For over a few years, I have had sleep problems because of six job lay-offs; being homeless; standing in a soup lilne; losing all my possessions; being in the hospital for over 3 1/2 months...all this will give a person sleepless nights.
But, over the last couple of years, I've been doing better in that category, and I have reduced the medication from 50 mg (tranzedone) to 5mg. of Zolpidem (Ambien). Michael Jackson died from sleep problems, and I certainly didn't want to go in his direction...of higher drug doses; and eventually shots to find sleep.
I had been taking the Zolpidem (Ambiem) for a few months, and I have had side-effects of heart-burn; getting bloated; lower-tract discomfort; and some constipation. Other medications had given me a drug-hangover that lasted all day, so I was reluctant to change. That is, until I saw the newsletter from the People's Pharmacy come in on March 15, 2012, which is shown below.
People write in and ask a question, and the question is answered by one of the two married staff members. The wife has a Ph.D and the husband as a Masters degree. The questions come from all over the world, and it was this question, and the cooincidence that I got worse in pain in the lower tract, that I found myself heading for the emergency room at a local hospital.
From; The Peoples Pharmacy (newsletter)
About six questions are published each week, and the following question frightened me as to the drug Zolpidem (Ambien) I do not know who asked this question.
Q. I have been on Ambien or Zolpidem for five years for insomnia. My reflux has gotten worse and worse, until it became debilitating last year.
I have had every test imaginable, and have seen a G.I. doctor and a surgeon. I have a hiatal hernia, so we all thought that was the cause of my problems. I stopped taking Zolpidem last week and my heartburn has improved. I haven't worked in a year, because of all the pain, so I hope it resolves itself, now that I'm not taking the Ambien.
A. the sleeping pill Zolpidem (Ambien) can cause heartburn and other digestive problems (BMJ/2-27-12) Prescribers are not alwayks aware of this side-effect, but many people have reported this reaction at the People's Pharmacy. Finding other ways to get the sleep you need, can be quite helpful in reducing reflux.
* * *
This newsletter came in on the same day, I was experiencing the more intense pain in the lower tract just below the belly-button. Holding the mouse with one hand, and my stomach with the other, the reader can imagine how I felt in reading this piece, etc. On a scale of one to ten...with ten being the most severe...I would give the pain a six on the scale...and the pain didn't get more severe during the day...nor did I get any relief either!
I had noticed that the stools had gotten darker and darker and were nearly black in color, and this fact worried me. In the 1970's, I suffered from ulcers...and the worst came when the ulcers started to bleed, and the stool was black! The thought of something like this happening to me again, made me quite nervous, and the pain in the stomach was similar to the ulcer pain...only lower just below the belly-button. The possibility of internal bleeding was frightening to me...
I thought the pain might be related to constipation, so I took a laxative around mid-afternoon and nothing happened. Be 7 o'clock that evening, the pain was starting to get more intense, and thoughts of calling an ambulance ran through my mind. By 10 PM, there was no change in the pain level, and I remember the black stools of the 1970's and I could be bleeding inside...so I decided to call 911 and get an ambulance. I've always believed in the philosophy of 'better safe than sorry,' and so I wrote an article about it, which is entitled;
Better Safe Than Sorry (admission/ER)
About 10 PM, I knew I was going to have to get some help, so I called 911, and the ambulance people showed up, and I went to the emergency room. I spent the night in the emergency room, and was discharged the next morning about 6 AM. On the positive side of things, the following happened during that time.
MRI; The last time I had an MRI was 15 years ago, and it showed no problems. This time was different, as it showed that I have gallstones and kidney stones. I know what kidney stones are all about, because I passed a kidney stone in 1988, and this happened at work, and I was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. Later, I wrote this article, which is entitled;
Passing a Kidney Stone 101 For Dummies
My emergency room doctor, gave me a number of a urologist to call, which I will do, and take care of this problem with the kidney stones. I don't want to pass another kidney stone. I have an appointment on March 21st with my primary doctor, and I will discuss the results of the MRI and what to do about the gallstones.
Finger Up the Butt; Nobody likes the embarrassment of a finger up the butt, but that's the only way a doctor can find out about blood in the stool. It showed negative, and I was relieved about that.
I gave the emergency room doctor a copy of the People's Pharmacy newsletter piece about the Ambien, and she made a copy, but we didn't talk about how the Ambien could have been the culprit in my case. I don't think you'll find a doctor, that will talk about a prescription that was given out by medical, that has side-effects that affect their patients. I think this a little 'code of silence' among doctors.
I was given medication while in the emergency room, and by the next morning at 6 AM, I was released. My doctor told me that she thought that the kidney stones had something to do with the pain I suffered all day long. Maybe...maybe not. I still believe the Ambien was the culprit in all this. I threw the Ambien away, and I would not take it again.
I think the most frightening thing for everyone in the country, is to take drugs. A person doesn't know what they are going to do...make you jump off a cliff; committ murder; paralyze you; make you sicker than you were before...all pretty scary! I found out that prescription drugs are the #4 killer in the country...and I was shocked to find this out, and so I wrote another article entitled;
Prescription Drugs; The #4 Killer In America
Two days later, after I was in the emergency room, and on Saturday morning, I felt better...100% better than anytime in the last few months. While in the emergency room, and on the following Friday, I didn't take the Ambiem, and I think that was the reason for my feeling better. Late Saturday afternoon, I still felt great, and I felt I could be back to normal. A great feeling for sure.
The reader can see all the positive results I got by going to the emergency room. Now that I know, I can start working on the gallstones and kidney stone problems before they get me. To find out that I did not have internal bleeding could have been the most important part of the emergency room experience.
My advice to the reader;
If you have insurance...USE IT!
If you're a veteran, and a VA hospital is near-by...GO THERE AND GET THE CARE YOU NEED...
If you don't have insurance, call the county hospital and talk to a social worker, who will guide you, as to what you can do OR go to the emergency room and get the care you need.
If you have kids, they depend on you to provide for them. You can't do that, if you're in the hospital or in the grave!
Internal bleeding can put you in the grave real fast! ACT NOW...and not tomorrow...
The worst thing you can do, is to procrastinate the problems away...until you find you find yourself in the soup! It's really true ...it takes courage to stay healthy...so dig down deep and find that courage to take better care of yourself...
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