WARNING: This episode contains content surrounding addiction and sexual abuse which may be triggering for some. If you or someone you know is in need of support, there are places you can go to help. Please contact the Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255) or RAINN: 1-800-656-HOPE (6473).
It was former assistant Jordan Jackson who saved Demi’s life.
“So the morning of the overdose, Demi had — she really wanted to make this doctor’s appointment. So I got over there extra early to wake her up for it,” says Jackson. “The door was closed. Natalie, her personal chef, she had just arrived, so I went down and talked to her for a little bit and then I went back upstairs and I knocked again.”
Jordan became annoyed; she thought they were going to be late. “I opened the door like, really slowly and it was really dark and cold in her room and I kind of got chills. Honestly I thought that she was just drunk or hungover, so I kind of started to like nudge her like hey let’s get up now like it’s time to go. she wasn’t really moving; she was like, drooling.”
“I called Max Lea [Demi’s head of security]: “She’s not waking up. She’s not really responding. I don’t really know what to do.”
“I rang security,” Max says. “‘Jordan just called me in a panic. I need you to go into the room now and tell me everything you see.’ She was propped up, [with] vomit everywhere, but she was on her back, which isn’t good. So I told them, ‘Put her on her side, clear her throat, and I’m on my way’.”
“By that point, some more people had started to arrive at the house,” Jordan recalled, “and I’m just kind of like, ‘Do I call 911? Like what do I do? So I called, and I just remember sneaking down stairs to make the phone call, because I didn’t want to get in trouble for calling 911. While I was on the call someone told me to tell the operator ‘no sirens’.” She did, but the operator refused: “No, no no no. This is a medical emergency. I don’t have control over that.”
The ambulance came. They came upstairs to her room; they got their Narcan out, trying to really just bring her back to life. There was one point where she turned blue. Like her whole body completely turned blue[…] Jordan remembers thinking, “She’s dead, for sure. It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.”
“It was tough. It was tough, really tough to watch,” says Max.
Meanwhile Demi’s family and friends were barraged by texts:
“I’m so sorry.”
“I heard about Demi.”
“I’m praying for your family.”
“You guys are in my prayers.”
“I was so confused. I thought maybe she’d been in a car accident,” says her mother.
“She had texted me the night before and she said, ‘Can you go out to this show with us?’… or something, and I was like ‘I’m so sorry, I can’t. I have to fly to New York tomorrow.’ So the next day I fly to New York, Sirah says, growing emotional, “and the plane lands and everyone turns on the phone and people are gasping in the plane. It was so surreal — I’m looking at everyone’s phone and it says ‘Demi Lovato overdose’.”
“I was just devastated, and I didn’t understand what was going on,” Sirah says. Neither did Demi’s parents.
Dianna de la Garza remembers, “I got a call from her assistant; she said Demi overdosed, and I said, ‘Is she okay?’ She says she was told, ‘She’s breathing. We’re at the hospital, but she’s not talking.”
Eddie de la Garza recalls, ‘I got a hold of Dianna. She told me what happened but was like, “Oh, she’s okay; it’s going to be okay. She’s all right, right now; you just need to get on a plane and come.’ But later that day I talked to her security, and he tell me the truth, that the next 24 hours we’re going to be tough. ‘We’ll know if she’s going to make it within the next 24 hours.’ I said ‘What do you mean, if she’s going to make it?’ He says, ‘We don’t know. This next 24 hours is important.”
“Her oxygen levels when she came to the hospital were dangerously low,” says neurologist Doctor Shouri Lahiri. “And they were trending down; they were 70%, someone of her health and age we accepted to be 100%. Time is brain, as we like to say, and the longer you go with the brain being starved of essential nutrients, the longer it’s injured, the more difficult it is for recovery.”
“It was like a horror movie,” her mother recalls. “They put her in the ICU. She had a tube in her neck that was taking her blood into a machine, cleaning it, and then putting it back into her neck, and as a parent you’re watching all of her blood come out of her body into a machine and come back. I asked the doctor — I said ‘What happens if she pulls out that too, in the middle of the night or while we’re not watching her?’ And he actually kind of laughed and said, ‘That tube’s not coming out. It’s sewn into her neck.
“I actually don’t think people realize how bad it actually was,” Demi says. “I had three strokes; I had a heart attack. I suffered brain damage from the strokes. I can’t drive anymore, and I have blind spots in my vision. So sometimes, when I go to like pour a glass of water, I’ll totally miss the cup because I can’t see it anymore. I also had pneumonia because I asphyxiated…and multiple organ failure.”
Demi asked her mother two or three times what had happened, de la Garza says. Demi indicates as much: “I did ask: ‘Is it out there?’ And [her mother] was like, ‘Yeah, it’s out there. A lot of people know. A lot of people are worried; a lot of people are concerned, and a lot of people love you. And that’s all you need to worry about right now.”
It took a while to grasp the reality of her overdose. “I am not saying that I have not used needles. But that night I wasn’t injecting it; I was smoking which is another reason I was so shocked when I woke up in the hospital. Because I was like, ‘No, I’m not injecting it; I can’t overdose on it.’ At the end of the day, if you do too much of anything, it’s going to kill you.”
“I’m really lucky to be alive. My doctors said that I had 5 to 10 more minutes, and had my assistant not come in, I wouldn’t be here today.”
To be continued…