A Letter to Julia

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Chapter 12

Seizures

Mary unrealistically believed that she could still recover from losing Magalhaes Services by starting yet another flower business called Prancing Bee Floral.Nothing came of this new business as Mary was, since 2006 when she started to take Mirapex, too wrapped in all her endless activities: sewing, gardening, scouring thrift shops, looking for bargains on Craig’s List and E-Bay, and hatching plans for new and “better” businesses.Somewhere in all of these activities Mary forgot to take care of her own daughter, and this task fell to Helen.

In January Helen and I cleaned out the flower cooler and the rest of Mary’s flower business from the storage room in our basement.So ended Mary’s second try at her own flower business.

Mirapex did not hurt Mary’s creative ability so her flower arranging at Carol’s flower shop in Maple Valley was excellent.However, Mary had to be continually prodded by the owner to “keep focused”.Helen was working there part time at the front desk.This gave us a little extra money and Helen could help keep Mary on track.

January 4, 2011: Judge Noel is allowing more time for settlements to take place.The latest offer from the defendants is up to $10,000.After all the expenses are paid (including the expenses from the wasted trip to the settle conference in Minnesota) Mary will be left with nothing and we will get nothing paid back to us either.For nothing we will have to be forever silenced after signing the non discloser agreement.Mary and Joe turned it down.

In January 2008 I was still living in Skykomish and doing research up at Steven’s Pass.Because I was gone all the time all the burden of Mary fell on Helen, I was having my own problems at Skykomish.The winter of 2007-2008 was one of the worst in Skykomish in history.The snow had built up so high in town that the city had to ask for help in moving the excess snow out of town onto an airfield.The snow had also built up so high on my rented home that I was afraid the roof would collapse. I was shoveling most of the time trying to keep our research trailer clear of snow when I was working at the pass.Now I was shoveling full time at the rented home when I should have been relaxing.The snow on the roof was a real worry as a neighboring trailer and several homes in the town had roofs collapse.

My research called for spending time in below freezing temperatures taking snowflake measurements, sometimes 24 hours or more at one stretch.When it stopped snowing and I could finally get down off of the pass and to the rental home all I wanted was to get to bed in a warm house.In January disaster struck and the chance for a warm house waiting for me.The rental house had an oil furnace and the oil tank was topped off before winter at the time we rented it.The oil would have lasted through the winter if the winter had been a normal one, but that winter was anything but normal and the oil tank ran dry.

At first I thought that the furnace had malfunctioned, but no such luck.My first job to get a warm house again was to locate the oil tank and the filler cap.Any other winter this would have been easy, but the yard was under six feet of snow and the company that filled the tank could only give me a vague idea of where the filler cap was. Before this happened I was only shoveling out the research trailer, and the roof and driveway to my rented house.Now I added shoveling out the side yard to find the filler cap.The only good thing about shoveling was it kept me warm.

By the end of January I was pretty worn out between all the shoveling and long cold research hours.I needed to get the roof shoveled off again and I still could not find the filler cap.The problem with shoveling the side yard was having to move the snow away from where I was shoveling onto areas that had already over several feet of snow on them.I was down to a patch of snow about seven feet square in the side yard when I gave out and called for help.

On January 30 my son Adam and Amy’s husband Mark came up to help and was I glad to see them!Mark started on the roof and Adam and I continued the hunt for the filler cap on the oil tank.Having the extra help gave me a shot of energy.Adam and I were down to a few square feet of snow left to dig when, clunk, Adam’s shovel hit the filler cap.This was the type of happening seen in comedy movies.The whole side yard was dug free of snow and the filler cap was in the last few shovelfuls of snow.I should have been laughing, but I wasn’t.Soon the oil tank was filled and heat returned.

When I was able to return home from Skykomish for a day or two I worked with Adam or Joe on Mary’s and Joe’s house.The cabin was secure on the new foundation, but there still lots of work to do under the house.The floor was dirt and before the cement floor could be poured the plumbing had to be dug in and connected to the existing sewer line.Because the cabin and eventual completed home was on a lake, all the water from the roof had to be run into a large catch basin, which was filled with gravel and buried in the front yard.

January 12, 2011: The latest offer from the defendants is now up to $25,000.Nothing has changed on our side.

