Why My Drugs Are Fucked Up

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 4.824% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

“You’re not on a statin right now?” my cardiologist said, distressed.  “Oh no. Oh no no no. You’re a heart patient, you have to be on a statin.”
“I thought I was on a statin: Bystolic.”
“No, that’s a beta blocker. It’s intended to prevent heart attacks. The statin lowers your cholesterol.”
“Isn’t that what Welchol does?”
“It does, a little, but that’s mostly to prevent you slipping into pre-diabetic numbers.  Here, I’ll show you how bad you are: we’re going to run some blood tests to show you what your cholesterol is now, and in four months we’ll show you how much you need the statins.”
Why couldn’t we have had that before?
It would have been a lot easier for me if the doctor had sat down with me and said, “You need to be on four medications: a statin to lower your cholesterol, a beta blocker to prevent your heart from seizing up, a medication to keep you from tipping into diabetes, and Vitamin D to keep the healthy oils in your blood.  If you’re not on one of those at any given time, then my treatment isn’t working.”
Instead – like a lot of doctors – he gives me a bunch of confusing names and assumes I’m following, and I thought I was following, but I’m not.  When I went down to three medications, I thought that was a conscious choice on his part, not a clerical error.  And because doctors are often too damned busy to monitor me as closely as they should, I didn’t have the tools to monitor myself.
I now know: I need statins, or things go boom in my chest. (I’ll be fine, but this could have been disastrous long-term.)  And I apparently need beta blockers.  And Welchol for some reason I’m still nebulous on.
But when doctors fail to educate clearly, it’s their patients who suffer. And I’ve tried to educate myself, but the problem is that the doctor – like, again, many doctors – focuses on the individual segments and not the overall plan.  It’s like telling a soldier, “Go attack that guy” – useful in the short term, but if something goes wrong and the soldier doesn’t understand that her ultimate goal is take this hill and keep it, she may charge off after another enemy.
For me, the medications I’m on are a constant shuffling game, as the doctor brings in new medications and the insurance company denies some and others still go into generic form, and it’s hard to keep up.  What would be nice is if I had a chart:

  • Your Beta Blocker: Bystolic.
  • Your Diabetic Prevention Medication: Welchol.
  • Your Good Cholesterol-Retention Medication: Megadoses of Vitamin D.
  • Your Statin: ???

And that way, when things switched up, as they inevitably do, I could know which was which.
And I? Am healthy, and in good mental condition. I can’t imagine how complicated this gets for people who are on don’t-go-crazy medications combined with chronic conditions. It’s a part-time job just keeping my prescriptions constant, and I suspect a lot of people are harmed when doctors think they’re being clear but the patients aren’t understanding as well as they’d thought.

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