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So, what does it feel like to get pepper-sprayed? A really dramatic first-person account

Spoiler alert: It hurts a lot

Getting sprayed with oleoresin capsicum, or pepper spray (WDIV)
Getting sprayed with oleoresin capsicum, or pepper spray (WDIV)


DETROIT – I volunteered to get pepper-sprayed last month because, well, I just wanted to know what it felt like, I guess.

Plus, it makes a story, so it’s a painful win-win, kind of.

So I joined in on the training where the military police in my National Guard unit were getting sprayed with oleoresin capsicum (OC) spray.

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Police officers need to know what it feels like to have the pepper spray in their eyes because if they ever need to use it on someone, there’s a good chance some of it is going to blow back and affect them, too. And it’s not a good feeling.

“I would rather have all my toenails pulled off.”

Someone said that as they passed by me after getting sprayed. I was still waiting my turn, so that was a nice, reassuring thing to hear.

Anyhow, soldiers were sprayed, then had to go through an obstacle course of sorts where they blindly fought off others.

Attempting to fight off people while your eyes feel like they're burning out of their sockets is a bit of a challenge. (WDIV)
Attempting to fight off people while your eyes feel like they're burning out of their sockets is a bit of a challenge. (WDIV)

Some people weren’t affected by the spray much at all. Others, such as me, weren’t so lucky.
The initial spraying wasn’t bad. Approximately 30 seconds later, though, I felt what was, to me, the worst pain I’ve ever felt, and it lasted for 24 hours.

It didn’t just burn my eyes – it burned my throat, nose, ears and neck. Imagine accidentally scratching your eye after touching something spicy. Now imagine that feeling times 100 all over your face.

After completing the course, I was led outside, where I washed my eyes out with baby soap and stood in the wind, trying to get the burning to stop. The baby soap is a must because plain water makes it worse.

At this point, my nose was running all over me and I was crying, which caused more spray to run down my face. It felt never-ending.

After I rinsed my eyes out, I got a horrible migraine that came and went until the next day.

What makes it even better is that it reactivates in water. So when I got home and finally started feeling better, it came back full-force when I showered. My ears turned bright red and my eyes swelled shut.

I’m not entirely sure how other people were able to get sprayed and function as if nothing happened.

Maybe I’m just dramatic. Or maybe I had a really bad reaction. Either way, it was horrible, and I’m glad I have photos and videos of myself suffering through it.


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