Erin's Journals

Monday, January 13, 2020

Just a thought… When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak. [Audre Lorde]

All right, my friend, I have a question for you. I asked it in a more existential and rhetorical way last week, but today, there’s something perhaps you have a moment to think about. If you were expecting another book from me (and some have expressed that hope), what would it be about?

I’m talking this week with some folks who might help me make the next chapter happen. But the question is this: what more is there to be said?

Hundreds of people – bereaved or not – have written expressing their disappointment at just how unable we are to talk about death or the aftermath of loss. I call it being inept at the “language of loss” and, honestly, people don’t even want to consider learning it, unless they’re in the throes of it. Why would we, right?

As supposedly the only beings who are sentient about the fact that there’s an expiry date on us, we could lose our minds and slide into depression over it or become obsessed with how much time we have left. (I guess that’s why there’s no date stamp on us, except for the inner data that is wound up in our DNA.)

Just give it a thought – the phone call is Wednesday. You know you can email me, right?

Then there’s this other thing I need to share with you. A former radio pal from Victoria sent me a link to a CBC story Saturday about two moms who are raising a baby and using induced lactation so that the one who did not give birth can feed their child.

How did such a feel-good story turn my day upside-down? Here’s how: in one line, the reporter says that domperidone has helped; it’s mentioned very much in passing as “an anti-nausea drug that…enhances lactation.” Sounds benign – who wouldn’t take it, right? But here it is: women have to get their hearts tested before taking domperidone.

There’s a reason it’s BANNED (yes, I’m yelling; I’m also shaking as I write this) in the US and prescribed with caution in the UK. Here in Canada, our health regulators suggest taking the minimum dose for the minimum time.

Lauren was not taking a minimum dose when she died from what the coroner believed wholeheartedly (but was unfortunately unable to prove for certain) to be an interaction with the drug. I remember Lauren telling me that her pharmacist remarked, “Wow, that’s a lot,” when Loo was getting her prescription filled. And here we are.

I don’t get angry about Lauren’s death – so many other emotions are there to fill the void – except where domperidone, (aka Motilium) is concerned. Thankfully, last week’s National Post article linked to the Health Canada website and I fervently wish the CBC story had done the same. I wrote to the CBC’s feedback site on Saturday and am awaiting a response. (My last one several years ago to their ombudsman never did get answered, so we’ll see.)

Please, for the love of your family or breastfeeding friends, remember the name domperidone. It sounds like Dom Perignon – a champagne – so it’s easy. A heart test is all we’re asking that doctors request before prescribing; the drug might be safe for most, but we are of the fervent belief that the side effects can be deadly in some cases, and were in the case of our family.

I’m thankful for this email from M, whose mom and a friend did just that:

My Mom is a huge fan. Talks about you like you are one of her old friends. While I just had my second child and although I think she is perfect, the doctors were worried she wasn’t gaining enough with my breast milk. Being a bit stubborn I opted not to give formula and tried my best with herbal supplements and pumping. Although it was working slowly I jumped at the chance when the doctor offered a prescription to domperidone. Thinking it was an easy solution and started taking it. Two weeks after taking them, a family friend who is a nurse was concerned I was taking them. Told me about the issues it can cause with your heart. When I mentioned it to my mom, she begged me to stop taking them and made me Google your perspective.

I’m so sorry for your daughter’s death, but I thank you for sharing your story. Because I stopped taking those pills and am disgusted that doctors continue to give them to mothers who like me will try anything for their kids. So thank you and I wish you nothing but peace and love.

That’s all I have for today. My tweets about this on Saturday garnered a lot of responses from people who were unaware, or who had acknowledged hearing about the cautions needed with Motilium, because we had been trying hard to spread the word. It’s not a lot, but it’s a start. So, thank you.

Rob WhiteheadMonday, January 13, 2020