Take Your Medicine!…or not?

Last Friday I visited what was probably the 10th “specialist” that I have been referred to through my primary care provider, in hopes of finding a better way to deal with my Fibromyalgia, Arthralgia, Chronic Fatigue, Migraines, IBS, and other general malaise. Previously I’ve either seen or been referred to a  Hematologist, a Rheumatologist,  an OBGYN, an Acupuncturist, a Physical Therapist, a Pain Diversion Clinic, a Doctor of Naturopathy, a Chiropractor, Massage Therapy, and a Certified Nutrition Specialist practicing Contact Reflex Analysis. There may be more, but these are the ones I specifically remember. Friday’s Doctor only deals with pain management. I was told this was a newly opened clinic that seemed to be having “good results” with their Fibro patients. Okay, why not try again, right? So, off I go. The conversation went something like this:

Doctor: “What brings you in today?”

Me: “I think my Primary Care Provider doesn’t know what else to do for my Fibromyalgia, so we’re trying this. I do prefer a holistic approach and not to be on tons of medications.”

Doctor: “I practice Western Medicine…EVIDENCE based medicine. You should see a Naturopath.”

As you can imagine I wasn’t thrilled with that response, but I think he quickly realized how abrasive it had sounded and spent the next ten minutes trying to explain why his way is right. Telling me things like the forums where I had read posts regarding negative patient experiences with drugs like Duloxetine and Pregabalin, along with their long list of side effects, are nothing to worry about – the medications are safe, and he “does this for a living.” I’m sorry, I realize I should use proper grammar and not make this look like a text message, but…ROFL! I did manage to keep myself from launching into the science (and evidence) behind more holistic therapies, as I’m sure he couldn’t have cared less.

He continued to make assumptions about my lack of knowledge and understanding of Fibromyalgia and even physical activity, at one point telling me that beginning an athletic regimen would cause me some discomfort. Are you serious? I had no idea! I mean, after all being a Portland Marathon finisher and multiple other distance races, certainly isn’t athletic or require any training of any sort. Please! Plus, there is not a single person I know that has dealt with a chronic or autoimmune illness for any length of time, that hasn’t done some research or learned quite a lot of the specifics of their condition. It’s a must – it impacts every moment of your life!

I’m sure this is not a unique experience for those of us that have pain or chronic illnesses, or potentially even just more standard visits. What I tried to do was take away any nuggets of wisdom that I could from this visit, and there were two. One, he shared with me that one of the things they find lacking in Fibro patients is dopamine, which is why they want to use nerve related medications (I’ve been prescribed Nortriptyline, Gabapentin, Venlafaxine, Pregabalin, etc). Secondly, he shared that studies have come out as recently as last month saying that moderate activity is extremely important, which is what led to his insulting comments about my current lack of fitness. I mean, he’s not wrong about it, but his assumption that I never been an athlete wasn’t cool.

So in summary, it’s worth it to keep going and keep listening to the Doctors, even when I don’t necessarily agree, or find great results with, their treatment plans. It keeps me connected to all types of medicine and research (because I firmly believe all information is valuable), and that some of the things they prescribe can be helpful. I walked out of the office with a prescription for yet another medication, but also aquatic therapy (good stuff) and some more knowledge in my arsenal to fight Fibro. Come back and read Thursday’s post, where I am going to explain how I am upping my dopamine levels naturally, and the positive results I am already getting!

In Warmth – Bobbie

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