Friday, January 27, 2017

You are the Expert of Your Own Body

Last week I saw my rheumatologist. She had referred me to a neurologist and asked about the visit. For over a year I have been experiencing numbing in my right leg and complete numbing from head to toe on my left side. We talked about the neurologist's suggestions and how things were going. Then she asked about one of the medications she had prescribed. I couldn't remember what it was at first and then it popped into my head that it was one I never took. My rheumy was curious why. Here's what happened. I filled out a questionnaire when I arrived. Once I was with the doc we discussed my symptoms, I picked my stuff up and headed for the door and she said, "Oh, it looks like you haven't been sleeping well. I am going to send in a prescription for blah, blah, blah. It helps with nerve issues and is an antidepressant. I am not giving it to you for depression but to help you sleep." Okay. Whatever. And I walked out the door. But when I got to my car my brain turned on. "What? Did she just give me an antidepressant for sleep as I was walking out the door?"

I explained to my rheumy that I went home, researched the medication and decided against it. First of all, she was giving me a medication to help with sleep without asking a very basic question, "Why aren't you sleeping?" Well, I have young adult children who are up until three or four in the morning coming and going, cooking, talking, etc. I struggle to sleep well until I know they are home for good. I have a border collie who gets stomach issues in the middle of the night and for some crazy reason only wants me to let her out, my husband is easily awaken and sleeps next to me, I am going through menopause and wake up hot, and I have rheumatoid arthritis which brings issues of its own. The circumstances of my life right now don't make it easy to get consistent sleep, but I don't want to be knocked out. This is my life right now and I want to be aware of what is happening in my home and to the people I love. Plus, do I need an antidepressant? No! Right now, my mental health is good. Let's save that for a day when I might really need it.

I was happy that my rheumy backed me up on the idea that a new prescription, especially an antidepressant, should always be thoroughly discussed before prescribed. It is definitely not a medication you hand out casually as someone is leaving. We both agreed that we should always use caution when adding new medications. I am already on some heavy duty stuff. Great consideration would have to go into adding another long-term pill to the mix. Overall, I felt it was irresponsible of the neurologist but also a great reminder to myself that we ALWAYS have to be our own advocate. We have to do our own research. We have to make our own decisions. In the end, we are ALWAYS the experts on our own bodies.