"I had restless leg syndrome (my legs jump around like crazy at night) and my doctor put me on a low dose of Mirapex, .25mg at first," says McKee, "Then I underwent a sleep study with a neurologist and the dosage went up to 1.50 mg. twice a day."
It was during this time that obsessive compulsive disorders started to appear. "I wasn't really aware of it but I started to smoke for first time in 40 years," says McKee. "Then all of a sudden in 2001, about six months after I was on Mirapex, I started smoking like a fiend, over a pack a day." Soon after, she started to gamble and did so on a steady basis, from 2002 until late last year.
"The casinos in Atlantic City are just over a two and-a-half hour drive from here. At first I just went there once a week but I would spend everything I had, take money out of the bank, rack up my credit cards, anywhere I could get it," says McKee. She now had a $ 40,000 credit card debt because of her gambling addiction. "My husband went with me at first but he didn't know; he had no idea how much I was spending on the slots."
Marilyn McKee had never gambled in her entire life, except a dollar with the 15 girls at work on the weekly lottery. That was it.
But her life and finances quickly spun out of control. "Just between October 28th and November 5th 2005, I borrowed $10,000 to pay off some credit cards. I spent every dime of that money on scratch-off lottery tickets, in just under 10 days.
"I was beside myself - suicidal. I got on the internet and clicked on the word Mirapex. I had heard something, somewhere that it may have been the cause of people to become obsessive," says McKee. She called a few people who had posted their phone numbers on Mirapex and gambling related websites and commiserated with them. "They told me that I had to get off Mirapex, so I talked to my doctor and he took me off it immediately."
McKee finally had realized what she had done, now that she was "coming down" from Mirapex. "I was absolutely horrified, $10,000 in 10 days. I might as well have just taken a match to the money because there is no chance of winning those [scratch-off lottery tickets].
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Amazingly she still has a sense of humor. "And this is the funny part," says McKee. "I bought hundreds of yards of nylon net and bought a sewing machine. I hadn't used a sewing machine for over 40 years. Isn't that a crazy thing? The people at the fabric shop thought I was making a costume for an elephant. But I didn't really spend that much on nylon net, not like I did on the slots."
What isn't funny is that Marily McKee was about to enjoy her retirement years.
Instead, "I had to come back to work part-time so that is how I will pay back my debt, along with my social security check."