I read your article about the danger some drugs pose for falls. I would like to share my experience.
In October 2009, I underwent major spinal surgery. I was given a combination of pain meds. When I left the hospital, I had prescriptions for hydromorphone, Darvocet, and hydrocodone. I took these for about a week.
Then one evening, I was in the kitchen feeding my terriers and my legs suddenly gave away on me. I tried in vain to pull myself up with my arms, but to no avail. The nearest telephone was in the living room, about 15 yards away. I started trying to crawl but kept passing out. I thought I was having a stroke.
I was on a hardwood floor for some 3-4 hours before I finally could reach the cord for the phone and pull it off the table. By now it was roughly 1 a.m. in the morning. I called the rescue squad immediately and described what had happened. They came, determined I was not having a stroke or heart attack and took me to the ER of my hospital.
After 2 days in the hospital and many tests, it was concluded that the combination of strong pain meds had caused me to have a seizure and collapse. I was told that had I been on that hard wood floor much longer that I would have suffered severe kidney and muscle damage and that I was fortunate.
Intravenus drips and hospital rest plus a correction of meds saved me. I can only warn all of your listeners and readers of this danger and to be extremely careful about combination of medications that may make you unsteady on your feet or cause a blackout.
A. Thank you for sharing this terrible story. There are indeed many medications that can make seniors unsteady of their feet. Here is a link to an article about this very problem.
Powerful pain relievers are notorious for causing unsteadiness. We are frankly astonished that you were prescribed hydrocodone, Darvocet and hydromorphone simultaneously. That is a pretty scary drug cocktail.
Pain relievers are not the only medications that can cause problems, however. There are dozens of drugs that are just plain inappropriate for anyone over the age of 65. Here is a small list of potentially problematic pills:
In some cases these drugs can cause mental fogginess or forgetfulness. In other cases they can make you so unsteady on your feet that you are vulnerable to a fall, which can lead to a cascade of horrendous outcomes.
We have listed many of the medications that should rarely, if ever, be prescribed to an older person. They can be found in our book, Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.
Again, thank you for sharing your story. We hope that no one else will ever have to go through what you experience!