Archives

Stop Smoking The Easy Way

smoke-314984__180I wanted to stop smoking for no good reason except it was time, and I knew about a secret weapon. I knew about Zyban.

Zyban was marketed in 1969 as an antidepressant for clinically depressed patients because the side effects were less severe, but I have also heard it was first marketed as an antipsychotic drug. At any rate it had something to do with brain waves, but doctors noticed that patients stopped smoking while taking the drug. Now days it is prescribed exclusively for smoking cessation, although I’m not so sure it doesn’t have antidepressant qualities because it does tend to mellow a person out.

The routine is you take two pills a day, but keep smoking and pick a stop date 10 to 14 days distant. I chose a 10 day date and a 14 day date.  At the my ten day mark and still smoking I panicked, and hid the cigarettes. If I wanted one, I first had to find them.  On the 14th day, I stopped although I wasn’t sure I wanted to. The first day was the worst, but each day was easier. Seven days after I officially stopped smoking, I had a cigarette with my morning coffee to see if I still wanted them. It was like licking an ashtray, and I had to go brush my teeth.

I’m fairly confident I am smoke free because the cigarettes are in plain sight, and I just walk by with no thought what so ever of smoking one; however, I have dropped the Zyban down to one pill a day because I don’t want to be so mellow I am found dancing on the freeway in my underwear.

The real secret weapon is twofold. It has to be Zyban and not a generic version, and you have to want to stop smoking. My husband who really didn’t want to stop is still smoking, and something tells me I will have to one day pry a cigarette from his cold dead fingers.

Prince’s Accidental Overdose

Prince_at_Coachella_001The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office reported, “Prince died of an accidental opioid overdose after he self-administered fentanyl.”

Something about that statement does not compute. How does one accidentally overdose when the drug is self administered, and why would he do it in an elevator fully dressed and wearing shoes and a hat?  That sounds more in line with a sudden death episode than a drug overdose, not that he was not taking pills, lots of pills because clearly he was, and the news is not that shocking.

But here’s the thing. When interviewed his personal cook told a tale about Prince not being able to eat because he had sores in his mouth, and if he did eat the food came right back up. Consequently, Prince was very thin, something he attributed to lack of appetite. Couple that with his doctor saying Prince had a low body temperature, low pulse, fatigue, and was fighting the effects of the flu, and what you have is the classic symptoms of ‘Addison’s Disease’.

Undoubtedly, drug usage factored into Prince’s sudden death, but in the mad dash to get his body to the crematorium, was he checked for anything else? It could be he succumbed to ‘Addisonian Crisis’, and maybe, he was taking opioids not so much for pain but because it made him feel better because he was at death’s door.

I guess, I just don’t know enough about drugs in general and fentanyl and opioids in particular, and how they can trigger a sudden death episode in a elevator wearing a hat. It’s the mention of the hat that bothers me. Who wears a hat to a sudden death episode? However, I do know a thing or two about ‘Addison’s Disease’ and ‘Addisonian Crisis’; without medical intervention and a cortisone injection and sodium/potassium infusion, one loses consciousness, goes into shock, and dies rather suddenly where he stands.

Of course, it’s supposition on my part, but it would be a sad thing indeed if a talented entertainer could have been saved by a simple prescription for cortisone. As for the opioid usage, isn’t that what rehab is for? Damn! I wish he hadn’t been wearing the hat. The hat haunts me.

 

The Funny Thing About Addison’s Disease

emergency-ambulance-306183_960_720Actually, there is nothing funny about Addison’s Disease except you may end up on the medical’s examiner’s table awaiting autopsy before you are diagnosed, unless of course, you are the President of the United States as John F. Kennedy was.

Addison’s Disease is the great pretender in that it mimics many illness, and patients are routinely dismissed and sent home with a bottle of pills, and given some vague diagnosis such as flu, fatigue, female or male difficulties, backache, headache, or just plain hypochondria.  Addison’s Disease is also rare with only a 1 to 100,000 ratio. With such odds, a doctor could conceivably spend his entire career without encountering a single case of Addison’s Disease.

Addison Disease seems to arise between the age of thirty to fifty, and has no known cause.  Apparently, it just happens, and the lucky recipient can expect to exhaust an entire line of physicians in several states before receiving the proper diagnosis, and only then if he or she is lucky enough to be referred to an endocrinologist. Addison’s Disease comes in shades of primary and secondary; primary if the condition involves the Adrenal Glands only, secondary if the origin is associated to a tumor in another gland such as the pituitary.

To fully understand Addison Disease, one must first understand what is involved. Addison is a malfunction or injury of the Adrenal Glands which sit atop the kidneys and produce cortisol, which in turn secretes adrenalin which provides strength, stamina, and stimulates a fully array of body functions. When the Adrenal Glands cease the production of cortisol, the patient gets weaker and sicker until he goes into Addisonian Crisis which causes confusion, fever, loss of consciousness, and eventual death. At the point of Addisonian Crisis, prompt medical intervention is required and involves hydrocortisone injections and a saline drip administered by emergency personnel. This can only happen if the patient is wearing a medical id tag on his person that reads, ‘Adrenal insufficiency, cortisone dependent’. Otherwise, the EMT’s will think the patient is having a heart attack, and can break your ribs but not save you as what is needed is cortisone.

The symptoms are vague and could be many things or nothing; fatigue, low sugar levels, low blood pressure, depression, irritability, low pulse, nausea, dehydrated, and sensitivity to cold. You could show up at your nearest emergency room with those symptoms, and if you are lucky, receive an aspirin.

At the point the person receives a diagnosis, he is indeed a sick puppy with cravings for salty foods, low body temperature, sores in his mouth, unable to eat without the food coming right back up,  possesses no appetite, and has experienced an extreme weight loss. It’s hard for any doctor to tell an 85 pound patient who is projectile vomiting on the floor and  too weak to stand that he should go home and take an aspirin. Unfortunately, this is the point where patients are usually diagnosed, and it will be an uphill battle to regain former health.

Only then is the patient with Addison Diseases free to resume his life. Usually, stunned that a little pill twice daily is all that was needed, and most grateful he had been diagnosed. It is not uncommon for a Addison patient to thank the doctor who has diagnosed him because for the first time he begins to realize it was not ‘all in his head’.

All that is left is to take the meds twice daily as prescribed, and wear a medical alert necklace or bracelet that clearly identifies the condition as ‘Adrenal Insufficiency -Cortisone Dependent’. Not one of those cutesy things, but something the paramedics can see at first glace, because the Addison patient no longer possesses the ‘fight or flight’ instinct, and could easily go into shock by trauma or injury. Wear that tag, and wear it proudly. You have survived Addisonian Crisis, and lived to tell about it.