Don't let them give you Reglan without your consent!

There was time but there wasn't

If you have been reading my hubs you know that earlier this year I had a huge polyp removed from the transverse colon. My TMI Tattoo and Piercing hubs describe the experience. I was told my only option was a bowel resection and ASAP because it could turn cancerous at any moment if it wasn't already. I was kind of rushed into the whole thing.  Obviously I wanted that thing out of there. Most of my Googling was about the procedure itself and alternatives to it. I didn't even think much about all the drugs they were going to give me.  It was two weeks to the day from when it was discovered to when they whacked it -- a most emotionally difficult time.  I was not doing my best thinking during that time.   And I was such a surgery virgin.  Of course I'm prepped if I ever have another surgery, but I would be just as happy to live the rest of my life without ever having another one.     

What was the huge rush?  The doctor who discovered the abnormality during colonoscopy took samples from three different parts of it and no cancer was found in any of them. That should have given me a little breathing room. Well of course there might still be cancer in some other part of it, but the fact that they took three samples and found them all benign gave me significantly improved odds and that  was downplayed to the max.

At no time was I given a list of drugs I would be given. I should have ASKED, but in an ideal world  they should just TELL you as part of your pre-surgical consult.  OK, so most people don't give a rip and wouldn't read it, but I would have.  You have to sign a form when you go for surgery that sort of leaves all decisions up to them or they won't operate. Obviously they had to give me drugs to take me out during the procedure, and they kind of have to play dosages and drugs by ear during surgery. That is the anaesthesiologist's job and as far as I know, he did it just fine, though I believe that the price you're willing to pay each time you go under general anaesthesia  is some dead brain cells.  Then there have to be pain killers. I received morphine and some kind of souped up ibuprofen that you can only take for five days. I believe this is appropriate use of morphine. People who truly have pain do not tend get addicted to morphine. It is only if you take it after the pain is gone.

But Reglan? Someone should have told me about the Reglan!   Reglan is a neuroleptic. Neuroleptics are a family of psychoactive drugs often used in the treatment of schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders. One of the effects of Reglan is that it makes the digestive organs contract. This is why you get it after gut surgery.  The GI tract normally goes into kind of shocked paralysis when you get any kind of partial evisceration done on you. Why are they in such a hurry to get it moving again? If any one had consulted me I would have asked exactly what are the benefits of Reglan and what would happen if I didn't get any? They had told me they wouldn't feed me anything except ice chips until I farted out some of the gas that had been left inside me. I really couldn't have cared less.  Eating was the last thing on my mind. All I was doing was laying around. Even though I had been fasting for approximately three and a half days, after that operation you don't have much appetite. So I was in no hurry to start the food processing machinery going. I was getting IV nutrition. Why can't they just let it rest?

Well thanks to Reglan,  there was "GI motility" within 12 hours. Good for me. Now that I have achieved GI motility, can we stop with the Reglan already or maybe cut down? If I had been my normal self and not doped out on God only knows what, I would have surely asked that. But no, strange people just kept coming around at regular intervals waking me from a kind of stupified zombified half sleep injecting stuff in me and then telling me afterwards: That was your Reglan. I had never even heard of Reglan. I remember dimly being told that it stimulates the GI tract. I had my last dose just before I left the hospital. I do not know if they were diminishing the dosages or not. No one ever told me.

Once home, and off the Reglan, all output ceased. I wasn't worried about that, after all, there hadn't really been a whole lot of input. In a day or two, the food processing chain was working fine on its own without any help from Reglan. One of the documented side effects of Reglan is called tardive dyskinesia. It is fairly rare. It basically mimics the symptoms of Tourette's. The freaky thing is that when it happens it is permanent. Rare or not, nobody told me anything about it.   One lasting effect I have had is a dramatic increase in borbyrygmi. What the hell is borbyrygmi, you ask? Well it's just a fancy name for stomach growling. Like everyone else, I had always experienced some degree of stomach growling when hungry. It's normal. But even months after the operation, the the noise level of the digestive process in this carcass has a jacked up to a sometimes embarrassing degree, and not just when I'm hungry.  The other thing is that my innards have felt "weird" ever since.  That's the best I can describe it -- I'm constantly aware of them and their actions and it's not just thinking about it, it's actually feeling it.    I'd be willing to wager that these are   lesser known and less serious side effect of Reglan. After all, the desired effect is to make your guts contract at the time. If it can permanently alter the nerve pathways to your facial muscles, perhaps it changed something in my guts as well. And I'm not real thrilled about that but I am delighted that the whole thing is over, the scar is curing nicely,  and that try though they might they just could not find any cancer.   

