I hated it – but I was glued to the phone for years. This time I was in the middle of the yard when it rang. I expected it to be a nurse as usual, asking for permission to give my husband antibiotics. Instead, I heard chaos. One voice rose above the rest. I could only make out a couple words through the Nigerian dialect. I used to love dialects but my hearing is poor now. I fought to make sense of words. I suddenly heard another voice ringing out clear, in the background. “I don’t think we can bring him back.” That’s how I learned my husband was dead. They apparently kept trying to revive him. The nurse hung up. For ten minutes I stood in the yard in shock, waiting. I kept thinking maybe NO – I’d only seen him three days before. He was alive. He had a fever. He could barely open his eyes. But I thought it was the infection or pneumonia he got almost every two weeks. They’d give him something and prolong the torment. They always did. Surely his life wouldn’t be end when he was alone – without me. I was always there. Always. Ten minutes later I received the call. My husband of twenty-nine years was really dead. I walked into the house and realized I was going in alone. Permanently alone. No husband in a nursing home trying to survive. No miracle cure. Only me – alone.
“It” happened almost exactly one year to the day. He was initially sent to the hospital when he had a crushing headache. The CT scan showed a deep subdural hematoma. Warfarin. He must have been in Afib a couple days after. His personal cardiologist never offered a pacemaker or ablation or another Afib-specific drug. He gave him AMIODARONE as a first resort. I was never told. I know he didn’t know. I was his wife but also his translator. He was born in Germany. His first language was German. He literally panicked every time someone spoke to him about medical things. He had no idea what doctors said. I would always have to translate into “Klaus-speak.” It was a simple language: “This means this, that means that. This is what this will do to you. The doctor isn’t telling you that you are dying – he says they’re going to save your life.” He wasn’t offered a translator or he would have taken one. And he HATED pills. He called me after three weeks of hospitalization for the subdural hematoma. He was crying. He said the hospital was throwing him out. I said they couldn’t. He was shaking so bad he couldn’t hold a cup of water without shaking so bad it flew all over the room. He was dismissed from rehab because he couldn’t perform the exercises. He couldn’t stand or walk without help. He was a mess. But he was right. The royal “______” of Acute Care Unit threw him out – almost literally. We lived three hours away – so I had three hours to pick him up. When we went to Walmart to pick up the AMIODARONE that would kill him, he couldn’t walk to the pharmacy.
IF – if – if. If that “doctor” hadn’t been so arrogant, so self-centered, so incompetent, she would have asked why he was unable to perform the simplest task. But she didn’t. She ignored his symptoms. She never investigated. If she had even looked at his chart she would have seen he was on AMIODARONE and perhaps she would have put two and twelve together…and saved his life. Instead she threw him out. Within three weeks he was semi-comatose at home and was flown to the hospital in critical condition. He literally “died” there – at least three times that I witnessed. Each time they brought him back.
Six weeks after Critical Care he had recovered enough to be sent to a nursing home. He knew me so well. He suddenly squared off on me. He said, “You leave Doctor F. alone! He’s the one that’s going to save my life!!!” I’d never seen him like that. Pointed – desperate – furious – absolute. I said I would leave the doctor alone. What else could I say? I knew that doctor had jeopardized his life. Klaus barely made it out alive. But the head of CCU told me he’d live. He’d just be “different.” At the time I didn’t realize what “different” was. “Different was terminal. Interstitial Pulmonary Fibrosis is progressive. It is untreatable. It is terminal. No one told me. I had to look it up. When I questioned him, the head of CCU insisted that even though the drug was designed specifically for Ventricular Fibrillation – and Atrial Fibrillation is an off-label use – AMIODARONE is the “best drug for all fibrillation.” I’m here to tell you, Doctor, NO. No it’s not – not if it TORTURES the patient to death.
I had my husband rescued from the first “nursing home” hellhole by EMS. He called me. He was crying. He said he couldn’t take the pain anymore. Before they would release him I had to threaten a nurse. “I live one and a half hours away. If I get there and he isn’t in the hospital I’m going to punch somebody out.” She knew I meant it. When he arrived at the hospital he already in the middle of his first bout of pneumonia, He also had severe opioid constipation – the nursing home didn’t have professional equipment to treat him. That hospital kept him for a week of recovery from the nursing home.
His first transfer was awesome. It was into the most exquisite little eight-bed hospital in the middle of the oilfields. Because of its location and the oilfield injuries that came in the staff was highly trained in emergency care and he was in the best of environments. They were there for him. He almost “thrived” although that’s a vast overstatement. At least he wasn’t intubated on oxygen. His favorite nurse even brought in her trained Yorkie to sleep with him at night. He thought he’d recover. Only I knew he wouldn’t. Only I knew he was dead – at some point. And I couldn’t break his heart. I couldn’t tell him – it would have killed him much earlier. I began to pray for the miracle that never came.
