My father was a hardy soul. He was born in the small town of Nekoma, North Dakota back in 1927; one of 12 children, only 10 of which made it into adulthood. The son of a blacksmith in a family of meager means, he grew up in a two-bedroom house with no indoor plumbing. This would have a lasting effect on his attitude toward money—always pinching pennies, up to the very end. Did this contribute to what would become his demise? Perhaps so, but that does not remove guilt from the doctors and nurses who ultimately would drug him into the grave.
Sure, my father lived to a ripe old age of 89, just six months shy of his 90th birthday. Not bad, you might say. He had worked hard and had owned and operated a number of small businesses throughout his years—a grocery store, a bar and restaurant, a hardware store. He put himself through drafting school, and he and his brothers learned carpentry, plumbing, electrical wiring, painting, welding; he had a tool shed that would make Tim “the tool man” Taylor jealous. In 1987, he and our mom bought a small parcel of land down in a small town in the Panhandle of Florida, which he would level and then dig a well and build his family’s 2,000 sq. foot home from the bottom up. He did the drafting and planning, all of the electrical wiring, the plumbing, the roofing, the painting, built all of the cabinets and put in the carpeting, flooring and a backyard garden… all with his own two hands (and some help from family).
In short, the amount of skill, strength, and know-how this man possessed was humbling. I wish I’d paid more attention.
My father and mother, Genevieve, had a happy marriage of 39 years, until our mom (13 years his junior) passed away in 2009 of a brain tumor, likely brought on by the vaccines she’d received over the years, and the root canals, and the mercury fillings, and the nutrient-depleted food that she (like most Americans) had ingested over the years… So, following the passing of our mom, Dad lived alone in the house that he’d built, up until the age of 89.
The doctors were always amazed at how healthy he was and how young he looked. His mind was sharp; he had a quick wit and an impressive memory. He drove himself to the store to do his shopping, to the bank and post office, and to the church on Sundays. He did his own cooking (another area he excelled at, having been a bachelor for 42 years before finally deciding to settle down), his cleaning and laundry. Although his cleaning was rather lackluster, and my sister and I always gave the place a good once-over when we went to visit.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of the times in which we live, we three kids didn’t make it to visit but once a year or so, and that’s if we were lucky. My older sister, an officer in the Air Force, gets moved around from station to station with little to no say in the matter. And my brother, being a Sagittarius with their stereotypical lust for adventure, moved from place to place: from San Diego, to Uruguay and then up to Ecuador, where he was at the time of Dad’s passing (or what I would call murder). I, the middle of us three, had just completed my PhD in Naturopathic Medicine as I continued to teach English at a university in South Korea, where I have been living now for over 16 years. I was planning on flying home in the summer of 2017 to celebrate our father’s 90th birthday, but now I will be flying home for his burial and funeral instead.
So what happened? How did such a healthy, strong, mentally astute, 89 year old man go from this… to this…
in just 3 weeks’ time?
All the credit must go to the ‘wonderful’ Western medical establishment and ‘great’ folks at the hospital in Crestview, Florida; who, were it up to me, would be trading in their white coats and stethoscopes for orange jumpsuits… but let’s continue, shall we?
Dad had decided to move to an assisted living facility in North Dakota, close to where he’d grown up, while he waited for there to be an opening in the home where his sister had been before she passed several years back, and where he had a number of old friends and cousins, etc. After a month in the home Dad decided that it wasn’t for him, as he wanted to fix his own food and enjoy his freedom and privacy as he had his whole life. He also just hated paying out so much money, several thousand a month, for such limited care. To go from living freely in his own home to paying the exorbitant amount charged by senior care facilities was unbearable for him.
So, after just one month, he moved out on his own into a one-bedroom apartment. While he did have a good support network there—several cousins of ours from our mom’s side who brought him fresh fruit and vegetables and drove him to the hospital when needed—the weather was growing colder, and he was still paying out money on an apartment that to him seemed wasteful when he could just be living in his own home in a much more agreeable climate. So, roughly six months later, he and our cousin Vince made the long drive back down to Florida.
This was November, 2016, just two months before he would be killed off by Big Pharma and the medical establishment. Here is a picture of my dad during the long road trip down to Florida, at a stop-over visit with my aunt and cousins in Illinois.
Upon his return home, he continued seeing ‘his’ doctors. He had his general practitioner, his eye doctor, his cardiologist, his dermatologist, his oncologist (for minor skin cancer follow-ups and to monitor the mild case of leukemia he’d had for several years). And they all, for the most part, said he was fine, except for his eyesight which prevented him from driving at night or for long distances.
However, at his next visit with his primary care physician, he was finally talked into getting on a blood pressure medication, Lisinopril, against my warnings to the contrary after reviewing the long list of common side effects associated with it. Also, having knowledge of the fact that a rise in blood pressure is expected and is normal as we age, and that the very rigid ‘normal blood pressure’ range used by doctors for all their patients was concocted by the pharmaceutical industry to pimp (oops! I mean sell, market, distribute) more of their toxic drugs (which, by the way, kill more people per year than all illegal drugs combined), I strongly urged against his taking it.
Unfortunately, he chose to listen to his Big Pharma-educated (aka thoroughly indoctrinated) MD over his daughter’s advice (I wasn’t wearing a white coat, after all!). And that’s where his downward spiral began.
