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Old 04-17-2007, 06:13 AM   #1
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husband diagnosed with bipolar

Hi,

my husband was diagnosed with bipolar a couple weeks ago. He had a bad episode one year ago and was hopitalized for 10 days. He was put on Abilify but stopped taking it in September last year. Back then it was called brief psychotic break and it looked like he overcome his deep depression that he had after his psychotic break. A month ago my husband came home from work and said that he was hearing voices again. We found another psychiatrist (he is wonderful), since his former one was on vacation and he put him on Seroquel (300mg). I was noticing some weird behaviour. He was staring at paintings, looking at eyes and was pacing and smoking lots of cigarettes. His medication was raised up but it did not look like it was really helping. He was still hearing the voices but he was fine with that. His psychosis was about God and *****. It got to a point where I got scared when he said that he does not have to work anymore because he is waiting to enter heaven. He did say that our kids (three and four years old) would be in heaven too. The next day he acted out - got aggressive and I felt threatend to leave the house. Police and ambulance where called and he was taken to a clinic where he stayed for 10 days. He left the clinic with 500 mg Seroquel. He is in a manic but psychotic phase and the psychiatrist wants to find out if his psychosis is chemical related and it can be improved with medication. He is now on 800 mg. As of now my husband is still doing a partial program and feels great. There is no problem and everything is wonderful (according to him). He does not recognize his illness which makes it so hard. Honestely I don't know what to do. Everyone that sees him thinks he is doing great since he is social and happy and interactive but I know that is the manic in him and I can't be happy. I know all this is just the beginning and I do want to give it a chance. I know there are situations that if they occured I would pack my bags and leave. If he would ever unreasonally or physically abuse the children or me or stop taking his medication and treatment I would leave him. Right now I am waiting. Waiting to learn more about this disorder, meet people that have gone through this. I cannot give up just yet. I know his family would not understand but they aren't the ones that live with him. They have not been with him in his ups and downs.

I am afraid of it getting worse and that I should have ended it sooner. I have two children that I have to look out for.

Does anyone have experience on the effect of children?

How do these cycles work? How often do they occur, I guess everyone is different and noone can give me a prognosis.

It just feels good to talk to people with similar difficulties and thoughts.

I really like to get insight of other peoples views.

Thanks

 
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Old 04-17-2007, 07:48 AM   #2
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Re: husband diagnosed with bipolar

Hi Peanut and welcome to the board. I am not bipolar but was the partner of someone who is. My best advice to you is to take time and read through the large threads, starting from the last page (first post of that thread) and work your way backwards to the most current post.

You will see both bipolar people and their partners/spouses giving their side of the story. You will see some success stories and some heartbreaking ones. I would also suggest getting a few books. I got a lot out of Loving Someone With Bipolar Disorder and Bipolar Disorder For Dummies. The education part is easy;the coping and decision making is not.

As far as the children, I don't have personal experience with that but some here do. Your children are young so counseling wouldn't be appropriate but you may need to speak to a professional to advise you how to handle that. Surely it can leave a damaging effect on them if they see his behavior and it may get to the point where you'd have to remove yourself and them from the situation.

I am sorry you're going through this but you've come to the right place for support. Again, read the top threads which have about 1,000 replies by now. It will be time consuming but you will get to know each of us and our stories. Keep posting, make sure you read the guidelines carefully as they are strict and you want to stick around.

Take care and see you later!

 
Old 04-17-2007, 08:19 AM   #3
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Re: husband diagnosed with bipolar

Thanks for your advice Ami50.

I know that I am the only one who can make a decision on weather I want to be with my husband or not.
I have started to sign up for a family support group locally and am hoping to get some coping skills and understanding.
The question I have, can you ever forget and how will it effect the future life?
I am going to read as much as possible and I know this site will certainly help me.
Thanks

 
Old 04-17-2007, 08:23 AM   #4
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Re: husband diagnosed with bipolar

Hello peanut,

Welcome to the board. You have come to the right place to ask questions of those who are walking in your shoes. I'm sure many will chime in with comments and suggestions.

I am sorry for all that you and your husband are going through. Obviously there is a big effect on the family, especially when any children are involved. I personally feel the best way to deal with bipolar disorder is to learn as much as you can about it and the medications that are commonly used to treat it. This is important so that you can work as a partner with your husband and with the pdoc. It is an irony of the disorder that it affects the very part of the brain that would allow the individual to realize there is a "problem." So it is very common that the individual does not realize s/he has anything unusual going on. If anything, everyone else on earth is wrong and the individual is "right."

