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Who’s your best doctor? You are!

Bill FoxBy Bill Fox/Columnist

This is a rather sad story of how I was reminded that I am my own best doctor. I hope my story may benefit my readers. Before I get into details, let me outline recent prescriptions I have been on in the past few months and some of their side effects:

  • Prednisone for uncontrollable asthma – side effect of blood sugars getting out of whack
  • A stronger diabetic script for higher sugar levels – side effect of back muscle pains
  • Muscle relaxant for muscle pain – a side effect of constipation
  • Laxative – side effects include a desire to write a column

This is my sad story. I was scheduled for a physical a few months ago. Long ago, my doctor asked if I would mind occasionally seeing a visiting intern, finishing their apprenticeship. Figuring I would have someone freshly educated in medical school, I agreed. In the past, I had a cyst removed from my back by an intern, and she did an excellent job, so it was not a big deal for me.

However for my physical, the receptionist, a lovely women appropriately named Charisma, reminded me of the procedure of going into the exam room, disrobing and putting on a gown which never fits my ample girth. She drew a curtain across the room and shut the door.

A moment later, the door opens and from behind the curtain, an intern. I try not to be biased, but it is a young woman. I think in anticipation of what was to come, and I began to perspire. She was very nice and proceeded to do the usual examination, checking my heart, lungs, etc. She noted that my blood pressure was a little high! (You think?) Also my blood sugar levels were elevated and she suggested a new, stronger diabetes prescription. She mentioned that I did not need to strip down, as a rectal examination is not always necessary. Whew! Relief! I asked her to check my blood pressure again and believe it or not, it was now more normal.

A few weeks later, I had what I described as a kink in my back, which really bothered me as I moved up or down from a sitting position. I went to one of my sons, a recognized and decorated kinesiologist and personal trainer. He ran me through some exercises that should have relieved the pain, and suggested that I might see a chiropractor if the pain continued.

Thus I reconnected with an old student, now a very successful chiropractor. I had two visits with some manipulation, yet the pain, though never constant, continued.

Eventually I went back to my doctor who gave me some muscle relaxants, which helped. However, I decided one day to look on the web to learn more about the new diabetes drug I was on, and sadly found that a side effect can be back pain…

Around the same time, I started to be constipated. So I went back to my old prescription for diabetes, having found that my sugar levels were now more normal. The back pain ended. However, the constipation continued.

Again back to the web. Causes of constipation can be things like colon cancer! I became quite concerned and anticipated another visit to my doctor and possibly a colonoscopy to check out my colon. However, an over-the-counter natural laxative started to relieve the constipation and after a week, all things were back to normal.

I recall many years ago learning that all prescriptions have possible side effects. My then doctor showed me his big blue drug book and challenged me to find one prescription that did not have possible side effects. I could not!

I consider myself well educated, but I learned a valuable lesson here about always checking for possible side effects to any prescription.

I hope I have saved someone from over medicating because of side effects. You can share your stories at bdfox@rogers.com.