January 15, 2011:Judge Noel has ruled that both the plaintiffs and the defendants can now file dispositive motions with limited discovery allowed for those motions.This means the both sides can file motions asking for summary judgments, motions to dismiss, etc. Discovery is where each side has to turn over to the court and to the other side the information they have that pertains to the motion and its defense.

Summary judgments are granted by a judge where one side feels the evidence is so overwhelming that any jury would find in their favor.For instance the defendants could ask for a summary judgment based on when Mary knew Mirapex was harming her.I’m afraid they might throw motions at our lawyer just to make him spend time and money defending them.They have all the time and money on their side.

In early March 2008 the research project ended.Helen and the kids helped me pack up and Helen and I drove a U-Haul truck home on the 5th.As it turned out our “research” adventures were not over yet as the rental truck broke down on the Steven’s Pass highway a few miles west of Skykomish.Helen and I had a few hours wait before a mechanic could get to us.Luckily we were close to a MacDonald’s so after a fast food dinner we killed time by walking out on country roads.I had diagnosed the problem so the mechanic could bring the correct replacement part.Once he came we were quickly on our way and ten thirty that night we were home.I returned to all the problems with Mary and their house; out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Joe and I with help from Adam were now working using every spare moment away from work and my yard chores on my house, on Mary and Joe’s home.When Mother’s day came around in May we took a welcome day off and went to the town of Snoqualmie for a train ride with all the family, then back to our house for a meatball, new potato and apple and peach pie dinner.It was a great day and a nice break.At the time we didn’t know that this Mother’s Day would be the last normal one for us for a long time.

The work on the catch basin was very hard.We could just get a small tractor around the side of the house to dig it out, but did not have any good way to get the gravel into the basin.This we had to do by wheel barrow from an enormous pile of gravel out by the road.We took turns filling the wheel barrows at the pile, wheeling them down or wheeling them back up hill again.My cousin Garrett came to help.I could keep up with the young guys OK, but at the end of the day I was ready to rest while they still had energy left.Finally the pit, which looked huge to my eyes, was filled.The sewer connection had passed inspection earlier in the month so on May 27th we finished grading the yard.The next job would be to ready the floor for pouring concrete.We were anxious to get the floor down as then the basement walls could be put up.After that all Mary and Joe’s items in paid storage could be moved in to the basement.Then Helen and I could get out from under the storage payments.

Mary and Joe had planned to have in-floor heating in the basement and Mary had purchased the necessary plastic pipe and gas fired heating tank when she was still successfully working at Magalhaes Services.We finished putting in the plumbing that was to be under the basement floor and successfully passed the inspection and pressure testing.We then laid the gravel on top of the dirt and leveled it.Again the gravel had to be wheel barrowed around the side of the house and into the basement; more hard hand work! Once the gravel was down Joe and I laid plastic panels down that provided the necessary vapor barrier and channels to run the in-floor heating pipe.

On July 31, because funding had run out, I retired early from the University of Washington after 41 years of working as a scientist.Counting my years of college at the University I had spent 45 years there. There was no fanfare, no Golden handshake, just the end of an era and a steady income.On Saturday August 2nd with help from friends and family the basement floor was poured.Now we could start on the interior basement walls.

Mary’s behavior had become more erratic as the summer went on. I was very worried that Mary’s body would not be able to continue her work schedule and her all night escapades.I repeatedly warned her about this.I told Mary that while her mind thought everything was fantastic her body would “know” better and not be able to continue at the pace she was driving it.My badgering had some effect on Mary as she reluctantly agreed to start tapering off of Mirapex on August 8, 2008.Mary did not really understand at all the damage Mirapex had done to Helen and I and her family, but Mary was beginning to not like the way she felt for the first time in three years.Mary’s crazy behavior was accelerating at a scary pace.

On August 13 Helen went down to check on Mary and found out that she had again stayed up all night sewing on a project she would never finish.On August 27th Helen took Mary to the dentist and the dentist discovered that Mary had a massive infection in her jaw and needed immediate root canals in three teeth.The dentist was surprised that Mary could even walk into his office in such condition.Apparently Mirapex driven compulsions had made Mary incapable of noticing her mouth.It was pure luck that the infection was discovered before it was life threatening.On August 31 Mary drove into West Seattle but couldn’t drive back home and Helen had to retrieve her.Mary was increasingly not feeling “right” and had driven in to find some normalcy in a place where she had many nice memories.