If you are interested in learning more about how to manage this disorder, I would suggest you look into NAMI. This is a national organization that has state and local chapters all over the US. They provide educational programs, support groups for a whole variety of mental illnesses and disorders for all different age groups, and are a wonderful resource for information and referrals. You can search for them on the internet; on their site is a link to "Find Support" which when clicked, will take you to a map where you can then click on your state to see all the various chapters located within your state. Even the website contains a great deal of information. There is one program called "Family to Family" that I particularly recommend.

Would you mind explaining why your husband stopped taking abilify? From your brief description of your husband's situation, I would wonder why he is currently not on a mood stabilizer. Seroquel is a good drug added on to a mood stabilizer, but in and of itself isn't usually used as the main mood stabilizer. But obviously I'm not a pdoc...different pdocs try lots of different ways to try to control the episodes of BP.

I would be very concerned about the psychotic aspects of your husband's
disorder. That makes it a bit different from the more common types of bipolarity. You are right in that it is impossible to predict the course his disorder will take. Ideally he can be stabilized so that the episodes of mania and depression will occur infrequently, if at all and that the symptoms of the episodes will be controlled. In many individuals who carefully follow their pdoc's treatment plans and take their meds as prescribed, bipolar disorder can be managed and the individual can lead a "normal" life. They become aware of what their triggers are and learn to watch for them and what actions to take when they feel an episode coming on.

You asked many good questions in your post. I will try to answer some of them in future posts as I am pressed for time right now...but I wanted to welcome you and encourage you to post often with your comments and questions. Also you might scan the titles to other posts to see if reading through some of them might provide some insight.

Tsohl

 
Old 04-17-2007, 10:01 AM   #5
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Re: husband diagnosed with bipolar

Hi Tsohl,

thank you very much for your long post, your concern and the offer to help.
My husband went off the medicine because his therapist was telling him that he was doing great. His appointments were scheduled every month only and the psychiatrist kept reducing his medication down to 5mg Abilify. My husband then got the idea that he was doing that great that he did not need to take the medication anymore. He was then off the medication for about five months and started to hear voices. He was getting very psychotic. He believed that God had opened his skull and gave him 100% brain capacity. He was able to do mind reading and was able to make things disappear. He felt very special since he was chosen by God. The only reason why he agreed to sign himself into a clinic was because God had told him that he would die there and that he would enter heaven.
He has never said anything or done anything that would make one believe that he would harm himself or someone else.
It is just scary for me. As of now he still believes he has a very close bond to God and that he is the only one that has believe in God. He isn't worried about anything. He believes in mind transfers and the therapist says that as of now therapy isn't really helping since he is stuck in his believes. It is his way or no way and that therapists are just throwing around words but what it downs to is the faith in God. In family therapy we agreed not to touch the subject God and he is fine with that. It is only when I do therapy with him that I hear about his "crazy thinking". I guess that is the psychotic part.
I forgot to mention that he does take 100mg Trazadone at night, but I was told it is an anti depressant but really works as a sleeping pill.
Thanks for the information about Nami. Those is who I called. Unfortunately they meet only once a months and they just had their meeting a couple days ago. But I am calling tomorrow to find out if there is a more frequent group I can join. My husband doesn't look that he is doing therapy. For him it is listening to someone elses problems.
Today his partial program is going to be over. He does want to pick up work tomorrow.
I am just so confused if this is all going to work out.
Thanks

 
Old 04-17-2007, 10:50 AM   #6
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tsohl HB User
Re: husband diagnosed with bipolar

Hi again,

It is always helpful as the more you post the more people can understand the particular issues, what you want to know more about, etc. NAMI is a wonderful organization. If you stay in your relationship I really recommend the Family to Family program. You can read all about what it involves on their website...and truthfully, it would be most beneficial to you. It lasts for 12 weeks and I think meets once/week during those 12 weeks. You learn about all issues that revolve around a mental illness --how to talk to and find good doctors, insurance issues, disability, etc. as well as learning about coping techniques and more things directly connected to BP or....whatever.

There is a real danger on this board for people who are not mental health professionals to make broad sweeping statements based on our own experience which may or may not even relate to YOUR situation...so take everything with a grain of salt. That being said, what your husband is experiencing sounds scarey to me. I may be totally wrong here, but from eveything I've read, it sounds like he definitely has elements of psychosis involved here -- so it might be that he is bipolar with schizoaffective aspects. The lines between all these illnesses and disorders is rather thin and arbitrary! And the symptoms of each are overlapping. When you have delusional thinking and hear voices though, you can be manic depressive with psychotic features. Whatever it is called, it can be treated...but I don't think taking a little seroquel is necessarily going to be enough.

