Chyna’s brain to be examined by ‘Concussion’ doctor after accidental overdose, manager says – LA Times

What a drug promises is not always what it delivers
What a drug promises is not always what it delivers

This is both sad and cautionary.

Chyna’s manager said he knows how the wrestling star died last week.

Chyna, whose real name was Joan Marie Laurer, died of a combination of the sleeping pill Ambien and a form of the tranquilizer Valium, her manager, Anthony Anzaldo, said Wednesday.

Chyna had been taking the legally prescribed pills over the course of three weeks, but wasn’t using them properly, he said. Her death was the result of an accidental overdose, Anzaldo insisted, not suicide.

Source: Chyna’s brain to be examined by ‘Concussion’ doctor after accidental overdose, manager says – LA Times

I am really looking forward to finding out what Dr. Omalu discovers, and if it has anything to do with Chyna’s brain function. My new neuro prescribed Ambien to me, six weeks ago, but at the recommendation of my former neuropsych (it was one of the last things they told me, before they departed), I have not taken it. Frankly, I’d rather acquire the skill of getting enough rest, than take my chances with Ambien.

The neuro was not pleased and kind of rolled their eyes in disbelief that they said so. however, I trust my old neuropsych more than this new neuro — they’ve been “in the business” for a heck of a lot longer, and they know their neuropharmacology a heck of a lot better than the neuro (who didn’t even read their neuropharmacology recommendations, at first).

Looking around, I found this at Sports Concussion and the Clinical Neurologist, Part III, which looks like a good read. It didn’t take long for me to find a mention of Ambien (underline emphasis is mine):

Sleep is best treated with natural, over the counter remedies to prevent dependency and rebound insomnia. Compounds such as diphenhydramine (25 to 50mg), valerian root and melatonin (3-12mg) can be used alone or in combination. Diphen-hydramine is also effective in aborting migraine and other headaches and can also be used as a short-term headache preventative. Melatonin acts to maintain sleep. If medication is required, then TCAs would be considered first line due to their ability to treat associated symptoms. Trazodone, which is chemically similar to TCAs, is another alternative. Sedative hypnotics such as zolpidem (Ambien) and eszopiclone (Lunesta), which can cause rebound insomnia and worsen post concussion symptoms of headache, cognitive symptoms, or dizziness, should be avoided as should benzodiazepines and barbiturates.

So, yeah, WTF, neuro? The last thing I need is rebound insomnia, and worsened post-concussive symptoms. I’m trying to get rid of the headache, cognitive symptoms, and dizziness — specifically — so, why would you prescribe them for me?

And what about all the other folks out there like me, who have been prescribed these things and are possibly having side-effects?

It truly is maddening.

Once upon a time, Chyna was taking Ambien and a type of Valium, and the two interacted all wrong. Maybe there were other factors at work, but the simple fact is, if she did have a history of head trauma, then she was taking at least one drug that she should have stayed away from. And her doctor should have known that. If insomnia — and rebound insomnia — worsen cognitive symptoms, and IF she was having trouble sleeping (which is a safe bet), it would have been harder for her to make good decisions about what to do. And that’s never helpful. Especially if you’ve got a history of brain injury that already makes things difficult and puts more “stuff” on your plate.

I’m sure Chyna never intended to wind up dead, but that’s what happened. And sadly, given the circumstances, I wish I could say I’m more surprised.

R.I.P. Chyna. You were a warrior, for sure.

Post 1981 – Riding the downward slide

You may remember this

This is my 1981st post, and 1981 was the year my downhill slide started to pic up speed.

During my sophomore year in high school, I had started to drink and smoke pot. I had a rough year, my freshman year, and the next year, I realized that I could dull the pain and also fit in with people if I used “chemical enhancement”. Nobody cared if I had trouble understanding what people said to me.Nobody cared if I said strange things and lost my sh*t over stupid things. They didn’t care if I was distracted a lot, if I couldn’t finish things I started,and if I had an on-again-off-again brain.

All they cared about was whether or not I’d share a drink or a drug with them. If I did that,I was “in” — and in ways I was never “in” with any other crowd.

So, I did.

I went out partying with a bunch of friends… and those friends had other friends who did harder drugs. I’m happy to say I never got into really heavy stuff like cocaine or heroin — mostly because those drugs weren’t available when I was still partying. They were too expensive and too rare. And everyone was terrified of them — even the hardest luck cases.

So, I’m sure that didn’t help my brain at all.

I also played a lot of sports and had a pretty rough and tumble life, and I got clunked in the head a lot while playing soccer, football, etc. I ran cross country and did track and field, because they let me get away from everyone and be by myself, while also being part of a team. Coaches from other sports tried to recruit me, but I wasn’t feeling up to it. It just felt too hard, to have to keep track of all the action on the field. I loved baseball, but I had a hard time judging distances, so I wasn’t much good in the outfield. I also had a hard time staying really focused on what was happening in the infield. I got distracted a lot. So, I played third base a lot. Part of the action, but still on the margins.

