“Doctors are men who prescribe medicine of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings of whom they know nothing”,Voltaire
Those of us with chronic conditions are constantly seeking relief from the myriad of symptoms that make our lives very challenging. Pain, fatigue, lack of physical abilities, sleep disturbances, depression, rashes, to name but a few of the minor to serious struggles with which we are faced lead us to desperately wanting relief in the form of medications. Living with any one of the daily distressing symptoms affects our quality of life and it is little wonder that we seek help in the form of chemicals to help us get through the day. Many, in fact, are essential to our conditions without which we could not survive. Others are prescribed from the sheer frustration of physicians who want to help but medical answers to many perplexing conditions are not yet available to them. Such is the case with fibromyalgia. What to do with a patient who has chronic pain but to prescribe a pain medication, that may or may not help? If the patient cannot sleep there is a solution: sleep medication. Depression and anxiety? Medications for altering moods.The list of medications for all sorts of conditions is limitless. Pharmaceutical companies are big booming businesses whose profits know no bounds.Physicians could not possibly remember the vast array of information that the drug reps tell them about their efficacy or that they learn about on line. More to the point ‘new’ diseases and conditions are constantly being ’discovered’ for which new drugs must be invented. Read : The Medicalization of Everyday Life by Thomas Szasz, a psychiatrist, whose work in mental illness was compulsory reading for me as a medical sociology student in graduate school, many years ago.
The comments I receive daily from readers who are taking many medications, several for the same types of symptoms, overwhelm me. I too fell into this trap when I began taking pain medications for fibromyalgia but nothing can compare with that which I am taking (and dare not to) for heart disease.
On August 5th, 2012 Carolyn Thomas posted a blog about ten non-drug ways to treat depression in heart patients www.myheartsisters.org . The same information is appropriate for those of us with fibromyalgia and depression, yet I hear and read so many comments about the drugs that are prescribed for those of us with anxiety and depression, common symptoms of fibromyalgia. Of the many ways I am the most taken with meditation and any kind of body movement such as gentle yoga, Qigong, or Tai Chi. The combination of living moment to moment through Mindfulness Meditation and slow exercise is a gift we can give ourselves that can become habit forming but is not toxic as many of the chemicals we are taking for so many symptoms. It would seem that Big Pharma has been able to find one drug after another to counteract the side effects of each of the medications. In the meantime it is to ourselves that we must turn. If we are prescribed medications for life saving measures that is perfectly understandable, but we have so quickly fallen into the trap (myself included) of believing there is a cure through drugs for every symptom of this dis-ease.
I have gradually stopped taking Gabapentin for the pain of fibromyalgia just this past month. I am not sure if the daily 400 mgs I was taking for several years was even effective or like many who take and believe in homeopathic and herbal remedies I believed they were helping (placebo effect). I have decreased the Melatonin from 5 mgs to 3 mgs and have not noticed a difference in my sleep patterns, so I am also questioning whether or not it is helpful. For me pain, sleep problems and fatigue are the most problematic challenges I deal with on an everyday basis. I believe if I could resolve these I would not suffer from anxiety. HOWEVER, is it a chicken and egg dilemma? If I was not in an anxiety state I would not have fibromyalgia; my central nervous system would not be hyper-aroused, I would sleep better, be less fatigued and pain would subside! How can medications possibly resolve this conundrum?