Posts Tagged medicine
Putting your life in someone else’s hands is one of the hardest things patients are asked to do. We have no choice but to place our faith in the abilities and opinions of other people.
Sure, we can mitigate risk and make ourselves feel better by doing loads of fear-inducing Google research or seeking a second opinion. But, in the end, you choose your doctor and you move forward.
I recently read an op-ed in the NY Times about the way we make decisions in the medical sphere. It brought up some interesting points. First, we tend to trust authority figures, including doctors, without question. This is especially true when we’re frightened and vulnerable. And who isn’t when dealing with a scary, life-altering diagnosis? This can be dangerous since as many as one in five diagnoses are wrong (according to the article, which didn’t quote the source).
What’s more, we tend toward optimism, filtering in only the information we want to hear. I believe this can be a highly beneficial strategy of coping. After all, optimism, even in the face of a dismal diagnosis, can keep you feeling strong and keep the depression that effects up to one-third of patients with chronic disease at bay. But there’s a risk to the optimism bias, which is that you may be ignoring potential lifestyle risks or bad news, leading to decisions that may hurt you in the long run.
So how do you keep a clear head and move forward confident in the abilities of your chosen doctor? Well, for one, you don’t put your blinders on simply because you made a choice. The treatment you’re on now may not be the one that will be best for you a year from now. New treatments come out and sometimes our bodies begin to reject past treatments. Only you, not your doctor, can be responsible for noticing the changes in your symptoms. You can listen to your gut about what’s working and you can follow research and bring new treatment ideas to the table.
There’s more you can do to remain confident in your treatment. You can always seek second opinions for big treatment changes. You can bring in another set of ears to appointments so that when your emotions are running high and you’re hearing not-so-great news, you have another person to interpret what the doctor said later.
When you’re doing all that, you have nothing left but your best option, your best guess, and faith in your doctor’s treatment. And a healthy dose of optimism, of course.
I finally met someone who also has RA. She’s the new pharmacist at my pharmacy. She asked me how I like my methotrexate. I didn’t really know how to answer. “Like” seems like a strong, simple word when talking about any drug with side effects. I would like it more if it was obviously doing its job, but I think most my progress is from the Enbrel.
She told me how she’d had a terrible time on MTX. She had done monthly injections (infusions?) and had many of the side effects that are associated with chemo, including losing her hair. She’s now been switched to two other drugs and taken off the MTX and prednisone.
As nice as it was to meet someone with RA, the encounter left me a bit shaken. Her wrists and hands definitely show the signs of RA. And she hasn’t found a drug regimen that works for her yet, meaning it’s still getting worse.
It’s so important to remember that you are on your own journey. Her experience isn’t mine and doesn’t have to be. It’s so easy to get caught up in the horror stories. To see the disease path as inevitable. But it’s not. It’s really and truly not. If you’ve just been diagnosed, know that there are more drug options, more knowledge on the disease and more medical breakthroughs and research happening than ever before. We have a ways to go until we understand RA or have a cure, but it’s an exciting time in medicine.
Seriously, before you read another blog post or go to another support group, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you ARE a beautiful and unique snowflake (or at least your RA is ;).)
Maybe this is the answer to my last blogpost on the woes of self injection. Replacing needles with lasers and a puff of air? Sign me up!!
I’ve been doing so well on my Enbrel injections that I started thinking I totally had the hang of it.
Last night, I stuck to the routine. I took my shot out to let it warm up, I tried to relax. I iced my right thigh and sterilized the chosen injection spot. I checked the expiration date and looked to make sure the liquid was clear and the little bubble was acting like it was supposed to. I took the lid off the pen and pressed it to my thigh.
And, boom. My heart starts racing and my thumb REFUSES to press the blue button to release the needle. What the hell? I’ve done this a bunch of times now. I know how much it hurts (yeah, sometimes it hurts quite a bit, but I know I’m able to deal with it).
I actually had to talk myself down from a full on panic attack. And then, of course, I got frustrated at myself for not being able to do something so simple. I put the pen down and paced my apartment, trying to calm my nerves.
Finally, I was ready to try again. Pen on thigh, my thumb pushed the button. NOTHING. I hate when this happens. I mentally prepare for the shot, and you push the button and for some reason it doesn’t release the needle. Ugh.
It took a couple more tries to actually get it. Re-positioning the needle, trying the button… When it finally did go, of course I wasn’t prepared, so I was a little surprised and probably pushed on the needle harder than I should have. End result: painful injection (it stung more than normal, bled a bit, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it bruises), mentally exhausting, and I’m dreading next week.
I don’t want to discourage anyone. There is a part of me that knows the weekly injections are an easy task that I’ve already mastered. I shouldn’t make it such a big deal.
Anyone have any tips for getting over the mental block of self-injecting? Or tips on making the experience less painful? Thanks to all of you! ❤