Thursday, July 16, 2009

beware of doctor

I don't want to get into too much detail in this post because it involves some medical issues that I have been having, and I doubt that anyone really wants to know the specifics. However, I do want to share what my recent experience has been, as a cautionary tale to anyone dealing with the medical industry.

In the last few months, I've been experiencing severe anemia due to irregular bleeding. The bleeding absolutely had to be stopped for at least a few months so that my hemoglobin levels could recover. My options were a shot of Depo-Provera or 3 months of continuous birth control pills (without the weeks off for a period). I knew, from my experience as a student of and teacher for the Couple to Couple League, that birth control pills increase your risk of blood clots, something that I may be prone to. I talked to my doctor about it, and we agreed that Depo-Provera was the best option, as it does not have the same clotting risks as the Pill. I will give my doctor the benefit of the doubt that she would have asked about my health history with regard to blood clots before prescribing them for me if I had decided to go that route rather than getting the shot, but she had not said anything about it before I brought it up.

Three weeks later, I started bleeding again, despite the Depo-Provera. My doctor prescribed some progesterone pills in addition to what was already in my system. The pills did not work. When I called to tell her this, her nurse told me that the next thing to try would be birth control pills, and was ready to send my prescription in to the pharmacy right then. I reminded her that I had a possible issue with blood clots and did not think that I ought to take birth control pills. She put me on hold to check with the doctor, and came back with, "You're right, we DEFINITELY don't want to do that," and then we discussed other options.

What if I had not known the dangers of the medication that I was being prescribed? Again, I want to give my doctor the benefit of the doubt for the first incident, but for the second, there is no excuse. It is the doctor's job to know what medication is appropriate for a patient given their condition and history, not the patient's! That's why we pay them the big bucks, right? It makes me wonder how often doctors forget to ask questions or check chart information, and what the repercussions are.

Of course, even a doctor who actually tries to do these things will make a mistake sometimes. And, sometimes we have to make a decision to trust our doctor because a quick decision is needed and we simply don't have the time to Google everything. But whenever possible, we need to be responsible for our own health by learning about our health conditions, medications, side effects, and asking questions. There is a great ad being played in the radio right now encouraging patients to ask lots of questions, and I truly hope that people will listen!


Wendy said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your health problems; we'll keep you in prayer!

Enjoyed your vacation blog very much! I'm amazed you could do that much while anemic!

Tracy said...

I appreciate the prayers very much, Wendy! While I am still objectively anemic, I'm comparatively MUCH better than I was before, so I actually feel pretty good, even though I have a way to go before I'm "normal". My body had adapted to very low hemoglobin levels over such a long period of time that to be even a little better feels a LOT better!