Prescription drugs helped re-boot my system

Written by Eric on July 10, 2015 in: Uncategorized |

So this is my personal experience with drugs – prescription drugs, that is.

I think it all started with a pair of back-to-back cataract surgeries in May. I was a difficult patient, and it took a vast amount of anesthesia to put me down. The improvement in my eyesight was startling and wonderful, but a few days after my second surgery, I began hiccupping.

For the first three or four nights, the hiccups subsided as I slid into sleep. But then they got more severe and began to keep me up most of the night.

On a Sunday afternoon after seven days and nights of non-stop hiccupping, I visited a doc-in-the-box and was told I had a sinus infection that may have been causing the hiccups. I was prescribed some antibiotics and told to return if the hiccups hadn’t quit in four or five days.

But I couldn’t make it that far. By Monday evening, each hic had turned into a stutter of five or six hiccups. My whole diaphragm was in prolonged spasms, and it was getting harder to breath. Indeed, my diaphragm had frozen a couple of times after spasms, and I had to slam my chest down on my knees to break the paralysis. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to breathe.

Time for the emergency room at the Charleston (WV) Area Medical Center.

Over the next four days, a CAT scan showed no brain tumors, an MRI found no irregularities in my throat and chest, and an endoscopy revealed no hernias or ulcers in my stomach. In short, there was no physiological reason for me to be hiccupping.

So a neurologist prescribed a pair of spasm blocking drugs, and I was sent home, still hiccupping. When I awoke the next morning, though, the hiccups were gone.

They’ve been gone for more than three weeks now. I’m weaning myself off the spasm-blocking meds, and I’m optimistic that I may be free of that nightmare. It’s now been four days without medication or hiccups.

But there’s a lesson to be learned here for someone like me who’s been skeptical of the vast amounts of psychotropic drugs being used to “treat” PTSD.

Without medical help, I was unable to cure something as simple as a case of the hiccups. But the spasm-blocking meds re-booted my system, allowing me to return to normal. And perhaps that is what’s needed for a short time for some of our combat-stressed vets.

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Brain damage scans now available through new technology

Written by Eric on July 1, 2015 in: Uncategorized |

UCLA has released a new study of brain damages caused by concussions. The current study this spring involves retired football players, but UCLA says the next phase of its ongoing study will involve military veterans.

There’s an interesting new twist on this research, though. The degenerative brain condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) can only be diagnosed after death during an autopsy to reveal abnormal tangles of a protein called tau in sections of the brain that control mood, cognition and motor function.

However, scientists are now using PET scans (positron emission tomography) to look for the tau tangles in the brains of living athletes.

And they’re finding that there are some remarkable differences in the brains of retired NFL players who have suffered concussions that set them apart from the scans of healthy people and from those with Alzheimer’s disease.

Using FDDNP, a chemical marker that binds to tau tangles and amyloid beta plaques, researchers found that the former athletes had four stages of tau deposits that could signify early to advanced levels of CTE.

“These different stages reflected by the brain marker may give us more insight into how CTE develops and allow us to track the disease over time,” said Dr. Vladimir Kepe, one of the study’s authors and a research pharmacologist at the Geffen School of Medicine.

Participants also underwent MRI scans and neuropsychological testing to determine whether they had symptoms consistent with CTE, Alzheimer’s dementia, or normal aging.

“We found that the imaging pattern in people with suspected CTE differs significantly from healthy volunteers and from those with Alzheimer’s dementia,” said Dr. Julian Bailes, an author of the study and director of the Brain Injury Research Institute at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Evanston, Ill. “These results suggest that this brain scan may also be helpful as a test to differentiate trauma-related cognitive issues from those caused by Alzheimer’s disease.”

Compared with healthy people and those with Alzheimer’s the former athletes had higher levels of FDDNP in the amygdala and subcorticol regions of the brain, areas that control learning, memory, behavior, and emotions.

On the other hand, people with Alzheimer’s had higher levels of FDDNP in the cerebral cortex, which controls memory, thinking, attention and other cognitive abilities.

Researchers say that more expanded studies will help them understand better how different types of head injuries may contribute to chronic brain disorders. This could help doctors and scientists to test treatments that could delay the progression of the disease before significant brain damage occurs.

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