Caution Needed: Controlled Substances

posted in: Uncategorized | 19
Aug 2015
Aug 2015

Medication has made a huge difference in Jim’s fight against dementia. He was prescribed Aricept and Namenda immediately upon diagnosis 13 years ago. Getting an early start with these two common dementia medications has no doubt helped to slow down the progression of the disease and allowed him to survive these 13 years while maintaining physical capabilities far exceeding the norm.  But as detailed in my last blog, “It’s Not Always Dementia,” another of the medications prescribed made Jim very sick and increased his physical aggression to unacceptable levels. The drug was a controlled substance and had been prescribed to reduce anxiety. This medicine was so toxic to Jim’s system that it required a 17-day hospital stay to successfully recover.


A less toxic drug was prescribed to take the place of the problem medication. Jim also continued taking a second anxiety medication he had been prescribed prior to entering the hospital. The dosages of both of these drugs were pretty substantial, but Jim was able to tolerate this combination, and the extreme physical aggression largely disappeared.

…after Jim got out of the hospital there were lots of new problems

However, a few months after Jim got out of the hospital there were lots of new problems. Jim continued losing weight and now had dropped over 50 pounds. Jim was constantly drooling, he slept 15 to 18 hours a day, he could no longer feed himself, he totally stopped communicating, he could not tie his shoes, and his physical abilities were quickly evaporating. I had always considered it a marker of Jim’s strength that he could still walk up steps – something few dementia patients diagnosed 10 year or longer are able to do – and to see him lose that ability was especially discouraging to me.


Controlled Subs Feb 2016
Feb 2016

As things rapidly deteriorated, I again thought this might be the progression of the disease. But my recent experience with the toxic drug had taught me it could well be that his medications needed tweaking. We went back to see Dr. Charles Edwards at the Memory Center Charlotte. He spent about 20 minutes talking to Jim and when finished, he turned to me and said “Jim is still in there. But he has this medicine shell covering him that won’t let him out. Let’s see if we can get him out of there.” Dr. Edwards cut back the two controlled substance drugs to only 30 percent of the original dosage. In their place was put two medications that were not controlled substances and not addictive. (Jim’s diet was also dramatically altered, but more of that in the next blog post.)


The change in Jim was immediate. His appetite roared back. Within the first month he stopped drooling, started feeding himself, started saying short sentences, tied his own shoes, and could again walk up steps unassisted (even while carrying something in his hands)!    The transformation was absolutely remarkable. You can see in the photo how emaciated, pale, and unexpressive Jim looked before the medication change was made in August 2015. Seven months later he is a new man. It feels like I have my husband back. Some of the old irritability has returned — he often pounds his fist on the table in frustration. But to me these issues are a small price to pay to bring Jim back from the Ozone – because that is, metaphorically, where he was.

19 Responses

  1. Vicki – I so love getting your blog updates. The February picture compared to the August picture is unbelievable. I am amazed at the difference and so happy for you that you have these folks at the Memory Center Charlotte.

    • Vicki Hafele

      Melissa – I appreciate you taking the time to comment, as well as the comments of everyone. They are so encouraging. Thanks to all. You are right about The Memory Center – they have made a huge difference. Finding the right doctor(s) is huge. Today The Memory Center Charlotte actually released their own blog post “Thrown For A Loop”. They talked about the need to find just the right doctor when you receive a life altering diagnosis. The blog can be read at

  2. Vic, thanks for sharing as usual, awesome to see the transformation even in the pictures, glad to hear you keep questioning and found a Dr. to do the same

  3. Paula Baker

    Praise the Lord! Such great news! Prayers for you both, Love Paula

  4. Diet can be amazing. I love this update.

  5. Jim looks wonderful…prayers for y’all continue…..❤️❤️❤️

  6. Ana bardales

    I’m Very happy, and Mr. Kim look Very good.
    Thanks God for wonderful news, I hope see you soon!!

  7. Another valuable post, Vicki – you teach us how important it is to observe what happens to Jim as you make changes in diet and drug combinations, as well as how vigilant you must be… a change that is beneficial today may not be tomorrow, and so you have to continue to tweak to get the best ongoing outcomes. The differences in the 2 posted photos are stark evidence of the value of your vigilance… Well done, Vicki –

    • Vicki Hafele

      Thank you Tony. When I looked backed over the photos from the last 6 months I had taken of Jim, it was amazing. On a day to day basis you don’t always realize what a difference there has been. I wanted to include the photos so I would always have a reminder of all the progress that has been made. We are so thankful. The Lord has provided beyond any expectations.

  8. John Mandeville


    You are one amazing woman! What a change!! A super CPA and now a medical pro!! May God continue to walk with you both!


  9. Ken Samuelson

    Thanks for very useful information as i travel down this path with you caring for a loved one. Ken

    • Vicki Hafele

      Ken – It is a blessing to hear that the blog is helping. Thank you so much for responding.

  10. Ralph Ansell

    Praise God! He is Jehovah Raphah. What an encouragement.


  11. Will and Sonja

    What an amazing transformation! …in both abilities and physical disposition.
    This is incredible.

    Thank you for sharing, Vicki …just imagine how many lives will be transformed by what you’ve shared.

    • Vicki Hafele

      Thanks Will. What you say is exactly why I am writing this blog. Jim is a survivor and has really fought this disease. And he has a tremendous medical team. We’ve learned a lot and it would be a blessing if someone else could benefit from that.

  12. Sherry Willis

    Hi Vicki- I always look forward to reading about your journey through Jim’s healing. You will have to write a book next!!! Love you both❤️

    • Vicki Hafele

      Good to hear from you Sherry. Thanks for the suggestion – maybe after I write about 30 more posts I can think about it.

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