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Jazz88: Starting my journey and scared


Jazz88

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Hello all,
Wow am I grateful to find this resource. Thank you all for being here.

I abruptly ceased my lexapro (40mg) about three weeks ago. I know I should have tapered but I did not.

I felt confident as I rode the first week of headaches out and things were okay. Week 2 was all about nausea, anxiety, dizziness and week three was similar but morning sickness vitamins helped eased my nausea.

I have windows - sometimes they're almost a whole day, or half a day, and the more frequent they occur the more I start to believe I can push through this. I'm so grateful for these moments.

The hard parts though...they're hard. I cried at work (never usually a crier) because I just didn't know when this will stop and if I can put up with it. The fact I don't know how long it will take makes it challenging. I read 2-3 weeks on science sites but the reality here is SO varied.

And symptoms come back?? I thought once the nausea was gone that was it.

I have a phobia of vomit (emetophobia) so naturally am sensitive to body signals, and easily distressed.

My management? Initially medication (Valium, beta blockers, vitamins) but I want to use them less and I'm keeping hydrated, rested, nourishing myself with good food. I'm doing lots of relaxation, deep breathing because I feel anxiety is the root of all this. Lots of cognitive work and trying to "accept" the symptoms instead of struggle.

I guess being here I'm struck by the enormity of the fact nobody knows when this will end, not even a rough idea, and that scares me.

(Additional: I do have doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist and social supports to help me through).

Thank you for reading. I welcome any dialogue!

Edited by scallywag
tags

• 28/1/2017 (approx), sudden cessation of 40mg of Lexapro.

• Was on lexapro or other SSRIs for many years prior - could not estimate when last medication free.

• Occasional B6 and Ginger vitamins to help with nausea symptoms (since 14/2/17)

• Occasional 10mg propanol or 10mg Valium to reduce anxiety symptoms (as required for last 12 months)

Link to post

Hi Jazz, 

I'm new here too and just wanted to give you a hello. I know how scary it can be to experience withdrawal symptoms. It sounds like you have a lot of things going for you as far as your mindset and approach to healing.  I have no idea if its too late for you to reinstate (go back to 40mg Lexapro until you feel stable again and THEN begin a gradual taper), but I know some people have done this.  I wish you good luck.

OFF Paxil 1996-1997 CT, no w/d sxs

OFF Celexa 2002 (6 months) CT, mild and brief w/d sxs

OFF Ativan 1mg-Cold Turkey 2014, WD Syndrome for several weeks despite intermittent use over 9 months rather than daily use.

OFF Lexapro 3 doses only February 2015 (increased depression)

OFF Paxil 3 doses only July 2016 (increased anxiety)

ON Remeron 15mg daily since AUG 2016 for PPD/PPA/PPOCD Tried cutting dose by 1/4 tablet  December 1, 2016, one week of intense withdrawal headaches, reinstated 15mg dose December 8, 2016.

ON bioidentical Progesterone cream 50mg/day originally started for self diagnosed estrogen dominance April 2015, continued use during pregnancy to alleviate hormonal headaches October 2015-July 2016, continued postpartum to help with mood July 2016-present.

Supplements: Magnesium, Fish Oil, Probiotics, Quercetin

Tried Methylfolate Sept 2016 to "potentiate" Remeron - ended up experiencing worsened side effects (mainly irritability bordering on rage) Discontinued after two doses.

BEGAN REMERON TAPER Feb 2 2017 by switching to different manufacturer of tablet mirtazipine (manufacturer that matches my liquid solution). Holding 15mg dose until adjusted. Plan to eventually do half liquid, half tablet (still 15mg), then all liquid (15mg), then .95ml of 15mg per ml liquid (a 5% reduction) depending on how I respond to adjusting from tablet to liquid.

August 2017 9mg liquid mirtazipine, cutting by 2% every week.

July 2018 3mg liquid Mirtazipine,cutting by 2-3% every week.

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Hi jazz!

 

Welcome to SA. Im sorry to hear you are suffering after getting off Lexapro. 40mg is a high dose, and stoping cold turkey is likely to cause problems with withdrawal. 

