Taking My Medicine

Blog 1417 – 08.07.2019

Taking My Medicine

For many, many years I was quite proud of taking little or no medicine and none daily. The saying goes, “Pride goeth before a fall.” Well, it certainly did in my case. For some years I knew that I had an enlarged prostrate, a condition that I am told is quite common to many men over fifty and even more to men over seventy. The symptoms are having to urinate more frequently and with less force and in my case I had to give up jogging as the last time I did I peed blood and it scared me so bad, never having done so, that I had an exhaustive battery of test done, even a camera up me only to tell me what I already knew, that I had an enlarged prostate, that camera really caused me to bleed and also to fire my urologist because he even said before he did it that it was not necessary. I apologize if this all seems too personal and a bit bloody but I really do have a point to make. My urologist at the time recommended that I take Flomax, just out at the time, and still quite expensive per pill, to ease the symptoms. But I was so upset about the camera deal that I took a couple of the samples and still thinking all medicine was “snake oil” and only a ploy to make big pharmaceutical companies and the doctors richer, I threw the rest away and did not fill the prescription. I still think there is perhaps something to that snake oil and profit motive thing, but it is not all of the story. Some doctors and some medicines do actual help us and do us good, still I think that “do no harm oath” is a pretty low bar that some doctors seem even have trouble meeting.

I went on “no meds” and steering clear of doctors for some years till I drank too much water for a urine drug test, a requirement of my job as a contract inspector for gas utilities, and had to rush to the Emergency Room after hours at the same hospital where I had a few hours earlier finally been able to give the lab tech a large enough sample for the drug test but after which I was no longer able to pee. The pressure was unbearable and so at the ER they had to install a catheter to drain my bladder, which, hurt as it did, was such a relief. The nurse said I probably would be able to pee on my own afterwards and that the ER doctor would order the catheter out but then he did not saying that I should keep it in all weekend and see a urologist on Monday morning. I tried but it was driving me crazy and I peed by it a couple of times so I went back to the ER and promised that I would take the meds prescribed and keep the urologist appointment on Monday if he would have the nurse for God’s sake take it out. He did but I did not keep my promise about the prescriptions nor the appointment.

Fast forward a year and three months of no further problems peeing, well I mean except having to go about every hour to an hour and a half. Now I was in another state working and had no close family or friend to watch over me and I could not pee again. By the time I made it to the nearest ER I was not just holding back the pee but tears as well. As they always do at the ER they ask me many questions and showed me this chart on the wall of faces from smiley face to crying face and ask me to pick a picture and range of numbers that described my pain. I said mine felt like seven to nine as I was still successful if hard put at holding back the tears. That was to be the first of four more late night Emergency Room visits and catheterizations in the few weeks that it took before I could get a primary care physician’s appointment and a referral to a urologist. At that first urologist’s visit he changed my ER doctor prescribed medication to Flomax (to get me and keep me flowing) and Finasteride (a small blue pill that taken daily for several months would perhaps even shrink my prostate) but he also recommended that I let his nurse show me how to catheterize myself. He said if I learned to do that I would probably never need too but learn how to relax those muscles and let them work the way they are supposed to. I did not listen to that last part but a fifth late night visit to the ER and I was ready to learn. The urologist’s nurse showed me and I had to do it once to myself to prove I could. She gave me twelve or so catheters and the name and phone number of a place where I could order them delivered to my door. I immediately ordered a ninety day supply thinking I might have to catheterize myself every day. I have yet to use one of them but I keep a couple always close by just in case.

Almost a year now I have faithfully taken my medicine daily as prescribed. The Flomax has indeed kept me flowing and I think even the little blue pill Finesteride too is working as I can go as much as three hours without having to pee, most nights only waking up once to go, quite the improvement. I am a better pee-er and am working on being a better listener. Everybody knows something that we do not but could learn easier than the hard if we just listened a little more carefully and let go some of the things we think we know but perhaps do not as well as we think. Doctors and medicine are not all bad, none of us is. As a favorite song says, “There ain’t no good guys, there ain’t no bad guys, there only you and me and we just disagree.” And we do not have to disagree about everything either.

Your friend and fellow traveler,

Taking my medicine, how about you?

David White

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