So I ended up in ER today. I didn’t want to be there. I wanted to be at my primary care doctor’s office, or even the urgent care office. I was perfectly capable of getting myself to those places, except those places weren’t open. It was Martin Luther King Day, and apparently it’s not allowed to require medical help on a holiday. Except at the Emergency Room. So that’s where I ended up.
A few days earlier, I had taken a nasty fall and really banged myself up. I was alright, or so I thought, until 24 hours after I went tumbling down the steps of a bus onto hard pavement my spine decided to file a complaint. It went on strike and refused to work. My back decided to take the day off.
After getting a lecture from an Endocrinologist about osteoporosis last week, I had two goals in seeking medical advice: Pain management and checking for fractures and breaks.
After almost two hours of hanging out in the waiting room, I finally see the doctor. The first words out of his mouth were “When was the last time you had a tetanus shot?”
Really? I didn’t step on a nail, and wasn’t there because I had cut myself. I had hurt my back. Where does a tetanus shot come into the picture?
I told him it was irrelevant, that I had a vaccine reaction (check my chart under allergies – it’s right there), and that I settled my case with the Department of Health and Human Services. He shut right up and changed the subject.
I’ll never really know, nor would this doctor ever admit it, whether he changed the subject because he thought he was seeing the “crazy-lady-in-a-tinfoil-hat” patient, but his tone changed right after that. He did his job, but I could tell he wanted me to move right along.
Mentally, I was slapping my forehead and saying “stupid, stupid.” Why didn’t I just lie to him? When was my last tetanus shot? Why, a couple of years ago, I think. Why does this doctor deserve the truth if he’s trying foist something on me that I don’t need? Would the doctor have thought of me differently if I had given him that answer, rather than giving him reason to believe that I had a mind of my own? I suppose I’ll never know. I have to figure the only reason that I wasn’t offered a flu vaccine is that they were fresh out of flu shots.
As far as the conversation with the endocrinologist went, he was gung-ho for me to go on osteoporosis-preventing drugs. Now, I agree with him, my tests have indicated that I am pretty well on my way to having bones as strong as pretzel sticks at a very young age (relatively), but we differ on treatment and prevention.
This doctor is relatively new to my story, but I’m sure he doesn’t realize how profoundly my health, finances and life were affected by bad reactions to pharmaceuticals that were supposed to make my life better. Skeptical doesn’t even begin to describe how I approach a new medication.
Just because the Flying Nun raves about how cool and stylish her bones are thanks to modern medicine, doesn’t mean I’m about jump on that bandwagon. I told the doctor that I would research it and we would discuss it. He reluctantly agreed.
In my research of Fosamax and his friends, I found that a common side effect is bone and joint pain. Wait. I already have bone and joint pain. I’m not signing up for an extra helping of that. So, diligently doing my homework, I discover that a version of Strontium is approved in Europe for osteoporosis and is 10 times more effective than the Fosamax gang. It’s available by prescription only in Europe, why isn’t it commonly prescribed here in the US?
Yes, you guessed it. Money. It seems that Strontium is a mineral, like calcium is. No pharmaceutical company has bankrolled the clinical trial necessary to get this on the menu. Big pHARMa can’t make any money selling a mineral, which they can’t patent. So there you go. Mr. Merck and friends would rather have you take something far more expensive and dangerous.
So, what will I tell the doctor about my decision on osteoporosis treatment? Sure, give me the prescription. I’ll never get it filled, and take the generic strontium (which is easily available) instead. I’ll let you believe that I complied with you and the pHARMa agenda. When it comes time to recheck my bone density levels, let’s see what the results say.
After that, will I lie to the doctor? Probably. They don’t like it when patients think for themselves.