A moderator hopefully be here soon to advice you.

 

You will find a lot of support here.

 

Wish you good luck. 

<p>Sept 2015: 5 mg Cipralex for 3 weeks. Lots of side effects. Reduced to 2.5 mg for 2 weeks. Experiencing withdrawal and side effects still after dose reduction. Quit after almost 4 weeks on 2.5 mg because of adverse effects. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms still. Reinstating 1mg after 3 weeks. Reduced to 0.50 after 2 days due to sensitive reaction (dysautonomia) and trip to ER. January 2016: After 14 months of tapering from 0.5 mg im now down to 0.08mg. Planing on one more drop before 4-8 weeks healing, then jump to zero. 14.03.17: Lexapro free!

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi Jazz and welcome to SA,

 

What you are experiencing is withdrawal symptoms from your cold turkey.  And yes, unfortunately, it may get worse.

 

The reason we experience withdrawal symptoms is because the brain has adapted to the drug we have been taking.  It is a physiological dependence, not a physical dependence, and the only known way of reducing the symptoms is to reinstate the same drug.

 

I will give the information below which I suggest you read and then let us know if you wish to reinstate.  We can then suggest a small dose to try.  Please do not go back on your previous dose because your brain will have already made some adaptations and 40mg may be too much.  You may only need as low as 5mg because you have been off the drug for 3 weeks.  After stabilising for at least 3-4 months you could then do a 10% taper of the previous dose followed by a hold of about 4 weeks to allow the brain to adapt to not getting as much of the drug.

 

About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms

 

Dr Joseph Glenmullen's WD Symptoms Checklist

 

Tips for tapering off Lexapro (escitalopram)

 

This might help you to understand SA's recommendations:

 

Brain Remodelling
 

Video:  Healing From Antidepressants - Patterns of Recovery

 

Here are some more links to check out:

 

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

How do you talk to a doctor about tapering and withdrawal?

 

What should I expect from my doctor about withdrawal symptoms?
 

It will be helpful if you would Please put your Withdrawal History in Signature.  Please include details for the last 12-18 months of  all drugs, dates, doses and discontinuations & reinstatements.  If you can't remember dates, please write it as "early March" or "mid-August".  Please provide a summary of any drugs prior to that which can just be listed with start and stop years. Please include all prescription, non-prescription drugs and supplements you are currently taking. If you are using a phone there are instructions in Posts 9 & 10.

 

 

You can ask questions here in your Intro/Update topic and journal your progress.  Click "Follow" top right and you will be notified when someone responds.

NEW!!!     INTERVIEW with Altostrata, SA's founder    NEW!!! 

 

Plodding along inch by inch:  12" = 1',  3' =  36 " or 1 yard,  1760 yards  = 63,360" or 1 mile

Current from 17 Apr 2021:  Pristiq 0.2665mg  now holding each dose for 3 weeks

ADs since ~1992:  25+ years - 1 unknown, Prozac (muscle weakness), Zoloft; citalopram (pooped out) CTed (very sick for 2.5 wks a few months after); Pristiq:  50mg 2012, 100mg beg 2013 (Serotonin Toxicity)  Tapering Oct 2015 

My tapering program   My Intro (goes to my tapering graph)  My website

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not a medical professional.  I provide information and make suggestions.

Link to post

Thank you very much for the welcomes and replies

 

Chessie, I'm sad you had to ask me to put my withdrawals history in my signature because that was the first thing I (thought I) did following joining. I'll investigate, I don't know why it didn't work.

 

The idea of reinstating scares me. Yes, it can ease the symptoms I'm going through just by having a small dose and then tapering off that, but it looks SO difficult to get off lexapro even with tapering I sort of want to only face it once, you know?

 

I thought the Brain Remodeling link was very good, I've been scouring online to find decent explanations about what is happening in the brain in withdrawal. On the whole it seems poorly understood about the exact mechanisms between synapses and what they do following cessation of an SSRI, but I've got an understanding at least of the possibilities.

 

I think for me it will be about one day at a time before any decision to reinstate. Im the better moments, the windows, I am mindful of my lack of symptoms so I can remember that in the down times. That it does pass. It will pass.

