Saturday, November 19, 2005

Medicinal thoughts

I enjoy playing doctor. Hee hee. I diagnose myself, my children, and my friends. My kids I diagnose with a fair degree of accuracy, having lived through numerous bouts of bronchitis, pneumonia, and asthma attacks, I can usually tell them apart. I can tell them apart well enough to order ER personnel around and make them take xrays of lungs, the better to prove that the lung difficulty of the day is really pneumonia and the asthma attack is an offshoot.

And I also enjoy playing psychiatrist. My friends tell me, at times, that I am a good listener. I catch nuance and emotion and hidden gooey stuff that no one wants exposed. I've been successfully shrunk (a good long 3 or 4 year stint). And I am permanently medicated due to my own slight mental illness (can one have a slight mental illness? is that like being a little pregnant?), depression/anxiety issues.

But even the audacious me would not consider prescribing for my friends. Hence, I was amazed at this article. Oh. My. God. Are doctors that bad? Is the younger generation that nuts? What is the world coming to, that it is routine to pass along your extra meds to a friend to help him stay up or get down? And that meds are the answer to everything?

OK. In the interests of full disclosure, I have once taken one of my mother's Ambien during a bout of insomnia. But at least I was cautious about it. Anal as I am, I went online, looked up the PDR stuff, made sure I couldn't react to it in some weird way.

Actually, I did react to it in a rather normal way. Had a great night of sleep. Woke refreshed and ready to take on the world. And the next night, I couldn't sleep until 3am. Rebound. Lovely.

I can't imagine doing this kind of drug swapping on a regular basis. And I'm troubled about how I contribute to the notion of drugs fixing us. After all, I have a drug that fixes me. I have an autistic son who takes meds that make his life bearable. I have a son who takes meds to keep her breathing. Am I, by these actions, adding to the culture of fix it with a pill?

Said an interviewee in the article, "I acquire quite a few medications and then dispense them to my friends as needed. I usually know what I'm talking about." But, hon. There's so much you don't know. You don't know all the other meds your friend is taking, or what they're allergic to, or whether they drink too much, or whether they have bipolar disorder lurker in their genes, waiting to be triggered by those stimulants.

No thinkee, these kids, is what I'm thinking.

About that daughter who takes meds to keep her breathing. She's much better now, after those 3 days in ICU for a terrifyingly awful asthma attack. Really can't use enough hyperbole to describe how gut-wrenchingly horrible it is to lie next to your beloved child, watching her heart rate at 160 beats per minute for hours on end as she cries and gasps for breath. Don't try this at home, ok?

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, A can't take the usual asthma med duo of inhaled corticosteroids (that cortico part is supposed to make you feel better about giving your kids steroids because they're not the bad bad kind) and long-acting bronchodiolators because she had a bad reaction (Cushings-like) to the steroids a few years back and her adrenal system stopped working. That's a bad thing.

So no more steroids. Since then, she's been walking the tightrope without 'em. Doing just fine, for the most part. She has had to clutch the inhaler you see kids who have badly managed asthma clutching at soccer games, but only during exercise. So a few not great asthma attacks, caused by illness, but generally ok. Until this attack.

Part of what's kept her teetering safely on the tightrope has been that long-acting bronchodilator med called Serevent. Imagine my pleasure reading the news today and seeing this, then. I never noticed, nor has any doctor ever mentioned, the "small risk of life-threatening asthma attacks and deaths" associated with Serevent. And now the FDA wants to put even more warnings on them. Rocked our little boat around here, my friends.

How come we can put people on the moon but we can't figure out a way to keep my daughter breathing without shutting down her adrenal system and putting her at risk of ANOTHER life-threatening asthma attack?

And how can people like those young professionals mentioned in the first paragraphs, above, take medicine so lightly, play with it like a toy? Are they so young that they don't understand the life and death implications of medicine--or a lack thereof? Maybe they wouldn't find tossing a pill to a friend such a fun, enjoyable and amusing experience if they spent a few years titrating their daughter's asthma meds, trying to find a combination that kept her breathing. Or spent a few weeks living with an autistic child whose meds mean the difference between being warehoused in a therapeutic day school or being mainstreamed with normal kids?

It's not a game.

Until tomorrow,


Post a Comment

<< Home