That little hospital decided they couldn’t rehab him with their limited equipment. He had been unable to walk since his time in CCU. He had no core movement. So they decided to send him from Texas to New Mexico neurological hospital. The day of his transfer he kept complaining he didn’t feel “right.” They did one more CT scan and turned the plane around. They didn’t take him to New Mexico. They flew him straight to The Heart Hospital in Dallas, where he had operations for the two aortic aneurysms he had developed. I was looking at the records of his first AMIODARONE-related hospitalization and I found the evidence. He had been diagnosed with heart irregularities that indicated at least one aneurysm at the hospital where he was poisoned. It was in the chart. So they had thrown him out again – this time with a fatal condition – without telling anyone. They just wanted him out.
The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano was excellent. He survived hours and hours of critical surgery because one aneurysm was very close to the heart itself. But they saved his life. He was very relieved. I wasn’t. Our home was 516 miles away in West Texas and I had no way to easily reach him. I must have only seen him eight times in the one last year he lived.
He was transferred to a rehab. He was transferred back to The Heart Hospital with pneumonia. He was transferred to an “Acute Care” facility, where he was overdosed. He was transferred to another rehab/nursing home. He called me from there – screaming…”Get me out of here!!!” I couldn’t at the time but I knew the staff was incompetent. They even put me on hold for over half an hour once. They never did pick up. Finally he told me he had to go to the hospital. He didn’t say it in so many words – he said “the ER.” I relayed that to the staff. The head of nursing said, “He’s been saying he wants to go the ER.” I said, “If he want’s to go to the ER, send him to the ER!” They did…five days later. I got a call from the hospital. The doctor there didn’t want to know his history. She didn’t want to know anything but one thing…”Does he have a Do Not Resuscitate Order?!” I heard the panic in her voice. I said I didn’t know. She told me to guess. I finally gave up and said, “No.” But what it told me was volumes. His condition was so severe he was unable to give consent. Somehow they saved him.
After that he went from hellhole to hellhole nursing homes and rehabs – interspersed with hospitals for pneumonia. One sent him to the hospital three days after he was transferred in. When he was released it was to the same zero-star dump. Three days later I visited him. The first night I was surrealistically sexually assaulted by his roommate. By the third day he was sent back to another hospital with pneumonia. I told the doctor there that his care had been so abominable at the nursing homes he’d either be back – or dead – if they sent him back where he’d been. The doctor took pity. I don’t know how he did it but he held my husband against policy until space became available in a five-star facility. He sent him there. It was there that he died.
The last time I saw him I kissed his forehead and noticed he had a fever. I figured the staff knew but told them anyway. I had to catch a plane but wanted to say goodbye. Suddenly he was swarmed by nursing staff. As they pushed me out the door I screamed, “I love you!” I heard him say, “I…..” I know the “love you” followed but he never got it out. That was our last goodbye. Three days later he was dead.
I have Post Traumatic Stress again, after treatment ten years earlier. I am virtually bankrupt. Before he went into the hospital my husband failed to tell me he hadn’t paid property taxes in nine years or so. I was hit with losing the house or paying $18,000 immediately to save it. A customer of mine saved me at the last minute. My business almost went under completely – it’s limping along now. I’ve been kept alive by the assistance of a church.
Klaus Glaser was an imperfect but giving man. He was a Volunteer of the Year for the Los Angeles Police Department. His German parents were Polish Jews and survived in German Concentration Camps during WWII. He took exception to that. When he immigrated to America he became a domestic asset for the FBI. He infiltrated neo-Nazi groups. He was so proud that he’d received a rare Certificate of Commendation for Exceptional Service in the Public Interest from the FBI after he caught three bank robbers. He was a Volunteer of the Year for the Los Angeles Police Department.
He is irreplaceable but, in fact, EVERY victim of AMIODARONE TOXICITY is irreplaceable. They are all special. They had children who’ve suffered, spouses who’ve suffered, friends and families who will never forget their lives, and never forgive their deaths at the hands of the pharmaceutical industry in the name of profit. There are over one thousand victim and survivor members of STOP AMIODARONE on Facebook. Some have written their stories here and there are hundreds of thousands more whose stories haven’t been told yet. Perhaps they haven’t found the group. Perhaps they are speechless, as most of us were at one time or another. The ONLY outreach for victims of AMIODARONE Toxicity and their families and friends are this grassroots website – www.amiodaronetoxicity.com and the STOP AMIODARONE group on Facebook. The members glean any information they can from whatever sources they can. They offer each other support and the inevitable sympathy.
The drug companies are doubling down now. AMIODARONE was developed to treat Ventricular Fibrillation. It’s being used off-label for Atrial Fibrillation. The pharmaceutical “cartels” are mounting campaigns to broaden the scope of use for AMIODARONE to officially include Atrial Fibrillation. One of our fears is that expanding the official market creates additional advertising “cachet.” It says to doctors, “See? It must be safe – the official uses are expanding.” Tell it to their victims – those with terminal IPF, blindness, thyroid conditions, neurological problems, blue skin, etc., etc. The full list of side effects is unstated, but seems to be growing. Tell it to the bereft families, the ones in bankruptcy, the ones whose families have imploded, the ones who will never recover.
If the drug “cartels” accomplish their goal of expanding the uses of AMIODARONE, their profits go up – and their victims go down leaving a trail of broken lives. Our goal is to see that doesn’t happen.