• 28/1/2017 (approx), sudden cessation of 40mg of Lexapro.

• Was on lexapro or other SSRIs for many years prior - could not estimate when last medication free.

• Occasional B6 and Ginger vitamins to help with nausea symptoms (since 14/2/17)

• Occasional 10mg propanol or 10mg Valium to reduce anxiety symptoms (as required for last 12 months)

Link to post
  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi Jazz,

 

About the signature when you sign up.  The same thing happened to me and I thought I had done something "wrong".  The original sign up withdrawal information in one that is not visible to the public.  The signature withdrawal appears below every post you make.  I know it seems confusing but your signature is showing up now.  Thank you.

 

I am not trying to scare you into reinstating, just provide you with information so you can make an informed decision.  The sooner you reinstate the more chance there is that it will be successful.  Please read this link for what can happen down the track:  Withdrawal Symptoms - Delayed Onset

 

I'd like to share my own experience.  I was on 100mg Pristiq and reduced my dose to 50mg.  After suffering with very bad brain fog (everything was such an effort because I felt like I was walking around in a trance) for two and a half weeks I started researching antidepressant withdrawal and found SA.  The suggestion was that I should updose but it took me a few days gaining knowledge to understand what was happening.  At the 3 week mark I got to the stage where I wasn't able to type.  I am a professional typist so for me to not be able to type was alarming to say the least.  I decided to updose and within 4 hours my foggy head was clearing and I was able to type again.  Because my ability to type was a benchmark, I knew it wasn't a placebo effect and that my brain needed the drug.

 

After holding for a couple of months I have since been successfully tapering with only very mild withdrawal symptoms and I am now down to 30mg.

NEW!!!     INTERVIEW with Altostrata, SA's founder    NEW!!! 

 

Plodding along inch by inch:  12" = 1',  3' =  36 " or 1 yard,  1760 yards  = 63,360" or 1 mile

Current from 17 Apr 2021:  Pristiq 0.2665mg  now holding each dose for 3 weeks

ADs since ~1992:  25+ years - 1 unknown, Prozac (muscle weakness), Zoloft; citalopram (pooped out) CTed (very sick for 2.5 wks a few months after); Pristiq:  50mg 2012, 100mg beg 2013 (Serotonin Toxicity)  Tapering Oct 2015 

My tapering program   My Intro (goes to my tapering graph)  My website

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not a medical professional.  I provide information and make suggestions.

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Hi Jazz88, welcome to the forum.

oh you sound so much like me when I first found this place, I was sure that I could go down quickly in my dose and not follow the 10% taper schedule and that I'd be just fine, because at first I was.

 

I so SO regret not taking the advice I was given more seriously!! You have no idea how much I regret it.

My signature tells the story of how I went from either 30 or 20 mgs of lexapro (I honestly do not recall) down to just 2.5mgs in just a few months, and I was fine, I didn't notice anything, til suddenly, I could not sleep, and I mean AT ALL, I was wide awake and in hell for about a week. I had the worst uncontrollable rages, I was screaming at ppl and had NO idea why!!
My PCP gave me an Rx for some drug I'd never heard of, and while googling it, I found THIS FORUM and realized that I was going thru withdrawal ( I was told it only takes a few WEEKS to get off the high dose I was on, stupid stupid drs!!)

 

 

Luckily I found this forum and quickly re instated at 2.5mgs

I stabilized pretty quickly and figured I was all set.

 

after coming down so fast, I decided to stay at 2.5mg for awhile. I had some symptoms but they werent too awful, I found most of them just annoying.

 

then i forgot to take the dose for a just a few days, tried to go back on at 2.5mgs and had such horrible dizziness, I just stopped taking it altogether. (I probably should have reinstated at a lower dose and I would have been ok)

 

DUMB DUMB DUMB!! I really believed I was going to be different, I was not going to suffer all the terrible symptoms that I had read about.

I thought I was a special case. I thought maybe the people here were exaggerating, or just "malingering" looking for attention. yes I am so embarrassed that I thought that. But I did.