January 18, 2012: It has been snowing for several days.It is impossible to heat Mary and Joe’s house. We are trying to not run the heat in our house to save money. Helen and I jump out of bed into the shower.This warms us up enough to eat breakfast in the cold house, and then it is off to work at the flower shop.We don’t run the heat at the flower shop at night to save money.It takes hours to heat up the shop and lots of shivering to stay warm.

January 19, 2012: Disaster has really struck today.The snow has given way to an ice storm and then rain.Icy limbs hanging over Mary and Joe’s home have broken and stabbed through their rotted roof like giant spears.They have penetrated into the rooms below and now it is starting to rain.I’m heading down there now to try and pull out the limbs and patch the roof.Julia is sleeping on a raised platform along side Mary and Joe’s bed.If the limb had gone through the roof above her bed she would have been killed. We will have to screw plywood down over the holes and then glue roofing over the plywood.I don’t know how much more I can stand.The thought of the defendant’s lawyers all cozy in their offices in New York makes me really sad that people like that exist in this world.Is there even a God?

On the 5th of September all Mary’s behavior literally exploded in one final crazy incident. Mary had been obsessed with finding windows for either a green house or for her home.I told her that old windows could not be used in her house because of the building code and they were not really suited for a greenhouse either as old windows can easily break into dangerous shards. Mary was determined and through her constant scouring of Craig’s List found an old home that was being torn down with free windows. Mary loaded her daughter Julia in her car along with a crowbar and started out with the idea of taking out the free windows herself.What happened next is best told in Helen’s own words.

“Mary had always been a kind and loving daughter and a wonderful mother to Julia. She had always wanted to stay close to me and never refused to talk to me.She did know that I was becoming increasingly concerned about her wellbeing, because of the effect I felt Mirapex was having on her.She was becoming more agitated, especially if the subject came up about her getting off the drug.”

“On the morning of September 5, 2008 Mary took off in her car with my granddaughter Julia who was only 7 years old at the time. She armed herself with a crowbar and had every intention of driving miles away from home.Mary had seen an ad on Craig’s List for an old house that was being wrecked and she thought she could get windows and other things from it.I didn’t want her driving, and especially taking Julia, as she was becoming more erratic in her behavior and couldn’t be trusted to drive safely.As often happened, I had offered to drive her there rather than risk having her drive off on her own.Nonetheless, Mary drove off in the car against my wishes.”

“After she took off in her car I tried to call her on her cell phone.Normally, she would’ve answered her phone and spoken to me.This time, however, she would not answer her cell phone when I called.She was angry at me for wanting her to stop taking Mirapex and for interfering with her plans. I kept trying to call, but she would not answer and, as I learned later, told Julia not to answer either. This behavior was absolutely not like Mary and I was shocked and frantic to find them.”

“This was very hard and confusing for Julia. I always had a loving relationship with her and she had spent many hours with me because, as a result of being on Mirapex, Mary wasn’t always able to take adequate care of Julia.”

“After several hours, when it was getting dark, Julia finally answered the cell phone. I could hear Mary in the background telling Julia to not answer the phone or talk to me.This was upsetting to both Julia and I and I feared Julia would feel that she had to obey her mommy and hang up.Thankfully, Julia stayed on the phone for a couple of minutes.Several times, though, she hung up and I had to call her back.I felt as if I was a 911 operator.I had Julia tell me what she was seeing out the window and asked her if she could read any words on any signs.I had no idea where they were or how far they were from home.I was hoping that Julia could see a road sign or a freeway sign.”

“Julia said she was hungry and wanted some food.I told her that I would be happy to come meet up with her and her mom and take them to dinner.While Julia was talking with me she would often get interrupted by Mary who would tell her to hang up the phone.Finally Julia told me that they were going to go eat dinner at Denny’s.I told her that I loved Denny’s and really wanted to have dinner with them.I told her to ask her mom which restaurant they were going to eat at.Mary told her they’d go to the one in Tukwila which was about a half hour from our house.I eagerly jumped into the car and headed to that location.”