Are you happy with the treatment he is receiving in the current program? I can't quite tell where you're coming from and how dedicated you are to keeping your marriage together. It would seem to me that he would need to be properly medicated and compliant in taking the meds as prescribed by the psychiatrist for you and the children to feel safe enough to stay with him.

The problem with an unmedicated bipolar disorder is that it does not remain static. Just because you've never seen a certain behavior previously, doesn't mean you won't see it in a future episode of mania or depression. It is usually the episodes of mania that cause the most problems. And remember, mania isn't necessarily the "classic" mania that we tend to think of as over-the-top euphoria. It can also present as anger, agitation, irritability, rage, even violence in extreme cases. Also racing thoughts, problems sleeping, grandiose thoughts (such as thinking you are God's chosen one) are also all symptoms of mania or hypomania, the little sister to mania.

Before you get too scared, BP is the most treatable of all mental illnesses. But it does take cooperation and compliance from the individual. BP is a chemical imbalance of parts of the brain that control thought and emotion. You do not grow out of it nor does it go away as you age. In fact, research is now showing that in most cases where it is unmedicated, the episodes of relative stability become less and less, the symptoms become more severe and increase in intensity as you age...so it really is important to find the right meds and to be compliant in taking them on time each and every day.

Hope some of this helps you. Check out the NAMI website and read what they say about BP and they also have good info about various medications.

I will check in later to see if what I've written has raised more questions for you!!

take care,
Tsohl

 
Old 04-17-2007, 10:59 AM   #7
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Re: husband diagnosed with bipolar

Quote:
Originally Posted by peanut72 View Post
My husband went off the medicine because his therapist was telling him that he was doing great. His appointments were scheduled every month only and the psychiatrist kept reducing his medication down to 5mg Abilify. My husband then got the idea that he was doing that great that he did not need to take the medication anymore. He was then off the medication for about five months and started to hear voices. He was getting very psychotic.
Hi Peanut I wanted to welome you as well. What you describe here is soooo very typical of those who find the right meds and then decide that they no longer need them. Then they are into the next cycle which worstens without proper treatment and becomes yet more difficult to treat. That is why it is soooo important to stick with the meds and come to the realization that they are something that you must take forever just as the diabetic needs his insulin to lead a healthy life, so does the person with Bipolar need their meds in order to do the same.

It seems as if the Abilify was a great med for your husband. I wonder why the doctor didn't put him on it again to see if it would be effective once again. It is an antipsychotic with mood stabilizing effects as well and probably would work well with or without the Seroquel. The thing is, sometimes a med that once worked will not work a second time around but it sure is worth a try. This may be something you may wish to discuss with his pdoc at his next appointment.

I agree with Tsohl....educate yourself as much as possible so that you can proactively find the right meds for your husband as well as know what will trigger any breakthrough depressions/manias once he is stablized. Stress is a biggie so keeping it at a minumum is important in order to prevent relapses.

I hope that you continue to post and that you see as I have how wonderful a place this boaard is in terms of finding comfort and support.

(((HUGS))) ~ Goody

 
Old 04-17-2007, 12:04 PM   #8
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Re: husband diagnosed with bipolar

Thanks everyone so far.

It does really help to get more insight and opinions of others.
I really cannot tell if the meds aren't working right or not.
He got first started on Risperdal but he had side effects that he did not want to deal with like upset stomach to the point he had to vomit. So he got switched to Abilify. As I mentioned earlier he fell into a deep depression. He had a hard time putting his slippers on when he got out of bed. He would not respond to the children at all. They would run up to him and be excited to tell him about something they did or showed him a picture that they made and he would not look at them or say anything. That really hurt my feelings.
His depression took about six months and under high Abilify he was showing signs of hunched and slow walking. He would see a problem in everything and nothing could be resolved. He felt as he was in a circled room with closed doors and he could not get out.
He finally started feeling better but right now he says he is feeling the best ever - probably ever in his life.
I am afraid of him falling into depression again. That was a tough time. I know people say that the manic phase is more dangerous, but I have to say for me it is easier to cope with. He will spend time with the kids now and he suggests to do family things on the week-ends. Before he could not care less.
I enjoy seeing the kids interact with their father but I am afraid of the time that he goes back to ignoring them. Right now, I like the manic side but I am far away of feeling comfortable around him. What it comes down to is that I would like him to understand that he has a mental illness. I guess I am hoping for too much.
My husband does take his 800mg Seroquel and 100mg Trazedone on a regular basis. He believes they don't do anything but does not have a problem taking them. Once he said to the therapist that he could take all the pills at once to prove that he is not affected by them. I don't think he will try it out. But there are so many worries. My worries are that I know that his thinking is not "normal" so should I not be worried?
As far as wanting to make this relationship work. I cannot give you an answer - yet. I think I did make up my mind but maybe I am waiting for an incedent that would give me the "right" to leave. Does anyone understand what I am thinking. I mean if he would do something that is in my eyes unacceptable it would be easier to draw the line. This way I could say, enough is enough. I have to find an answer because don't want to end up thinking, what if.....?
Right now I am waiting, learning, experiencing, thinking, talking, writing.
Thanks

