I have come to grips with the fact that I am about to join millions of Americans who take pharmaceutical medications. Most everyone I know has a prescription for one thing or another, and up until yesterday, I have had none. I have almost always had none.
The only medications I have ever taken for an extended period of time were prenatal vitamins and Zoloft. The prenatals should be obvious, the Zoloft to help with anxiety. After my parents passed away, I started having panic attacks. The doctor wanted to help me get through the first few rough months, so she prescribed Zoloft to help me relax. It worked so well that my blood pressure dropped from 144/90 to 116/78. For six months, my nerves were relieved and I lived life better.
However, I was only administered a six month prescription, and when it ran out, I never had it refilled. The problems associated with settling my parents estate were resolved, Tom and I were on a schedule, and I felt that I didn’t need it any longer. I felt that I could handle the every day pressures of normal life on my own. Slowly, however, in the course of the last five years, not only did my anxiety return to its previous levels, it escalated. Because of my anxiety associated with doctor’s visits, I just tried to ignore the problem, because I felt it was weakness to admit I could not maneuver my way through my every day normal life.
Yesterday, though everything changed. Yesterday, not only did I admit I needed a little pharmaceutical help, but I admitted that I want it. I want the drugs!
Tom, in his infinite wisdom, talked this doctor, the doctor I want to make my doctor, into squeezing me in. He was at his own doctor’s appointment on Wednesday, and instead of discussing his health, they discussed mine. He explained about the 200/111 reading from Tuesday, he told her about my parents’ issues with hypertension, he told her that I am a stress bucket. To be honest, all he needed to say was 200/111; she made me an appointment for the next day.
Yesterday, I went into the office and had my usual doctor office panic attack. To put it into perspective, it’s like that split second panic you feel when the plane is about to take off, the fear when the roller coaster has reached its summit, the terror when the ball rolls into the street and you watch your child running for it without looking for cars. However, for me, the feeling is not split second panic; it is hours of stress.
After two hours, ten different blood pressure cycles ranging from 220/120 to 146/88, and an EKG, the doctor diagnosed me with anxiety. It was at this moment when she was going through my options that I realized I wanted her to put me back on Zoloft. What am I trying to prove? I asked myself. Millions of Americans every day take some form of prescription drug to help their medical condition, my medical condition just happens to be a form of neurosis.
I left the office with two prescriptions: Zoloft and Hydrochlorothiazide. She actually first suggested Xanax, but that seemed too hard-core. I know how I am on Zoloft, so I decided to stick with it. The low dose of Hydrochlorothiazide was just to make certain that we can get my blood pressure back to normal. I was a little hesitant about the Hydrochlorothiazide until she said it was just a diuretic; it helps the kidneys flush excess salt and water from my system.
“It will probably cause you to lose a few pounds,” she told me. What? Weight loss without trying! Can we double that dose, Doc! (Just Kidding)
Today, I gave up the fantasy that I am perfectly fine and can do it on my own. I will probably take medications for the rest of my life, but if they help me live my life calmer, less stressed, and healthier, I guess it’s time to accept the help.