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My Mum's death, the West Suffolk Hospital and the cholestorol reducing 'Statin' drug Lipitor

by Martin Mobberley

The grim set of circumstances which preceded my Mum's death from Bowel Cancer were as follows.
In April 2005 my Mum experienced migraine-like flickering symptoms in one eye. After a seemingly endless series of stressful examinations at the West Suffolk Hospital, with no cause being established, it was assumed that she had suffered a mini-stroke. There was no evidence for this, even on any of the brain scans she was given. The whole procedure and set of tests dragged on through May to July 2005 and merely served to stress her up and, increase her blood pressure. By then her symptoms had gone anyway and it was three months later. The hospital just told her she had probably had a mini-stroke due to higher than optimum blood pressure and cholestorol. Well, her blood pressure was always higher when she was at the terrifying West Suffolk hospital. Anyway,on this basis our Doctor recommended a regime of tablets to prevent her having a real stroke.
My Mum was put on the dreadful Lipitor tablets in August 2005 and, from that date on, was never the same person. She suffered muscle pain and weakness and felt ill, plus her appetite suffered. She became increasingly forgetful, confused and tearful too, with panic attacks over nothing. Our Doctor reduced the tablets from 20 to 10 milligrams which made the physical side-effects bearable, but she was still not the same person. As 2005 came to an end and 2006 started my Mum increasingly had problems sleeping and was short of her usual energy. However, regular blood tests during this period showed no problem with her blood. Even as late as April 13th 2006 blood tests showed no problems, but she was increasingly feeling very tired, feeling the cold and, in April, had a mouth ulcer (unusual for her) which would not go hindsight maybe an early sign of an iron deficiency. She was also experiencing cramp in one leg, yet another known side effect of Lipitor. As I said before, from the day she went on Lipitor she never quite seemed the same person, mentally or physically. After a short holiday in Bournemouth in early May 2006 she became so tired that she went back to our Doctor on May 15th. A further blood test on May 15th was carried out. On May 19th our Doctor informed us that the new blood test showed the Liver was not working properly.Our Doctor was well aware that Lipitor could harm the Liver and so he told her to stop taking the Lipitor tablets and have another blood test in 3 weeks to see if the blood test was better. On June 7th my Mum went for another blood test and also informed our Doctor that her right leg was painful and letting her down on occasions. On June 8th our Doctor told us that the blood test showed the Liver function was much worse and she needed to have an ultrasound scan of the Liver. On June 12th my Mum had an ultrasound scan and our Doctor phoned the next day saying he would like to speak to us. Next day, June 14th, we learned the bombshell that she had 'lumps on the Liver and a shadow on the Lung'. At this point we entered the endless delays and frustrations of the Bury St Edmunds West Suffolk hospital at its very worst.......It would be accurate to say that, to all intents and purposes, my Mum's life ended on June 14th with this devastating news. From that point on she became a number in the West Suffolk Hospital system and, far from things progressing swiftly, they progressed incredibly slowly, for someone who needed urgent help, either to cure her, or make her feel better. On June 15th the West Suffolk phoned saying they would be sending a date for an ultrasound scan, which she had already had. On pointing this out they changed this to a date for a Cat Scan. However, it turned out they were still confused and eventually they told us a ColoRectal examination was next. We did not understand why a ColoRectal exam was needed as the problem was in the Liver, but they didn't tell us why.......On June 19th my Mum had a ColoRectal examination. We then heard nothing for many days, despite phoning the hospital. They again said we would get a date for a Cat Scan soon, but absolutely no information or sympathy was apparent....We had many questions, but no-one answered them. Finally, on June 30th, 11 days after the ColoRectal exam. a female consultant told my Mum that she had cancerous Tumors on her Liver...which we had pretty much known for two weeks........On July 4th we were told a Biopsy of the Liver was needed. On July 6th my Mum had a biopsy (Liver sample) taken and stayed in Hospital ovenight. On July 12th the hospital phoned saying it was Bowel Cancer that had