Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Road to Recovery


Hello all my friends,

I am happy to announce my condition is improving. Special thanks to my wife, family, friends and customers for all your support, well wishes and understanding during this past few difficult months. The worst time of my life and I am genuinely sorry for my lack of service, correspondence, et cetera. My illness was due to the actions of my Dr, Health Insurance and Pharmacy. This is the truth, please ignore and shut down any rumors that contradict this. I am sharing most of my story with everyone here not only because I feel I owe it to my customers, readers and friends, but to serve as a warning in hopes that others can avoid a tragedy like mine. For the record I was not using any illegal drugs / recreational substances when this occurred. I wasn't even drinking beer at the time.

For those of you who do not know. I have suffered from a herniated disc in my upper back and severe nerve pain since I was 19. I had a good doctor managing my pain successfully from 2000 to 2010 with Tylenol 3 and Cyclobenzaprine, some Chiropractic & Physical Therapy much of which were exercises and stretches I was taught to perform myself. Most days my pain was tolerable [a 2-3 on the scale of 1 to 10] with the exception of occasional flare ups here and there. I was responsible and successful businessman working 2 jobs. My 8-5 career + being the sole proprietor of Gaian Botanicals. Gaian was my dream job, I was retaining the day job in an attempt to ride out this economic disaster then planned on running Gaian as my only full time job so I could spend more time with my family and wrap up my book and do other things I enjoy much more. However that day has yet to arrive..

On January 2010 my employer switched medical insurance providers and I was forced to select a new primary care physician. I took this very seriously considering my pre-existing condition and because this change also effected my wife and 3 children. On this plan very few doctors were accepting new patients and my limited options were mostly interns and 1st to 2nd year practitioners. So I was very relieved to finally be referred by a friend to a Doctor with many good reviews online, an impressive curriculum vitae, board certifications and has been practicing for over 37 years.

On my initial visit he spent a lot of time with me, performing an extensive and thorough examination including X-rays and blood work. He updated my condition to include Degenerative Thoracic Spinal Stenosis, nerve damage, Carpal tunnel syndrome and high cholesterol. He referred me to 3 specialists + MRI and gave me spinal injections along with a new prescription for Tylenol 3 and Cyclobenzaprine and a generous sample of 40 doses of Cymbalta + a prescription for it instructing me to try it and if the Cymbalta helped with my pain with no side effects to fill the script and make an appointment to see him in a month.

The Cymbalta and / or spinal injection had me feeling better then ever. So when I had about 5 pills left I submitted my prescription to Walgreens. Four days later I received a letter that Aetna denied  covering the medication. I gave the appeal documents to my Dr to try again. Late a couple nights later I received an automated message from Walgreens that my medication was ready for pick up.

Since I was out of the sample and was feeling the withdrawal setting and I was becoming extremely lethargic so I raced straight over there. Before handing me the package the Pharmacists asked if I “was familiar with this medication”. I replied “yes, been on it for over over a month”. He said ok and handed it to me. Written on the package was “Dr says OK to sub” I immediately opened the bottle and noticed the pills were different however just assumed it was the generic version or equivalent to Cymbalta. About 4 days later I was feeling horrible and realized I was given Venlafaxine aka Effexor which was not on the bottle, and was not compatible with Cymbalta. I called my MD and they said the insurance company makes patients try this first, then if it doesn't work, given my condition they will typically will cover the Cymbalta. He said Effexor takes a while to begin working to give it a try. So I took the remaining pills as instructed. Doing so unleashed serious side effects.

Finally my insurance agreed to cover the Cymbalta so my Doctor prescribed double my previous dose to counter the Effexor along with Simvastatin for my cholesterol which I held off on taking as I had serious trepidation about new prescriptions given my current condition. My pain was slightly diminishing however the mental side effects began increasing including horrible insomnia, lethargy, confusion, anxiety, paranoia + others I rather not mention. I was sleeping only a couple hours every 2-3 days. My Dr. said the side effects were most likely  due to my lack of sleep so he prescribed Ambien and Valium. All in all I was written over 10 prescriptions in less then 2 months.

When I got my sleep pattern somewhat normalized the side effects seemed to be easing away so I took the Simvastatin as blood work results came in with my Cholesterol near 400. Approximately 30 minutes later it was like a lightening bolt of insanity struck me. I was completely delusional, suicidal, paranoid, struck with anxiety and The Fear. My friends and family tried to intervene and persuade me into checking into a hospital but I was too confused and paranoid to trust all the conflicting heated advice and was too overwhelmed to make a decision.

I wanted to admit myself to a specific clinic that specialized in treating people in my condition but they wouldn't have a bed for me until the following day. So I packed my bag making arrangements to check myself in the next morning but things rapidly spiraled out of control as my rational mind was crushed and insanity set in to what now is referred to “The collapse, E’s-Meltdown or my Train Wreck. No words can describe this, at least not in my vocabulary. Totally Ineffable. I am ashamed and embarrassed. I' always believed I had superior control over my own mind and now had lost all control, I was ruining many good friendships and even bonds between family members, most of all, I publically apologize to my wife for all the heartache she endured. I will end this paragraph by saying the incident concluded with an intense Swat Team stand off with assault weapons pointing both ways and my eventually being placed in Involuntary psychiatric hold where they send our County’s mentally ill for what seemed an eternity.

