I’m tired of my doctor being my drug dealer. Where is my doctor?
Put away the prescription pad! I know some of you out there rely on antibiotics for treatment and I believe in using whatever works for you. But, I’m tired of doctors ignoring the state of my overall health and simply handing me little squares of papers for lyme-related pain, fatigue, and depression.
For years before I was diagnosed, I saw a series of doctors who had no recourse but their pads. I don’t believe they were insincere or uncaring, but they did little to accomplish what I saw as their main role: helping me figure out the root of my health problems.
I would sit on white paper-covered tables and they would ask me about my symptoms and then hand me a prescription to address each one. I’d protest that, for instance, I didn’t want to just mask the pain because that wouldn’t make it go away and I didn’t want to be taking medication for it everyday, indefinitely...Rather, I wanted to know what was wrong. The doctor said my problems stemmed from a “physical manifestation of psychological stress” and I should just use the prescription on “particularly bad days.” But, everyday was bad. And, my pain was connected to my lethargy and an overall feeling of ill health. What would the medication do for that? Answer: there’s always more medication. Even drugs to counteract the side effects of other drugs.
One doctor actually asked me, pen poised over his prescription pad, “On a scale of 1 to 10, what is an acceptable level of pain for you to live with?” Umm, how about zero? That wasn’t an option, he said. “We all live with some amount of pain.”
This may be heresy to say to the lyme community—and on days when I am really suffering, I will deny I ever said this—but, I am almost grateful to Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb) for changing the way I think about health. When I beat this infection, my body will have accomplished a Herculean feat, but so will my mindset. I used to think doctors understood health and worked to understand the intricacies of causational factors, to uncover and address the root cause of health issues. Now, I realize that a large percentage of the medical community has been educated to think in terms of large “band-aids.” A band-aid for pain, a band-aid for insomnia, a band-aid for depression. I’m not saying that all drugs are useless or unhelpful, or that some people haven’t been helped through some difficult times with the use of prescription drugs. But, it seems to me that, when many doctors ask about your problems or symptoms, they almost inevitably conclude by reaching for their prescription pads. Having a Bb infection has taught me to look past individual symptoms—like hair loss, physical pain, fatigue—and past treating them individually—as unconnected to the rest of me—to see the larger picture.
Don’t worry, though—as helpful as that realization has been, I will never say “thank you” to those infectious, devastating buggers.