“It was no big surprise to me that when I got there they were not there.I was disheartened but again called Mary’s phone in the hopes that Julia would answer.Thankfully, she did answer.This time she told me that they were going to the Denny’s in Kent, another 15 minutes or so away from my location.I told Julia to tell her mommy to quit driving and park and then I’d come to have dinner with them.”

“When I got to the Denny’s in Kent they were not there either.I felt dejected but was hopeful that I was at least closing in on them.Finally, Julia was able to tell me the letters on enough signs to point me to where they were actually parked.It was in the parking lot of another restaurant in Kent.”

“When I got to the car Mary was sitting in the driver’s seat and Julia was in the back seat.The car was filled with all sorts of junk and litter.It almost appeared like they were living in the car. Mary was completely exhausted and did not have the strength to get out of the car or drive any further.Julia was very happy to see me and I tried to act as normal as possible so as not to upset her further.Neither of them had eaten all day long and it was now evening time.It was very obvious to me that Mary would not be able to drive any more that evening, even after eating, so I called my husband and son to come down so that one of them could drive Mary’s car home.”

“Once they arrived, I sent them on home and told them that I was taking Mary and Julia to Denny’s for dinner.I knew that they needed to eat and also still wanted Julia to think things were as normal as possible.We went to the restaurant, had dinner and then went home.”

“Something must have finally clicked in Mary’s brain that night because it finally hit her that Mirapex was causing harm to her.It must have been the sight of her tired, scared and hungry daughter that finally hit her.The way she treated me also could have been a factor. However it happened, all on her own the next day she called Boheringer Ingelheim in Germany and asked for help (on September 6, 2008).This was the first time Mary had taken any steps on her own to try and stop taking Mirapex.”

That wild ride was indeed the turning point for Mary.Thanks to Helen, Mary and Julia were safe at home, but Mary’s trials in trying to grasp what had happened were just starting.Helen and I had planned a big party for family and friends on our 40th wedding anniversary coming up on September 14th.Mary was still on Mirapex, but she was trying to gradually taper off.On the 13th we had a tropical themed dance in our basement recreation room where we invited all our friends and family that would like a dance theme.That party lasted until 3 AM in the morning.Mary attended as did all our children and their families.

The next day we had planned a more formal open house for everyone who didn’t come the night before.Mary was still taking Mirapex and was still pushing herself beyond what her body could take. She had been up late making more flower arrangements for the next day’s event. On the morning of the 14th we got a frantic call from Mary’s husband Joe.Mary was having seizures in bed and couldn’t talk.Helen and I threw on hour clothes and rushed down the street.Joe had called 911 and Helen found a very scared Mary convulsing in bed, trying to talk but not being able to.We tried to stay calm, but we were very scared ourselves.Mary insisted on getting out of bed and walking outside to meet the paramedics because she did not want them to see the state her house was in.We were powerless to stop her.Helen thought that perhaps she’d had a stroke because she was unable to speak normally.Helen had been present when her mother had a stroke at her house just days after Amy had been born.One of the key symptoms was the inability to speak normally.

The paramedics arrived and tried to convince her to sit down.After quickly checking Mary out they transported her to a hospital in Auburn, about 30 minutes away. The seizures were causing a lot of pain for Mary as her muscles were jerked around, but the doctors attending her were afraid to give her any pain medication until they knew the cause of her problems.At the hospital Mary continued to have seizures that the doctors could observe.Mary couldn’t talk during the seizures, but remained conscious.She could also remember the seizures and descried how she felt during them.Because she could remember the seizures epilepsy was ruled out.Helen and I left the hospital in the afternoon as we had guests arriving at 2 PM, but our hearts and minds stayed back at the hospital.Somehow we got through the party and Helen went back and stayed the night with Mary.

On the 15th Mary had two more seizures and a MRI to rule out the possibility of a brain tumor.The MRI came back normal.They also did tests for Lupus and other possible causes of the seizures.Mary spent the next night in the hospital and on the 16th she had one last minor seizure.That day Helen, I and Joe gathered around her bed for a conference with her head doctor.He delivered a bombshell.He had ruled out all causes of the seizures including Lupus.In fact he doubted that Mary had even had Lupus at all as the Lupus tests were inconclusive.He also didn’t think that Mary had fibromyalgia or any of the other things Mary had been diagnosed with over the years.In fact, he said that she had been mistreated and misdiagnosed by the medical profession for over twenty years!This came as quite a shock to all of us.The seizures, in his opinion, were stress seizures most likely brought on by her Mirapex caused compulsions which had finally driven her body to collapse.Now I realize that they could have been caused by withdrawal from Mirapex which I will discuss in Chapter 13.

