Sunday, April 7, 2013

Chronically medicated nation

Image Credit:  Images_Of_Money
"Any allergies?"
"Any daily pain?"
"Any problems with mood?"
"What medications are you taking currently?"

Why do I feel like I'm becoming a minority in the medical world? A basic checkup at the doctor makes me feel like some sort of super human when the doctor herself seems impressed that I don't have chronic allergies and I'm not on a daily medical regimen.

Really? I'm 30, not 90. When did being chronically medicated become the fashion? Neurosis has become a self diagnosis and somewhat of a badge of courage for getting through a day of work, being a parent, and running a household.

I know there is a pill that will wake me up, a pill that will help me focus, a pill that will relieve my stress, and a pill that will tuck me in at night. But is that a sustainable way of life?

Lately I've been consciously anti-drug, before that I was more accidentally anti-drug, and before that I was all for drugs. Interesting that you actually have to work hard to avoid taking one of those quick fix pills mentioned above, but you do.

I have decided to focus on the 'why' in life. If I'm not sleeping well - why am I not sleeping well? The quick fix would be to take an Ambien. It also feels fashionable for some reason, a way to relate to friends. The hard road is analyzing your own behavior - and no one likes to point out their own faults. Me especially.

So. A quick analysis on why I am not sleeping well would usually point to a cycle of caffeine.  If I'm not sleeping well to begin with, I'll have two coffees instead of one. That starts the cycle - the later in the day I have a coffee the later in the day my mind works overtime, and come evening shutting that off becomes difficult. A second analysis may point to the fact that I sit all day. Sitting all day at a computer is mentally tiring, but my body isn't tired, and come bedtime my body isn't ready to sleep. What could solve this? A walk at night? A bike ride? Anything that gets your body moving and using some calories. Of course insomnia could have many variables and is a real medical issue. My point here is lets leave the meds to those who really need them.

Another chronic problem I have is back pain. My doctors solution was a steady revolving prescription of Flexiril, a muscle relaxant, with an occasional script of Vicodin or Ibuprofen. But why was my back hurting? Google is amazing for asking questions like this - a tip is to avoid Web MD though, for some reason Web MD thinks everything could be cancer and tells you to see a doctor - counterproductive at the least. Again after analysis I realize I sit all day - big surprise huh? I sit at my desk, I sit in my car during my hour commute each way, I sit at home for dinner, I sit to watch tv. The disc's in my lower back are compacting from all the sitting. The quick fix? Pain killers and muscle relaxers. Sure they work - but is this a sustainable solution? I have found that something as simple as 15 minutes of Yoga stretching, 3 times a week, has literally cured my back pain. And I'm not talking about fold yourself into a box in a 100 degree room type of yoga, I'm talking about very basic stretching, in plain clothes if necessary.

Chronic headaches? Something as simple as drinking 32-64 ounces of water a day will actually 'cure' a whole list of chronic medical problems;  headaches, joint inflammation/pain, depression, anxiety, muscle cramps and spasms. And - not coincidentally - approximately 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated.

Cough? Cold? Ear infection? Respiratory infection? Most people don't know that antibiotics are ineffective against illness caused by a virus such as cold, flu, and most ear infections. Taking an antibiotic is just as effective as taking a placebo, but an antibiotic is harmful to your body and the environment when misused. Visit the Michigan Antibiotic Resistance Reduction Coalition homepage, or the CDC Get Smart page for really important information on this topic.

Just to be clear, I am not recommending self diagnosing potentially life threatening illnesses and by no means am I saying a glass of water will cure cancer. What I am saying is that before you get on a daily regimen of any medication - examine your life style. I know what it feels like to take Vicodin and Flexiril for chronic, demobilizing, back pain - and I know what it feels like to at least try to counter the environmental variables that are causing that back pain for a more natural cure. Finding ways to examine and modify your behaviors for a pain free, drug free life is very empowering and rewarding - not to mention the key to a long, healthy life.


M3 Michigan Made Mix said...

What are your thoughts about the current medical marihuana program in Michigan? do you think those folks are over-doing it? as far as choosing cannabis as a cure all medicine - or is there some real solid evidence there? Personally I agree with us focusing on the why - and not masking our issues. But when it comes to cannabis I think its more of an enhancement than an option to cover up and mask real health issues...just curious. I really enjoy reading your blog but this is the first time I've posted a comment. have a really great day!

Admin said...

In my opinion, cannabis has a real place in the medical world. But just like any other drug, it should be a last option, and lifestyle/environmental factors should be addressed first. It seems our society is reaching to drugs first without ever looking at cause and seeing if cause is something that can be corrected.

Thanks for the comment!

Anonymous said...


Admin said...

John Stamos does probably cure disease. Just saying.

Bill Calkins said...

It amazes me the drugs people take without question. The food pyramid that is taught to our kids is never questioned. Low-fat? Really? Did the pioneers suffer from high cholesterol and coronary disease with their high fat diet? Look at how these lowfat alternatives are made. Lipitor lowers your cholesterol but slowly destroys your liver. Ever wonder why your liver manufacturers cholesterol (it's not by mistake), but many doctors seem to think so. Maybe sugar and too many hi-glycemic carbs could be the cause? I like what Jack LaLanne used to say, "if God didn't make it, don't eat it." Pretty simple.
I like your philosophy Janice and I share it- "You can always make more money, but you can't make more time"

Admin said...

Bill, I agree with your comment about low-fat foods. Everything you eat should be in moderation. I have a very hard time finding yogurt at the store anymore that isn't 0% or low-fat, and when you read the nutrition label it appears the fat has been replaced by added sugar or artificial sweeteners. A good high fat yogurt typically does not need a lot of additional sugar (milk itself has plenty of natural sugar in the form of lactose) in order to taste good.

The yogurt thing is a real pet peeve of mine, this just gave me an opportunity to bring that up! :)

lana said...

I enjoy your a nurse I have seen this firsthand, seriously, it is not uncommon for someone who is only 50 years old to have five pages of daily medications! Its sad, I often wonder how many "symptoms" are actually medication side affects. Where did you find yoga stretches for the back, I have chronic lower back pain that I can't seem to get rid of...

Admin said...

Iana, I absolutely agree, you take a pill to fix the problems that the pill you're taking is giving you. It's such a dangerous cycle.

As far as yoga stretches, I just did a quick google search for "yoga stretches for back pain," and found some suggestions. I'm not sure how accurate my pose names are, but a few of the ones I have found helpful are: Upward salute, child's pose, cat/cow pose, plank, downward dog, standing forward bend, knee-to-chest pose, and cobra. About 15 minutes of different stretching, regardless of pose, has done a lot for me.

Thanks for you comment!

Wee Quantum Furball said...

I'm very glad I've found your site. I've been enjoying reading your blog posts since I came across the Dorking thread you had started on BYC. I've been homeopathic/naturopathic for years due to my unusual reactions to most medications. I hold the belief that many of the problems we face today are due to all the chemicals with which we surround ourselves; and, they stem from a disconnect between our mind and our body. If we truly listen to our body, we can overcome most things....yes, there are times chemical intervention is necessary; but, not nearly to the level our society seems to be using.

Caia Milt said...

I believe that medication most of the time is misused and prescribed as if they were candy... The side affects that you encounter with a lot of the medication is a sign that people should be really careful. You notice the changes that it causes to your body future wise. When I'm really stressed I usually have terrible neck and back pain but instead of taking medication for it I started using my Tens Unit which basically helps the body increase levels of Endorphins that is your natural painkillers... I bought mine here: it could work for someone

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