Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Just Say No

I realized tonight that I've become a drugaphobe--not in the recreational sense (though I'm certainly phobic of those) but in the pharmaceutical sense. I am leery of anything stronger than Ibuprofen or Tylenol or, if absolutely necessary, an occasional antibiotic. Even these I take far less frequently than I used to: only when the throbbing headache or incapacitating sinus infection renders me useless to the world and I'm left no option but to pop a few pills.

I never used to be this way. I used to happily ingest medication, prescription and over-the-counter alike, without a second thought. No concerns about side effects. No worries about how they might be affecting my organs. No care about the drug's process in my finely-tuned body.

This new facet of my personality developed, I realized, when I learned that my body was actually capable of conceiving, growing, and delivering a breathing, thinking, feeling, fully-functioning person. It changed the way I perceive my body--for the better, mostly. But it has also made me starkly aware of the way medicine interacts with the systems. And while I'm 99.99999999999999 percent confident that I am not currently incubating a tiny human, the very, very, very small chance that it's within the realm of possibility is enough to make me eschew all things pharmacological.

Unfortunately, I'm supposed to be taking three medications right now because there's a good chance I have H. Pylori, a bacterial infection of the stomach that may be the cause of some of the weird but intense abdominal pain I've been having off and on lately. This, or I have a hiatal hernia, which was in all likelihood induced by pregnancy (lovely: more ailments, fear of drugs, all thanks to the wonders of maternity). So my doctor prescribed this strong course of treatment that comes in bottles with warning labels that say things like, "DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT GOING OUTSIDE IN THE SUN WHILE TAKING THIS MEDICATION" or "A GLASS OF WINE MAY KILL YOU WHILE ON THIS MEDICATION" or "DO NOT EVEN TOUCH THIS BOTTLE IF YOU ARE PREGNANT, MAY BECOME PREGNANT, OR ARE NURSING."

Okay, the warnings aren't quite that strong, but they are in all capital letters with little drawings for the folks who can't read the giant doomsday text. And I'm thinking, why do I want to put these things in my body if we don't know for sure what's going on? Oh, that's right: because if I do have the infection, my chances of getting stomach cancer increase, and that's a disease that, sadly, runs in the family.

So I took my three pills tonight, lamenting and kvetching the whole time. My husband laughed at me and my irrational attitude toward controlled substances prescribed by a highly-educated, duly-informed professional who's taken an oath to "First, do no harm." And he's right. This doctor knows way more than I do, no matter how proficient my googling skills are. I need to relax, trust the guy with the medical degree, and hope that this treatment relieves me of these awful pains.

But I'd like to state for the record that I'm not happy about it. I will gladly resume my medicine-free existence in ten days. Hopefully, I will also resume a pain-free existence in ten days--the jury's still out on that one. In the meantime, I will be carefully scheduling my three-times-a-day doses to be sure I don't take them less than an hour before eating (especially dairy) or less than two hours after eating or within a half hour of lying down (you can thank the medicine for this post for that very reason).

I'm going to give myself an ulcer just thinking about it.


  1. Feel better soon friend! Wonderfully personal commentary here about a sentiment many of us share.

  2. Thanks, Megan! The logistics of the meds is definitely a hassle, but it's a small price, I suppose, if it works. So happy to see you've posted again--I'm going to check it out now!


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