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Know Your Prescription Drugs

Updated on June 21, 2022

Beware of Ambien

It is not just illegal drugs that pose potential threats to one’s life; prescription drugs can sometimes be just as deadly. Today I had an experience I will never forget, and I must say I am blessed to be alive.

This particular Saturday morning started as smooth as any other morning. I began my morning with a cup of coffee as I checked my email, a practice I do practically every morning. Everything was normal that is until I had driven about 20 miles from my house. What happened next is a real testament to the angel or angels that watch over me.

The Drive to Work

It all began at 5:30 that quiet Saturday morning as I was driving from Fort Worth to Dallas on my way to work. To get to Dallas from Fort Worth, I had to navigate three serious highways—Interstate 830, Texas State Highway 121, and Interstate 635. On Highway 121 there is road construction for about the last four miles before my exit to merge onto I-635. I was traveling in the left lane when I began to merge over three lanes of traffic to my exit. I had successfully merged two lanes and somehow I failed to continue merging and I missed the exit altogether.

A few minutes later I noted that I was on DFW Airport Property, lost and delirious, I had no idea how I got there. I was in front of a guard shack where two people, one standing and one sitting, were looking at me as though they were mystified at what they saw. Not to mention there were cars behind me, all blowing their horns. It was like a dream and I didn’t know what I was doing there. I reached for my wallet as if to pay the person sitting in the guard shack, but he stopped me short of pulling out my wallet and said, “Just take the ticket man.”

I don’t remember if I took the ticket or not. The next thing I remember was sitting on the shoulder of the Interstate, fumbling through my cell phone looking for my wife’s cell phone number to call her. My first thought was I’d had a stroke.

Finally, I got through to my wife and I told her that I was lost and that I thought I’d had a stroke. Just then, I looked up, and in plain view in front of me was a sign that read, “Fort Worth exit 1 mile”.

“I’m not lost anymore”, I said to my wife, “I’m coming home,” and then I hung the phone up.

Sleep Driving

I do not remember driving home, nor do I remember even turning into my subdivision. I only remember seeing my wife standing on the lawn next to the driveway as I backed my car in. I remembered the worried look on her face as she helped me out of the car; I slowly walked upstairs and got in the bed.

I do not remember anything of what occurred next, I only have my wife’s account of the story; this is what she said:

After seeing that there was something else wrong with me besides sleepiness my wife awakened me. I asked, “Where are we going?” “To the hospital,” she answered. She put my shoes on, I took them off; she buttoned my shirt, I unbuttoned it and lay back down on the bed and went to sleep.

Her persistence paid off and she rushed me over to the hospital where I was immediately admitted under the pretense that I’d had a stroke. I underwent an EKG, and MRI CAT scan, and I was given a heart monitor to monitor my heart activity.

Stroke-like Symptoms

After pre-examination, it was first believed that I had a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or a mini stroke. TIA may be a warning signal before a stroke occurs. A stroke is like a TIA but, a stroke may cause permanent damage to the body. TIA happens when blood flow to the brain is decreased. When this happens, oxygen going to the brain is also decreased. TIA may lead to the loss of certain body functions controlled by the part of the brain affected by the TIA. The effects of a TIA last for a few minutes to an hour. All effects are gone in less than 24 hours and do not cause permanent damage to the brain or body. TIS is caused by high blood pressure or diabetes. Other causes may be high amounts of cholesterol (fat) in the blood or smoking.

When the results of my MRI CAT scan were studied it was determined that I did not have TIA or a stroke. What I had experienced was one of the side effects of a medicine called Zolpidem which is another form of Ambien. Zolpidem is prescribed for insomnia.

The Medicine Data Sheet states that someone taking Zolpidem can experience sleepwalking if a full eight or more hours of sleep are not achieved when taking Zolpidem. The doctors all agreed that I had experienced a serious case of sleepwalking or sleep driving even though I had been awake for more than one and a half hours before this episode.

My brain was still performing normal bodily functions but the part of the brain responsible for memory was disabled, therefore I do not remember a thing. For me, it was one of the scariest experiences of my life.

Before taking medication, be sure to thoroughly read the Medicine Data Sheet, and get to know your prescription drugs. It may save your life.


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