 
Old 04-17-2007, 05:17 PM   #9
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arvc HB User
Re: husband diagnosed with bipolar

Peanut,
I understand more than you know. Please as you read understand this is just my situation and may never be yours. I spend a great deal of time wishing I had done things differently in my marriage to my bp ex and for my children. We were high school sweethearts and I loved him with all I had to give. If wishing, hoping, dedication, desire, love, more love, reasoning, reading, being supportive, and trying to understand bp could have changed him, he would have been cured. Unfortunately he never did. I believe some bp's can manage but that others can't, won't, and never will. I spent over a decade trying to be his support and take whatever was dished out along the way. Some days and weeks were good, some bad, some okay, some horrible and so on. I made a lot of bad choices, but the one I regret the most is that my children suffered a lot of after effects of the chaotic atmosphere. They were 6 and 4yo then(now 15-1/2 and 14yo) and I thought they were not affected. Boy was I wrong! They both held back telling the truth about their dad mistreating them and mentally abusing them. I blame myself for putting them through all of that, kids have no choice but to live with their parents decisions whether those decisions are good or bad. My children ended up in therapy to deal with it all and they told things(nothing sexual) that will haunt me forever. They say(back then) that they loved their dad and didn't want me to be angry with him and that he could be good "sometimes". All they wanted back then was to make everything okay even if they suffered. They still have nightmares sometimes. They were just small kids but they still tried to fix it all. My oldest suffered the most and is still in therapy and has been diagnosed bp for years now. I wonder all the time what if.......? Would they be different people if.....? I can't believe my boys suffered and never told me, I will never forgive myself. I found out 2 weeks after deciding to file for divorce that I was pregnant. I raised her on my own and she is very normal and very happy and I wonder if I robbed my boys of the same thing. I asked my children back then about their dad and they kept the bad things a secret. So to answer your questons, yes children see more than we realize and hear what they are not suppose to. Especailly when we talk on the phone to others and think they can't, don't, or are to busy to hear grown up talk. They will think they are to blame sometimes for their parents messes. I do not promote divorce and I think everyone should not just toss their spouse to the side, but I believe their comes a time when you can give 110% and have no more to give. Love will not cure a bp, but don't just walk off without trying and giving him a chance to change and to find the right meds. At the same time don't ruin your childrens safety,childhood and their innocents either. Even if they are not being mentally abused or physically abused and you are; they see it and hear it and it will affect them. I wish I could go back, but there are no do overs. My ex's family never understood my side and only enabled him to be who he still is. I hope this helps and that you don't find it to forward. I hope you and your husband all the best.

 
Old 04-17-2007, 05:45 PM   #10
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Re: husband diagnosed with bipolar

Thanks arvc,

I am sorry to hear that you had a bad experience and especially that your children are affected. That is my biggest fear apart from making a bad decision.
I just can't give up just yet since everything is still so fresh. I want to participate in the 12 week Family to Family program and I want to join a support group. I don't know if I will find an aswer then but that is what I am hoping for.
I think deep down I believe it is not going to work. Breaking up is going to be a big struggle but I would do so in a second if I would know for sure I was doing the right thing.
I am not an American citizen and I would be moving back to Germany from where we just came 10 months ago. My husband is American and when he had his first psychotic break we thought things would be easier for him in his own country. Back then he was not diagnosed with bipolar - he had a so called brief psychotic break. So we moved after living in Germany for eight years. Sold our house, sold all the furniture and moved with only a couple of suitcases. Now it is difficult for me. All I have is his family over here and they cannot understand. I do not even attempt to address any of my thoughts.
I am sad, unhappy and undecided and scared.
Thanks

 
Old 04-17-2007, 06:42 PM   #11
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Re: husband diagnosed with bipolar

Hello peanut ~

Well, having all your family so far away is a very big problem for you. I can imagine how isolated you must feel. This is another good reason to do the Family to Family program. You just may meet some wonderful people there who will understand what you are experiencing.

