Monthly Archives: February 2015

Why would I shovel while knee-deep in snow? (and other questions)

pillsSo, obviously, I did that; on Sunday, while attempting to fashion a backyard luge for the kids, I picked up a shovel full of snow, twisted a bit weirdly due to the fact that I had no range of motion in my lower legs, and felt a little twinge in my lower back. After another hour or so outside, it was a bit more than a twinge, so I came in and put an ice pack on it. I didn’t sleep well that night, despite Robaxacet. The next day, more muscle relaxant medicine, more ice, and off about my business.

It is Wednesday now, and it’s still bothering me, so I figured I’d go see a doctor and get a prescription for some massage treatments. So, I tell my tale, I get my massage prescription, and I am asked if I’d like to try an anti-inflammatory to see if that eases it.

“Like Advil?” I ask. But I’m told I’d need about 12 Advil a day to really see much improvement, and that would be awfully hard on my stomach. The suggestion is a different medicine – a prescribed one called Vimovo.

“Sure,” I say, and I go fill the prescription and take one right away.

When I get home I read the bit that the pharmacist has highlighted on the information sheet, and am surprised to see some of the side effects that appear in neon yellow:

back pain?!?
burning or discomfort of stomach
impaired sense of taste
inflammation of sinuses
upper and lower stomach pain
upper respiratory tract infection (i.e., common cold, flu)
joint pain?!?!

Seriously? Check out the first and last ones – aren’t they the very issues that took me to the doctor in the first place?!?

It also states that this medication is used to treat osteoarthritis, and then in an “all-new” warning from Health Canada: Several scientific studies suggest that this medication may be associated with a small increased risk for fractures of the hip, wrist, or spine related to osteoporosis, a disease resulting in the weakening of bones.

Nice. So potentially, I could be going from mildly uncomfortable lower back pain into a fracture of the spine.

Oh, and my personal favourite?

This medication is associated with an increased risk of heart attack or stroke. The risk is increased with higher total daily doses and taking the medication over a long period of time. People with a history of heart disease (e.g., heart attack, stroke, heart failure, blood vessel disorders) or who have risk factors for heart disease (e.g., high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, kidney disease) should discuss with their doctor how this medication may affect their medical condition, how their medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Good God!

So, here’s a new lesson I need to teach my children – ask questions. Lots of them. Don’t simply accept what people say or do based on their authority. Be judicious in your choices of medical treatment. I don’t need those pills, and the one I took today will be the last one I take until I have explored some other, less side-effect fraught, options. I’m not unable to function; I am uncomfortable. That’s all. Is that worth the risk of all those other potential side-effects? Not right now. Not to me.

And yes, I know they have to put every possible complication on the packages these days, no matter how minute the risk – even a box of Smarties probably poses many similar risks.

And, yes, if I needed medication, I would take it, regardless of those risks; I am not being naive, or “bashing” modern medicine in any way. When I need medicine – to keep me alive, or even just to keep me comfortable – I will be taking it. Without a doubt. But aren’t we quick to accept medications – no questions asked? To be fair to the doctor, he didn’t really know me well, and I might have been in much more pain than I actually was, and that medication is probably completely benign in the short term, with zero potential serious side-effects. So, I’m not bashing the medical profession either. It’s about me, really, and my children, and the fact that I want us to make informed choices based on what we learn and discover by asking questions and researching. There will always be someone who knows more. Did I ask that doctor about side-effects? No. And when the pharmacy employee asked if I’d like to speak to a pharmacist about the medication, did I? No. This is not about them. It’s about us.

On another note, I took my youngest daughter (who is often complimented on her lovely straight teeth) for an orthodontic consultation a couple of days ago on the recommendation of her dentist, and after listening to all the “flaws” the orthodontist listed, she was pretty convinced she needed braces, and so was I at the time – blinded by the reading of numbers and the showing of X-rays. I’m not quite so convinced two days later. I think that a large percentage of our current population has probably managed quite well with an 80% overbite. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that most of those people are blissfully unaware they even have an overbite. And again, if and when a person needs such treatments, I’m all for them. The power of a beautiful smile cannot be overstated. But really? Does everyone need to get braces?

Questions. Lots and lots of questions. Which none of my kids would be naturally inclined to ask a professional – a voice of authority.

Sigh. I’ve got some work to do.

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