I’m BAAAA-AAAACK!! Did you miss me?? I am sorry it’s been such a long time since my last post. You would not believe my life this last month—it’s been crazy. But I am working on getting a little more organized, and getting a little better handle on things. We’ll see how that goes. 🙂
So this entry will be the first in a series of posts about my medical health journey over the last few years. I will talk more in detail about some of the health issues I have dealt with as well as my transition from conventional to natural medicine. I am excited about it, and I hope you are too!
Did I mention I was raised on the pharm? It’s true. I’m a pharm-girl. My grandparents owned a drugstore when I was growing up: Cotten Drug in Jacksboro, TX. My PawPaw was a pharmacist. I remember going up to the drugstore a lot as a kid and playing and coloring in the snack area while Mimi waited on customers and PawPaw dispensed medication to the nice folks in Jacksboro. I also remember when the store burned. I was pretty young, but I can remember going to see the gutted old building. Despite this hardship, Mimi and PawPaw rebuilt the store and continued to operate it until they retired.
My dad followed in his dad’s footsteps and became a pharmacist too. He worked at several different drugstores and pharmacies in my early childhood years, and I have a few memories of him standing behind the counter, dispensing drugs much like PawPaw did. Dad didn’t enjoy being a pharmacist though, and eventually went back to school and got his degree in landscape architecture. But that’s another story.
Pharmacy and pharmaceuticals were always an integral part of our family. I realize you don’t have to have relatives working in that profession to embrace pharmaceuticals, but I think it does tend to increase the acceptance of and the comfort level with using them. I feel like we all had the mindset that drugs were our friends and whatever ailed us, there was a medication out there that could help us. If we ever had an ache or pain, the slightest fever or a sniffle, we quickly reached for a pill or an elixir that would take away our symptoms and make us more comfortable. And indeed, medicines are great for helping people to get well and feel better. No doubt about that. I always admired my dad and PawPaw because I saw them in this neat “helping profession” where people could come to them and trust that they would give them something that would help them. I still admire pharmacists and their vast knowledge and skill, and am glad they are there to help those who need them most.
It is amazing to think, however, just how many meds my family has taken over the years—if we had them all back, I think we could almost collectively open up our own pharmacy! I personally have taken so many drugs, it isn’t even funny. I’ve swallowed TONS of allergy meds since I was a little bitty kid, including prescriptions and over-the-counter products, and nasal sprays and steroids. We are talking at least one medication for this EVERY day for decades. I have gone through countless rounds of antibiotics for illnesses and infections. I was even on daily antibiotics for many months (maybe years—I can’t remember) for acne. I took LOTS of high-powered steroids for the horrible sinus infections I got every year. I used several different steroid inhalers along with Albuterol for more than a decade for moderate asthma. I took birth control pills for about 10 years. I’ve been on Nexium for GERD, Synthroid for thyroid disease, and Zoloft for depression. I have had more cough, cold and sinus medications than I could possibly count. And with endometriosis, bad headaches, and lots of general aches and pains, I’ve taken a bunch of OTC pain meds including Tylenol, Naproxen and Ibuprofen. I knew that 4 Ibuprofen was considered “prescription strength,” and so it was normal for me to take 4 at a time for the tough pain I had. (There is no telling how many thousands of Ibuprofen I have taken in my lifetime.) I have also taken prescription Naproxen, Hydrocodone, Vicodin and Percocet for pain, although I really hate those guys so I didn’t take much of any of them. I took Tylenol PM every night for years to help me sleep, and then switched to plain Benadryl. When that stopped working for me, I started taking NyQuil because it was what helped me most, and I did that every night for at least a couple of years. (This was all OK’d by my doctor, by the way, just in case you were wondering.) Even when I was pregnant, I took blood sugar meds for Gestational Diabetes. Needless to say, I have filled my body with a very large amount of pharmaceuticals throughout my life.
Some drugs did the trick, others didn’t, and still others gave me some horrific side-effects. I’ve had allergy and cold medicines that gave me kidney and bladder infections. I had the worst stomach pain I’ve ever had after taking the prescription strength Naproxen. I didn’t go to the bathroom for more than a week after taking Hydrocodone. Percocet made me run into walls and have double vision. Several different antibiotics upset my stomach, and one gave me a terrible case of esophageal spasms—I couldn’t even eat! One brand of birth control pills made the blood vessels in my eyes burst and hurt like the dickens. A medicine that I took for over-active bladder actually made it where I couldn’t use the bathroom when I needed to! Seriously, folks—which is worse? My pulmonologist told me I needed to get an eye exam at least every 6 months while I was taking asthma steroids because they cause glaucoma. Thankfully, my eyes are OK, but wow. This is where I began to wonder if being so friendly with medications has been such a good thing for me and my body.
In spite of all the negative side effects I had experienced from so many medications, I continued to rely on pharmaceuticals for my health issues. Quite honestly, I didn’t think I had any other choice. I was dealing with things like thyroid disease, debilitating nasal allergies and asthma, and I had been told that the only way to treat them was by taking drugs for the rest of my life. I was certainly not offered any suggestions as far as alternatives. I didn’t even know there were alternatives out there. It made me sad to think about it, but I resigned myself to be tied to these drugs until I died. I think most people who have chronic health issues have resigned themselves to that same fate with regard to the medications they have been prescribed.
In my next post, I’ll talk more about my life on the pharm–what it was like and how it was working for me as I dealt with different health issues. Hope you’ll join me!