Can I get a witness? Does your doctor throw drugs at the problem?
If you’re following a gluten-free diet, chances are that you’ve had quite a bit of experience with the doctor’s office. An undiagnosed hiatal hernia landed me there a couple of times recently leading to diagnostic procedures and then follow-up visits. One week, I’d had so many GI cocktails that I suggested to the nurse that they might want to offer Happy Hour.
I’m feeling better, but I continue to be perplexed by the practice of medicine. During the three week process, I’ve had 4 different drugs essentially thrown at me without discussion. I don’t know about you, but if my condition is not life threatening and can be improved or controlled with lifestyle changes, then I do not want drugs.
When I told the GI doctor this, he looked confused and asked me if my insurance wouldn’t pay for the PPI that I had been taking since my first visit. I think my response confused him even more. I told him I did not want to have to take a drug every day for the rest of my life.
Instead I wanted to know what I could do with diet and exercise. Then I wanted a wean-off plan so that I wouldn’t have the rebound acid problem created from suddenly stopping the drug. After telling me that 99% of the population was not successful in making the lifestyle changes required to control acid reflux associated with hiatal hernia, he reluctantly agreed to devise a plan to transfer me to an over the counter proton pump inhibitor (PPI) and slowly spread out the doses until I am again drug free.
Why is it that standard medical practice seems to be primarily based on treating or masking symptoms? Why do physicians start throwing prescriptions out like Santa throws candy in the Christmas parade? Why isn’t it standard practice to present the patient with test results and all the options available so that patient and doctor work as a team to develop a plan for optimum health? Why do doctors assume I won’t be successful?
By the end of a week of taking the sample prescription, the side effects were making me feel worse, not better. The side effect list on the 2nd drug deterred me from ever starting it. As I wean off the PPI, I am feeling better day by day. I’ve limited my caffeine, eaten smaller meals at regular intervals, increased my amount of exercise, and paid close attention to how I feel after I eat so I will know what irritates the situation.
I feel grateful that I am healthy, and I feel grateful for this episode of discomfort. I have come to recognize that acid reflux for me registered as pressure in my chest and as hunger, so I tended to feed myself to reduce the symptoms. This brought temporary relief, but also caused me to gain weight over the past few months. The additional weight made problems with acid reflux more likely. The disruption of my normal routine was a chance to recognize how I was contributing to the problem.
Yesterday, I learned that my state is one of 9 states that prescribe antibiotics to patients at a higher frequency than that of other states in the US. Now I’m wondering whether this tendency bleeds over into a tendency to overprescribe other drugs. What’s your experience with your doctor? Is he/she supportive of using diet and lifestyle changes to control disease when possible? Do you feel comfortable asking your doctor questions? Am I the only one who prefers to stay chemical free?
It is clear that today I have many more questions than answers. Sharing your experiences will help all of us gain perspective. Thanks!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”