"Back in June, Frank started losing mobility and started having pain in his arm," Karen says. "It took a while to diagnose but it turned out he had herniated discs in his neck that were causing spinal cord damage. He had surgery June 22, 2010, where they removed three discs but he was in severe pain ever since then. His doctor put him on Lortab but we were concerned that he would be addicted to Lortab.
"He went to the doctor on Thursday, October 28, and the doctor took him off Lortab and prescribed fentanyl. The doctor told us that if therapy was painful, Frank could take the Lortab with the fentanyl. He also told us that there are three strengths of fentanyl that he uses and my husband would be given the middle strength.
"I put the patch on him on Friday, October 29. Then I took my grandchildren to a football game. I got home at 9:00 and he was sitting up on the couch, asleep. It took me a long time to wake him up. I thought he was dead. When he woke up, he said that he was really tired and went to bed.
"At the time, I thought it was the fentanyl, but I didn't think it was fatal. I just thought it was a stronger dose that he wasn't used to.
"The next morning, I woke up at 8:30 and realized my husband hadn't been up at all. He usually woke up at 5:00 in the morning because of his pain. When I went to wake him up, he looked the same as he did the night before: his mouth was wide open and his face was pale. I tried everything to wake him up, then I checked his pulse and he didn't have one.
"I put the pain patch on him on Friday night and when I found him at 8:30 Saturday morning, he was gone. That was the worst thing I could imagine anyone going through—finding your husband like that. And it only took one patch.
"The coroner's report found a lethal amount of fentanyl in his system. The doctor who worked with the coroner said he had never seen that amount of fentanyl in someone who had the patch on for 12 hours. The coroner said she couldn't see anything wrong with the patch—that it wasn't leaking from what she could tell—but I don't think she pulled the patch off him. I think she just looked at it.
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"My husband would have turned 61 in November. Other than chronic pain from the surgery, he was in perfect health. He even just passed a physical with flying colors.
"This has been like a nightmare. It's been really, really hard. We were only married four-and-a-half years. We didn't have nearly enough time together. I want people to know this drug is killing people."