Doctors always have good reasons for prescribing medication, but are those reasons good enough for us to take whatever they recommend?
I know a lot of people who takes more than twenty pills a day. That tells you my age but also how common pill taking has become. I remember being on a long trip once touring the Australian outback. At first people pop their pills in their tents, but after a few days of deprivation of hygiene facilities, everyone became more comfortable with each other. Not only did they line up their drugs around their oatmeal every morning, they compete with each other with the number of pills they take. Someone took over 40 a day. Forty!
My GP rang me while I was not at home; left a message then sent me a LETTER to say: come see me! Yes, one of those things on paper and envelope that my poor postman had to fight his way through my orchard to deliver. My cholesterol level is at 7.1. I was not surprised; it’s been that high for decades but I have recently switched to a new GP. The ancient one was getting senile and has now retired. Of course the new one thinks I should be on Statins.
I went to see her this morning. My blood pressure was marginally high; she saw me 45 min after my appointment time and I had an expresso while I waited. That strengthened her case.
You have the triple whammy, she said. Blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. This was after she told me that my blood tests came back with a severe deficiency in Vitamin D. Ummm; that might account for my recent fatigue and loss of muscle strength. The advance of an incurable cancer may have something to do with it. She pushed her advantage: I have never seen such a case as yours in my 25 years of being a GP. Considering she only works part time, I discounted it to less than ten years. Anyway, so what?
Not wishing to waste time, I asked: so what’s the risk of my having a heart attack/stroke? After entering the data on her computer (she sits facing the computer, tapping on it as we speak) she came back with : 14%. WHAT? Considering that Statins may (when they work) reduce the risk by 25%, I should take it for life for less than a handful of percentages? With Statins’ track record of side effects? NO. I already take tyroxine since they took out my thyroid and metformin for the diabetes.
And that’s that. She retreats. I agreed to take a double dose of vitamin D for six month.
I respect your decision. She said. Good.