complicated situation - need advice

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New Member

Date Joined Jan 2009
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 1/20/2009 8:02 AM (GMT -7)   
My brother's girlfriend had 2 consecutive seizures at my place of business yesterday.  She had run out of her seizure medication that morning and hadn't told anyone.  The EMTs came, but she was coming out of the second seizure by the time they showed.  She refused treatment from the EMTs.  My brother arrived and took her to a medical office nearby, where she suffered a third seizure and they gave her a shot of valium.  That doesn't sound like the right thing to do for a seizure, but I'm not a doctor, obviously.  All she really needed was her prescribed dosage of phenobarbitol, which they eventually gave her a prescription for, but not actually the drug itself.  To get the prescription filled, we had to take her to the pharmacy, where they claimed that she should have had enough to last nine or ten more days.  There were basically 18 pills missing if she followed her prescription.  After twenty minutes at the pharmacy, arguing with them about her needing her medicine... she went into seizure number four.  We could hear her doctor screaming at the pharmacist on the phone to never let her run out of that medicine.  I witnessed the first two and the fourth seizures (I was not with them inside the doctor's office), and I have seen many seizures before.  These were either tonic-clonic seizures (what I called grand mal seizures but I guess that term is out-dated) or Academy Award-worthy fakes.  The suspicion from the pharmacist is that she is faking the seizures to get meds for her addiction or for sale.  I believe the situation is more complicated than that and I don't know what I should do to help my brother and his girlfriend.  I certainly don't want to exacerbate the situation.  It's easy to not get involved and just say "it's not my problem," but this girl clearly needs help.
The thing is, I have reason to suspect that she may be selling at least some of her meds for cash to "get by."  She and my brother don't have a lot of money, and I recently saw her talking to a strange guy in a pick-up truck across the street from a local convenience store just two days before she "ran out" of her meds.  I was driving by on the way back from visiting my father and grandmother, when I saw her on the opposite side of the street from where she lives and where the convenience store is.  There is literally no reason she would go across the street, there's nothing at all over there but a vacant lot.  It looked a hell of a lot like a drug deal to me.  My brother says that she "found" ten dollars that same day in her jacket pocket.
I believe the girl really has seizures and honestly needs her medication.  It seems almost physically impossible to fake something like what I saw yesterday.  Still, she may be trying to "play up" the seizures a little bit.  She seems to have a good grasp of her support system and how to manipulate people's empathy for her situation to her benefit.  I'm not saying she's a bad person or anything, but if you put two and two together, it just adds up to four.  I suspect that she maybe took a few extra pills for a few days or a week, then sold the rest of her medication for cash, like maybe a dollar per pill.  She shows up with a few extra bucks one day (I witnessed something suspicious, that's for sure) and then "induces" a seizure fit in time to get more meds.  By "induce" I mean she simply didn't eat (probably on purpose) and deprived herself of sleep in combination with not taking the meds because she was out.  I suspect that she knew she was going to have a seizure, and wanted it to happen publicly so as to gain the sympathy and get more meds.  In other words, she does need the medication, but she's also abusing it as well.
The question is: what do you say to someone like that?  More importantly, what shouldn't I say?  Do my suspicions even make any sense?  Can someone "force" a seizure?  Can they understand their body's chemistry well enough to abuse themselves into having one?  What does phenobarbitol go for on the illegal market?  Am I just reading more into it than there is?  What else could have happened to the 18 missing pills?
This probably belongs more on a substance abuse site, but healingwell comes highly recommended, so I thought I'd try getting some advice here.
Thank you for your time and any wisdom you could share regarding this situation.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2006
Total Posts : 2408
   Posted 1/23/2009 6:02 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi there,

This really is very complicated and I think this is something which needs handling with extreme care. I think its important not to jump to any conclusions either. She may or may not be selling the meds for cash. A good way to find out is simply to see if she runs out of meds again. If she ends up 10 days light again, then I think that you have every right to voice your concerns to your brother. I think in terms of confrontation, your brother is probably best placed to talk to her since it is his partner.

I am from the UK so I dont know much about the US but I know that in the UK, Phenobarbital is very saleable. I think the best thing to do is to monitor the situation for a while before doing anything. I would say it is very hard to fake seizures but very easy to induce them and I dont see why she would fake them when inducing them is easier.

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New Member

Date Joined Jan 2009
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 1/27/2009 3:53 AM (GMT -7)   

I really do not have much advice on how to handle a sensitive situation like that. However, here in the states Dilantin is highly saleable. I had someone come to me because I have seizures and wanted to buy some from me. I told them to take a hike, I need my meds to keep from having seizures.  Also, if you do not take your meds correctly it can cause you some serious problems.  If my Dilantin levels even drop by one point under the recommended levels I go into seizures. So I have to be extremely careful not to ever miss a dose. 

I wish you the best of luck and I agree that speaking to your brother and allowing him to handle the situation would probably be best.

Best wishes


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