Stuart's pain was so bad that he was going to the hospital on a nightly basis for demerol injections and then he would go home and try to get some sleep. "That is when the doctor was concerned that I might become dependent on demerol so they suggested that I try the fentanyl patch," says Stuart. "I reminded him that I have a severe reaction to morphine but he said it will be OK due to the slow-release of the Duragesic patch.
"He happened to have some free samples and gave me about 5 to try, and see how I got on with them. If they work, he would write me a prescription. He applied a patch at the hospital and I came home. Within one hour I was itchy all over my body. Within about 2-3 hours I began to get nauseated and had hot and cold flashes. I remember that I didn't sleep at all that night. By morning I was throwing up and my whole body was covered in a bright red rash.
My wife, Melissa, and I had an appointment with an insurance agent that morning and as I was outside surveying the boat damage I couldn't stop throwing up. He said I looked really bad and we should suspend the meeting. I came back into the house, saw my wife, told her what was going on and suggested I go back to the hospital. I ran outside, threw up again and she came outside to see if I was OK.
She found me unconscious, face down in the snow. When Melissa turned me over, my eyes rolled back and I was totally out of it. She called 911 and the paramedics were there within a few minutes. All of my vitals had dropped and I was barely conscious—I don't remember any of this. Melissa said they put me into the ambulance and continued to work on me. We'd had a snowstorm so they couldn't send a helicopter to get me to the main hospital. Instead they took me to the local hospital and I was in their 'crash room' (trauma center) for several hours. They let Melissa come in; she told me that lots of doctors were working on me but they were also panicking; they didn't know how to get me back around.
When they first did some tests at the hospital, the doctors saw the patch on my arm and took it off. They knew, right away, that the patch had caused this—I had taken a massive overdose and it caused me to go into a convulsion. I had passed out and stopped breathing; the doctors told Melissa that I could have died.
My wife had been at the end of her tether since my boating accident but this was terrifying. I was in hospital for a month. They kept me on demerol and determined the fentanyl patch was likely faulty—I had received a 3-day dose in 12 hours.
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I've since had back surgery and things are better but I still have a slightly herniated disc and I still have to take painkillers occasionally but never, ever will I take the fentanyl patch again.
I'm not the kind of person to go on the claims bandwagon but due to the bad press about fentanyl and discovering how many people have suffered from the faulty Duragesic patch, I want to help get this drug off the market. I read horrendous stories and some people have died—I almost died! How did it ever get approved? Seems that this medication has done way more bad than it has done good."