Just To Be Sure…Medicate

I usually don’t mind Mondays anymore, but yesterday was rough. For the second time in about 4 years, I got slammed with an awful case (is there any other kind?) of vertigo. If you’ve never experienced it, be very thankful. It’s like being stuck on a carnival tilt-a-whirl that never stops. Rooms spin, nausea attacks relentlessly, your balance is non-existent, and all you can do is lie there as still and silent as you can until your head decides to stop spinning. (FYI – my first round of this was when I was 28-weeks pregnant with my third child. I ended up in an ambulance in the middle of the night, in the pouring rain, and eventually the ER because I had no idea what was wrong with me and thought it was something with the baby. Very scary). This is my life, friends…never a dull moment. I know you all have your own horror stories, too!
So, I went to the doctor yesterday morning to be sure I didn’t have some kind of inner ear infection. My husband had to leave work suddenly and drive home from NoVA to get kids to school and drive me to the appointment because I couldn’t walk from one room to the next without falling to the floor or holding onto furniture for dear life, much less drive a car. Long story short, the doctor couldn’t find anything except some fluid behind my eardrum. Vertigo was not a diagnosis, so much as a symptom – which is typically how it goes for many of us. The underlying cause could be allergies, barometric pressure from all this rain, a mild viral infection, misalignment of my head and shoulders while I was sleeping, or something related to my 40-something year old vision. Conclusion: he didn’t really know. I will say, I appreciated the time he took with me. He asked questions, ran some quick tests, and expressed genuine concern for my very obvious distress. (I looked liked death warmed over, as you might imagine). But, as I’ve mentioned on previous occasions, most modern-day doctors only have about 8 – 12 minutes with each patient in order to keep things moving along, and so after about that many minutes had passed (15 minutes max), he wrapped things up and offered to write a prescription for an oral steroid. If, in fact, I had any kind of ear infection, he believed the steroid would take care of it after a 6-day course.
Feeling desperate at the time, I went ahead and filled the prescription on the way home, but I was relieved that it only cost a few bucks. If it had been expensive, I would have felt obligated to use it immediately and finish it as prescribed. That’s exactly what the old me would have done, without a second thought. But for just a few dollars, I was willing to let it sit on the kitchen counter while I gave all of this some more thought. In summary, I was prescribed a drug that might, or might not work, for a problem I might, or might not have, by a professional who admittedly did not know exactly what the underlying issue was. Is there a problem with this? Does anybody else feel a little uncomfortable about the ease in which medications are prescribed and applied? And the kicker is this – as I read over the list of potential side effects, can you guess what the first one listed was? Dizziness. OH.MY.GOODNESS. Just what a nauseous and dizzy person on the continual verge of projectile vomiting would need, right? Steroids also interfere with other important body processes, namely immune function. So there’s that. To say I was feeling less than confident in the diagnosis and proposed treatment is an understatement.
Needless to say, the box of pills sits in my kitchen cabinet right now. The box has been opened, but I haven’t taken any of them. That’s not to say that I won’t, or should, or shouldn’t. It only means I gave it all careful consideration and decided I would give my body a few more days to sort itself out. Given that I’m sitting here typing this, it’s obvious I’m feeling a lot better today. Not 100% by any stretch, but definitely better. My plan for tomorrow is more of the same – take it easy, move slowly, eat well, drink lots of water, rest when I can, and get some fresh air. Now that is medicine I can feel good about. The pills can wait.