Over the next few weeks, Dad’s health precipitously declined. He started complaining of headaches, lightheadedness, water retention and weight gain, insomnia, abdominal problems, weakness and lethargy, worsening vision, and a terrible psoriatic skin condition; all of which are side effects of Lisinopril—listed right there, online, in black and white, for anyone wanting to do their due diligence to see! His doctors are/were not included in this group of individuals, unfortunately, and his symptoms were merely written off as “normal signs of aging.” Actually, NO, Doc. Sorry. ‘Aging’ is not a disease, and it is a failure of medical science for declining health to be expected and accepted as ‘normal.’ And furthermore, DOC, my father had none of those symptoms (or ‘signs’ as you like to call it) until he took your blasted medication!
More prescriptions were to follow, which my father refused (except for the steroid cream for his lobster-red, flaking, painful skin, brought on by the Lisinopril). Then, on the night of December 28, 2016, Dad asked his good friend and neighbor, Al, to take him to the emergency room. As it was very late at night, and Al being roughly the same age as my dad, Al went home after dropping Dad off there in Emergency, leaving my 89-year-old dad alone, with no family or friends to watch over him or to advocate for him. He was a lone sheep among a pack of wolves—a Medicare-holding ATM for the medical mafia to rape and plunder.
Failing to cross-reference his medical records, not knowing that his skin condition was a side effect of a drug he’d been given, not knowing of his long history with non-life-threatening leukemia, they took his elevated white blood cell counts as an indication of infection and pumped him full of IV antibiotics. When the nurses tried to give him other medications, my father refused. They accused him of being “combative” and “uncooperative,” and they injected him with the highly toxic, incredibly dangerous, mind-bending antipsychotic HALDOL.
Haldol has a long history and is known to cause psychosis in patients, in addition to a long list of horrific side effects, many of which my father instantly exhibited: muscle spasms, inability to urinate (he had to be catheterized two days later), trouble speaking (he became completely incomprehensible), uncontrollable trembling of the hands, weakness and loss of balance (he was unable to walk the very next day), mask-like facial expression, hallucinations, skin rash, uncontrolled movements of the arms and legs, irregular heartbeat, confusion…
My sister up in Ohio, I in South Korea, and my brother down in Ecuador were all notified that our dad was being held in the hospital in Florida, tied down, hands placed in boxing mitts “for his safety,” and that he would not be released unless one of us went there, in person, to collect him, or gave our written consent to have him released into full-time senior care. He would not be eligible for Medicaid, of course, until he was left penniless and until he’d been stripped of all his assets; including the house had built with his own two hands and had transferred, legally, to us kids. That didn’t matter to the State. The house and all assets going seven years back were legally still considered his assets, and had to be liquidated before any State aid would be given.
My sister took time off from work and flew down on New Year’s Day, 2017. She expressed her dismay at the irresponsible and criminal actions of the medical doctors and nurses there, as did I by phone, requesting that he not be given further doses of Haldol, with which they complied. However, when Dad again refused further drugging by the nurses, at 2:00 in the morning (!!!) on January 2, 2017, he was again accused of “belligerence” and “being combative.” This time he was given—without his or our consent—an injection of the ‘anti-anxiety’ drug Ativan (lorazepam), a drug not approved for use in the elderly!
The side effects of Ativan are no better than those of Haldol. This set Dad back even further.
My sister and I pleaded with the doctors, and God bless my sister, she was a real thorn in their side—she made certain he was given no more drugs aside from cream for his skin. Finally, on January 5th, she was able to gain his release from the medical mafia who’d been holding him against his will for nearly two weeks. Unfortunately, Dad was still unable to walk, unable to speak to where it was comprehensible (though he did try, God love him), and was more or less an invalid. This, after just 10 days under the ‘care’ of these fine specimens of Western medical science.
My sister was unable to care for Dad, obviously, but there were no good nursing home options there locally, and so her husband found a very nice facility up in Ohio, just minutes from their home. She only had to get Dad up to Ohio. Since she had a wheelchair that would fit in the trunk, she decided it would be better for them to make the drive up to Ohio (just one full day’s drive) than to go through the headache of flying.
Almost to her home, Dad became someone she’d never known him to be. He grabbed the steering wheel and tried to take over the wheel. He accused her of stealing his money. He refused to eat, accusing her and her husband of trying to poison him. That night, neither my sister nor her husband got a wink of sleep, fearing what he might do. He crawled out of bed and tried to open the door to ‘escape.’ He said he was being chased by dogs. They awoke to find him beating the radiator with his walker, ‘trying to escape.’ He broke down and cried, and he prayed to God to just take him, that he no longer wanted to live.
Soon thereafter, he would lose consciousness and never awake. He died in hospice two weeks later, at 8:21 p.m. on January 21, 2017.
I tell his and our story not for pity, but as a warning to the elderly, and to all who have elderly parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles, or anyone you hold dear. Make sure they never go to the emergency room or hospital without someone there to monitor and to advocate for them. Make sure they are not injected with drugs before you know what they are and what the potential (or likely) side effects of those man-made chemicals are. Research natural alternatives. Don’t give your power away to people who deem themselves all-knowing simply by merit of their white coat and a medical duh-gree. Educate yourself so that you can be your own best health advocate, and that for those whom you cherish and love.
I love you, Dad. Forgive me.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.