AN AUSTRALIAN influencer has warned about the horrific dangers of inhaling nitrous oxide after the popular party drug left her paralysed.
Social media star Tamika Dudley, 21, said she never imagined that trying "laughing gas" could have killed her, or left her permanently paralysed.
The hairdresser from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, first tried "nangs" – otherwise known as "hippy crack" in the UK – after succumbing to peer pressure to give it a go in March.
Tamika explained she quickly became hooked on nitrous oxide – which is bought in canisters and then pumped into balloons to be inhaled – and began taking the drug daily for two months.
But in May 2019, the stunning hairdresser woke up to an ominous tingling sensation in her hands and feet, which rapidly turned into complete numbness of her legs and hands.
Terrified Tamika was rushed to the emergency department of her local hospital, where she underwent an immediate MRI, CT scan and a lumbar puncture to her spine.
The next day, Tamika’s worst nightmare became a reality after she became completely paralysed from the waist down and lost all feeling in her hands.
This meant she was unable to walk, use the bathroom or feed herself without help.
After running tests, doctors broke the horrific news to her that she may never walk again because of extensive nerve damage caused by overusing hippy crack.
Tamika said: "The doctors told me that it could be permanent and that I may never walk again.
“It was the scariest day of my life, to know I could be in a wheelchair forever and never walk again."
Tamika said she started using the gas daily after a breakup to "numb the pain".
She said: "I didn’t see any harmful effects, but then two months later in May I woke up with a strange tingling sensation in my feet and hands.
"It slowly crept up my calves, to my thighs, and then tuned into numbness. I went to hospital and they performed an MRI, CT scan and I had a lumbar puncture done.
"The next day after waking up in hospital, I tried to wiggle my toes, but couldn’t.
"I tried to get up from my bed, but I couldn’t walk. I was completely paralysed”.
Thankfully, after daily vitamin B12 shots and physiotherapy, feeling slowly returned to Tamika’s legs.
After a month of being bedridden, unable to walk and relying on a wheelchair for mobility, Tamika said she was overjoyed at being able to take her very first "baby steps" after weeks of being paralysed.
The young woman was in hospital for a total of six weeks, but even now – seven months after being discharged – Tamika still has numbness in her hands and feet, which doctors said may never go away.
Tamika is now using her harrowing experience to raise awareness about the dangers of nitrous oxide use and urges others to rethink their decision to try what she says is a commonly perceived harmless party drug.
She said: "People think it’s harmless, that it’s just ‘laughing gas’. But it could kill you, or leave you permanently paralysed.
"It’s a 30-second-high that could ruin your entire life."