Coming home (by Paul Woodward and Monica)

I retired the site late last year and didn’t know what the future of my work would be. I had become progressively ill with digestive and auto-immune issues in spite of eating and living really clean and well. I continued to deal with severe iatrogenic injury from the cocktail of psych drugs I came off of many years ago now.

Drugs really do cause harm and I was about to discover that all over again. Below is a post written by my husband Paul Woodward. Our lives were seriously ruptured recently when my physical well-being became so challenged that the pain I was in stopped my sleeping. That is how I came to take a drug. I was in despair from the physical pain keeping me awake.

Neither I, Paul, nor the doctor who prescribed the drug wanted to do it and yet we all felt that I was in real danger and the prescription was made in the hope it would keep me out of the emergency room. I was clear and lucid. This was a terrible decision to have to make. The drug has caused significant brain injury (only took it a couple of times) and I’m starting all over again in many ways. I will be writing more as my brain continues to heal because this second grave iatrogenic injury has made me see certain things about the nature of reality all the more clearly. I will be sharing that when it makes sense. Below is the account as told by my husband. I don’t remember anything. My brain has been wiped of many memories from the last 2 years.

I’m letting Paul introduce the story as he introduces his new website (that’s linked to at the bottom of the post). I will follow up with more details in the next days or weeks about how things got to that point and how my mind and heart has opened up in spite of the great suffering. (I’m letting my healing body tell me when I can do what)

thanks and I look forward to once again contributing to what we know about healing and consciousness.

A new year — a new direction – By Paul Woodward

new-dir

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return.

Nature Boy” by eden ahbez

“I don’t think she’s getting the attention she needs,” a nurse told me as my wife remained in the Emergency Room six hours after doctors said she needed to be transferred to the Intensive Care Unit.

On Christmas Day I almost lost the love of my life, Monica — we’ve been married for 17 years.

Over the holidays we were away from home, visiting Greenville, South Carolina, and staying at an Airbnb.

Holding an imaginary phone, she was immersed an imaginary conversation that persisted into the middle of the night.

To my eyes and to my alarm, Monica seemed in the grip of a catastrophic neurological breakdown from which at that moment I feared she might never recover.

She had plummeted into a netherworld, oblivious to her surroundings, lost in a delirium triggered (I would later learn) by a life-threatening drop in serum sodium levels. (hypernatremia)

An on-call doctor I reached by phone initially diagnosed a “drug-induced psychosis” caused by a sleep medication Monica had just started taking (at the prescribed dosage). He said the only remedy would be for the pharmaceutical to wash out of her system. He anticipated the crisis would have largely resolved by the morning.

What neither he nor I were aware of at that time was the severe imbalance in Monica’s electrolytes posing acute danger to her brain.

I spent the following eight hours trying to make sure she didn’t hurt herself, hoping to see signs of recovery as dawn approached. As the hours past, however, I became afraid my effort to provide a safe space could have the opposite result. Inside Monica’s body, havoc had been let loose, and as I waited (hoping this neurological storm would soon pass) with each passing hour it seemed like the harm might become harder to reverse.

By 2AM, I couldn’t risk waiting any longer and called 911.

Over the previous decades, Monica was more often hurt than helped by medical care and I knew a trip to the emergency room was her worst nightmare. Yet I had no choice — had I not called an ambulance, I don’t think she would have survived. With a sodium level of 109 mEq/L, it’s remarkable she hadn’t already fallen into a coma or suffered seizures.

Five days earlier, when I stopped posting updates here, I made reference to “highly unpredictable events,” yet had no notion what might follow.

For weeks, Monica had insisted to me she was in a life-and-death predicament and yet it was hard for me to understand why.

Now, in spite of my own scientific prejudices, I’m inclined to think she had some kind of visceral sense of what was around the corner.

Likewise, on December 20 it seems that when I stopped trawling the news and updating War in Context, I somehow knew that I couldn’t afford any distractions from attending to the demands of a critical moment.

Nothing has the power to reshape ones priorities more forcefully than sudden proximity to death.

While most of us take comfort in the knowledge that medical care saves lives, medical error causes grave harm far more often than we would care to imagine.

Right now my first priority is helping Monica find her way back to health.

While deemed “medically fit” for discharge from the hospital five days after her admission, by the time we reached home it was clear that recovery remained a long way off.

“Take me home,” Monica pleaded to me, unable to recognize our house from the outside or the inside.

The following days and weeks have been like Alzheimer’s in reverse — a process of reclaiming and reconstructing a world and a life that was stripped of so many of its most familiar details.

“Learning to live again,” is the way Monica describes the enormous task she is grappling with each day as she traverses the bewildering territory of a fractured memory.

During the most challenging period of Monica’s life and mine, this has also seemed like a time of creative destruction and renewal.

Now, I feel, it’s time for me to take a new direction on the web. (Scroll down the page to come to the next part of Paul’s article)

See also:


For a multitude of ideas about how to create a life filled with safe alternatives to psychiatric drugs visit the drop-down menus at the top of this page or scroll down the homepage for more recent postings. 

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About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters