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Get me off Ativan!! Need a good dr with experience!

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  • Get me off Ativan!! Need a good dr with experience!

    Please read and take this to heart. I am really sick and tired of struggling and it would help tremendously if I can get some help on this. Thanks for the time. I have also included some insights if you are uninsured, don’t have a lot of money, and are fighting to get help (to start Chemo).


    Hello there. I am Luke and have been cancer free for a little less than a year. I was originally diagnosed with Testicular cancer February ’06 with Stage IIa. I barely could raise enough money to have the surgery, let along pay 2K per CT, not too mention chemo. When I had my 1st CT done after an orchiectomy (removed one testicle), it was determined it has spread through my lymph nodes to my left lung, making it Stage IIIb. The germ cell type was a nonseminoma, 98/2 embryonal carcinoma & choriocarcinoma. I was crushed…. The outpatient chemotherapy centers in my area wouldn’t take me with without insurance or major funds. I was constantly told to quit my job and get on Medicare. I refused to let cancer rule other aspects of my life so I did not quit my job as others have urged. I tried looking through CancerCare and other support sites but very little was available for funding. I simply made too much (about 40K a year). I knew the longer this goes on, the further and worse the cancer was going to get. I wanted to live, even if it meant breaking the law. There is a “state hospital” in Dallas county but I could not get emitted if I did not live in the county. I live north of Dallas, which is where I worked. I wanted to remain close to work but it seemed like I had no choices. I managed to find a friend’s address in that county I could use, created a fake water utility bill, and got my driver licenses changed to that residence. I was now finally able to get in through the door. Parkland was packed and seemed very dirty. I was dreading going through Chemo then. But a breakthrough happened, my Oncologist found someone through TOPA that was on the premise of ( We’ll heal you first, pay us later mentality). This was great news for me. By the time I started my 1st cycle of chemo, it had been nearly three weeks after the surgery. I was put on 3 cycles of BEP (Bleomycin, Etoposide and Cisplatin). I thought I knew what being sick and suffering was all about. I was so wrong… Besides all the drugs being pumped into me intravenously, different medications ranging from Cipro, Augmentin, Norco, Ativan, Fluconazole, Kytril, Compazine, etc… I had to take. No wonder my body was screwed up. After the 3rd cycle, I was completely cured for the time being. Anyways, now on to what I really need help about with….

    During the course of the past year, I have been taking Ativan regularly to help with my anxiety and tinnitus due to the Cisplatin. I was raised from 4mg to 8mg a day towards the end of my chemo treatment. I took this amount for several months. I need to get off this medication to “feel” again. My Oncologist tried BuSpar and Meclizine…and suggested take 1 tablet less, every three days…After the fifth day, my body could not take being off of it any more. I started to have tremors, loss of perception, insomnia, and horrific agoraphobia. the tinnutis was much more noticable, worse it seemed. My primary care doctor put me back on it. I decided to do some research on this and found I needed to slowly taper off of this. With the help of a friend, I was able to cut 8mg a day down to 4mg over a three month time span. When I went to see my primary care doctor again, I asked for a reduced dosage. Well, one night I had too much to drink and took the 8mg dose. This set back the past three months of effort. Naturally, I ran out early and went back in. He suggested I needed Wellbutrin. I won’t go into detail much about this but generally anything that affects my Serotonin levels is a very bad thing. I finally added another doctor to my list, a psychiatrist. I figured they would have more experience in the field I would thought. She put me on Klonopin…After about 3 weeks of taking it (I am down to 1mg at night), I feel it is helpful but I believe it is acting with my Serotonin levels. When this occurs, I am very moody and unstable swinging from feeling great to depression, almost like someone that is Bipolar. When I asked her about this, she stated no it only acts on GABA receptors. I know my body better than anyone else and disagreed with that. I remember reading somewhere that Klonopin has a secondary affect on the neurotransmitters for Serotonin. She suggested I should then stop taking them and the Klonopin should be out of my system in three weeks.

    Long story short, I just want to give my body the chance to be off of these drugs for awhile without having the several withdrawal symptoms from Benzos. My mood swings are extremely erratic and I am scared what will happen in the next two weeks. I know I am not a doctor but I just want to say put me on 10mg of valium in the morning and 30mg of Dalmane at night and work it from that angle. These are longer half life and have been around for awhile and do not work on Serotonin. Last time I had anything that affected that, I was suicidal and was put in a hospital for a week.

