A lesson about medications learned painfully

Now I'm the last one to claim total innocence here. I did have a couple of holiday toddies with my dinner.

But that still didn't win me the option of scooting around my beautiful living room floor on my bottom-side, unable to find a way to get upright after the two-toddy holiday dinner.

A few weeks ago, I was prescribed gabapentin (600 milligrams), generic for Neurontin. And also Norco (5/325 milligrams). Both are for pain in my back and legs, pain I have been battling for several years.

Zounds! They worked. Always such a delightful surprise.

Both of the bottles warn about drowsiness and alcohol intensifying the effect and not to drive.

Well, I have taken the medications and had a glass or two of red wine (not driving) to no effect. So why would I expect a martini would set me on my ear?

The combination worked, and to my advantage. I certainly felt no pain.

The problem occurred after I got home alone and tripped on a throw rug, ending up on the floor.

I could sit but not find a place to get a good hold to pull me up. All the furniture walked with me, so to speak. I needed a strong person to hold the chair still.

So I wiggled over to a phone and called a neighbor who has a professional caregiver for her husband. She came right over but couldn't get her key to work in the lock. And the door key was too high from the floor for me to reach.

Then she called another neighbor whose son, Jonathan, walks my dog. Soon the door was open, the room full of people, and I was up in a chair.

They pushed me to my bedroom, and my caregiver neighbor got me settled for bed.

Why write about this embarrassing moment in life?

Because I woke up around 2 a.m. and ended up putting the story on Facebook. Maybe spare someone else the embarrassment -- or worse.

Because the nurse's aide told me I could take Norco and Neurontin together.

Because drug interactions and the sometimes stupid ways we toss pills in our mouth can kill us.

I should know better. My oldest son, Thomas John Haas, died Jan. 28, 2005, in just such a dumb way. Tom had pain pills. He had sleeping pills. It said "don't drink" on the bottle, but when you're 40 and 6-foot-5 and built like a linebacker, you figure those warnings are for sissies, I guess.

Tom died needlessly. And at the time, I wrote about his death to share with everyone how drug interaction can stop your heart.

It can also leave you sitting stupidly on the floor, like a big bag of bones.

And those of you who are about to send me "you stupid, stupid woman" e-mails can save your time. I got the message already.

Maybe, this way, someone else will, too.

Don't mix the pills. Read labels. Use common sense.

Everyone doesn't have neighbors like mine. They've given me the gift of a bright, shiny day. A happy holiday, indeed. Jane Glenn Haas writes for The Orange County (Calif .) Register.

Write to Jane's column appears every Sunday.

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