I wish I had a spoonful of sugar…but that would kind of defeat the purpose.
I went to my doctor this week. It was my three-monthly checkup which included getting my most recent blood test results (which are all good BTW – sugars are down, cholesterol is down, HBA1C is down) and it also gave me the chance to chat with him about my medication.
You see, I spend approximately $100 a month on medication. I know that that is not much compared to what some people have to pay and I am so very thankful for the PBS (Pharmaceuticals Benefit Scheme) scheme and the fact that I can opt for cheaper generic brands, but still…it’s $100 a month!
This is my pill box (yes! I had to buy a pill box! I’m still not over it)
Okay, so it’s not as bad as it looks. This is four weeks worth of pills. One of those little boxes is one day.
I take four prescribed tablets per day. Two are for managing my diabetes, one is for cholesterol and one is for reflux.
The reflux I got because of a bad reaction to a different drug I was on for diabetes and now I have to take a pill for it.
To say that I am anti-medication is not the whole truth. I respect the research that goes into producing these little pills. It’s a more accurate statement to say that I am medication resistant. And there really is no good reason for it. Let me explain…
I don’t like taking tablets. I don’t even like taking paracetamol or ibuprofen or headaches. I’m of the mind that if I have a headache then it is my body trying to tell me something – I’m tired, stressed, hungry, thirsty or I have eye-strain or allergies – and usually my first reaction is to have a glass of water or eat something. Taking medication for a headache is a last resort for me.
The other reason I don’t like taking medication is because of the side-effects. In some cases the side-effects are worse than the original issue. This is not just scare mongering – I have experienced these side-effects. Take my example above. I was on a drug for diabetes – a well-known and respectable drug – and I developed severe reflux and other (gross) side-effects. For a while a couple of years ago I was on an anti-depressant and I suffered side-effects from those too – decreased sex drive, anxiety and a strange swelling in my face. My fears about side-effects are not unfounded.
I was first diagnosed with pre-diabetes about ten years ago. I was prescribed a common diabetes drug and I had unwanted side-effects to it, so I stopped taking it. Basically, I was suffering low-level nausea, not unlike morning sickness, all day long. Then three years ago when I was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes, I was again prescribed the same drug. I spoke to my doctor at the time and told her about my previous reaction to it and her response was that there was nothing else I could take. A saw a diabetes specialist and his advice was to start taking it at night instead of in the morning so that I would sleep through the side-effects. Three years later and I was still taking the drug and my side-effects had increased. The nausea was no longer an issue but I was suffering from reflux, dysentery and chest pains.
My doctor thought I had a psychological issue with taking tablets.
It wasn’t until I changed doctors that I got some relief. My new doctor has been working with me to find a combination of meds that I can take without suffering the side-effects. It hasn’t been all plain-sailing. The dysentery is gone but has been replaced by candidiasis which is uncomfortable but manageable. The point is, my doctor is working with me this time instead of just writing a script and refusing to listen to my concerns. Even this week when I went to him and told him that my medications were costing me $100 per month, he tried to find cheaper brands for me. I saved about $10, which might not sound much, but every little bit helps.
But back to the real issue. My resistance to taking drugs in the first place.
I was thinking about this today as I was musing on what I would write. As I stated earlier, it’s not that I’m anti-medication. I know that the drug companies have done amazing things with creating medications that prolong life and make living with some diseases bearable. I am not on a crusade to rid the world of medication nor do I advocate turning your back on modern medicine.
My whole aversion to taking the medication prescribed to me is rooted in the fact that I am resentful about having to take them in the first place. I feel like my body has let me down. I don’t think it’s fair that a faulty gene (and yes, type II diabetes is genetic, just ask my mother, father, grandmother and countless aunts and uncles that suffer with it) means that I have to spend the rest of my life on medication. And yes, before you yell at me and tell me that there are people out there in a worse condition, I know. I watched my daughter-in-law die from a genetic disease with no cure. And that is my point! IT. IS. NOT. FAIR!
This was a major stumbling block for me in my early diagnosis and the reason it has taken me three years to get my act together and actually start doing something about it. Really, if I’m honest, it has taken ten years to get to the point where I can accept my disease. There is a whole grieving process that goes along with coming to terms with a diagnosis like Type II Diabetes. There is also a whole lot of guilt and self-loathing attached to it. Type II Diabetes has become the whipping boy for obesity and there is a lot of misconception out there about treatment and causes (but let’s not get into that right now.)
It has been a long road for me to finally acknowledge that my body needs pharmaceutical help in order to function properly. My previous doctor used to try and scare me into taking my medication by saying that if I didn’t then I would die. That was not a good motivator for me. My current doctor is all about making it easy for me, helping me to acclimate to this new lifestyle and removing obstacles (such as the cost) where he can, which is a hell of a lot better than being yelled at.
I still don’t think it’s fair, but that’s probably got more to do with the very strong justice streak in my personality.
The fact is, accepting a diagnosis – any diagnosis – takes time. Coming to terms with how it is going to impact your life takes time. Changing habits and making new ones – like taking medication regularly – takes time.
For me, it took being in the right headspace. When I was diagnosed there was a whole host of other things going on at the same time and to my mind they were more important than my health. Now that I am through the other side, I can finally look at myself and say, now it’s your time.
Do I still feel like my body has betrayed me?
Yeah, actually I do. But now I am willing to give it the help it needs.
I’m still a work in progress.
P.S. I lost another 300gms this week for those of you keeping count 😉