I’m down 25 pounds since I began my journey to wellness. I thought I would be so excited. Instead, the morning I hit that mark, I was terrified. My tiny blood pressure machine was tossing out numbers I had never seen the likes of before. Blood pressure is not normally a problem for me. With increasing anxiety about my blood pressure, the numbers did not descend. Thankfully I was seeing my doctor the next day.
To honor HIPAA I will not mention this doctor’s speciality or real name (she wrote sarcastically.) Let us imagine doc’s pronouns are he/him, and his name is Dr. T. I was referred to him in the first place because of a wonky test in my primary doc’s office.
I had been to that practice in 2013, and saw a doctor who is no longer at that office. Upon my first meeting with Dr. T on November 30, I had asked him to look at my chart since we were about to repeat some of the same tests. I wanted to compare the results. He assured me he would, as it was a deeper dive into the archive and a previously used software system.
Over the course of seven weeks I had three separate tests done, Dr. T put me on two very strong medications, (Med #1 upon that initial appointment.) Simultaneously, I completely revamped my diet and adopted an exercise routine.
Med #2 was prescribed after getting back some test results. I was not given the benefit of an explanation, only told that I needed to be on this medication. I took them both because I was afraid of the larger problem. The one I was referred for in the first place. (Shame on me for not advocating for myself and inquiring as to the reason.)
I did not enjoy being medicated. It didn’t agree with my spirit, nor my body. We exchanged a few messages in between appointments wherein I expressed my concerns, indicated what I was doing to improve my health, and I was told to go ahead and take a break from the meds.
Upon arriving to my January appointment, after a night of restless sleep as I watched my blood pressure numbers soar, and could feel it in my body, Dr. T asked me exactly why I wanted to be off of Med #1. I was completely taken aback. “Uh, because I don’t want to take it anymore. But wait, can we start by reviewing my labs and test results?” I had decided that if my test results were bad, showing a lot of deterioration over the past years, that I would indeed have to help my body get some control.
We reviewed everything. Nothing was terrifying. As a matter of fact, I was looking okay on paper. I asked for him to compare the results with 2013. He clicked on the laptop, and again let me know that the results could not be obtained easily. I pulled out a paper copy from my binder and handed it to him to review. There was no serious progression.
“In 2013 I was told ‘no negative prognosis’ and that I could seek medication if I was bothered. Has that changed?” Dr. T got defensive, “This isn’t a prison. You don’t have to take Med #2.” “Great. Well, I’m concerned that my crazy blood pressures the last couple of days are a result from abruptly stopping Med #2.” Dr. T asked how long I was on it. The answer is 5 days. “No, there’s no way you developed withdrawal symptoms that quickly.”
Look, I’m not an MD. I do have the internet. And sometimes it’s helpful in learning what some of these medications do, what the best practices are for using them, and perhaps weaning off of them. It likely drives the MDs bananas that us lay people take the time to learn about what we’re putting into our bodies. We have just enough information to be potentially dangerous, because we aren’t able to assess the entire situation with our limited searches. My theory wasn’t too far fetched, as my results were textbook withdrawal symptoms of Med #2, but it was dismissed. “It’s probably salt. Are you eating more salt now a days?”
I hadn’t considered this. “Um, maybe. Yea. It’s possible.” My mother had given me some mineral salt for Christmas that I had started to use. It was plausible. So, I asked for a metabolic panel while he sent in a new prescription for me to lower my blood pressure.
While we were wrapping up the discussion portion of our appointment, I said “Here I thought we’d be celebrating my successful journey thus far, but now I need to get my BP under control.” It was only then that he bothered to reference his lap top and say, “Ah, you have done quite well. Good work. Are you doing Nutra System or something?”
“Um, no. I’m cooking.”
My take away is that doctors don’t come across patients like me too often. People who are willing to do the work and make the changes. Because to me, he seemed pretty resigned to write more prescriptions. Dr. T wasn’t connected to me and my journey as much as he was to his prescription pad. And thanks to this journey, I ended up thinner, but more weary and medicated. I will absolutely not be returning to his office. He did not inspire confidence that I would ever be well. He actually said that I had about a one in a million chance at being able to get off of Med #1.
It’s this type of fear that compelled me to take it in the first place, against my very own instinct. A doctor reads numbers and statistics, and figures out a course of action. A bad one, doesn’t hear the patient input. I’ve lived in this body my whole life. I don’t have a degree on bodies, but this one, I’m a master of. So, give me a chance, Captain White Coat. And next time, look at the patient’s chart before you enter the room.
Oh, and that wonky test that was the catalyst for this journey? A misread. A computer glitch. I never did have that ailment.