Saturday, January 28, 2017

Oh, my aching back and shoulder and ribs and hips and....

My oncologist is Jewish and that's pretty much all I know about his personal life. He looks to be in his mid forties and since the day we first met, I've been very impressed with him. The thing that's impressed me most about him is his attentiveness. On my very first appointment, instead of rolling up beside me on his little wheeled doctor's stool, he walked in the room, came over, shook my hand, and jumped up on the exam table scooting so close to me I could feel his breath on my face. I was sitting in a chair and my my oldest daughter was sitting beside me. Both of us were taken aback by his aggressive and playful nature. When he spoke, he leaned in really close and talked in a very calming tone. Instantly, I was put at ease. He's different than most doctors and I like that.

A few months ago, when I started experiencing overall body pain, I contacted him. I was concerned. For some reason, I immediately thought the worst...cancer in the bones, my worst nightmare. I never mentioned this to him but I know he must have suspected what I was thinking as I told him about my aching back, shoulder, ribs, hips, and shins. He called out some medication for me. He said it might take a few weeks before I'd get relief but I would get relief. I trusted him.

I've been on the medication for a week now and I've been able to tell a great improvement. The medication is called Cymbalta and is often used to treat depression, anxiety and to treat pain such as patients with Fibromyalgia experience. I was hesitant to start it. I don't like taking medicine but I was really hurting and I needed some help. I read every single side effect listed on the internet for Cymbalta. Some of them scared me but as with any medication, there are risks. I prayed and asked God to keep me safe. That's all I could do. I took the first dose. Within a few hour, I could tell it was working. I felt much better. The pain wasn't as severe.

The next day, I took the medication again. I made sure to take it at the exact time I'd taken the first dose because the instructions on the bottle said to do that. About an hour after I'd taken the second dose, I got a call from my doctor's office. I thought they were just calling to check up on me but the nurse said my doctor had wanted me to be on a 30 mg tablet instead of the 20 mg she'd called in to the pharmacy. Oops! She said she was calling in a new prescription. I wondered why he wanted me on a higher dose but understood about an hour before I was to take the next dose. I could tell the medication had worn off. The pain was back. Maybe the stronger dose will work better. I'm going to give it another few weeks and see if things level off. If not, I'll contact my doctor again and see what he suggests.

It's so important to know you have medical professional who really invests time and energy into your care but even more than that, it's important to know they're approachable. In the past, I would have suffered in silence but I've learned, over the years, there's no reason for me to be in pain if I don't have to be. There's no shame in taking medication to help when you need it. And adding one more bottle to my ever growing collection of medication isn't a sin either. I have an entire drawer in my nightstand dedicated to my medicines. It looks like my own personal pharmacy but each medication does something different to help me stay alive and keep me comfortable and I'm okay with that.

I don't like taking any more medicine than absolutely necessary. I am a huge proponent of taking natural supplements and using alternative remedies but sometimes a prescribed medication is necessary. I'm just thankful for a wise doctor who studies and understands what will work best for his patients. I am blessed to have a really, really good medical team and I know God had a hand in leading me to each one of them.

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