The blood pressure medication I was on caused frequent light-headedness, dizziness, loss of balance, and fluid retention. Lasix was added to treat the fluid retention, and was not only unsuccessful, but also caused the same adverse reactions as the blood pressure pills.
I developed congestive heart failure as a result of the extra workload on my heart to combat prolonged fluid retention. In addition, my mitral and aortic heart valves were beginning to calcify. I was also starting to experience angina (chest pain) and shortness of breath. So heart medication was added to the mix, which also had side effects of light-headedness, dizziness, and loss of balance. By this time, I thought all of these symptoms were more from getting old than from the combined effects of all the pills I was taking – because that is what I was told by the Hondo doctor.
My first fall
The first time my loss of balance resulted in a fall, I was standing in the threshold of my open back door. Out of nowhere, I was suddenly dizzy, lost my balance, and fell straight back onto the hard textured tile in my kitchen. I couldn’t get up, so my husband called 911 for help. They convinced me to let them take me to the ER because I smacked my head pretty hard. I was treated and released with a mild concussion.
My second fall
Not quite two weeks later, I fell and cracked my head on another hard floor at the Verizon store, while pushing up from a wheeled desk chair. The chair rolled away from under me, and EMS was called again, taking me back to the ER. This was my second mild concussion.
My third fall
I had another fall a few months later, after becoming wildly dizzy, and crashing my head and back into a concrete divider wall at the Air Force Base. EMS took me to the hospital where I was admitted because they wanted to perform an MRI of my head and back.
I left the hospital with more than I came with.
This was quite a nightmare incident, that kept me in the hospital for a week, and a rehab for physical therapy for about a month. While at the hospital, I was catheterized, which resulted in a hospital acquired super infection UTI – the kind that is antibiotic-resistant.
The infection stayed with me, off and on, for life. Sometimes it improved with treatment, but never fully cured. Macrobid finally cured it in the end, and killed me in the process.
Kind of ironic when I think about it. The infection I got from that first hospital stay was the indirect reason I became sick, and died in a hospital, five years later.
UTI from a catheter?
You may be wondering how you can get a UTI from a catheter. Well I’ll tell you.
Nurses who neglect to wash their hands between patients spread infection – especially when inserting and removing catheters.
So I guess the phrase, “Washing hands saves lives” is true.
I got a few more takeaways from that hospital.
I contracted another hospital-acquired infection during that stay. Cellulitis. This infection can spread in much the same way – nurses or doctors not washing their hands between patients. Oh and I got some kind of staph infection on my mid section that turned my skin fiery red.
And they missed completely a vertebrae fracture
To top things off, even with an MRI, they did not see the serious vertebrae fracture that occurred during the fall. I was in excruciating pain, and my back was one huge solid black bruise, but they didn’t see the fracture. My daughter Janet found out about it a year later after I had a CT scan of my back looking at a new fracture. The doctor pointed out the old fracture which he said was significant, and had been much worse than the current one.
Enter the drugs
The hospital put a Fentanyl pain patch on my back, and gave me Hydrocodone (an oral pain pill), plus Ativan to sedate my fearful anxiety. Between the pain from the undetected spine fracture and the super sedation from medications, I was totally bonkers.
So let me recap. I was out of my mind with pain and sedation, plus contracted three hospital-acquired infections during a single hospital stay.
I went to a rehab for physical therapy, after having laid in a hospital bed for a week.
Keep in mind, no one at the rehab knew I had a severe vertebrae fracture. They thought all the pain medication, which they continued giving, was simply for a bruised back.
They drugged me, too.
I tried doing physical therapy, but the rehab kept me so sedated I could barely stand. In addition to that, when the staff reached under my armpits to pull me up in bed, it was excruciatingly painful due to my fractured spine. They thought I was simply being a baby when I cried out in pain.
I looked like a bad case of dementia
Though I did not have dementia at this point, I definitely appeared as such because of all the sedation I was being given at the rehab. I believe it is referred to as “drug-induced dementia.” It got so bad that I couldn’t finish sentences. I’d get about three words out, and the rest of the words trailed off into silence. Janet questioned the rehab about the medications they were giving me, and they claimed they were not giving me any sedative type drugs.
Janet rescued me.
She had me transferred to the army hospital ER, where I was detoxed from all the sedation the rehab was “not” giving me. The ER doctor asked Janet what kind of sedation I was on, and she said the rehab denied sedating me. The ER doctor said, “Yeah right. I’ll have her detoxed in a few days. And if I were you, I would not let her go back to that place.”
I agreed to try a different rehab after leaving the hospital, but it turned out to be a nightmare, as well.
My hospital admission notice had read, “altered mental state” due to sedation the previous rehab gave me. So this next rehab put me on their psych floor.
They apparently thought I was crazy.
The woman in the cage
They put me in a room with another patient who was in a bed cage to keep her from escaping. I totally lost it, and called Janet to get me out of there. I wasn’t up for trying another rehab, so I opted to go home with in-home therapy.
Three falls where I hit my head. Three hospital-acquired super infections. An undetected vertebrae fracture. Tons of pain and sedation drugs pumped into me. I don’t know how I made it beyond that. But I did. I went on to have several more falls.
One of the next falls resulted in three broken ribs. Next, another vertebrae fracture. And a few more that resulted in bruised ribs, broken foot, and a broken leg where my femur bone snapped in half. Most of these falls involved hitting my head; and all of the falls resulted from sudden dizzy spells brought on by medication.
Yet nobody figured that out. Not even dear Dr. Stella, who began taking care of me just before I broke my leg. Yet in her defense, I had so much wrong with me by the time she began doctoring me, she probably didn’t know where to begin.
Dr. Stella was the only one to finally catch on to the reason for my falls – and made medication and dosing changes.
She kept me on the blood pressure medication, plus Lasix, but stopped the heart medication. She reduced the Lantus (insulin) from 40 to 15 units, as she thought it better for my sugar to be a little high than dangerously low.
However, after I broke my leg, she significantly cut the dosage of my blood pressure pill and stopped the Lasix, perhaps finally realizing the dangerous side effects that were causing me to fall. And you know what, the dizziness stopped.
Sadly, it was a little late.
Due to the traumatic brain injury from that last fall, side effects of the general anesthesia used during emergency leg surgery, and cumulative effects on my brain from previous falls, I would begin to develop dementia within a year. I died less than a year after that due to complications of an antibiotic called Macrobid.
Here is a repeat of two of the article links from my last post that discuss the relation between certain medications and falls:
And below are links to information about the link between traumatic brain injury and dementia:
Sep 16, 2018 – CBS News: Combat veterans coming home with CTE – which results from blasts that shake the brain; football players can get it from blows to the head. The article doesn’t mention head injury from falls, but same difference. The type of dementia I had expressed itself much the same as CTE victims.