A bad trip on a bad drug: Lesson learned

Good morning!  It feels good to say that since I haven’t been welcoming morning for some time now.

Slept more than 10 hours, in bed, without a single muscle cramp or spasm — also something that has not happened for too many nights recently.

I also fired the “specialist” at New River Valley Carilion Clinic who prescribed Donepezil to “help” my short-term memory loss.  What he didn’t tell me was that the medication is normally prescribed to patients suffering from “mild to moderate” Alzheimer’s or dementia patients.  I found out that the “normal” use of the drug after researching it online.  It was, he said, “something that might help you remember things.”

It didn’t.  I had trouble falling to sleep.  I have suffered from some cramps from increasing arthritis but the cramps increased and some left me unable to walk, drive or do anything productive.

So I discontinued use of the drug last Wednesday after short motorcycle ride left my hands cramped and my legs unable to even allow to get off the bike after the ride.  I sent him a message that I was discontinuing the medication and did not wish to continue any future such drugs.

Instead, he sent CVS in Floyd a new prescription for Namenda, an even stronger drug approved by the Food & Drug Administration in 2003 to “treat moderate to severe dementia of the Alzheimer’s type.”

Say what?  I suffered from brain trauma in a motorcycle accident on Nov. 9, 2012.  If left me with “mild cognitive impairment,” which is medical shorthand for “short-term memory loss.”  I’ve received occupational rehabilitation over the last seven years to deal with that issue.  I still sometimes have trouble remembering dates or names and doctors say it could be caused by the brain injury along with advancing age.  I’m 71,

I had asked my primary doctor to refer me for any possible tests on my memory to see if it is any worse (or perhaps better) since 2012.

At the neuropsychologist’s suite at Carilion Riverside 3 in Roanoke five years ago, I took a comprehensive, computer-driven memory exam along with interviews.  That led to the current diagnosis of “mild cognitive impairment.”  The exams took a little over three hours.

At Carilion New River Valley, the “neurologist” asked five questions:

What year is this?

Where are you right now?

Where do you live?

What floor are you on?

What was the room number of this office?

I missed one of those questions.  I had looked at the sign on the office door and did not notice the number.

The entire “test” and “exam” lasted less than 20 minutes, he sent a prescription to CVS and told me to come back in six months.

The prescription brought severe physical side effects and was a drug prescribed primarily for Alzheimer’s and dementia, who ailments I have never diagnosed to have.

When I reported the problems and told him I was quitting the medication, he did not consult with me before sending CVS a new medication, one specifically designed for those suffering “moderate to severe dementia of the Alzheimer’s type.”

I refused the prescription and told CVS to never, ever, again accept any prescription for me from that doctor again.  I asked my primary care physician, also a Carilion, to refer me to the neuropsychologist’s suite at Riverside 3 in Roanoke.  They tested and treated me before.  They know me.

I considered filing a formal complaint to Carilion about the actions of one of its doctors.

Instead,  I slept on it — a good night’s sleep.

I’m told it will take 36-48 hours for the rest of the drug to get out of my system and I’m aching and moving slow on this Saturday but I hope to get back to my old self by the first of the week.

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