Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Medicine Debate

It is so hard to rationalize taking medication for something that you don't necessarily see immediate results. People with a disease the progresses over time may understand what I am talking about. Here's the thing... Although I am an expert on my body, I am not an expert on the autoimmune disease that lurks within my body. Who is the expert then? Well my medical team...

My initial conundrum with medication was that I have never wanted to be dependent on something... But there are very real and rational reasons why dependence on medicine is important. Take a diabetic for instance. Taking insulin is necessary or risk death. Taking disease modifying medication is necessary or risk faster progression. The same can be said for so many diseases...

So, I currently take seven prescriptions and two high dose vitamins on a daily basis. I would be lying if I said I didn't struggle with taking so many pills and shots every day. In fact, I would be lying if I said I was a perfect medication injestor... In fact, I put pills in packs and then look back on the week to see if I can find trends on days in which I forget my pills.

I have been known to have debates with one of my friends about the true necessity of the medication. I mean, why take it if I'm still a stumbling mess from time to time? Why take it if I am still crying, when it is supposed to help with my mood? Why take it if I'm still going to have those nagging head aches, be unable to sleep from time to time? She always grounds me and reminds me of the immense benefits of the medication.

Let me take a step back here for a minute though. Although my medicine is necessary to help slow down the progression of my 'disease', there is a limit to medication. For instance... One of my medications causes insomnia. Is it appropriate to treat a side effect of one medication, with another medication? Personally, I don't think so. I tried taking something for the insomnia and, although it helped me sleep, it certainly didn't help me stay awake during the day. Because of that, there was an option to take a medication that would help me stay awake during the day, but the side effects of that medication would have necessitated another medication. I drew the line and decided that I was over medicating. I instead have opted for other options to help me sleep. For example, a hot bath before I go to bed. Heat exhausts me so much that I could sleep all summer... Taking a bath is the perfect medicine and so I don't have to consider all the other options.

With all of that said, I have to say that we have to trust the experts in our lives. For instance, after my diagnosis I was struggling emotionally. Although I am an expert on myself, I have come to trust the people who I choose to surround me enough to tell me when I might need a little help. I wouldn't call it peer pressure, but instead trusting insight from those who truly care about me. I got some help... And I'm all the better for it now.

Similarly, I'm going to go back to my initial point in this blog. I'm not big on researching MS. I know what medications are out there, their side effects and their study results. That is really all I need to know. The other thing that my doctor told me, and that I have researched is that you slow down your progression up to 68% if you take a disease modifying medication from the point of diagnosis. I know I am over simplifying that statistic, but that is all I need to know.

So, what this all means is that, although I appreciate people's advice to try alternative options for treatment, I also put my trust in the experts and allow them to treat me as they see fit. After all, I will never be an expert on Multiple Sclerosis, but only an expert on myself.

I find myself writing this blog as a reminder to myself that medicine is NOT something to be feared, but another tool I get to tuck away in my toolbox to help me sustain my health in the long term. 

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