 

I got thru the next four months OK. My  sleep wasn't great, but I got some sleep. I got more and more impatient and then all of a sudden, I crashed.

 

read thru my thread, you'll see how bad it was. I had well over 40 symptoms and all of them were severe. I had symptoms I'd never heard of before, DP and DR... what is this?? I'd never had that before in my life

I was TERRIFIED!
I went thru hell for a long time after that, and even now I am having bad waves that PROBABLY would be MILD if I had done a proper taper and not jumped off at  2.5mgs thinking I was gonna be different, I was going to be the special case.

I can't emphasize enough that after taking such a high dose of lexapro, you REALLY want to be considering re instating at a smaller dose. REALLY!

you may be fine now, but you have no idea how strong this drug is, and what horrors could await you if you don't. I don't want to scare you, or maybe I do...?
I mostly want to spare you what I went thru!!

it was really really rough. I did not think I would make it thru it. Some days I crawled thru it just minute by agonizing minute

 

please, do consider reinstating a wee bit. You can save yourself a LOT of NEEDLESS suffering.

I am going to go to my thread and try to find the posts where things went bad, and link you to it, so you can see how you can be FINE and suddenly find yourself in utter misery

 

OK I dont know how to link to a certain post but this is my thread:
http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/10851-catnapt-hope-im-doing-this-right/page-5

 

 

I am actually very surprised reading thru it that I was not complaining more or being more specific about the symptoms because for a many weeks, I literally felt like I was in hell and was never going to get out.

 

 

again, this is not to scare you, just to let you know that is it not at all uncommon for ppl to come off quickly and end up having horrible symptoms many months later

I think its called delayed protracted WD and believe me, you want to avoid it at all costs!

those who are doing a proper taper and those who went off too fast but reinstated at a smaller dose generally do MUCH better

 

sure it will take longer to get off, but it will not be so horribly unpleasant. I got to the point where I was frankly suicidal and had to take a rescue med to get out of it.

It can be very bad.

 

please reconsider!!

 

by the way this is at least my second attempt at coming off lexapro. I was on it since 2002. I went off cold turkey sometime around 2006 or so, and had to get back on because I was a total basketcase (i didn't go off on purpose that time, I lost my prescribing doctor)
each time I've tried to go off, I've gone WAY too fast, dropping from 30 to 20 to 10 mgs and then stopping, and the withdrawal symptoms would hit and I'd have to go back on

 

 

I am going to make it this time because I am going to do it SLOWLY so the wd symptoms stay milder.

 

 

all the best to you!!

  • pysch med history: 1974 @ age 18 to Oct 2017 (approx 43 yrs total)
  •  Drug list: stelazine, haldol, elavil, lithium, zoloft, celexa, lexapro(doses as high as 40mgs), klonopin, ambien, seroquel(high doses), depakote, zyprexa, lamictal- plus brief trials of dozens of other psych meds over the years
  • started lexapro 2002, dose varied from 20mgs to 40mgs. I tried to get off it several times. WD symptoms were mistaken for "relapse". 
  •  2013 too fast taper down to 5mg but WD forced me back to 20mgs
  •  June of 2105, tapered again too rapidly to 2.5mgs by Dec 2015. Found SA, held at 2.5 mgs til May 2016 when I foolishly "jumped off". Crashed in Sept, reinstated at 0.3mgs in Oct. 2106
  • Tapered off to zero by  Oct. 2017 Doing very well
  • Nov. 2018 feel 95% healed, current age 63 
  • Jan. 2020 feel 100% healed, peaceful and content 
  • Nov. 2020, loving life ❤️ 
 
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hi again Jazz,

I just re read your posts and noticed that you have valium for anxiety. that might make your withdrawal go a bit easier, I don't know. I had a "use  as needed" prescription for klonopin that I rarely used, but when I got hit with severe anxiety and panic last fall, I was not able to use the klonopin because I ended up with either rebound anxiety or a paradoxical effect (worse anxiety and insomnia) I really don't know which, so I could not take it to help me thru the worst times.