Bottom line:  It's YOUR body, and your only one I assume.  You deserve to know what they are going to do to it!   Don't be afraid to ASK!  I would not have been afraid, but it just didn't occur to me.  Read this and learn.

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Comments 14 comments

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

Hot Dorkage, thanks for sharing this information. I think they rush to surgery way too fast. They call things "cancer" when they are really just growths, many benign. And they use entirely too much medication without consulting the patient.

I read in Newsweek that the early detection measures (mammograms, colonoscopy,etc.) are picking up benign growths and slow growing cancers, but they by their nature cannot detect fast growing cancers early. So early detection is really not saving that many lives.

hot dorkage profile image

hot dorkage 7 years ago from Oregon, USA Author

In my case surgery was probably correct even though they did terrify me into doing it quickly. Eventually it would have caused a physical obstruction. Current technology doesn't allow roto-rooting of something that big. But I am not at all happy about all the drugs I was given without consulting with me. I'm pretty sure I could have done with way less Reglan, or perhaps done without it altogether.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

Hot Dorkage, are you off all the drugs now?

hot dorkage profile image

hot dorkage 7 years ago from Oregon, USA Author

Well, yeah, all the prescription pharmaceutical ones, anyway! ;)

psycotria profile image

psycotria 6 years ago from West Palm Beach, FL

I completely agree with your right to know about medications. I also agree with your right to decide against taking Reglan. However, I think your linking of that med with your after surgery changes is speculative. Sure, it may have been the cause, but then again, the fact that you have recently undergone major surgery is much more likely the cause. Give yourself two good years to heal and hopefully your situation will return to normal.

Best Wishes,

hot dorkage profile image

hot dorkage 6 years ago from Oregon, USA Author

you are right psycotria, the last bit was speculative (and I in fact said so,) and probably wrong. However I've just known a lot of people who went on meds without surgery and got all these subtle side effects (from what?) that no one even remotely mentioned to them. The real kicker is that they just pump you full of meds and don't really inform you about it. My guts are still lumpy 7 months after the op but otherwise I am doing well. Thanks :)

Rob 6 years ago

I guess I’m a surgery veteran, especially for a person who hasn’t been the victim of a serious illness or a terrible accident. I lead a fairly physical and active lifestyle and as a result I’ve had about eleven unrelated surgeries in the last in the last dozen or so years, three this year. I’d had a little trouble with anesthesia a few times, not waking up easy or waking up yelling and trying to jump out of bed—after a knee scope I had a crushing head ache for hours, but nothing really “serious.”

On October 6, 2009 I had to have laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair surgery. As part of the pre surgery process I was given three different medications to regulate my digestive system, one was reglan. The nurse administered the dose of reglan into my IV very slowly, probably over a three to five minute period of time. About five minutes after she finished giving me the reglan I began feeling very strange.

I suddenly started feeling very panicked, as if the walls and ceiling were closing in on me. I also got very paranoid and started breathing hard and could tell my blood pressure was skyrocketing. I had an overwhelming feeling of terror and felt that I had to leave immediately. I jumped out of bed and yelled at my wife to help me and then started yelling for the nurse. I paced around like a madman trying to figure out how to get the IV out of my arm. This panicked feeling kept increasing and I knew I was losing my mind—the most frightening part, in retrospect, came when I started searching the room for something to use to kill myself with.

I’ve always been, relatively speaking, a very stable person. I’m a Sheriff’s Deputy and have worked as an undercover drug officer and as a SWAT Officer so I’m use to dealing with high stress situations. I’ve been in situations where shots have been fired and have been in situations in which people, including children, were killed—nothing has really ever caused me to “lose my cool” until I was given reglan. The nurses rushed in and got me to sit back on the bed and after awhile the effects wore down and within a few minutes I could feel the panic lessening and within ten minutes or so the panicked/suicidal feeling was gone.

I’d never experienced anything like this in my life and I pray to God I never do again. In all seriousness, if the effect of this drug hadn’t peaked and dropped off when it did I would have jumped out a window or hung myself—I was completely out of control. The nurses later told me that in rare cases reactions such as mine occur and that is the reason they have to administer the medication through the IV so slowly.

I had to have another surgery on 10/30/2009 (24 days after the hernia surgery) for kidney stones. The nurse came in with the meds to calm my stomach and I found out that they were again going to give me reglan which seems to be a favorite drug of this anesthesiologist. I told the nurse about my previous reaction and they said that they wouldn’t force me to take it. The anesthesiologist came in to talk to me about the situation and after I explained what happened she told me that in the future I should list reglan on my medical paperwork as a drug allergy.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about this drug and have found that many people have an adverse psychological reaction to this drug. This drug has such a potential for adverse reactions that it carries a black box warning. I have no idea why anybody would be prescribed this drug when there are so many other safer options.

