Thursday, 13 January 2011

Benzodiazepine Drugs - a life tragedy

This is a response I have received from a colleague of mine, Kevin, who was moved to send in the tragic story about his father. It demonstrates that despite all their claims, ConMed and its awful drugs have so little to contribute to human health.

"I couldn’t avoid replying to your posting on the Benzodiazepines- the mother’s little helpers that were so often seen as a panacea back in the seventies. My father was a former far eastern prisoner of war. Patriotic by nature, he didn’t wait to be called up, but took the King’s shilling and was posted to Singapore as part of the island’s defence force. On Singapore’s fall, my father became a prisoner of war of the Japanese and worked on the construction of the Burma Railway memorialised in the film, ‘Bridge Over the River Kwai’.

My father didn’t speak much about the war. I know that when he arrived back in Liverpool he weighed around five stone. I know also that although he did receive medical attention for the malaria that continued to trouble him for the rest of his life, like most of his surviving comrades, little attention was given to the emotional scars they suffered.

As I see the welfare state rapidly being dismantled only to be replaced by a more ancient and some narrow minded parsimonious system of swim or sink, I remember that many of the reforms that occurred in the late forties were put in place to provide for the service- men and women who had sacrificed so much for this country.

I have always known that it is not just those such as my father who sacrificed much, but many of their families also. Indeed, some still pay the price of our nation’s former colonial engagements. Our family had many of the aspects of the prison camp that housed my father for those long years of his captivity.

Looking back with the hindsight of a sixty year old, I can see that he had major difficulties throughout my childhood. As I left my teens and entered young adulthood, my father found he could no longer cope with his job. He went to his GP who along with the long sicknote, doled out one of the Benzodiazepines that were so prevalent back then in the seventies. Sadly, to these my father added large amounts of home brewed beer.

My dad had always been unpredictable and often resorted to violence.  This trait continued, but contrary to what he had been told would happen his occasional aggression alternated with long bouts of depression. I remember writing to his GP warning him of his condition and stating my fears for his wellbeing. One Friday while my mother was at work, he took to their bed and swallowed a large quantity of his capsules, together with a bottle of Sherry. By the time my mother returned home, he was dead.

I remember writing to the local branch of the Far Eastern Prisoner if War Association to inform them of my father’s suicide. Not long afterwards, that former officer who replied so beautifully to my letter went up onto the moors and blew his brains out.

I came to learn that very few of those who gave so much to this country in our country’s war in the east lived to a respectable age. Like my father who was 59, many, many Far Eastern POWs committed suicide.

It is deplorable that the NHS had little that was effective in helping these men mitigate their sufferings; it is all the more so because the drugs that were so routinely trotted out to the likes of my father in the seventies usually contributed to the desperate deterioration that so often followed their prescribing. I suppose our family’s experience of drug prescribing bred a deep suspicion of conventional drugs in me. It is more than likely that my dad’s passing helped me avoid the same fate when I became terminally ill with cancer in January 1999.

Very few from the second world war survive now, but those increasing numbers of mostly young men who end their own lives before reaching the age of thirty are testament to the fact that whatever ails modern society is mirrored in all those new patents for psychotropic drugs. Despite the growing profits of their manufacturers, no-one seems able to reverse the trend. This is a tragic testament to our drug companies’ ineffectiveness.

It is good to receive life stories such as this, that demonstrate how hopeless ConMed is, and well as how dangerous.