 

 

I also wish I'd noticed that you already wrote that you're scared in your very signature, I'm so sorry I came on so strong about how bad WD can get, I really don't want to add to your fear! I just hope that you don't make a decision now that you may come to regret, as I did.

 

have you read this thread? It explains more about how strong lexapro is and gives all sorts of other useful information:
http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/406-tips-for-tapering-off-lexapro-escitalopram/

  • pysch med history: 1974 @ age 18 to Oct 2017 (approx 43 yrs total)
  •  Drug list: stelazine, haldol, elavil, lithium, zoloft, celexa, lexapro(doses as high as 40mgs), klonopin, ambien, seroquel(high doses), depakote, zyprexa, lamictal- plus brief trials of dozens of other psych meds over the years
  • started lexapro 2002, dose varied from 20mgs to 40mgs. I tried to get off it several times. WD symptoms were mistaken for "relapse". 
  •  2013 too fast taper down to 5mg but WD forced me back to 20mgs
  •  June of 2105, tapered again too rapidly to 2.5mgs by Dec 2015. Found SA, held at 2.5 mgs til May 2016 when I foolishly "jumped off". Crashed in Sept, reinstated at 0.3mgs in Oct. 2106
  • Tapered off to zero by  Oct. 2017 Doing very well
  • Nov. 2018 feel 95% healed, current age 63 
  • Jan. 2020 feel 100% healed, peaceful and content 
  • Nov. 2020, loving life ❤️ 
 
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  • Moderator Emeritus

You might want to consider taking Magnesium.  I have found that it takes the edge of my anxiety.  It is one of two supplements that SA recommends.  The other is Omega-3 Fish Oil
 

NEW!!!     INTERVIEW with Altostrata, SA's founder    NEW!!! 

 

Plodding along inch by inch:  12" = 1',  3' =  36 " or 1 yard,  1760 yards  = 63,360" or 1 mile

Current from 17 Apr 2021:  Pristiq 0.2665mg  now holding each dose for 3 weeks

ADs since ~1992:  25+ years - 1 unknown, Prozac (muscle weakness), Zoloft; citalopram (pooped out) CTed (very sick for 2.5 wks a few months after); Pristiq:  50mg 2012, 100mg beg 2013 (Serotonin Toxicity)  Tapering Oct 2015 

My tapering program   My Intro (goes to my tapering graph)  My website

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not a medical professional.  I provide information and make suggestions.

Link to post

Thank you all so much for your responses and advice. It's hard to believe I only just joined but have so much advice and support, and so comprehensive, thank you for taking the time to help :)

 

I will need to take a bit of time to process this. I don't want to become to focused on my withdrawal or I get paralysed by it and less likely to overcome more milder symptoms, but I wanted you to know I've read this and I will come back to it, and every word is appreciated (even if I'm sufficiently freaked out) ;)

 

Magnesium and omega 3 are really good ideas. I tried to find an accessible format of these last week that wasn't a giant pill (struggle to swallow) but was at a small pharmacy so might try a bigger one where I may get better dissolvable magnesium or gummy versions.

 

Definitely feel the magnesium will help - I've woken up with leg cramps twice now so my brain would probably appreciate it.

 

Thanks all :)

• 28/1/2017 (approx), sudden cessation of 40mg of Lexapro.

• Was on lexapro or other SSRIs for many years prior - could not estimate when last medication free.

• Occasional B6 and Ginger vitamins to help with nausea symptoms (since 14/2/17)

• Occasional 10mg propanol or 10mg Valium to reduce anxiety symptoms (as required for last 12 months)

Link to post
  • Moderator Emeritus

I can imagine that you are feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment.  I know I was when I first joined SA.

 

If you find that your brain is in overdrive trying to make sense of all the information (mine was!), it might be helpful to go slowly back through your topic and read the links again and jot down notes as you go.

 

And of course, if you have any questions, please ask them here in your topic. :)

NEW!!!     INTERVIEW with Altostrata, SA's founder    NEW!!! 

