YOU: YOUR OWN ADVOCATE

May 20, 2020

The title of this post is something I have been told several times by medical doctors and pharmacists.  And I have discovered that this advice is 100% true.

Unfortunately, for the big majority of my life, I accepted that whatever course of treatment a doctor prescribed to me, was the appropriate treatment – including the medicines I was prescribed.

That’s absolutely the wrong attitude anyone should have concerning one’s health.  I learned this the hard way, through experience.

My late son, Spencer Jr., was a medical specialist.  He was one of the doctors who told me that I must be my own advocate in healthcare.

He told me that doctors either did not, or could not, take the time with their patients to get a complete medical history.  And that they often did not do proper research on the medicines they were already taking – especially whether there may be interactions with the drug they are considering prescribing.

He went on to tell me that much of doctor’s treating a certain condition, such as high blood pressure, was basically trial and error.  Because every patient’s body does not respond the same way with a particular drug.  He said that was due to everyone’s body being different.  Also, a doctor must consider what other medications the patient is currently taking.  And, too, there was also the age difference between patients.  A doctor realizes that treating a 30 year old patient will probably need to be different that treating a 70 year old patient with the same medical problem.

He then told me that there was such a large variety of medicines on the market that it was very hard far a doctor to know which one is best for a particular condition.

Then he admitted something to me that I did not know.  And I have utilized this knowledge many times within the past five years.  He said, “Daddy, most doctors don’t know as much about medicine as most good pharmacists.” I have called Missy (his wife, who is also a pharmacist) several times with a question about what was the best medicine to treat a certain condition with these symptoms.

That’s when I heard once again that one must be their own advocate. That was before everyone had internet. And it was hard to do research.  That’s when I would go to another pharmacist to ask their opinion of the new medicine I had been prescribed.  All of them would qualify  their answers by saying that they were not a physician and that I would need to take my doctors advice.  But then they would tell me that they had heard of better results with this medicine that they would tell me about versus the medicine I had been prescribed.  Several pharmacists told me that you need to call your doctor and tell him/her that you have researched the medicine he/she prescribed and that there were better alternatives. The pharmacist would tell me that usually the doctor would feel insulted, but then the pharmacist would tell me, “Hey, it’s your body, you must do what you think is right.”

Just recently my doctor changed a medicine I was taking for high blood pressure for different blood pressure medicine.  I took it for a few days and began feeling dizzy.  I knew something was wrong, so I went to two experienced pharmacists and asked them what they thought about that medicine?  One pharmacist was at my local pharmacy where I buy all my drugs.  The other pharmacist that I consulted was at a store I did not buy my medicines from, although Sandra shops there often for other items.

They both suggested three alternatives that their experience told them were much better alternatives than the one I was taking.  Then I went home and got on the internet and discovered that that medicine should never be taken with another medicine I had been taking for years, because there were reactions between them that could make me much sicker.

Also, I learned that that medicine should not be prescribed to anyone with low heart rate (which I have)  or to anyone with cold intollerence (which I have had for the past few years). So I think my doctor made one of those trial and error mistakes. 

Two other medical professionals told me recently that they suggest I see a cardiologist as soon as possible. I am waiting on a appointment soon.  I hope even today.

These experiences of mine I have mentioned should prove that you, too, may need to be more of a self-advocate than you have been.

I hope this post has been helpful.

God Bless You,
Spencer Plumley

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