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Running out of hope, but keeping a brave face plastered on

Yesterday was something of an adventure, it had all of the elements one would expect from a role playing game...Anticipation, boredom, a bit of fear, shock, and, ultimately, disappointment.

Heeding the advice of some of my new friends here, I resolved to visit the County Health Department.  I left home at 6AM to walk the <> 1 mile to my nearest bus stop, and luckily had a short wait for the bus to arrive, as it was bitter cold at that early hour.  After forty minutes or so of stopping at various bus stations along the way, I arrived at the station just a few hundred yards from the Health Department, a large, corrugated tin structure reminiscent of the quonset buildings that were prevalent during my brief stint in the Army Reserve in the early 1980's.  The office did not open until 9AM, so I had roughly an hour to kill - There was a very tempting Waffle House just a short way up the road, but I decided that it would be foolish to risk losing the place near the front of the line I had arrived early enough for, and seated myself on one of several benches at the front entrance, where a few other ladies and gentlemen were already seated as well.

The doors opened promptly at 9AM, and we filed in to a lobby that looked much like the Department of Motor Vehicles.  Perhaps fifty chairs, divided to either side of a long desk occupied by four ladies, who said good morning, then instructed us to take a number from a ticket dispensing machine at the end of the desk, and told us there was coffee, tea, donuts, and Danish muffins on a table towards the rear of the room.  The ladies must have had some morning paperwork routine to complete, as they all began tapping on their keyboards as some of us availed ourselves of hot coffee.  Coffee and ticket (number 004) in hand (I'm not a breakfast eater, haven't been since I turned 50 or so), I took a seat and picked up the clipboard and pen that were waiting there, beginning to complete the various forms as more and more people filed through the front door.  Many of these people were clearly repeat visitors, they immediately took numbers, extracted their drivers licenses and a laminated Health Department card from their wallets, fetched coffee or tea, then seated themselves, placing the clipboard that had occupied their selected seat to the side.  After completing all of the forms on the clipboard and presenting it to one of the ladies at the desk, I was given a laminated Health Department card that printed at her desk, and told to be seated once again, taking my clipboard with me.

Just as I was beginning to wish I had brought a newspaper or paperback novel with me, numbers 001 through 004 appeared on the LED screens behind the desk, and one of the ladies announced that if your number was one of those indicated, you were to proceed through a doorway behind the desk.  A young gentleman in blue scrubs waited on the other side of the door, he collected our clipboards and numbers, then ushered each of us to a standard examination room, of which there were four.  It soon became evident that although there were four examination rooms, there was only a single doctor on duty, the walls were quite thin enough to hear her enter the first room and introduce herself and the triage nurse, and after about five minutes, she entered my room, introduced herself, and told me that the nurse would be in shortly to take my vitals and a description of the purpose of my visit.

Some time passed until the triage nurse entered my room, time I used to organize my medical records and my release documentation from my hospital stay in September.  After taking my temperature and blood pressure (temperature was fine, blood pressure a bit elevated, no doubt due to the anxiety and fear I have been experiencing for a month or more), the nurse seated herself at a PC and asked me the purpose of my visit.  Given all of the records I had brought with me and the lack of a need to invent symptoms, as I have been living with them daily, this did not take long, and she typed furiously as she listened to me and referenced my records occasionally.  That done, she told me to remain seated, the doctor would be in shortly.

"Shortly" was inaccurate, it was at least forty minutes before the doctor entered the room and introduced herself.  That's understandable, of course, as the only doctor on duty, she had already seen three other patients, as she informed me with a wry grin.  She seated herself at the PC, logged in, and brought up the entries the nurse had typed up, asking me if I had brought any patient records, which I promptly handed to her.  After several minutes of perusing the PC and my records, she asked "So what brings you to see us today?"

Carefully paging to the appropriate section of my records as I went along, I described to her my diagnosis of GAD and panic attacks seventeen years ago, my treatment by the same psychiatrist for the past fifteen years, his gradual increase of my @lprazol@m dosage to 1mg / 3x per day, then his letter to his patients informing us that he would no longer be prescribing or refilling benz@diazepine medications, but moving us to SSRI's or antidepressants.  I was very clear that my psychiatrist did not introduce any sort of taper, and that he scoffed at the Ashton method, telling me to simply "use the meds you have left to taper, and start the Fetzim@ I'm writing you immediately."

The rest was fairly self-explanatory.  Two weeks from the date of that appointment, I had a massive seizure in my front yard, convulsing, then pitching face forward onto the asphalt of the street, breaking my nose, my wrist, and several ribs in the process, and scraping a good deal of hide off my body.  I was fortunate that my next door neighbor, who was buckling her grandson into her car, witnessed the entire incident and called 911 immediately, whereupon I was taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital and admitted for three days and three nights.

My records included my EEG and MRI results, as well as a blood screen that showed only the presence of benz@s (all benz@s, apparently, register the same), no alcohol, no other prescription drugs, and no recreational drugs of any kind.  Given the tests were only a couple of months old, the doctor noted that she didn't see a need to schedule another round, especially given my financial situation, then proceeded to give me the bad news.

First, she told me, the seizure was pretty obviously a result of abruptly stopping a relatively high dosage of @lprazol@m.  As with any other doctor I've ever seen she did not cast any aspersions on the doctor who abruptly cut off my medication...Doctors, in my experience, don't speak ill of other doctors, regardless of what their personal opinion may be.  Secondly, she expressed concern at my description of my ongoing experience with the "zaps" in my brain, my brief periods of time loss, and my awakening some mornings feeling as if I've been run over by a semi, these, according to her, were more than likely seizures, although milder than the one that hospitalized me.  Her third point was the devastating one: It is against Health Department policy to prescribe benz@s, SSRI's, or antidepressants, those require a referral to a mental health professional.  When I inquired as to whether she would possible be able to prescribe an anti-seizure medication, her response was that such prescriptions must be made by a neurologist.  Shoulders slumped, I asked her what she recommended I should do next, and she told me that all she was able to do was provide me with referrals to a new psychiatrist and a neurologist, doctors she knew would accept an ACA insurance plan.  I told her that I'd just gone through the ACA sign up process last week, and the premium, at $1300 per month was beyond what I could afford - And given my income from January through September, when I was laid off, I did not qualify for any subsidies to assist with the payments.

