My husband’s deaf, not dumb

Tony going deafWhat is it with my family and doctors? Admittedly I have a deep distrust of the medical profession following Shane’s death and my family and I would have to be at death’s door before consulting a doctor. I can’t say I dislike doctors as I think they usually mean well, I assume they don’t get up in the morning and think “who will I harm today?”.

Yesterday I sent the poor long-suffering husband off to see the doctor. He was driving us all demented with his dodgy ears; he was becoming as deaf as a post ye see. Surely that’s grounds for divorce? Most mornings we ALL awakened at 6am to the sound of his alarm shrieking continuously, while he slept like a baby. I think he was beginning to enjoy the benefits of oblivion. We on the other hand might as well have been taking to the wall. 

Although I have a deep distrust of doctors, I knew that they couldn’t do much harm just having a look at his ears. In fairness to the doctor, he did a great job with the husband’s ears, using some newfangled contraption. He was very thorough and also took his blood pressure, which was fine. The doctor then gave him a clean bill of health but understandably said he should give up smoking. The bold husband agreed, having absolutely no intention as he’s totally addicted to nicotine. That’s when the doctor recommended this ‘new’ drug – Chantix (aka Varenicline). Coincidentally David Healy had written a blog on Chantix yesterday here.

Well Tony (the poor husband) of course was well aware of the dangers of this particular drug and said an emphatic NO! The doctor looked bemused and said, and I quote – ‘but this is a new wonder drug’. Tony told him that he would be very concerned about the side effects of chantix whereupon the doctor said “no, no this is only a new drug, it’s a good drug and less risky than the patches”. Needless to say he left without the prescription, having muttered something about informed consent and probably had a smoke outside to calm his nerves.

Chantix come with a range of warnings, including heart risks, suicide and violence, which this doctor clearly knew nothing about. Even the pharma funded Irish Medicines Board recommend:

Patients should be advised of the possibility of psychiatric adverse effects when taking varenicline and to contact their doctor immediately if they develop suicidal thoughts or behaviour. Patients should be closely monitored during use of varenicline and it should be discontinued immediately if agitation, depressed mood, or changes in behaviour are observed that are of concern for the doctor, patient, family, or caregiver”.

The strange thing is that he only went in with a blocked ear and if he wasn’t aware of the dangers, would have left with a prescription for a drug that potentially could have killed him.

Tony was frogmarched back down to the practice with a RxISK report and this PLOS ONE study showing that Chantix has the worst record for iatrogenic violence. He’s waiting for a call back as the doctor was busy when he went back. I’m not mentioning names as we’ll be barred from every practice from here to County Cork. If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be funny. I’m just glad my husband was only deaf, not blind or stupid. The doc on the other hand… 

IMB Warning

FDA Chantix warning 

Fatality Reports on Chantix


10 thoughts on “My husband’s deaf, not dumb

  1. My favorite cartoon – a doctor, a lawyer – ‘First, admit no harm.’

    I recently forwarded your blog ‘When is a Suicide not a Suicide’ to a friend who was having horrendous adverse effects from Citalopram, given to him after the death of his wife. He didn’t suspect the drug and later asked me why his doctor didn’t know. He’s off and back to normal grief. I previously forwarded the blog to another friend whose son took his own life – again pharmaceutical-related. Citalopram was prescribed for the mother. She stopped taking it because of the info in the blog.

    My husband has atrial fibrillation and needs to be on a blood thinner. He’s been inappropriately and dangerously medicated for a number of years. He’s had dozens of falls because of the drugs – dozens of head injuries. And yet, the cardiologists are annoyed because he does not wish to take one of the newer blood thinners which are more convenient – but for which there are no antidotes – ER doctors were the first to complain. There is a simple antidote for the old standard blood thinner.


    1. Thanks Maie Liiv,
      I should probably point out that stopping medication can be extremely dangerous and should really only be done with direction from a (good) doctor.
      That out of the way, what we all really need is informed consent, so we can make decisions for ourselves whether to take the risk of the illness or the medication. Risk/benefit! It’s almost impossibly though if the doctors themselves are unaware of what the dangers are! I do hope your friends are okay – giving an SSRI for grief is ridiculous in my opinion. We have to learn that it okay to be sad, a pill wont bring our loved ones back, unless of course hallucinations are involved.


  2. Oh your poor husbands ears! I’m like that too. I can sleep through WW III while everyone else around me is awake.

    But on a serious note, regarding Chantix, it’s admirable hubby wants to quit smoking. My grandmother and Aunt quit with hypnosis and accupuncuture. I wish these doctors knew more about the new drugs than what the sales reps tell them.

    I’m mandated by the state to see a psychiatrist. I leave his office with scripts. I take them home and put them in the garbage bin. I don’t fill them. I’m still taking five or six different medications to deal with what 25 years of psych drugs have done to my body. Since October I’ve had a step throat that refuses to go away with flu like symtoms. I’m sick and tired or being sick and tired from these damn meds.

    I will be thinking of you and hubby. I hope you and your family have a wonderful summer.


  3. New drug?

    Your doctor needs educating, it’s been around for years.

    Did Tony spot any paraphernalia in the docs room?

    Does your doctor know that the Federal Aviation Agency have actually banned pilots from flying is they are taking Chantix?

    PS – Send my best wishes to him [Tony that is and not your Quack]


  4. Haha! The real story is Tony nearly got a prescription that could kill him and he didn’t even have dodgy ears…he just found a great way of not having to listen to his wife…and her somewhat talkative friend 🙂


  5. What about his hearing?
    I’m a local audiologist, The Hearing Clinic in Blacklion , I’d gladly perform a hearing test on him 😉


  6. Why do people get prescribed psych meds for ear/ ears complaints? When someone is deemed to need help they get poisoned causing right ear ache. When both ears are hissing,buzzing,strange electrical kinda waves in the head from low intensity to severe this is done using radio waves and after seeing doctor this gets stopped if patient agrees they are stressed etc. Ireland’s little known secret service of which some in my family are members do this to people but there is no oversight and people get attacked unjustifiably. Ireland has an extremely high suicide rate and is there any stats on suicide victims having ear trouble prior (obviously) to killing themselves?


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