Sorry that this was so long, but I needed to tell my story. Thanks, Rob

hot dorkage profile image

hot dorkage 6 years ago from Oregon, USA Author

Thanks so much Rob for dropping by and taking the time to share that. You validate the point I'm trying to make. Thank you for this personal experience. I did not experience the psychological effects you describe but then I was on general and God knows what other crap too and I guess not everyone has that reaction anyway. But.... The whole point was that I was not told ahead of time what drugs they would be giving me, so I had no chance to research them, so there was no way I could give "informed consent." You should tell your story in a separate hub, it would get more air that way. :) Copy and paste.

2patricias profile image

2patricias 6 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

Thanks for an informative Hub. Tricia and I both have a similar chronic medical condition - not quite the same one, but very similar (I know, that's freaky). So both of us are experienced drug takers.

In addition to your advice to ask about side effects, long term effects, etc, here is another piece of advice:

If you are alrady on prescription drugs, make sure you ask if any temporary drugs will interfer with your regular meds.

You would think that you would just be told - but not so. I gguess the problem is that doctors are busy/ under pressure, etc.

To be fair to the medical profession, I must relate that when I was expecting my first child, my cardiologist drilled me to tell delivery room staff that I must not have a certain drub. I can't remember the name of it now, but that patient doctor got me to say it over and over again so that even if I was only half conscious I could say (and he told me to say it loudly) 'I can't have that.'

hot dorkage profile image

hot dorkage 6 years ago from Oregon, USA Author

In general, most people (including doctors) are NOT problem solvers. They are efficient at doing procedures they've been trained on. Extra info or having to think slows them down, and that's anti profit and and probably anti American too. It's not that any of these things are rocket science, it's just that the light bulb doesn't throw light if you leave it off.

DePuy Pinnacle Lawsuit 5 years ago

Thanks for sharing your experience. I find it odd that the doctors did not take the time to inform you properly of the drugs and the procedure that you were about to go through, but there is a possibility that they considered your surgery an emergency. If that was the case, giving you the drugs would be an implied consent.

For my share of experience, I personally have had a DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement a few months ago. What's bothering me now are the ongoing lawsuits and complaints filed by those harmed with the Pinnacle device. I'm still learning and reading much more about its updates on the website.

What are your thoughts on the complaints filed by those injured from the Pinnacle device?

hot dorkage profile image

hot dorkage 5 years ago from Oregon, USA Author

Although it was very high priority to have the surgery as quickly as possible it didn't qualify as an emergency. There were two weeks between when it was scheduled, during which I had a consult with the surgeon and went in to the lab for pre-surgery tests and interview. At any one of those encounters they could have easily informed me of the drug plan. And of course I was not my usual skeptical logical self during that time, because I was extremely stressed out.

I'm not qualified to comment on complaints resulting from a Pinnacle hip, though I have seen the commercials. If your hip is bothering you you should probably jump on the bandwagon, and if not, you should probably also inform yourself of the average latency between when the hips were installed and when the people started having problems. And if it's the case that it starts doing harm from the get-go you need to prepare yourself. Good luck with it.

Debra Adams 4 years ago

My daughter in law was taking reglan, for something in pregnancy I think and reflux. After the baby was born she had post partum the doctors told her. She ended up in the psych ward for 2 weeks after she went totally nuts!! Afer they adusted her meds she was kind of ok, then relapsed. At first she talked about, that truck, her mom was afraid she would drive into another car, she ran around the house like a little kid, had her hair cut off short because someone said she need hair like hers, she cut it off and gave it to her, (her hair was waist length. She gave everthing a way. said she wasn't going to need it cause the second coming was here.

Monica 4 years ago

Hi all I just had a bad experience from Reglan the day after my surgery last Tuesday 2/28/2012 the sysmproms were similar to Rob, I became anxious, my heart was beating fast, i could feel my pressure rising, my lungs became weak i felt i could not breathe on my own, I just wanted for someone to help me breathe, I was having shortness of breath and was breathing hards and loud, i felt that i was dying, and was afraid to close my eyes. The nusrses did not do anything to help, my sister was in the room she fed me with water and applesauce, this helped the medicine wear off slowly!!!!! I do not wish what happened to me happen to any one, this Reglan medicine should not be administered to everyone!!!

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