My junior year was the peak of my athletic performance. I was captain of both the cross country and track teams. And it was probably the highlight of my high school career. The following year… well, I’ll talk about that later.

When I look back, my recollections are darker than the whole experience actually felt at the time. When you’re in the thick of things, just trying to get through, you can lose yourself in the experience of life, but when you look back, you see all sorts of things that you didn’t realize at the time. And a lot of those things aren’t always that great. Because you realize that you were caught up in something that was a lot more difficult than you wish it had been, and you can’t help thinking, “What if things had been different?”

I’ve been getting caught up in that a lot, lately… looking at things as they are and wishing they were different. Work is difficult, right now — mostly because there are all sorts of rumors and gossip and uncertainty, and once again I feel as though I need to make a shift away from how things are… start fresh. Leave all this behind. I hate the whole thing of getting up and going to work each day, and I’m feeling pretty stuck… even though I know I’m not.

When I was a junior in high school, I did feel stuck. I lived in a rural area that didn’t have a lot of contact with the rest of the world. There was no internet, there were only three local  television stations we could pick up on our black and white set, and the public library was the only connection I had to the wider world. I felt so cut off from where I wanted to be and who I wanted to be, and I didn’t know how I was going to get where I was going.

I knew I had dreams. I just couldn’t do anything about them at the time. All I could do, was bide my time till I was 18 and able to be self-sufficient. And go out into the world and be a writer.

‘Cause that’s all I really wanted in life. To be a writer. Well, actually I wanted  to be a forest ranger (mostly to spend a lot of time alone in the woods) or a conservationist of some kind.  I wanted to travel the world and experience things and write about them. I was going to be an adventurer who wrote pieces for National Geographic about boating on the Amazon or climbing the Andes. I was going to do all of that. Be wild and free and write all about it.

But I kept getting hurt. I kept getting in trouble. I kept getting caught up in the wrong sorts of company, and that really took a chunk out of my capacity to invent my own life. I also got married fairly early… saw that marriage dissolve… and married again not long after. I don’t regret the second marriage. It’s still going strong. But my spouse was sick a lot, and they were very poor when I met them and unable to provide for themself. So, I’ve spend the past 24 years providing for both of us, for the most part (except for a brief and very rare stint in the early 1990s when they were making more money than I was, holding down a bigger and better job than I had).

So much for roaming the world.

But looking back, I have to say it’s been well worth it. I wouldn’t have stayed, if it weren’t so. And I have had some pretty amazing experiences along the way, even if my surroundings have been pretty tame. I’ve done good work, and I’ve been part of some pretty amazing teams, doing some pretty amazing things. All this, while dealing with a sh*t-ton of blocking issues that I just moved through and worked around.

In a way, it has been an adventure, all along the way. I have to remember that. I haven’t been unhappy through the years. I’ve been challenged and engaged and pulled this-way-and-that, and I have built a good life in the process. And looking at my life now, I can see that I actually am the person I was hoping to become. Despite all the setbacks and difficulties, if I had met the person I am now, when I was 16, I would have been pretty impressed. I’m not perfect, but that’s not what would have interested me.

Being interesting was… and that’s what I am.

That’s what I have to remember — a lot of things may be wrong in my life, and I might need to sort a lot of stuff out, but I really am happy with the person I’ve become. All those experiences made me into who I am — here and now. And it’s good.

Well, the day is waiting. Onward.

New Year’s Action #2 – turn off the radio

This is another one that has made my life much simpler, just in the last 24 hours… I don’t keep my music playing while I am driving to and from work. I have to say, having music on was a little like eating candy or junk food, or smoking a cigarette (back when I still smoked) — it took the edge off my discomfort, but it also kept me from thinking about ways to get rid of the sources of my discomfort. It kept me from thinking about the things that matter most to me.

And I would get so caught up in the music that I wouldn’t notice the scenery around me. My commute is a pain in the ass, but there is beautiful landscape between my house and my workplace, and each day it changes a little bit. Getting all “amped up” from the music took my attention away from that.

Further, getting “amped up” is not what I want for myself, each and every day, anymore. Once it was the thing I wanted most. Now I realize it just fogs my mind and makes me tired. I need to keep my energy steady — not go from one high to another… and deal with the lows in between.

Music is great. It’s wonderful. But sometimes it’s nothing but a drug. And I’m tired of being addicted  — and acting like it.

