Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bifocals..OK Not so Fast

Read HERE  about my sojourn into a self-indulgent midlife, albeit miniscule,  crisis, when the ophthalmologist prescribed bifocals, or what we gingerly call progressive lenses, for me shortly before my 50th birthday.

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We are all used to the doctors telling us that we need to give our children pills. Heck, we did start doing that for the boys when they were little and yeah, I am a proponent of meds in conjuction with therapy. But then the doctors decide to give YOU meds along the way and that becomes another issue. In fact I think that in many ways it is just easier to dole-out the pretty little pills then to have anyone really face the issues in their lives or quite frankly to just deal with a little aches and pains. OK you can take an Advil or a Tylenol, but when they start getting into the heavier stuff then really people take a breather and think it through to the final conclusion. Make sure you really need the med and that the cure is not worse than the disease.

Also you need to figure out for yourself just what is going on with your own health and your own well being. Just like you do for your children. I went to an internist who insisted that my depression was due to the fact that I am raising two autistic children. At the time I really didn't' give it much thought. Every special needs parent I knew was on an antidepressant so I figured, what the hell...The only problem was that all it did was put 20 pounds on my ass but my depression just got worse. This idiot's response was to raise the dose, which of course just made me fatter. (Note for the doctors out there...getting fatter does not help a person's self-esteem nor fix their depression when they feel and look miserable.) She refused to think that there could be any other issue causing my depression, like a physical problem. Meanwhile, I was also seeing a therapist and quite frankly the both of them obviously really weren't paying attention to what was going on with me.

The real problem was that my B12 vitamin level were dropping on a frightening scale. The internist  refused to accept that I could have pernicious anemia. Why? Because my level was 312 not under 300, even though my blood work over the years showed a precipitous drop. The fact that pernicious anemia runs in my family she decided also didn't matter. My parents were besides themselves and so was hubby. He actually called the doctor. God forbid she called back, no she had her nurse do it to tell him that there was no need for pernicious anemia protocols and that the doctor knew what she was doing. Actually not only did this doctor not know what was gong on, but she was such a fucking lazy cow she didn't even bother to read my chart when I came in for a visit to find out why I was there.

Needless to say, my friend recommended a different doctor ASAP who followed the requisite protocols and basically saved my life. The interesting thing is that it was a very hard decision for me to do. Changing the doctor and finding someone else to help me, came at a huge amount of inner turmoil. In truth I waited too long but I chalk that up to being on medication I did not need and quite frankly to being so sick with a disease that affected my neurological system to the point that I was not able to always make thoughtful decisions. Thank God for hubby. To this day I tell anyone I meet to get away from that incompetent bitch as soon as possible and find someone who deserves to have been granted a medical degree. Aside: antidepressants are a god send for those who need them. I have seen them help my own boys tremendously. But as with every other medication, if you do not need them and take them, they can have a deleterious effect. In my case, taking antidepressants made me unable to think clearly and help myself.

Note: B12 is one of those vitamins that you need to regulate a healthy neurological system. Without it, your system slowly deteriorates, leading to loss of feeling in the extremities, nervous system decay and psychosis. Remember how there is that old saying that insanity runs in families (yeah I know it definitely runs in your in-law's family) but truthfully in the days before modern medicine no one knew about the importance of one stupid little vitamin and the horrible effect its depletion could cause.

Meanwhile I have been taking my B12 shots and keep a constant watch on my levels. Also because I am quite anal about certain things I also have the boy's B12 levels checked regularly and have them take a B12 vitamin every morning. Yes, I know if you have pernicious anemia you can't metabolize B12 from a solid source, but at least I feel like I am doing something, especially since CM1 has decided to go semi-vegetarian on us.

Let me tell you about another instant of not needing to listen to the doctor and taking care of myself. It actually has something to do with those bifocals I have been wearing. Several years ago, I was diagnosed with possible lupus. Now lupus is a degenerative auto-immune disease. The moment someone is dxed with that the doctors put you on a little medication called plaquenil. It is supposed to help with the extreme fatigue and tiredness associated with the disease. How would you describe the tiredness? Its as if you feel like you are walking through a vat of chocolate pudding all day long. Read the Spoonie story here.

There is only one side-effect they tell you about when taking this drug..You can go blind. Isn't that nice, you can either be nerve numbing tired to the point that there are days you really can't bring yourself to get up from the couch or you can harm your eyesight. HMMM, nice choice. Well anyway, the doctor told me that I just need to have my eyes examined every 6-months to make sure that the retinas are OK and otherwise I could use the med.

Now at first I thought the meds helped. In fact we have been going through such a really rough patch over the last few years, to the point that hubby even told me that I didn't look good, that I took the meds and didn't look back. Stress, makes this disease worse. Well I really didn't start to feel better, but I tell you what, my eye sight got worse and my ass got bigger again.

So I went on some forums and lo and behold, as I had told all the doctors and noone would listen to me, every patient was complaining about weight gain from the plaquenil. So here I was, possibly damaging my eyes, not really feeling like superman and not being able to once again fit into my jeans. (By the way, over the years, I had lost the weight I had put on from the antidepressant.) So I had had enough. I stopped the meds and decided to see what happened.

I'll tell you what happened, my eyes are improving and I can wear contact lenses again.  My prescription has changed twice for the better since I stopped the meds last August and honestly, while I am tired I am not debilitatingly tired. What angers me though about this episode in my life is that my sight was truly effected yet everyone kept telling me that no, its not so bad, its really only about your age. I swear these medical professionals could just kill someone some day. They all fuckin' missed my eyesight deterioration. Just like that moron years ago that decided I need an antidepressant becasue I was raising special needs children, and that there couldn't be a physical reason for my depression.

Luckily I had been told that once you stop the plaquenil if there is retina damage it will get better as long as the damage  wasn't extensive and long term.  Well, I am so glad that I listened to my inner voice that said enough is enough. Try life without a freakin' pill and see how it goes.

Listen not everyone with lupus can stop their medication. It really depends on how extensive your disease happens to be. In my case, apparently not extensive at all and it may never become life threatening. The rheumatologist just told me to take care of myself and if I become really sick again to call him and he would help me. Otherwise all I need was my internist, the one who had saved me from pernicious anemia,  and an annual physical.

The hand is a hamsa and the blue stone is the Eye of God

Honestly there is an upshot to all of this..I get to have quite a number of really funky and fun glasses. The black ones of course are my sunglasses which I couldn't wear for years since I had to wear progressives and even though they were prescription it didn't work to keep changing glasses as I walked in and out of stores. The deep brown glasses are the progressives I have now, with the new twice lowered prescription (lowered both for near and far sight). I use them when I'm not wearing my contacts. The fun leopard print glasses are for reading when I have in my contact lenses. They aren't even prescription but readers like you get in a drug store,  only +1 too. (YEAH)

So if you come away with anything of import today, remember to stop, think and review just what your doctors want you to do and why. Don't let them predetermine why you need or don't need a pill just like you do for your children. Take nothing they tell you at face value. If they don't like it find another health professional. There are many persons out there with medical degrees and some have even earned the title doctor.

Qi en Pace,


Elise






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