Let me emphasize that this was a very nice lady, the doctor - She jokingly called me "Doctor" whenever I addressed her as "Doctor" after reading my file and finding my highest level of education is a PhD (in Industrial Waste Management, a field that was in high demand when the OSHA Superfund law was passed in the early 90's), and she was very obviously sympathetic to my condition, and clearly upset that she couldn't do more to address it.  Still, though, there really wasn't any more she could do, so after printing out the result of my visit and her diagnosis, then giving me referrals, we parted ways, me for the bus stop and her to see what I'm sure were many more patients before ending her day.

On arriving home I did my level best not to mope or succumb to depression.  I'd tried, at least, and the failure to obtain any relief wasn't due to anything I did or said, but simply the result of state Health Department policy.  So we'll see what we shall see in the days to come, there are obviously other ways to obtain either g@b@entin or a low dosage of clon@zep@m as a stopgap measure to avoid further seizures, all that remains is to squirrel away the funds to avail myself of them.

As Forrest Gump would say, "And that's all I have to say about that."
A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.

-- Saint Basil

You wrote quite a story about your experience OB

Did ur company have a retirement plan for you to look forward to get

 If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit.
Wish you well OB hope things come good for you. Your positive outlook is inspiring. Withdrawal from benzos and other g@bagenics is quite literally the worst CT anyone can go through in my opinion/experience.
You're a very good writer perhaps you could use that to immerse yourself in hope you get anti seizure sorted out soon.
All the best man

Many thanks, Linville and blandy.  I suppose I've done so much writing over the course of my education and career that it's understandable I've finally become somewhat proficient at it in my "declining years" Wink

My firm had a 401K (they matched up to 3% of the contributions one made), there's a good bit of money there.  That money, our home (once sold - There's only twelve years left on the mortgage), and my Social Security was meant to be the retirement my wife and I looked forward to.  My wife's passing is still too recent for me to imagine re-shuffling that plan, and I'm still ten years from maxing out my Social Security, so I'm leery of toppling the tower by prematurely withdrawing from the 401K, the tax implications are truly draconian.

I've no doubt another employment opportunity will come up, at my age it just takes a little longer than for someone more junior.
A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.

-- Saint Basil

I am certainly glad that you are at least keeping track of your posts...

Keep it up

A True Friend 
Freely Advises Justly 
Assists Readily, 
Adventures Boldly, 
Takes all Patiently,
Defends Courageously
Continues a Friend Unchangeably.

William Penn

(11-28-2017, 09:34 PM)IceWizard Wrote: I am certainly glad that you are at least keeping track of your posts...

Keep it up



Thank you IceWizard. As with everything else in life, if I write it down, I won't forget it Blush

Best wishes to you and yours.
A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.

-- Saint Basil

OldBoy, OMG, take out some of that $401K money right now!

Use it to private pay to see the referrals the Health Department doc gave you. Call them asap to get on their calendar.

You need meds to save your brain. That is your priority.
Music is probably the only real magic I have encountered in my life. There's not some trick involved with it. It's pure and it's real. It moves, it heals, it communicates and does all these incredible things. Tom Petty
Feel your pain old boy being on 3mgs of xans and sudden cut off is guaranteed ride to ER at some point, since as you know yourself already its not like any other med drug that you can shake off in a week and basically your on constant roller coaster which could last for months, thus rendering one really vunerable to any stimulation interaction and so on.

you should be on gabapenting at very least to avoid seizures, but if your no connections in iops ,as FirePlaces suggested empty any savings you got and get even if its private GP to be scripted smth that will get you trough or start on slow taper,since you cant just tapper of xans, you need to switch to vals, that takes time, also since you id imagine didnt have any you might need to get good boost to stabilize in the first place like 4mgs of xans or half and half mixed with vals to start transition, from personal experience it takes about week or two to transfer off xans to vals and even at that point youd want to get at least 30mgs vals to start micro tapper at your own pace.

Id wish i could point to some easy answers or help but theres little to none when it comes to benzos, I know US is still good for kava kava, dig into it a bit find strongest strain and make that mud drink as strong as you can since buying whole powder in pounds is cheap you can easily make gallons of stuff its no cure,feels a bit like alcohol when drinking a lot of it but only thing i know that gives tiny relief, benefit being its cheap and prob you could get it fast.Also one you missed at local clinic was to ask for at least beta blockers since they should had no issues giving that as your bp is raised and dont think its on any radar yet, not much relief but more of prevention.
Both of you gave great answers. Heed their wisdom, please.
Angel  It is Well with My Soul  Angel
OB thank you so much for your description of the process in the US at the moment.

You wrote about your experience so well I thought I was going through it all with you!

We don't know how lucky we are with the NHS here...but I'm sure the Government will tell us very soon, as our free service is becoming increasingly expensive for them. I've heard they have been in talks with US Private healthcare we may be following you in that direction.

The last time I asked a Doctor for some alps he nearly fell off his chair! So I did not persist and immediately went online and found my solution there. But on the whole we're very lucky...for the time being.

Thank goodness for this helpful and friendly IOP where members really do care for each other.

Please keep us posted about your experiences. You really do write so very well.

All the best,


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