What I have read regarding bipolar's effect on children in a family setting is that they inevitably end up feeling responsible for the parents' problems. My favorite book is written by a man who was an elementary school teacher, and a principal who then went to medical school and trained to be a pediatric psychiatrist. The best part is that he himself is bipolar. He says that even with young children, it is important to talk about the disorder, telling them that something is wrong with Mommy's or Daddy's brain, that it is not the child's fault, and that other adults are taking charge of the situation. This way they don't grow up secretly fearing that they have done something to make Mommy or Daddy sick.

The other point arvc brings up is that there is a slight possibility that your children might have a genetic predisposition to developing BP. Of all the mental illnesses, it is the most heritable. So for a variety of reasons, it only makes sense for you to learn as much as you can about the disorder and the medications used to treat it.

The situation is far from hopeless (at least regarding you husband learning to manage his BP). I have a 25-year old son who has rapid cycling bipolar disorder with schizoaffective aspects...it took awhile (and 4 different pdocs) to find the right mix of meds...but he has been stable, episode-free and healthy for two years. (He was diagnosed at about age 21-22 -- his junior year in college.) It really is up to your husband: whether he has the patience to keep trying until he finds the right mix of drugs for him that have the fewest side effects, and total compliance in taking the drugs, and therapy as needed. Of course, if he is in denial about being bipolar, that is the first obstacle he will have to overcome. Hopefully a good pdoc could help with that.

take care,
Tsohl

 
Old 04-17-2007, 07:06 PM   #12
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Re: husband diagnosed with bipolar

Hello tsohl,

I don't even want to think about the possibility of my children having / developping this disorder. It scares me.
Somehow I believe that raising children in a healthy enviroment could maybe make them stable and not prone to bipolar? These are just my thoughts.
I was thinking about that my husband did not enjoy his childhood and always told me that he does not want to raise his kids the way he was.
Has there been studies about the effect of a bad childhood on the severety of bipolar?
If medication works, when do people with bipolar realize that they have a mental illness? Do some of them never even on proper medication?
Are there people out there that live with a bipolar spouse that do not recognize having bipolar although psychiatrist diagnosed the illness?
Thanks

 
Old 04-17-2007, 07:31 PM   #13
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tsohl HB User
Re: husband diagnosed with bipolar

You can read posts on here right now of spouses or partners who are in a relationship with an unmedicated bipolar individual who is in total denial. Something like 1/3 of all individuals with BP do not have any awareness of having an "illness." About 50% of those who are given medications stop taking them within the first year. Non-compliance and denial are big problems in the treatment of BP.

I wouldn't worry too much about your kids at this point. If a child does not have the genetic predisposition to BP, he will not develop it from having a bad childhood. In other words, in and of itself, a bad childhood is not a cause for developing BP. It is a combination of genes and environment that when mixed together will sometimes result in the development of BP. Researchers are still arguing over what causes bipolar disorder...and much research is still being done on this topic.

 
Old 04-17-2007, 11:40 PM   #14
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Re: husband diagnosed with bipolar

Hi Peanut,

I have a BP husband who is currently unmedicated and understands fully that he is BP. He is willing to try a new med and we are going back to the pdoc in 2 weeks. We have 2 children that are teenagers and they are well aware of their father's condition but have only discussed it with me, not him. They just got old enough to ask me why their Dad is acting "crazy" and I just explained it very matter of factly. They are aware that it is hereditary and in fact my oldest has been officially "diagnosed" but also is unmedicated, he is still young so I hold out hope for him...kids can get a misdiagnoses more easily than an adult IMHO.

Something I always think about is how will the children feel if I leave their father because his "disorder" is too much of a "burden"? The very "disorder" that they themselves may develop.....I would think this would make for one very insecure child. I do understand if there is a situation causing harm you need to separate yourself from that....it's just my thought and I don't see it mentioned here, so I thought I'd share.


Best of luck to you sweetie, ((((HUGS))))

 
Old 04-18-2007, 06:31 AM   #15
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peanut72 HB User
Re: husband diagnosed with bipolar

Thanks again,

my thoughts are if the child has bipolar (in its genes) but will grow up in a healthy enviroment if the bipolar will develop or, if a stable enviroment helps with the severity of the symptoms.
This will probably never be answered, how could one prove it.
I think I am just down at the moment and I am doing a lot of thinking. I think all I can do is to try and get as much information as I can and support and hope for the best. It is all very new (not the symptoms) but the diagnose and that I am insecure what the future will hold.
Right now I will give everyone some time to see how things are going.
Thanks for listening and the advice.

 
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