Sunday, August 28, 2016

Overmedicated & Loving It...

...because we're on medication to make us love everything:
GOOD and BAD alike.

Click HERE to see a 50-second video about how America is overmedicated, if you like.

I hate being on so many pills. Everything the video above says seems true to me, but please keep in mind as you watch it: >>> I am not the one with the prescription pad. <<< Or a medical degree for that matter, so my natural inclination was to trust my doctor when it came to the pills and the doses I took. (Yes, WAS).

If we really want to change our pill-addicted behavior, it has to start in our medical schools,
which is something this video sadly neglected to share:

a SOLUTION amid all the problems it was pointing out.

Don’t you just loathe posts like that??

But the key so solving our over-dependence on the quick fix of the pill doesn’t fall on our doctor’s shoulders alone. >>> I AM THE ONE TAKING THE PILLS <<<. Assuming that we are not the type of patient to badger our doctors for some kind of pill, any kind of pill—an antibiotic to "help cure" the common cold faster, for example—to make us feel better (and oh yes, those types of patients are very real and if you are one, STOP IT and do your research), we need to ask our doctors the following fundamental questions:
  1. "What is that pill meant to do, exactly, and how does it do it?"
  2. "Why should I take it?"
  3. "What are its side effects? What harm will it do?" ("Sometimes the side effects are worse than the disease" isn't an idiom without reason).
  4. "What is the worst that can happen to me?"
  5. "Do I REALLY need that pill?" (Your doctor’s definition of "need" may be different from yours).
  6. "Is that pill the best way for me to *feel* better?"
  7. "Is that pill the best way for me to *get* better?"
  8. "How long will I be on that pill?"
  9. "Is that pill really necessary?"
  10. "What are my other options?"
This is where we as a culture get into trouble because all that depends on how hard you want to work, how much you are willing to give up, and how much TIME & EFFORT you are willing to invest in your health:

  • change your daily diet and stick to it?
  • start a real exercise routine AND keep it FOR LIFE?
  • find a less-stressful job and probably a significant pay cut?
  • find a way of life that does not include sitting in traffic 3 hours a day?
  • turn off every single one of those screens: the TV, your computer, your video games, your Ipad, your Iphone, even your Kindle, for all but 1 HOUR A DAY?
  • turn off those lights too when the sun goes down and sleep?
  • move to a place that has a slower pace of life and cleaner air?
  • AND how much time and effort is your doctor is willing and able to spend with you and his hundred other patients... and... and...?
For the average American, those are NOT popular remedies to the fact that we feel like crap and are sick and depressed and can't sleep and/or can't wake up. Can you see it now? We (both patients AND doctors) don't need to stop popping and prescribing pills to cure the symptoms of an overtaxed lifestyle that is going to wreak havoc with any illness or become an illness itself, and the side effects of other pills. We need to change our entire worldview. And in a country with drop-off daycare where you can get a 1,000 calorie burger in 30 seconds and a medical diagnosis from a person who's known you for less than 10 minutes, working on our health and seeing it as a lifelong process (much like sanctification is to a Christian or self-actualization is to a humanist) instead of treating our symptoms is a tough pill to swallow.

I just moved and found new doctors, and I was told by them all that the combination and doses of medications I am on kills 1 in 23 people, so I am still a bit bitter about this whole subject. I am right now getting off all those medications, albeit slowly, and I am prone to unreasonableness to say the least, but you cannot deny that we always want the "quick fixes" (although we don’t want to pay for them…). I wonder, given the kind of pain I was in, had I been told the truth about the potentially lethal mix of pills I was prescribed making my disease so much worse, would I have cared? Or would I just have wanted the pain to stop, and the future costs be damned. No one thought it'd take years to find a drug to control the colitis. In the meantime, I've literally begged, tears and all, for a colectomy. Everyone says no. "They'll find the right medications for you. You're so young yet," is what they say. But 9 years is long enough in terms of my suffering and humiliation, and I don't want all the meds anymore. It's a sick cycle.

Ah, specialists. Specialists are, in my personal experience, the optimists of the medical field. To a fault. They're ones that want to hang on even though they don't really get to know their patients the way primary care doctors do. They're the ones who won't write the letters to Disability admitting that they can't cure me. They seem to think they can fix anything if given enough time to find the right combo of drugs. 

But they forget that in the meantime, I'm living in hell on earth and have been FOR YEARS. I lost my career, I'm missing my baby grow up, I'm fighting with my husband all the time, and the pain is enough to make me wish for death, and no that is not an exaggeration. Specialists forget we have lives that we want to live and saving an organ just isn't worth losing that, not to me anyway.

