Sunday, July 26, 2009

Trust me, I'm the patient

When my daughter has a fever, I usually wait until her temperature reaches 100 before I start giving her a fever reducer. Other parents (and non-parents) might disagree with me on this, but I believe that a fever is a fever for a reason and it should run its course, unless my child's comfort is being greatly compromised. I'll also treat a stye with a warm water compress, a sore throat with a salt water rinse, and basically every other minor injury/illness with common sense and tender loving care. I also like to think that I know when something has gone beyond my ability to treat with hugs and kisses and I call the doctor.

I treat myself the same way. I hate taking medicine and prescription medicines are the worst, maybe because the military doctors shoved antibiotics down my throat like candy and because of the miserable schedules and side effects associated with an RX dosing: TAKE WITH FOOD (may cause vomiting), TAKE ONE HOUR BEFORE BEDTIME (may cause abdominal cramping), TAKE WITH BREAD OR MILK (may cause blurred vision and suicidal thoughts).

What the hell? It's an allergy pill!

Okay, okay...I'm going a little overboard here. But it worries me that each time I've gone to the doctor this year I've been encouraged to take a prescription in order to help me live life comfortably.

That allergic reaction I had was followed by a prescription of Xyzal which made my heart pound so strongly that I was honestly afraid to move for fear that any extra strain on my heart (like getting out of a chair) would make it blow out of my chest. It was not a comfortable feeling. When I told the doctor about the side effect I was experiencing, he gave me Singular and said it wouldn't have any side effects unless I believed it would have side effects. Funny, that's how my high school friends described an acid trip. So my solution? Stay away from flower shops and keep my Benadryl handy.

There was also that time I started feeling fearful of bridges (and living in Jacksonville doesn't allow such fears) and my anxiety issue was threatening to rear its ugly head at me once again. My friend suggested Paxil (as she suffered from some pretty serious anxiety) so I asked my doctor for some. After a three-minute consultation with my brand-new doctor (never before seen!), I was sent home with a prescription for Paxil and a pat on the back for recognizing the return of my anxiety disorder. I popped a pill around 9pm and sat motionless on my couch until 3am, daring anyone who told me to go to bed to move me themselves because I had lost not only the ability to move myself but also any ability to give a crap about anything. I never took those pills again and quickly realized how wonderful life really can be when I have complete control over my own limbs. And control over my own fears. It was definitely too strong a pill for me. I'm surprised the doctor went along with my idea. While I don't blame him completely (I accept some blame, too), I do think he should have known better and suggested something like Paxil Lite.

Just recently I went to see the nurse practitioner about some pain I was experiencing on my left side. I walked in convinced that I had another ovarian cyst and figured since I'd lived through a pretty painful cyst that ruptured two years ago that I knew what I was talking about. Like a cult leader who converts followers in a matter of minutes, the RNP quickly had me convinced that I was wrong and I was probably dealing with diverticulitis (which is not a pretty disease to talk about so I won't). He prescribed me a pill (surprise!) and told me to take this strength first...then take this strength after 3 days...then take this strength until the day I die.

When I refused, he was pissed. I flat out told him I wasn't going to take the prescription and that he should provide me with a drug-free alternative. To this, he replied, "Well, I figured you would have already tried a drug-free alternative and that's why you're here now. If this pain doesn't clear up, I'll prescribe a colonoscopy."


WHAT!?! I went in thinking it was an ovarian cyst and was sent home with the threat of a lubed tube up my pooper. He didn't even mention an ultrasound first and that's what would probably diagnose the ovarian cyst, or rule it out altogether. Another suggestion? Just stick your fingers in my hoohah like the last doctor did and say, "Yep, I feel something" or "Nope, I don't feel anything." But a colonoscopy? That really made me mad. And while my pain hasn't disappeared, it has lessened. I still don't think it's serious enough to warrant a colonoscopy but sure, I'll feel like an asshole if I'm wrong (no pun intended, really).

I feel good that I trusted my instincts and that's probably how I'll deal with most medical personnel from here on out. After surviving the military medical system (one gallon of Amoxil at a time), I walked away with an immunity to most antibiotics that lasted for 7 years, courtesy of recurring bouts of strep throat that didn't get better during my years of immunity. So yeah, I have issues with medicine and the people who prescribe them. But I'm not a fanatic about refusing treatment. I question why I need it, what can help prevent my need for it, and how I can make sure I don't need it forever.

Isn't that the doctor's job?


Sra said...

I would go to a gyno and not a gp for ovarian cyst issues. You didn't specify if that's what you did or not, but I think a gyno would definitely suggest an ultrasound before pills or colonoscopys. Maybe you just had a really bad doctor ( he sounds like one anyway). I try not to take medication unnecessarily either. Sometimes, though, some Tylenol really does make an unbearable sore throat bearable. I don't believe in getting antibiotics without proof of bacterial infections, however. On the whole I think our doctors are too ready to prescribe. They get significant bonuses from drug companies for prescribing, and they make more money if they turn around patients quickly. Our system is just all messed up, really.

Laura Lee said...

Paxil lite... LOL!! hoohah... LMAO!!!

funny, and true. i've heard it said the type of DR you see only sees what they studied to see: a neurologist orders an MRI, a surgeon suggests cutting... when I need something I budget for my naturopath, she is great for whole body thinking; and points me in the right direction if I need to TELL a doctor what is wrong with me. My chiropractor too.

I hear ya about the military medical situation. It's where they practice for civilians, I'm convinced!!

Chris said...

Your pun had me laughing, nicely played!

Erin said...

I never remember to take aspirin when I have a fever. It's not that I am anti-pill, I just totally forget it's available. I don't think my mom gave me aspirin unless I was really hot, either.

I also almost never buy painkillers that doctors prescribe when I hurt myself. I just don't want to make the trip to the drug store.

Sloth is my protection from overmedication.