In case you missed last night’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, I thought I would share a wonderful moment. The brilliant Daniel Day-Lewis dedicated his Actor award to the late Heath Ledger. It was a beautiful, moving and humble speech:
heath ledger found dead January 22, 2008
Actor Heath Ledger, 28, was found dead in his Manhattan apartment earlier today. I was fortunate enough to meet this talented actor when he visited his girlfriend on a film I was working on. He seemed polite and quiet. Heath was most known for his Academy-nominated role in Brokeback Mountain. He was currently filming The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and recently finished production on the upcoming Batman film, The Dark Knight, playing the role of the Joker. There have been reports Heath was ill with pneumonia when he died. I’m terribly saddened and shocked. My thoughts go out to his family and friends.
From the New York Times article:
The police said Mr. Ledger, 28, was found naked on the floor near the bed in an apartment in SoHo that he had been renting. The chief police spokesman, Paul J. Browne, said the police did not suspect foul play.
“There was no indication of a disturbance,” he said, adding that there were no signs that Mr. Ledger had been drinking. Nor were any illegal drugs found in the loft, which takes up the entire fourth floor. Neighbors said Mr. Ledger had occupied it for several months.
Police officials said that a bottle of prescription sleeping pills was found on a nearby night table, but that they did not know whether the pills had anything to do with Mr. Ledger’s death. Officers who checked the apartment found other prescription medications in the bathroom. A spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office said an autopsy would be conducted on Wednesday.
Mr. Browne said no obvious indication of suicide, like a note, was found in the bedroom.
good bye lamictal January 17, 2008
Shortly after Christmas the time had come to refill my Lamictal prescription. I stared at the bottle with one pill remaining, picked it up and put it in my kitchen drawer. That one pill in the bottle is still in the kitchen drawer several weeks later.
I had been slowly tapering off the medication for a few months for a variety of reasons. One being, it’s too damn expensive. But most importantly, I had hit a plateau. Typical of every single medication I’ve taken for my mental illness over the last 15-20 years. And I’ve taken a lot of them. I must admit, of all the medications I’ve been prescribed, Lamictal was by far the best. The side effects were minimal. No weight gain. No fear of diabetes. I wasn’t sleeping 12-16 hours a day. I wasn’t a zombie. It seemed to be working and I believe it did for about 18 months. And then, bam, that damn plateau. I was truly disappointed this time. I thought I had found a medication would continue to work. I was ok taking that pill the rest of my life. Instead, slowly, I began to experience symptoms more frequently…anxiety, depression, fear, mania and more depression. And then the frustration set in. Anger directed towards the pharmaceutical companies. Knowing all too well, most of these companies don’t want to see us well, they want us sick. Their medications (most of which they know little about) work temporarily, if at all, in most cases. And that is not good enough.
The day after I put that bottle in the kitchen drawer, I began taking a Whole Foods multi-vitamin and 1000mg of Flax Oil every morning. When time permits, I will do the research and look into other alternative options as well. And when money permits, I will return to acupuncture.
Coming off the Lamictal has not been easy. Nasty withdrawal symptoms, mostly, I have been severely agitated. Every single little thing bothers me. Tons of anxiety, etc.
Since coming off the Lamictal, I lost my health insurance. I’ve been insured my entire life. My premiums have nearly doubled since 2004 and I find it unacceptable. I didn’t have the $744.00 to pay the bill. And *poof* just like that, I became one of the 47 million uninsured Americans. I’m trying to switch to a catastrophic plan with the same company but it’s not easy dealing with the lovely insurance folks. On the bright side, I no longer have to worry about ridiculously high psychiatrist bills and medications. Something that has nearly sent me into bankruptcy several times over the years, even with insurance.
Surprisingly when I uttered the words “I went off my meds” to my parents, they didn’t freak out. I was certain they would because any mention of it in the past has caused serious concern. And I must admit, I’ve always been that person that believed whole-heartedly I would be medicated my entire life. I believed (and still do) a mental illness is like any other illness and should be treated as such. However, I have decided after almost two decades of numerous failed medications to go another route. I will travel the “alternative” path and see where it leads me. Maybe my parents have more faith in me than I thought. Maybe they believe I’m strong enough to fight this battle. Maybe they see what I see and that is: After a certain length of time, on any medication, I no longer feel the effects of said medication. It has happened time and time again. The doctor’s solution has always been the same, try something new or up the dosage. I can’t imagine what my father would do if his high blood pressure medication suddenly stopped working. Which leads me to….
I watched “The Medicated Child” on Frontline last week and hope to soon discuss the show. The segment that troubled me more than anything involved Dr. Patrick Bacon. A doctor who suggested to the parents of his 4 year old bipolar patient, DJ Koontz, adding Xanax to his large cocktail of medications for the anxiety he feels before he goes to school. This suggestion surprisingly came after DJ’s parents learned of Rebecca Riley’s death and asked Dr. Bacon if there was “anything not medication related that we need to be doing for DJ”? Throughout the segment Dr. Bacon used words like “experiment” and “gamble”.
Frankly, I am tired. Tired of playing the guinea pig role for the last twenty years while others profit off me
unfavorable drug studies rarely published January 16, 2008
this story is not at all surprising but it still angers me…
Nearly a third of antidepressant drug studies are never published in the medical literature and nearly all happen to show that the drug being tested did not work, researchers reported on Wednesday.
And in some of the studies that are published, unfavorable results have been recast to make the medicine appear more effective than it really is, said the research team led by Erick Turner of the Oregon Health & Science University.
Even if not deliberate, this can be bad news for patients, they wrote in their report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“Selective publication can lead doctors to make inappropriate prescribing decisions that may not be in the best interest of their patients and, thus, the public health,” they wrote.
The idea that unfavorable test results get quietly tucked away so nobody will see them — sometimes call the “file drawer effect” — has been around for years. (more…)
big pharma spends more on advertising January 7, 2008
A new study by two York University researchers estimates the U.S. pharmaceutical industry spends almost twice as much on promotion as it does on research and development, contrary to the industry’s claim.
The researchers’ estimate is based on the systematic collection of data directly from the industry and doctors during 2004, which shows the U.S. pharmaceutical industry spent 24.4% of the sales dollar on promotion, versus 13.4% for research and development, as a percentage of US domestic sales of US $235.4 billion.
The research is co-authored by PhD candidate Marc-André Gagnon, who led the study with Joel Lexchin, a long-time researcher of pharmaceutical promotion, Toronto physician, and Associate Chair of York’s School of Health Policy & Management in the Faculty of Health.
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