In my previous post I promised I’d talk a bit about my history with the medical system and how it affected me growing up.
Suffice to say that my experience with the medical system has not been stellar. Every doctor I’ve gone to since I was old enough to pay attention has summed up complaints about drug side-effects with “Can you breathe? Good enough, stop worrying about the other stuff.” This isn’t helpful when that “other stuff” is dizziness, lack of focus, loss of short-term memory, rapid weight gain, confusion, and a grab-bag of others, depending on what kinds of medications you’re on. This isn’t to say that the doctors haven’t been kind enough, but given theincreasing numbers of asthmatics in Canada, you’d think they’d know more than whatever pitch the pharmaceutical companies give them, or the latest studies of the meds they’re prescribing.
This lack of specialty isn’t their fault. The sheer density of medicines on th market for every illness is so heavy that I imagine any given doctor is at a loss with how to prescribe one over another, especially when so many of them are essentially the difference between Pepsi and Coca-Cola – brand preference based on nothing. This isn’t limited to my illness either – mental illness is even worse for a wide range of patches with no difference in their labeling, but which have hugely different effects on different people.
I’ve got no malice toward the medical industry (that’s right, I said industry) for this issue, but the habits doctors get into when prescribing can be destructive. It took me three attempts to convince my current doctor to change my dosage, because he simply didn’t believe that asthma symptoms could change. Imagine what he’s done to bipolar patients who get better at managing their troubles? Or anxiety sufferers who’ve solved parts of their affectation? It’s rending and affordance that’s at issue here.
But then, I’m a fairly educated patient, who refrains from self-diagnosis as often as possible. Doctors don’t get enough like me. I know that sounds like I’m tooting my own horn, but there it is. I’ve been on medications for the last twenty-five years or so, all my life, and more than a few of them have flat out sucked, or been totally WRONG for my case. One, when I was approaching adolescence, caused me to get the jitters so badly, to fidget so much, that a few of my teachers must have thought I had ADD. I ran around shaking my hands because I couldn’t keep them still – it HURT, physically, to be in one place for more than half an hour. Needless to say my grades suffered. Then I switched medications, and all the issues went away.
I was presented with many examples, growing up, of asthmatics who had recovered. They had either grown out of their illness – which can happen – or had trained temselves out of it. One of the guys on my biathelon team during my time with the Air Cadets, had managed to use his training to completely abolish his need for medicine. It was encouraging – until after two years in biathelon training my times were still bad, my aim horrible and the steroids I was on were preventing me from competing at higher levels because they counted as steroids, of course. Dead end. Wonderful, right?
It’s tough for a kid to cope with being tied to an inhaler. I’ll get into this a bit more in the next post; as I said in the intro post, I’ll talk about actionable events next, as well as shackles and affordances. That’s coming tomorrow.