And those drug companies, OH LORDY, those drug companies. They play a big, BIG role on this widespread dependency on pills, pandering to doctors in their nice suits and easy, slick salesmen smiles and promises of what the next big drug will do (stop your patients calling you every week...). I see them in my clinic every time I'm there. My insurance pays about $60,000 a year on medications alone just for me, and then it STILL shells out another $30,000 - $40,000 for hospital stays, doctor's visits, procedures and things that show everyone BUT them that the $60,000 drugs aren't WORKING!!! NOW THAT is sick, pun intended. And now I find out it isn't even necessary?? What's more, it's counterproductive to my health and possibly FATAL?! That's enough to make me crazy!

So my doctor suggested Abilify so I won't bitch so much.

It is the patient's responsibility to take responsibility and bring the whole team back to reality. Start by doing what I did and say, "Enough! We both know there is no magic pill in there to cure me! I am NOT getting better this way, so stop piling on the meds! I don't expect to be 100% medication-free, but come on! I'm a walking zombie! I can't remember if my kid brushed her teeth or not anymore! So, either take this wretched organ out of me or let's start over with just the meds I really truly need to manage this disease, and quit the ones that manage the side effects of those meds because that isn't right, and quit the ones that are making me worse because well DUH, medicine is not supposed to kill you, and let’s think outside the Western box for a moment and start something OTHER THAN PILLS like *gasp* acupuncture, nerve blocks, essential oils, herbs, walking, journaling, coloring, a support group for crying out loud..."
Yes, stuff our insurance doesn’t cover because it’s not “FDA Approved.” Well, your “FDA Approved” insurance-covered crap damn near killed me and it kills hundreds of people like me every day. The sad thing is, the advent of the Internet has made it worse! Patients should be MORE informed, and we are, but not about the lifestyles we should be living, the cardio we need to be doing, all the raw fruits and veggies we should be eating, the massive amount of water we really need to be drinking every day... (Have you ever tried to drink 64oz of water in 24hrs? That'll fill you right up and keep you at a healthy weight all by itself bc you won't be hungry between meals. No joke.). And that brings me to the weight we need to be losing (well, not me per say, if I lose another 5lbs, they say I'll be "in real trouble," because I'm in such a great place right now, apparently).

Don't get me wrong: we're informed. About the drugs that are out there that can "cure" this or that symptom without us having to lift a finger. So go into our doctors' offices with a list of meds we want to try, and we say things like,
"Dr. Smith, I saw this commercial on TV about this medicine..." You’ve done it. I've done it. Everybody with a chronic illness has done it. Horribly stereotypical American consumerism at it's worst but sometimes that’s okay.

Often times, we DO need medication!!!

Just ask the guy with cancer, or this young woman with Ulcerative Colitis, that couple with premature babies, or that 10 year old with tonsillitis, that Grandfather who had a heart attack, a young man who overdosed on drugs, or the Center for Disease Control and the many mostly childhood—and often deadly—illnesses we have eradicated with vaccines… but often times, we don’t. And when we ask for it when we don’t really need it, as much as our the doctor says...
"That's fine, Mrs. Jones, but until you change your diet, stop drinking pop and start drinking water, stop the fast food and junk food and start walking 20 minutes every day so you can lose 30lbs, your body and mind are just not going to feel good no matter the medicine you take." falls on deaf ears because we come back with, "Well, if I had this medication, then I'd have more energy to do those other things." What can the doctor do but shake his or her head because they know it doesn't work that way, but the patient won't budge? And if the doctor doesn’t give the patient what they want, he or she run the risk of getting a bad Google rating, or bad rating in those surveys clinics and hospitals always hand out, and no only be reprimand, but even lose patients.

If the situation is reversed and the patient says, “No,” to the meds the doctor is pushing, he or she runs the risk of being labeled as a “difficult” and “non-compliant” with their treatments in their medical record. Who cares? You’d be surprised. If you get a new doctor, perhaps he or she won’t take you seriously. Or even worse, if the “non-compliant” patient ever needs disability or her disability benefits are reviewed, the judge can throw out the case on the grounds of non-compliance alone.

Life = Ruined. Did you know that?

We are all in a catch 22, except the drug companies which are making bank off this sick abuse of the sick and those who just want to heal.
So, we need to band forces here and work together.
Both sides—the doctors and the patients—need to cowboy up
and say a very firm NO to unnecessary medication.
(If you don’t need it to either get better or survive, it’s unnecessary).
Then maybe, just MAYBE, the Drug Companies will follow suit and start selling us information on how to get healthy without medication and offer us things like specialized exercise routines with trainers or life coaches and diet plans with ready-made grocery lists withing our budget and recipes. And maybe Insurance Companies will cover our gym memberships 100% (if we show up at least 110 days out of the year) and maybe they will help offset the costs of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, and lean meats and other healthy foods because food is expensive and good food is even more so, and maybe they will even cover treatments like acupuncture and relaxation.

BOOM! Our worldview of what medication is to illness is changed,
and we start feeling a whole lot better, all because of a little campaign started by former First Lady Mrs. Nancy Reagan:

Just Say NO!