 

Plodding along inch by inch:  12" = 1',  3' =  36 " or 1 yard,  1760 yards  = 63,360" or 1 mile

Current from 17 Apr 2021:  Pristiq 0.2665mg  now holding each dose for 3 weeks

ADs since ~1992:  25+ years - 1 unknown, Prozac (muscle weakness), Zoloft; citalopram (pooped out) CTed (very sick for 2.5 wks a few months after); Pristiq:  50mg 2012, 100mg beg 2013 (Serotonin Toxicity)  Tapering Oct 2015 

My tapering program   My Intro (goes to my tapering graph)  My website

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not a medical professional.  I provide information and make suggestions.

Link to post

Its understandable that you need to process all this information, and in the end its your choice to make If you want to reinstate or not. The response to Lexapro WD is individual, so its not possible to predict how this will work out for you.

 

With that said, many experience worse symptoms later on. As more time passes by, the window for Reinstating gets smaller and you run the risk of getting your nervous system sentisized, and the drug no longer works to ease your symptoms, but instead trigger a negative reaction, often with symptoms of increased anxiety/activation. The WD symptoms can last for many months and Reinstating is the only known way to ease symptoms. Dont want to scare you, but time is of the essence If you want to try going back on a small dose.

 

Wish you a smooth and steady recovery!

<p>Sept 2015: 5 mg Cipralex for 3 weeks. Lots of side effects. Reduced to 2.5 mg for 2 weeks. Experiencing withdrawal and side effects still after dose reduction. Quit after almost 4 weeks on 2.5 mg because of adverse effects. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms still. Reinstating 1mg after 3 weeks. Reduced to 0.50 after 2 days due to sensitive reaction (dysautonomia) and trip to ER. January 2016: After 14 months of tapering from 0.5 mg im now down to 0.08mg. Planing on one more drop before 4-8 weeks healing, then jump to zero. 14.03.17: Lexapro free!

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I wonder how much I should reinstate to?

 

I'm seeing my GP today though I don't know if she'll know

I don't know what to do

 

I'm scared if I reinstate I'll get symptoms from doing that but

I'm scared if I don't reinstate I'll just keep suffering

And I'm scared if I reinstate I'll just face these symptoms down the track

 

(Obviously I'm just scared)

• 28/1/2017 (approx), sudden cessation of 40mg of Lexapro.

• Was on lexapro or other SSRIs for many years prior - could not estimate when last medication free.

• Occasional B6 and Ginger vitamins to help with nausea symptoms (since 14/2/17)

• Occasional 10mg propanol or 10mg Valium to reduce anxiety symptoms (as required for last 12 months)

Link to post
  • Moderator Emeritus

Firstly, if you see the GP before you get a suggested dose from SA, please let us know what the GP suggests before you take anything so you can get a second opinion.

 

Have you read the links I gave you about doctors and withdrawal (near the end of my post #4)?

 

I'll ask the mods what dose they think and we'll get back to you with a suggestion.

 

Also, B vitamins can be too activating for people in withdrawal.  hypersensitive-to-b-vitamin-or-b-vitamin-complex

NEW!!!     INTERVIEW with Altostrata, SA's founder    NEW!!! 

 

Plodding along inch by inch:  12" = 1',  3' =  36 " or 1 yard,  1760 yards  = 63,360" or 1 mile

Current from 17 Apr 2021:  Pristiq 0.2665mg  now holding each dose for 3 weeks

ADs since ~1992:  25+ years - 1 unknown, Prozac (muscle weakness), Zoloft; citalopram (pooped out) CTed (very sick for 2.5 wks a few months after); Pristiq:  50mg 2012, 100mg beg 2013 (Serotonin Toxicity)  Tapering Oct 2015 

My tapering program   My Intro (goes to my tapering graph)  My website

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not a medical professional.  I provide information and make suggestions.

Link to post
  • Administrator

Hello, Jazz.

 

Given you were taking 40mg Lexapro, reinstating at 5mg seems reasonable. You don't want to overdo it because your nervous system might be sensitive to it now.

 

This link Tips for tapering off Lexapro (escitalopram) (thank you, Chessie) explains how to take a small amount of Lexapro. It comes in a liquid form by prescription, too.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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