly live to dust another day.



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