Better sleep

Yeah…

Got better sleep last night — actually slept through the night. I did the following things that I think helped me:

  1. I headed to bed before 10:00 p.m. – the night before, I went to bed around 11:10 and my schedule felt “off”.  If I get to bed later than 10:00, I start to feel rushed and stressed about not getting enough sleep.
  2. I set the air conditioner on “low cool” in stead of “medium cool” – the night before, the room got too cold and I woke up both too hot and too cold. I couldn’t seem to regulate my body temperature, which meant I couldn’t relax and get back to sleep.
  3. I didn’t eat any sugar or drink any caffeine after supper. In fact, I didn’t have any sugar during the afternoon, either. The day before, I had some candy in the afternoon, and I had some chocolate ice cream for dessert. I think that made it harder for me to relax. (I know – I’m all sensitive ‘n such)
  4. I ate earlier – the night before, I didn’t eat until after 9 p.m. That can’t be good. And it wasn’t.

So, I actually slept through – and I got about 7-1/2 hours of continuous sleep. The night before, got three hours of sleep and then four hours of sleep, which technically makes 7 hours, but it was broken up and it wasn’t good quality sleep.

Last night was better. And so am I.

And when I got up, I exercised. Because when I don’t exercise first thing in the morning, I get severely out of sorts, I’m not fully present or involved in my day, and things just don’t “flow” very well… which has a snowball effect of making me more and more anxious and agitated.

I’ve got a doctor’s appointment in a few hours – and then after that I’ll be seeing my neuropsych. I really need to check in with my NP about the past week — feeling so bad, feeling so sick. I’m quite sure it’s just been anxiety, but I do need to check in just to let them know this has been going on. I feel like I’ve worked through it pretty well on my own, but if they don’t know this is going on with me, if something similar happens or if I turn up having more of the same that’s much more intense, then it might not make sense to them, and they won’t see a pattern. And they will have a harder time helping me, I think.

The weird thing is, even though I’m feeling much better and I am not dragged down like I was a few days ago, I still feel like crap. Even though I’m able to function much better than earlier, I really don’t feel well, I have this underlying sense of being a little ill, I’ve got nausea and headache, and I’m just not feeling like myself. I’m tired. Really, really tired. And even though I feel very energized by some things, I still have this other sense of being “off” in some way. It feels physical, not psychological. I’m reluctant to tell my doctor, because I’m afraid they’re going to order tests and start to poke and prod me and try to find something wrong that they can “treat” with drugs. I don’t want to take drugs. I just want to have balance and sanity in my life, and I want to just get on with things.

It could be that this underlying sense of illness will just stay with me, like the chronic pain. And I’ll learn to work with/around it. I’ll learn to keep my attention elsewhere. That could very well be.

Or it could be that this underlying sense can be dissipated with good exercise and stretching and building up my strength. I do know that when I am well-rested, everything gets better. Just how to get well-rested is another question. But it’s one I’ll just have to keep working at. Because it doesn’t make sense to do anything else. I can’t give up. I don’t give up. It’s not in my nature.

So, I’ll just keep going and keep watching… and see what else I can do to help myself get on the good foot.

Better sleep is a start.

after 6 brain concussions should i do pot or any drugs?

TBI can affect how you react to pot and drugs in some strange ways. You may not turn into a toad, but you might end up feeling like one.

Someone found their way to this blog by this search question today.

“after 6 brain concussions should i do pot or any drugs?”

Short answer — Probably not. The thing is, concussions/brain injuries can change how your body responds to drugs of all kinds. My neuropsych has repeatedly cautioned against me just taking whatever my doctor prescribes, because it can affect my cognition — often in unexpected ways. Certain antibiotics can actually trigger seizures, which I never heard of till they told me. Also, some meds can dull your thinking, which can make you more irritable and agitated, which isn’t good for anyone, including all the people you deal with each day.

As for pot and other controlled substances, if you have to, you have to, and there’s not much anyone can do for you, unless you seek out some help. But if you don’t have to and you can do without, it may be a good idea to lay off them. Brain injury can make the body even more susceptible to drugs — you may find that you react more to them, that you get a bigger high off less… or that you have less of a high off a larger amount. It’s tricky. You have to be careful.

Of course, once you’re off to the races, caution has a way of flying out the window, but it may be good to keep in mind up front.

One of the big problems many people face is that they have friends and family and drinking buddies who are way into drugs, alcohol, and weed. So, they keep going along with them, and they get in trouble, because they’re much more susceptible, while everyone around them is partying at the usual rate.

Jail time, anyone? I have a theory (unconfirmed as usual) that our prisons are chock full of TBI survivors who did drugs and alcohol, were affected intensely by them, and went out and did stuff that got them arrested.

6 brain concussions and pot and drugs… Warning Will Robinson! Danger! Danger!