Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Drug Abuse

"You are an inspiration!" I told a friend of my mom's.

T. has had shoulder surgery which required painful, determined therapy for half a year. She has curvature of the spine which keeps her in various degrees of discomfort or downright pain. But she tackles her physical problems head-on. Swimming twice a week at the local gym has strengthened her arms, back, and legs.

'Look, I've got big biceps!" she proudly grins as she pushes up the sleeves of her stylish blouse. She's not kidding. Hard as rocks. Best of all, her mindful activities manage her pain.

She told me, after my gushing praise, "You know, Cherie, the doctors just want to keep us older folks drugged all the time. When we visit them at their offices for ailments they hand out expensive drugs. Nursing homes and rehabs are full of people who could get well but are drugged into inactivity. It really bothers me. I'm not going to let them do that to me."

Like I said, she's an inspiration, and she's preaching to the choir.

It saddens me, frustrates me, sometimes infuriates me, this drugging of America.

I know a woman younger than I who has been told, via annual physicals, that she has "elevated numbers." Leaving the doctor's office with a handful of prescriptions she's left the world of freedom and entered the world of 'patient.' Prescription drugs require routine blood tests which require regular doctor visits. Ka-ching!

"Have you tried eating better and moving more?" I ask.

"Oh, no. I don't want to feel deprived. And I don't like getting all sweaty."

Enjoy the pills, lady, and the expense, and the side effects. I've noticed that since she's been on the pills she's lost a good portion of her personality. The spunk and spontaneity are gone, the imagination. She's just blaaaa these days. In fact, that's how I learned she was on the pills in the first place. I asked her husband if she was feeling all right as I'd noticed a marked difference. He smiled and told me the new pills keep her in a constant state of calm. Didn't seem to bother him. He admitted that he's on them as well. Oh, and did I mention they both have memory problems? Every day? "Just can't remember a thing, so be sure to remind me!" "We've become so forgetful in our old age."

They are younger than I am and I've never had the memory problems they have! It's not age. It's the pills.

Now, now, Cherie, what do you know. Not much I admit. But I do know of several cases where friends of mine have been prescribed statins, beta blockers, and other powerful drugs which moderate bodily functions only to find incredible side-effects the most common of which is memory fuzziness, forgetfulness. Once the pills are stopped, the mind returns. (A quick search on the internet yielded a great article by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD. which details the use and misuse of statins.) One elderly lady, a personal friend, was told, after she'd been on statins for a month, that she'd had a stroke when she became unable to speak due to paralysis of her entire left side. The tests showed no stroke, however. It was the pills! Once off of them her body returned in time, but not to its previous condition.

Tom's doctor told him his 'LDL cholesterol' was too high. Out came the prescription pad. "I'd rather try to lower the numbers myself, naturally," Tom quickly interjected.

The doctor sighed, set down his pad, ran the back of his hand over his brow and said, "I wish all my patients felt that way. I had one lady in here just this morning who has high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high glucose levels and she's obese. She asked me what I suggested then said quickly, 'Exercise is NOT an option!'"

Exercise would not only help her condition but cost less and have no side effects except for increased vitality.

I know a woman who takes seventeen prescription drugs a day. One she takes at two in the morning. More than one of these pills are drugs that counteract the side effects of other pills. She is the perfect picture of the 'apple' body type. Perfectly round, hugely so. She would not exercise or eat right if her life depended on it. Literally. "It's not my fault I eat the way I do. It's how I was raised!" Yet she complains about the cost of her drugs. "Hundreds of dollars a month! It's an outrage. And Medicaid doesn't pay all of the cost!"

The outrage is the total lack of personal responsibility.

The advances made in the area of helpful drugs is phenomenal. There is a place for treatments that restore life, quality of life, and vitality. But there must be a balance between aid and abuse and I fear that balance is off. Way off.

My dad has a lifelong, weird heart condition and has had a stroke or two. He pays attention to his health, eats good food, exercises a bit, and keeps his weight down. His doctor has him on all sorts of drugs. Dad sleeps a lot. He told me, "You know, sometimes I think it's not worth it to take all these drugs that make me so tired all the time. I think it'd be better to take my chances and feel good."

My sister-in-law has been monitoring both Mom and Dad as she continues to care for them during Mom's recovery. She noticed dangerous dips in Dad's blood pressure after he swallowed his 'noon pill', a medication he's taken for years. She notified Dad's beloved doctor who was alarmed. He took him off the pill. Dad's blood pressure is fine.

This lackadaisical attitude frustrates me. (Maybe I need to take a pill!) What do doctors do once they've created pill-popping patients? Don't they monitor them? Don't they review? Seems they only look at numbers from blood tests. It's not enough, I tell you. What if my sister-in-law hadn't been so astute? What if....

I'd better calm down or I'll have a stroke.

Then they'll put ME on pills.

And I'll lose my personality.

And that would be a shame.


Marianne Elixir said...

I love you Cherie!
Dr. Weston A Price's motto was "You teach, you teach, you teach!" keep it up.

deanna said...

You know I'm with you here, Cherie. My parents, in their seventies, take many pills a day. But the vast majority of those are vitamins (they're a diabetic and a cancer survivor). They eat produce from their huge garden that, along with their yard work and other activities, gives them plenty of exercise. Seems to work.

Cherie said...

Marianne: YAY!! I intend to keep it up, too, right along with you.

Deanna: That's right. We've touched on this topic in person before, haven't we. Looks like your parents are the inspirational sort, too. Wonderful!

thebookbaglady said...

AMEN sister!!
The story of my twin--who used to be a pharmaceutical sales rep.--who thinks that a lot of those drugs are just plain crazy. (Plus those reps are actually fancy UPS drivers driving around dropping off boxes at medical offices and collecting signatures!!)
She broke her leg.
She was found to have osteopenia. That's why her leg broke.
She took lots of anti-inflammatory drugs to manage the pain.
The drugs gave her heartburn.
She had an esophageal scope and her poor 'pipe' was all inflamed.
She was put on heart burn medication (that little purple pill).
She got a stress fracture in her foot.
Come to find out, those little purple pills block calcium absorption. Hmmm.
Did I mention that she has oteopenia and REALLY NEEDS every bit of calcium she consumes?

Cherie said...

Goodness, gracious me, BBL! Another point of view concerning the drugging of us which harms. I'm glad your hilarious twin got to the truth eventually, and hope she's got her condition to a manageable place.

Thanks for sharing!!!

tshsmom said...

Totally agree!
I have a co-worker who takes 12 different pills. 8 of them are to counteract the side affects of the first 4. :(

Cherie said...

Isn't it mind-boggling, Tshs? No common sense.