Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Making Peace with Medicine

When I first suffered such a massive heart attack and survived, I was just glad I survived.  They pumped me full of all kinds of drugs in the ICU.   I didn't realize the number of drugs I would ultimately be taking when I went home.

When it became clear that I would go home taking all the drugs that they were pumping through me via IV in pill form, I was pissed to say the least.  Me?  Take all these pills?  Really?  I rarely took ibuprofen.  Here I am with two blood pressure pills, a cholesterol pill, blood thinner and aspirin.  That is six pills a day that I have been cautioned against missing.  Really, it was stronger than that---take all these pills and don't miss them or you could die. 

Here is the thing, I don't take meds.  I have a hard time finishing a course of antibiotics.  Before you ask, yes I know that is a terrible thing.  I am just not a planner.  I fly through life mostly by the seat of my pants.  Living life like that makes for a fabulous time!  The problem is that you have to be a planner to take meds regularly.  Plus, I was someone that the day before my heart attack had a total cholesterol of 134 and a blood pressure of 110/70.  It was inconceivable that now, three days later I was on a lifetime of six cardiac pills a day.

When I went to the second cardiologist I wanted him to prove to me that I needed to take all these meds.  I had a hard time because I had changed my entire life style and you want me to still take the same drugs that some one who drinks, smokes and eats chicken fried steak and gravy for every meal after a heart attack takes?  How does that make any good sense?  How is it that there is a standard of cardiac meds that I have to take when each patient is not the same? 

He and I discussed it for a long time and reluctantly I agreed to continue them.  He made some very good points.  He could tell that I was a medical googler and promptly gave me the links to the studies we discussed so I could read it myself.  I am a firm believer in questioning your doctor and I do. 

As I get farther from my heart attack, I have become accustomed to taking the medicine.  I also have warmed to the idea that if I want help staying alive, I probably will always take them.  It has become increasingly more important to me to stay alive than to be pill free.  Besides, perhaps I have always needed a little guidance in the planning department.  It forces me to plan a little!

I saw a new cardiologist yesterday and she busted my bubble about being able to quit the Plavix once I hit the year after the last placement of drug eluding stents in my LAD.  (The new cardiologist is another post all in itself.) Yes, I have had stents placed in the same artery twice.  June 11 would have been a year and I was told that I could stop taking the Plavix after a year. As much as I have been looking forward to stopping that pill,  I listened to her reason and actually felt relief that she wants me to continue taking it.  I have come to realize that even if I don't consider it good medicine to treat all cardiac patients the same, I have grown used to the peace the pills provide me. 

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