spread to the Liver (nice of them to tell us!!) They said (for the nth time) that she needed a Cat Scan and maybe Chemotherapy and maybe we should contact MacMillan for a nurse to help us care for my Mum. We were coping OK though...all we needed was reassuring information, not long waits for committees to meet and decide what to tell us/do next. On July 14th my Dad went to see our Doctor, who offered good advice on pain killers (for my Mum's leg...which was obviously related to her illness but no-one would admit it) and on energy drinks, as she was unable to keep normal food down easily. Finally, on July 17th, my Mum received a date for a Cat Scan of the whole upper body, which was carried out on July 20th. So, let's just look at this timescale again....She was diagnosed with a liver problem on May 19th, tumorous lumps on the liver on June 13th/14th and finally had a scan over five weeks later. As if that was not bad enough the hospital gave us virtually no information. We were not informed that she could have high energy drinks to make her feel a bit better and make eating easier. We were not informed that walking frames, wheelchairs and commodes and other equipment was available free from an NHS store and we were just left in limbo for weeks while nothing happened..... More time then elapsed, until, finally, a letter arrived on July 28th informing us that two senior consultants would see my Mum on August 2nd. With considerable difficulty my Dad and I got her out of the house on that day and an ambulance took her to the hospital. She was told, almost in these words "There is nothing we can do, do you want to die at home, or in a hospice". My Dad was given a few bottles of Morphine as a parting gesture, but with no info. on how to use it. Appalling!! From August 2nd to August 4th my Mum was terrified and hysterical. On August 4th our Doctor injected her with Serenace/Haliperidol and told us, in no uncertain terms that she did NOT need the Morphine. He seemed totally shocked by the Hospital's lack of tact and advice. The Serenace/Haliperidol drug worked wonders, transforming my Mum from an utterly terrified, hysterical and delirious old lady, into a very depressed and sad, but coherent one, able to sleep much of the day. Our Doctor knew what drug she needed, but a whole committee of people at the West Suffolk Hospital did not....... With some help from District Nurses, a MacMillan Nurse and our Doctor, we looked after her until she died on September 8th. The hospital 'experts' had expected her to last for a few days after August 2nd, but she lasted more than five weeks.......Our Doctor and the District Nurses were a great help, but, true to form, the West Suffolk hospital was useless...a faceless, uncaring, untidy dump where you are just a number not someone needing care. The incompetence in scheduling my Mum for X-Ray's and tests when she was in the hospital was appalling too..... I had always assumed that the NHS would act swiftly when Cancer was diagnosed. In fact, they did virtually nothing between June 13th and her death on September 8th. Indeed, the period from her blood test (showing the Liver was defective) to her death, was four months. During that period the West Suffolk Hospital only gave bad or misleading advice and their bedside manner was non- existent. We gained no advantage whatsoever, at any time, from them.....Indeed, it was because of their advice, based on no proof, that she was put on Lipitor anyway, which we strongly suspected was what killed her. The point at which her health declined rapidly was the point at which she started taking Lipitor. A brief search on the web for bad stories about Lipitor will give you thousands of 'hits', including stats about it's suspected carconogenic properties. Former NASA flight surgeon Duane Graveline has written two books on the bad effects of Lipitor too.......... Drugs are primarily designed to make drug company's shareholders money. Hospitals largely exist to pay consultants huge salaries and sweep old people under the carpet. At least, that is how my Dad and I feel after the last few months of misery. Even if the Lipitor did not spark off the Cancer, it most certainly made her feel so ill that any early signs of something being wrong were totally masked..... If anyone out there has a similar experience of an elderly relative being put on Lipitor and developing Bowel cancer shortly afterwards I would be interested in hearing from them.
Martin Mobberley September 2006
The following link leads to a website by former NASA flight surgeon Duane Graveline regarding the concerns over Lipitor, Statin drugs, and their horrendous side effects.

Duane Graveline's Lipitor page

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