There they drugged me up which eased the anger and paranoia but inhibited clarity even further. When I was released, it came as a surprise. I was heavily sedated, dizzy, confused, paranoid, stumbling, mumbling, suffering from both Retrograde amnesia and Anterograde amnesia an with only small fragments of what had transpired flashing into my consciousness along with other true and false memories. Once again I could not isolate reality and was afflicted by chaos and confusion. Especially since I hadn't seen the friend who picked me up for over a decade who flew out to help me. This gave me a flashback feeling like I was 20 again, only in some strange way and that I lost the last 14 years of my life or was it all a dream, alternate reality?

This all happened in about a month. I went from an intellectual, fully functional and successful business man, husband and father. Reduced to barely being capable of writing this blog entry. [took about 8 hours, previously a post this length would take 20-30 minutes] I am still on NO medication until I see my neurologist tomorrow as they want me to be in my natural state of mind for my appointment (wish me luck) and I have been enduring unbelievable pain for all this time. My insomnia is some what under control and my condition is improving. My attention span and short term memory are almost non existent. My Psychologist diagnosed me NOS which he described as an un-specified disorder. When I asked what this meant, he said I'm just mildly crazy, but not in too bad of shape. We could work on getting back to my old self.

My Dr. blamed all this on my taking Benadryl for a cold as the sole cause of this reaction. Of course the one thing he didn't prescribe me. So I have a bunk diagnosis on record and am hoping the Neurologist will accurately diagnose me. My guess was Serotonin syndrome or some other adverse drug reaction from his starting me on too many pharmaceuticals in such a short period, but primarily throwing Effexor in the mix and sudden discontinuation of all prescribed medication. I the pleasure of withdrawing from Effexor and Cymbalta + Cyclobenzaprine, Ambien, Valium, 10 years prescribed Codeine all at once. Enough to kill a man.

Its not my intention to brag, but my IQ prior to this incident ranged from 112-124 from a teenager all threw all my adult life. I was recently tested after my crash and scored a 62 Its been a long road to here and my goal is full recovery if possible, but it will take a lot of work and time.

This was extremely traumatic for my family causing many serious issues at home. Especially with my wife who suffered greatly from my actions and I am so thankful she still loves me and is understanding and compassionate enough to be willing to work things out to keep our family together. I seriously damaged our relationship, however it is my greatest hope that we are now on the path to improving our relationship hopefully better then ever. I cant thank her enough for her strength, compassion and understanding and I am so happy we were able to spend Fathers Day by having a picnic at Lake Mead. (Photo Above). I am now spending more time with my family then I ever could before. the only benefit to this ordeal.

Also during this period my domain expired and was sold with out my knowledge from Microsoft to Melbourne IT in Australia who charged  me an outrageous fee to get my email & homepage back online, I lost many orders, emails and correspondence and am still not set up how I am accustomed to working. Top that off with my breaking my cell phone with all my contact info & calendar. I have not been capable of performing the duties of my main career requires. I was an executive from the time this company opened over 9 years ago and it was our family's main source of income. I am currently NOT being paid or receiving any disability + have to pay for Cobra insurance coverage, a mess of bills and other expenses. I supposedly have long term disability insurance but I cant get a straight answer when that kicks in.

Fortunately many of my friends and family came together to help me. I crashed my car twice trying to get to my medical appointments so I must be driven everywhere. They also helped me get all my Gaian Botanicals orders processed and deal with lots of correspondence. However now that we are caught up no new orders are being received. We shipped all orders, even the ones people filed chargeback's on and many are keeping their orders and not re-paying me for them. Also the shopping cart host I use removed my #1 seller (Salvia) about a month ago and will no longer allow me to offer it on their server. So I must build a new website which is nearly done. But a few challenges remain due to my medical condition and lack of time and skill. I see a specialists, Dr, Psychologist or therapist 3-4 times per week. Thanks mom, for your help with appointment making and getting me there. I really appreciate your help!

I would like to thank my wife and mother and also my friends James, Joe, Nate and Scott for helping me helping with my store. We are ready to ship new orders. So If you are able to do so, I would really appreciate your support. Please place an order with or order some Salvia extracts by email or if possible, small PayPal donations are appreciated. This incident financially destroyed us and I am trying my  best to keep my family together with some level of normality.

I am counting on my beloved community to help however they can. Referrals or simply recommending Gaian to friends, on blogs, forums, podcasts, et cetera should bring us back in to the green. I will even bulk sale some items from our catalog if any one is interested. We are working on a long term strategy to earn a living, including filing BK, short sale or loan modification. I would be most thankful for any wisdom, assistance or help you may be able to share.

Eric / EROCx1


Anonymous said...

happy to hear of you.
Best wishes for your health and happyness.

Anonymous said...

Hello my friend,
I'm really sorry to hear of what's happening, but let me just say everyone is living a crisis of some sort right now (if that helps).

As far as health is concerned let me steer you to this book:

There is something to be said for an exclusive organic raw fruit and veggie diet to completely regenerate yourself. Many people will just scoff this off and think they can't do it, but let me tell you personally, that I haven't felt better, ever. I've been doing about a 75% - 80% raw diet for 7 months and my energy is insane...

Screw the Medical Establishment and check this book out, it will really do you good....

Keep your chin up and grab a juicer, it's time to get healthy!

This goes for everyone!


Catfish Rivers said...

Keep on truckin' E. You'll get back into the Sun eventually. I'm in a similar albiet less severe boat right now in some ways. Need an operation and have no job or insurance to get it, we got a foreclosure notice on the mortgage, student loan defaulted, and credit card is hounding me, and my car's check engine light came on today too lol. But you gotta keep the faith as they say otherwise you're sure to stay stuck in place.

I'm sending out good vices to you, me and everyone who needs 'em.

Be Well All!