Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Medication and the V.A.

Ugh.  I hate writing this, but I think it is important.  There is nothing funny about this post.  I totally started this blog thinking it would be funnier.

Again, it is about Bob.  And again, he will read this.  So if you are reading this, he has approved it.  I would never say anything about him that he didn't agree with or understand why I'm saying it.  But this stuff is real.

He did hold down the fort so I could roam around the country for ten days, so I give him props for that. It is a big job.  He did a good job.

Even though he was able to do that, his mental health is not good.  His anxiety is so great, it prevents him from taking care of himself.  That is Greek for, "going to therapy or meetings."  The meeting that we went to together a few weeks ago is the only one he has gone to.  I don't always have time to go to the meetings that he can go to, and most of mine are for women only.  Besides, it isn't my job or place to make him go.

I, of course, believe that if he buried himself in the twelve-steps, hit his therapy hard, and had SOME kind of support group, some of his anxiety would be better.  He hasn't given it a full chance yet. That is where Al-anon would help me.  It isn't my call.

If I had a dollar....

So, as of now, he can't sit still.  And by this I mean, he rocks back and forth, his legs are constantly moving when he is sitting or laying down, and he makes a strange 'click" noise with his throat, every 30 seconds.  He also doesn't sleep through the night. The littlest things overwhelm him.

This is anxiety.  He is restless, irritable and discontent.  Super sad stuff.  He makes promises, and doesn't (can't) follow through with them.  And I am watching him waste away.

Yesterday he went to his psychiatrist at the V.A.  The last time he was there, they put him on another medication.  And yesterday, they added yet another medication for anxiety.  He is now on a whopping EIGHT different medications.  He is forty-two years old.  That is very concerning.

Instead of suggesting that the problem could lie in the fact that he never goes to meetings, AND he has missed his last three weeks of therapy, they just keep adding medication.  Am I the only one who sees this? It is very frustrating and painful to watch.

He is on two different anti-psychotics, which raise his cholesterol. So he is on cholesterol medication because of the anti-psychotics.  Also, one of the anti-psychotic meds increase his body movement (rocking back and forth, constantly flexing his leg muscles, throat noises) so that is why they added another anti-anxiety medication.  He is now on THREE different kinds of anti-anxiety medication (one is for blood pressure too), depression medication, and sleep medication.

But this is what the V.A. does.  And I believe the more meds, the worse people get.  They get so far away from the beginning, they forget where they started.  They started him on meds when he went into the chemical dependency program at the V.A.  He has been on a host of medications since. They borrow from Peter to pay Paul when it comes to symptoms, and they are so far into it, they can't seem to back him out of it.  Who knows what symptoms he would have if he were off the medications, or at least some of the medications?  But they are so dangerous to stop, it isn't an option.  At least, it isn't an option he or they will discuss.  And it isn't my call.

I will accept the things I cannot change.  No one said that is always a happy feeling.

Yesterday I went to a memorial lunch for a friend who passed away last year due to an accidental overdose.  She was a veteran also, and was treated through the V.A.  She died from too much prescribed medication.  A body just can't handle years and years of all those meds.  The liver and the kidneys suffer.  It is the saddest thing.  And it is what the V.A. does to our veterans.  Maybe they think if they can kill these people off, it will be more cost effective.

My part in this is to just sadly watch.  I cannot make them change their prescribing habits any more than I can make Bob try something else.  He is totally game with having a pill fix everything.  They offer no more group therapies, programs, anything to him.  There is something really, terribly wrong with this.

Their prescribing habits cause a risk for him, for me and for my kids.  Medication is dangerous.  I have to get a safe for it all because I don't want the kids thinking it is something it isn't and experimenting with it some day.  Too many kids die like that.

I understand that medication is very necessary for people.  I've used them myself for anxiety and depression.  It makes life livable for many people.  I am not anti-medication at ALL!  But I do believe there is a problem at our V.A. when they just keep adding, and adding medication, with no other option.  Symptoms get worse, and they add more medication.  I believe it robs people of their quality of life.

This is just another one of those "one day at a time" deals. It is a good thing I got sober right when this all took a nose dive. I'm not sure where I'd be. Whew!

Any addicts out there thinking it would be a good idea to break in here to steal these meds, trust me, there isn't a fun one in the bunch. And you KNOW I would know if there were.  Just saving you the hassle.  You're welcome.


  1. Oh hon, i'm so sorry that Bob is struggling. Well actually all your family is struggling but Bob needs to second guess some of those medications. If they are just counter-acting each other, it's one stupid vicious cycle! I cant imagine Betsey , how hard it is to watch your husband hurt and not improve.
    YES, so good that you are sober! So proud of you. Stay strong

  2. Your story parallels my own so much it is scary. More and more medications, more and more days he spent lying on the livingroom floor not caring (in my eyes) about himself, me, or the children. Finally, in 2005, I hospitalized him because he hadn't eaten in 3 days, hadn't taken ANY of his medication in 3 days (he's bipolar and diabetic), and after watching his downhill slide over the past 3 years, I couldn't take it any more.

    Once in the hospital, I asked the psychiatrist what would happen if he was weaned off all of the psychotropic drugs to get a baseline normal and then slowly put back meds to see if it would get better (he was on 8 psych meds and 4 diabetes meds at the time). He stayed there for 25 days and when he came out, his psych meds had been changed and he was doing really well on TWO of them. He was going to therapy and meetings and started getting better. I started going to Al-Anon because I was so pissed at him and what I thought he was doing to our family.

    Unfortunately the pink cloud he was on for awhile started to fade and he started regressing. No therapy, fewer and fewer meetings, half-hearted suicide attempts, etc. In 2010, after 3 more hospitalizations, I asked him to move out and I filed for divorce. I should have done it 6 years earlier, but I am loyal to a fault and wasn't ready to admit defeat. Besides, we have 2 little girls and I didn't want them to come from a "broken family".

    Fast forward to today. I am happily divorced, the ex is healthier than he has EVER been (mental and physically), and we are quite amicable and co-parent really well. I went to Al-Anon for 2 years and that saved my sanity. I wish I could fit it into my schedule still, but the only meeting in the area is Sunday night and that is too late to drag the kids along to the night before the school week starts. AA keeps me sober, but my Al-Anon training is usually what keeps me sane.

    Please don't think I'm telling you to leave your husband. That is not AT ALL what I'm saying. I'm just sharing a bit of my story so you know that you are not alone. :-)

    1. I appreciate that so much. I wanted to email you, but couldn't find your email address. Could you email me or FB message me? I would appreciate it:)