Don’t be a passive patient…

Another from the search engine list…

Will I die from taking COPD medications?

No, of course not, but you may die from NOT taking them.

No drug is entirely without risk, but the risk is of unpleasant side-effects – the no free lunch syndrome. Any medication is a balancing act between the benefits and the side-effects, and as long as the former exceeds the latter, we’re on a winner. Right now, having taken my morning meds at 05.00, I feel like shit, but if I hadn’t taken them I know for sure I’d be a hell of a lot worse before the day was out (weirdly, it’s only my morning meds that do this – I take the same drugs later in the day with no ill-effects at all).

Deaths have occurred from some COPD meds (and I’ve used an inhaler, for over 10 years, that, in it’s early days, caused around 12 deaths, but I made a point of finding out why and making sure I didn’t join them**), but this has been through ignorance or plain, old-fashioned, stupidity. When you are prescribed a new drug by any doctor, consultant or GP, then you MUST ask one vitally important question – do I take this as well as, or instead of, what I’m already taking?

Getting that wrong has caused deaths in the past, and will doubtless cause more in the future, because people, on the whole, can be dumb. You could argue that it’s the doctor’s place to tell you these things, and so it is, but doctors are always short of time, and may not, so it’s up to you to ask.

Look, you’re the person who is chronically sick, so it is your absolute responsibility – no-one else’s – to know as much as you possibly can about your illness, and to ensure you are as well informed about your medication as you can be, and that includes asking your doctor questions, not just assuming that, because he didn’t offer any advice, there wasn’t any to give. I have no compunction about taking up more than my allotted time with my doc, to make sure I don’t leave there with questions unasked.

As the patient it is your duty to take an active, not passive, role in the management of your illness. Not all doctors appreciate this, of course, and mine is no exception. Frankly, I don’t care – at the end of the day, it’s my life, and my responsibility.

** The inhaler is Serevent, and the patients died when, for reasons only they can answer, they stopped taking their steroid inhalers when they were prescribed Serevent. I found this out through talking to my doctor, after asking that vital question, above. And, obviously, I’ve come to no harm.