I have mentioned before on this blog that I have a difficult time letting my guard down and relinquishing some control to medical professionals. With the exception of my parents, I am incapable of allowing someone else to make a decision for me about my body. I feel like I have to be on guard and in high alert mode all of the time. It is exhausting and an awful way to have to live. However, these past 12 years have made me realize how vital it is that I am my own advocate.
The most recent example I have of this was when I went to pick up a prescription Monday night. I have been going to the same pharmacy and using the same pharmacist pretty much since I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. The medication I picked up was something I have been getting every single month at the exact same dose for a while. However, when I came home and opened the bag, I realized that the dose was incorrect. I then immediately called the pharmacy to have them check it out. Shockingly enough, I was right and was given the appropriate medication for free because of the inconvenience.
This situation is one that I have had to deal with far too many times to count and even remember; it also pales in comparison to other times when I have encountered mistakes. When I admitted myself into a psychiatric hospital last year, I was given the incorrect medications and had to ask what each pill was with one nurse in particular every single time I saw her. I have even corrected doctors and nurses when I was in the ER doubled over in pain. I have honestly saved my own life more times than I even care to remember. The importance of checking medications, asking questions, and making sure you play a vital role in your health are things I cannot stress enough.
I have briefly discussed this in a previous post but thought it would be worthwhile to bring up again given my most recent experience and following a conversation I had with my grandmother a few weeks ago. She has been going to a local library and having someone print out the individual posts on my blog since she is not technologically savvy. When my grandmother told me that something I wrote made her speak up about how the medication she was picking up for my grandfather (who has Parkinson’s disease) was the wrong one, it made me feel good that in my small way I could help my grandparents. I know my grandfather takes and ingests whatever my grandmother tells him to since she is his primary care taker, and I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if he took the wrong medication.
All of the situations where I have had to question medical personnel or have my parents be my voice if I was unable to speak for myself, has led me to think about how truly detrimental these types of errors can be. I am someone who is very coherent and who understands everything that is going on with my body. Most people aren’t so lucky. Most people who are coming right out of surgery don’t question whether or not the medicine running through their IV is the correct medicine. I know the majority of medical personnel prefer the patients who don’t ask a million questions and if there was no need for it, I would have been more than happy to keep my mouth closed all these years. Most people who are doing so poorly emotionally that they need to admit themselves into a psychiatric hospital do not have the forethought to ask each time what medications he/she is receiving. It is just not something people generally do and something I never would if I hadn’t had all of the experiences I have.
Medication errors can be disastrous and life threatening. If I could stand up and shout this on national television I would. Please, please, please…check your meds, ask questions, hold off on taking something if you are having doubts, talk it out with someone, have something be explained to you multiple times if necessary. Just, be alert and in control of your own life and your own situation. I don’t want this to come off scary, or that I am preaching how great and necessary it is to be on high alert constantly. I think we all know that needing to be alert and have your guard up all of the time is not a very good way to live.
But, in certain situations, it is absolutely necessary.