    If anyone has any suggestions on what to try out to "wing" myself off this safely, or know anybody within the Dallas area who is knowledge with cancer patients and benzos, it is welcomed. 8mg was a hell of a dose to take of Ativan a day and I think there are obvious reasons why people are usually taking less than 4mg a day. It has been a struggle to live the past year and I really want to get over this final hurrdle for now.

    Thank you

  • #2
    Lunarskydragon,
    Welcome to the forum. I'm glad the chemo did the trick and you are cancer free. While I can certainly sympathize with what you are dealing with as far as anxiety/depression and trying to wean off meds, there is a tightrope to walk in doing that. We aren't docs and (well, some are, but still) can't give medical advice, only our opinions and experiences. As you learned from past experience, weaning off antipsychotics, antidepressants and antianxiolytics can be dangerous. I would worry if a member here suggested how to manage your meds because the wrong advice can have some seriously bad ass consequences.
    My advice is to find the most qualified, experienced psychiatrist (not a primary care doctor) and be guided through this process and the withdrawl..and if you need to be admitted to get your brain chemistry back to functional, so be it. That's sure better than being suicidal. Also, don't discount that you may be a person that needs a maintainance does of an antidepressant. Several members here do, and there's no shame in that.
    Please keep us posted on how you are going...we're here to support however we can.
    Retired moderator. Husband, left I/O 16Dec2005, stage I seminoma with elevated b-HCG, no LVI, RTx15 (25Gy). All clear ever since.

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    • #3
      Lunarskydragon:
      I'm sorry you're in such a crummy spot right now. I think Karen is right, you need a medical professional to help you get of the meds. It's not going to be easy and I certainly wouldn't try it without qualified help.
      Son Jason diagnosed 4/30/04, stage III. Right I/O 4/30/04. Graduated College 5/13/04. 4XEP 6/7/04 - 8/13/04. Full open RPLND 10/13/04. All Clear since.

      Treated by Dr. Rakowski of Midland Park, NJ. Visited Sloan Kettering for protocol advice. RPLND done at Sloan Kettering.

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      • #4
        Thank you so much for reading this. I know I need help and cannot do this alone. I am so feed up with expressing my desires and seeming to fall on deaf ears or ones that do not seem to understand what is going on. Hell, I do not have an idea what I tell these people half the time because I see so many doctors. Like what I have said, I would like to see a Shriek in the Dallas area that has expereince with benzo withdrawals and cancer related problems in general. So anyone that can be recommended would be awesome. I really crindge at admitting myself to the hospital because it is a short term solution...I am past the short term and need a longer game plan. If it comes to that point then I will but as a last resort.
        Thanks
        Luke

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        • #5
          Luke:
          The Lance Armstrong Foundation has a cancer support section which might offer some direction take a look around this page .
          Last edited by dadmo; 05-16-07, 01:01 PM.
          Son Jason diagnosed 4/30/04, stage III. Right I/O 4/30/04. Graduated College 5/13/04. 4XEP 6/7/04 - 8/13/04. Full open RPLND 10/13/04. All Clear since.

          Treated by Dr. Rakowski of Midland Park, NJ. Visited Sloan Kettering for protocol advice. RPLND done at Sloan Kettering.

          Comment


          • #6
            I know its a bit late, but a friend of mine had a problem with another Benzo, Xanax. Long story short she eventually went intoa detox center for 4 days. They dont pull you off cold turkey because its too dangerous. They gave her a few low doses of Valium to help ween her off. It may be the only option. But she didnt have any bad withdrawal symptoms and it went really well.
            1/12/07 - Diagnosed
            1/17/07 - Right I/O - Seminoma with vascular invasion. Dimensions 6.5 x 4.5 x 4.2 cm
            2/14/07 - 3/6/07 - Radiation therapy

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            • #7
              I had to take ativan or lorazepam for several months during my chemo treatments. This is not a drug you want to take everyday. It had me feeling like a zombie. Those were the least of the lorazepam side effects I experienced. This stuff is no joke.

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              • #8
                I went through the worst depression I ever had after chemo and while I was on Ativan. I was taking that crap every day and finally said no more. I ran out of it and went cold turkey with no problem

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