Sunday, March 29, 2015

Thanks, Big Pharma!

When I went to see a doctor last summer, I was asked whether I was taking any medications. Specifically, the doctor wanted to know if I was taking anything for my blood pressure, as it was running a bit high. I told the doctor that I used to, but I had stopped.

She looked at me a bit puzzled and asked me why.

I didn't have a good answer.

I figured it was time to get back on track with my blood pressure after my last dentist appointment. The poor hygienist had to check it three times until it was finally low enough for it be okay to start my teeth cleaning. (I don't know why I need to have low blood pressure when they clean my teeth, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a good reason.) She also asked me about any medications, and once again I had to confess that I had stopped taking medication several years ago for no good reason.

When I made my first appointment with my new doctor (as my wife and I are on a new insurance provider) I was asked yet again why I had stopped taking my medication. I actually had an answer, and I went with an honest one - I was simply being stupid.

The thing is, my blood pressure has always run a bit high. I'm fairly certain that it runs high on both sides of my family as well. Yeah, I could lose some weight, but that's been the case for some time. I'd still like to do that, but who knows if losing weight would fix the problem? It might not. And until then, it's probably better to take care of it if there's something that can be done.

So, why was I being so stupid? I don't know. For some reason, I didn't feel good about having to take medication. I felt like I was some kind of a failure for not getting my weight under control. Also, when I would tell certain friends and family members that I was on blood pressure medication, they would look at me like I just admitted to developing a crack habit.

It's kinda crazy when I think about it now. I'm not going to single people out, but more than one indicated that it was probably a bad idea - that it would be better to try and get it down "naturally". (Not sure why "naturally" is automatically a better option. In fact, that very notion is an outright fallacy.) I was also told that the pharmaceutical industry (or "Big Pharma", ya know) was only interested in making money, so they have people convinced that they need these pills in order to turn a profit.

I don't doubt for a moment that they want to make money. But making money and providing a valuable product aren't mutually exclusive ideas. Having high blood pressure is understood as being a potential problem. What's wrong with them making money off of something that's minimizing my risks in life?

The thing is, I'm ultra critical of ridiculous ideas, but I try to be sympathetic toward people who have them. After all, I'm not immune from having them myself. I feel pretty dumb that I stopped taking my medication because of some pretty groundless objections.

The doctor got me back on it (Lisinopril) and after a slight adjustment, my blood pressure is back in the healthy zone. I seemed to have a bit of a reaction to it at first. At least, it might have been. Let's just say that I was having some digestion issues. However, that's all over now, and I seem to have adjusted to the medication (assuming that it was the problem in the first place).

I'm definitely not going to stop taking it unless my doctor tells me to. I feel good about it, and I'm not going to let anybody make me second guess something that benefits my health. (And I'm also getting to the point where I find it hard to take anybody seriously who sincerely uses the term "Big Pharma".)

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