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Bextra: "If Only I'd known"

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Long Island, New YorkBarbara Cameron's mother was first prescribed 200 mg of Celebrex once a day, then the doctor said she should switch to Bextra. According to her doctor, "It's better." Josephine Restucci wasn't on Bextra for long. She died.

"She just got worse when she took it, says Cameron. "Her bones were more frail, she couldn't even walk and it got progressively worse during the six months that she was on Bextra. She kept falling down."

"My doctor finally figured it was bad for her. I asked if she should discontinue Bextra - I am a nurse - but I think she was off it too late. It was my suggestion to take her off it in the first place," says Cameron. After her conversation with the doctor, Cameron discovered that he later took all his patients off Bextra.

"I don't know if she would be alive today if she hadn't taken Bextra, but I do know it didn't help, says Cameron.

Van, Texas: Harry Sump
"I got run over by a drunk in Houston, about 15 years ago and was prescribed a lot of medications, including Celebrex and Vioxx, then I fell when I was teaching school and injured my left shoulder, which required surgery. During this time the doctors gave me Bextra," says Sump.

The drug was prescribed for his back pain but it didn't help. He took more, the doctor upped the dose but still no relief from his constant back pain.

But his back pain was minor compared to chest pains Sump was now experiencing.

"I had a tremendous amount of chest pain and had vision problems. So my doctor sent me to a specialist and he ran a series of tests. He said to me, 'Do you realize that you've had a series of min-strokes?' At first it didn't register, why was I having mini-strokes. I'm only 56," says Sump.

"My chest pains hurt so much I would wonder if tomorrow was ever going to come; I thought for sure I was going to die. The pains would last two or three hours. It was a miserable way of life, up to four nights a week and this went on for several months, until I got off the medication.

It didn't take Sump long to figure out that the drugs must have caused it. "When I heard in the news media about the side effects of these drugs, I finally made the connection. It didn't occur to me until about one month ago but I intend to discuss the connection with my doctor."

He had more tests. "The specialists ran several tests on my head; one side of my face kept swelling up, and I was trying to figure out the blurred vision," says Sump. Then he was described the damage from these mini strokes. "The flow of blood in my brain is restricted, and some days my thinking is slowed down. I am still teaching high school but some days my vision is so blurred I can't read the grade books."

Harry Sump doesn't want everyone to know what has happened to him. "I have to suck it up, bite the bullet and struggle through," he says. One doctor was going to put him on disability but he didn't want to stay home. "I'm divorced, my kids are grown up and I live alone so the kids I teach mean a tremendous amount to me, it's a way of life, what I live for, and I know I am a good teacher."

"Today is a little rough. I had to fill out some forms this morning and my handwriting was terrible. I had a hard time functioning. I hide it from my co-workers; try not to let anyone know. I could teach standing on my head. But they are aware that I have had a lot of health problems, and they will take up the slack when I'm having a bad day. I'm lucky that I am well liked and respected where I am working."

Since he discontinued the medication, Sump hasn't experienced any more chest pains, but the mini-strokes he had are irreparable.

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