L.I.F.E. — Doctors don't always get it right

I think it’s fair to say that in each of our lives, at one point in time or another, a curveball is thrown our way. These unwelcome guests range from late-set chronic illnesses to cars that won’t start, from death to dog-eaten homework. I suppose these experiences characterize what life is and what it means to be human. At these points in time, we simply have to rearrange our priorities and deal with any given issue.  However, when it comes to one’s health, I strongly encourage seeking two or more opinions.

Don’t get me wrong; I trust doctors and other medical professionals. I am grateful for their contribution to society, and I am personally grateful for help rendered to myself and other loved ones. I know that medical doctors spend a nearly immeasurable amount of time studying for and obtaining a medical degree, and then spend both professional and personal time thinking about their patients — especially in charting unknown waters.

With that said, I think it’s equally important to seek a second or third opinion. Not all doctors are created the same. Some are more genial with their patients than others. It is rare that a doctor not require a new patient to submit a list of currently taken medication; it is, however, rarer that a doctor actually check the sheet.

Since July, I have seen a plethora of doctors, and just a week ago, I visited a doctor for aid in a wart-infestation condition I was experiencing. I filled out a sheet listing all medication and supplements I was taking. After a checkup, the doctor suggested that I take a certain medication, noting that it affected the liver slightly. As I was about to leave with prescription in hand, I felt that I needed to remind the doctor that I was taking Coumadin, a blood thinner that also affects the liver. After this indication, the doctor exclaimed that I wouldn’t be able to take his prescription. I realized that had I not followed my impulse, I might have gotten into a sticky situation that may have had long-term effects.

In a similar situation, I was given two long-term prescriptions for painkillers after my hospitalization earlier this year. One was for hydrocodone, the other for oxycodone — both opiate narcotics. I was told to use either pill for pain as necessary. Well, for those of you who haven’t experienced a stroke, the aftereffects can be quite painful: unceasing headaches, extreme nausea and general discomfort.

A decade or two ago, oxycodone was used for cancer patients and other patients of severe disease or illness. Nowadays, I’ve run into friends and family members who, after having minor surgery or other discomfort, have obtained prescriptions for oxycodone. Some doctors claim to subscribe to a “pain-management” perspective and desire to help their patients manage their pain with painkillers.

It happened to me before I could see it; I have relied heavily on painkillers to get through the day. Having not felt even slight pain or discomfort these past few months and, as I wean myself off these painkillers, it’s the slight pain that we all experience that bogs me down. What used to not even register as pain is now aggrandized and exaggerated.

Recently, we’ve seen the name of a Brigham City doctor headlining the news. This doctor was indicted in August 2010 on 129 counts related to prescribing more than 1.9 million hydrocodone pills and nearly 1.6 million oxycodone pills between June 1, 2005 and Oct. 30, 2009.

What is wrong with our society? Are we so fearful of pain that we seek pills and other means to make our lives peachy? As humans, we need to feel the range of emotions of which we are capable. Robbing ourselves of feeling slight pain or discomfort also robs us of enjoying life when we are at our best.

Listen to your body. If you have recurring pain, go see a doctor. In fact, go see a few doctors. Many people wait too long after the damage has been done. Start the preservation process today. Eat right and exercise!