This was a lot to take in and we all stood there stunned.The doctor wanted Mary to taper off of all medications immediately which she immediately started to do at the hospital.Mary was ecstatic at the news and wanted to plan a big party at our house for close friends and family to celebrate.We brought Mary home to our house where Mary and Julia would stay until Mary could be back on her own.We called Amy, Adam and Megan and asked them to come to our house for a BBQ in the afternoon.I had reservations about what the doctor had told Mary but kept them to myself.I let Mary enjoy the feeling of not being chronically ill.After the elation of the party the hard work of returning Mary to her normal self began.Mary was in no shape to return to work at Carol’s flower shop and Helen had a full time task just taking care of Mary and Julia.Helen and Mary never went back to Carol’s.

Mary was tapering off of all her medications including Mirapex but was still not mentally right.She and Julia were staying in our main floor guest room and it had French doors opening out onto the front deck facing the lake.Mary was fixated on the idea that having a pet rabbit would help her recover.I though the idea was crazy as she was not capable of taking care of one and Julia was too little to do so.Mary’s mother-in-law thought that might help Mary and give her something positive to focus on.On September 21st she took Julia to a pet store and bought a rabbit.I came in the door and found Mary holding the baby rabbit.Mary must have seen the look on my face because she immediately took off down the street for her house holding the rabbit in her arms.I chased after her and persuaded her to return with the rabbit to our house.

I frantically tried to figure out what to do with the rabbit.We had eagles and other wild animals around that would find a baby rabbit a nice meal.I was afraid that if anything happened to the rabbit Mary might be “pushed over the edge”.I went to the hardware store and bought wood and chicken wire and I constructed a cage on the section of the front deck that Mary’s bedroom opened out on.I covered the top of the cage with chicken wire also.Now the rabbit was secure and safe and Mary could open her bedroom door to see him.

March 8, 2012:Mary has received a letter from Lee that was sent to Lee from the defendants.The letter states that the defendants agree to the offer made by Mary and Joe of $30,000 for a final settlement.One of the problems with this is that Mary and Joe never made that offer and did not agree to a settlement.Is this another ploy to wear us out so that we will finally collapse and settle for nothing?Why don’t they kick us some more?Maybe we’ll break and settle.

It would be tempting to give in and get the stress over with.But, I can’t afford to go to the dentist and the teeth are broken off on the right side of my mouth.The constant pain is good for me as it reminds me of the sacrifices we have all made to put forward some hope for justice,It hardens my resolve.

It is Mary and Joe’s suit and they will nave to decide when enough is enough!

While Mary was recovering at our home Helen and I worked to fix up her yard.We knew that we would probably not have the funds to finish her house construction, but we felt fixing up the part of the yard that faced the lake would give her a needed boost.We brought in top soil and made flower beds and rockeries. We bought sod and put that down and planted flowers and scrubs.When Mary was able to return home with Julia she had a finished front yard to enjoy.

Mortgaging our home to help Mary out financially had put Helen and I in financial difficulties and we needed extra income to get by.Mary also needed work, but was in no mental shape to find any.At the time we didn’t know it but Mary was suffering from withdrawal from Mirapex.Much later, after we filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers of Mirapex, would I learn all about the serious problems from stopping Mirapex.Then we were only trying to cope as best we could.

The woman who ran Carol’s flower shop was interested in selling the shop to Helen, but the price was too much for us to manage.We only had about $50,000 dollars left over from building Mary’s and Joe’s house. There was a flower shop for sale in Enumclaw, about twenty minutes south of Maple Valley where we lived.We could manage the price and the financials looked fine.Helen and Mary could both make a little income and it would give Mary a safe place to be rehabilitated.Her rehabilitation was the main reason Helen bought the flower shop as neither of us had planned to own a flower shop when I retired.Helen had always loved being a homemaker and had no desire to start up a career, especially since I’d just finally retired.

