I recently read a story about someone with occipital neuralgia (a chronic pain condition that has to do with an irritation of or damage to the greater or lesser occipital nerve) whose previous neurologist prescribed them Cymbalta, which is a seratonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). This person took the medication for two years before seeing another doctor who informed them that Cymbalta generally treats depression. She then proceeded to go off the medication without researching the withdrawal problems. I did some research and found that Cymbalta has been approved very recently by the FDA for treatment of musculoskeletal pain so I suppose the neurologist may have been at the bottom of the barrel, trying anything. It’s possible. Nonetheless, it seems like a slightly irresponsible medication to prescribe to someone without depression problems or arthritis. I have to say, however, that I wasn’t surprised–doctors prescribe medications inappropriately all the time. The shock on my end came from the ON sufferer’s fury at the doctor–she never bothered to look up what this medication was for. Two years of shoving pills into her face, and she had no idea what she was taking.
There may have been a time long ago when doctors were to be uncompromisingly trusted but we no longer live in that world. We live in a world where there are a few exceptional doctors whose strength allows them to navigate through the nightmare of health insurance dodging payments (which hurts them just as it hurts us…well not just as it hurts is, but it isn’t a great situation for them), and watching people suffer while trying to do their job, working exceptionally long hours in many cases, while still maintaining a sense of determination and sympathy for their patients. Others are worn down by the present system, which punishes the weak. Still others never cared to begin with and are only doctors because mommy and daddy told them to do it because they’d make lots of money.
A precious few of us manage to find the good doctors. I have found a couple after years and years of searching. Regardless, any time one of them thinks I should try a new medication or go off a previous one I ask a lot of questions. I don’t give a shit if they’re rushed or irritated by my questions. This is MY FUCKING BODY. I’m not going to just eat pills because a doctor tells me so, I’m going to take them if and when I feel satisfied that it is a good idea. This is in no way insinuating that I think I know better than any doctor about pharmaceuticals–I don’t. However, I am an intelligent, proactive person and know I am capable of understanding what words like “contraindication” and “side effects” mean. Frankly I don’t know anyone with a chronic illness or pain condition who isn’t intimately familiar with the various pharmaceutical terminology well enough to posit informed questions regarding medications they’re taking.
I think you’ve figured out where I’m going with this. Be informed about what’s going into your body, whether that be another person’s phallus, food that you’d prefer not be covered in pesticides, or potentially life-altering medications. Nobody–including your doctor–cares more about your body’s well-being than you do. Be. Your. Own. Advocate.