We all know the ads on television. You know, the ones for various drugs that end in a horrific, rapid slew of side effects....
"May cause rash, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, headache, vomiting, hail, locusts, a third eye, premature death..."
Okay, maybe I'm being a bit dramatic. But in a time when doctors are writing prescriptions like it's goin' out of style, we need to remember that side effects are real and can sometimes be harder to cope with than the original condition. Even when taking the most generic, over-the-counter pills, it's important to keep our eyes open to the risks. Unfortunately, I was reminded of this lately in a pretty harsh way.
Although my overall joint pain has declined lately which I'm very thankful for, I've had a bad headache or migraine every day for about two months. I've been told it's connected to the spinal, shoulder and neck pain inherent with Spondylitis. Without really thinking and in that just-make-it-stop kind of way, I popped a couple of Excedrin migraine capsules every morning along with my usual mixture of pills. All I really thought about in those moments was that they would let me go on with my day.
I may have lost track of what I was taking, but my body sure didn't. I've been having bad stomach aches lately, a consistent gnawing, burning pain and...without going into too much detail... noticeable gastric distress (sorry John, mom and dad). I went to see Dr. Tack , the gastroenterologist whom I mentioned previously under my Winning Doctors . Sure enough, he found strong evidence of GI bleeding (probably in the stomach) - something that's happened once in the past to a lesser extent. Excedrin = Fail.
Living with a disease like Spondylitis is extremely hard (as Dr. Tack empathetically reminded me) and I'm beginning to really learn that it's a perpetual balancing act. If I try to fix my joint pain or headaches too often with medicine, another issue will undoubtedly emerge. It's a hard truth to swallow, but this only furthers my drive to search for alternative therapies and respect my body's wishes.
The good news? My blood count was not alarmingly low. This means 2 things:
a) I will live and b) I probably caught the bleeding early enough to avoid any corrective medical procedures (thank God. Wasn't to keen on the endoscopy idea). I was given a strict regiment to adhere to in order to heal my tummy, although even these corrective pills have side effects . Oh, and I took the liberty of berating myself for overdoing the NSAIDs. I hear you, body, and if that was my wake up call it came in loud and clear...
Now let's hope for a speedy recovery so I can enjoy way too much food in Italy (T-6 days!)