On October 13 Helen signed the preliminary paper work and on October 24 she and Mary started helping the owner at the shop to learn how to run it.Unfortunately Mary spent a lot of the time confused over what she should be doing, but Mary was insistent that she could do it so we continued.On the 7th of November Young’s Enumclaw flowers and Gifts came into being.We paid the previous owner to stay on and help for awhile as Mary was anything but back to normal.Mary was coming out of her “Mirapex fog” and starting to realize the disaster that had happened to all of us.Notes from Helen’s calendar are pretty telling: November 9,”Mary loopy”; November 10, “Mary loopy”; November 11, “Mary suicidal”; November 14, “Mary low”; November 18, “Mary off in car”, and so it went.

April 12, 2012: I’m just finishing up this chapter that ends in Christmas of 2008.Christmas 2008 is also where I started this story in the first chapter.The final outcome of Mary taking Mirapex at this moment is in the future for all of us.In the meantime I’ll start writing the chapter describing scientific studies describing and documenting how Mirapex affects the brain and causes compulsive behaviors in addition to describing Mirapex withdrawal.To write that chapter I’ve been reading all the relevant scientific papers.I’ve just emailed off a summary of the new citations I’ve found to H. Lee Thompson in case he has not seen them.

We thought we had seen the worst but the worst was yet to come.My son Adam had been helping with deliveries at the flower shop on December 10th.Helen was visiting friends and Mary was feeling despondent and was at home that day.Just as we were finishing up at the shop a very worried Joe called us with the news that Mary had wandered off.She had been suicidal off an on and I was frightened that she had thrown herself into the lake and drowned.All the way home I was trying to figure out how I would finds the words to tell Julia that her mother was dead.The ride home was unbearable.

It had been snowing the previous week and there was snow on the sides of the road and light rain falling as we drove.When we got there the neighbor witn a flashlight was looking down at the lake shore to see if Mary was floating there.A woman had previously drowned in the lake just after we moved in and her body did not surface for months as the lake is deep and cold at the bottom.Unless Mary was still alive I didn’t think that we would find her body in the lake.I couldn’t bear the thought of Mary being in that cold and dark water.Julia was outside also and I could hardly stand to see her suffering and confused.

Joe had just called the police and they were keeping a watch for Mary.We were out scouring the immediate neighborhood when the police called.Mary had been found!Once the police brought her home we warmed her up and got her to bed.Mary, feeling despondent and still suffering from the withdrawal from Mirapex, had left home to walk to the flower shop in Enumclaw.Feeling tired and cold from not being properly dressed she laid down on the side of the road in the wet snow.Mary somehow managed to get back on her feet and was trying to find her way home when the police found her damp, and shivering from the cold.I think that Mary would have died from exposure if she hadn’t gotten up off of the ground and the police hadn’t found her.

April 18, 2012: A few months ago Mary had signed up on PACER.It is a way to register online and keep track of filings to the Federal courts in specific lawsuits.We used it to see the initial filing and today I’m going to see what is coming up for us.

The latest document was filed on April 14 and it is a discussion of the status of the Mirapex lawsuits in the Multi District Litigation (MDL) that Mary’s suit is a part of.There are over a hundred cases in the MDL some of which have already been settled.Of those cases H. Lee Thompson represents 26 clients.Seventeen of Lee’s clients have settled.The defendants have asserted to the court in that document that Magalhaes (Mary and Joe) among others “have exchanged written settlement demands and written acceptances thereof” and that “Defendants are willing to provide copies of the written settlement demands and written acceptances thereof to the Court under seal for its in camera review if necessary.”“In camera” means that the documents are delivered to Judge Noel’s chambers for his viewing.

I guess they are planning to make up these “documents we have never seen or signed” out of this air.To his credit Lee has counter asserted in that April 14 document to the court that Magalhaes has not agreed to a settlement and until the others sight the relevant papers they have not also agreed.

So far no dispositive motions have been filed by the defendants against Mary and Joe.If their case is not dismissed by a motion from the defendants or settled by August 1, 2012, then the Judge has ruled that a pretrial schedule will be made and a period for discovery will be given.

This document is a prelude to a Case Management Teleconference to be held today, April 18th. If I’m still writing the next chapter on the scientific studies of Mirapex (dopamine agonists) I’ll include the outcome in that chapter.Otherwise I’ll write the ending to this story when I know it.

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