Why Do The Tablets Not Make Me Feel Better?
h, the medication conundrum. Before I became chronically ill I thought you went to the doctors, they diagnosed you, give you medication and then you get BETTER. In reality, there are a whole host of things that affect how well medication can help and it's anything but straightforward.
The first thing you need to understand is that there is a limit to science. If something hasn’t had funding and research put into it, it’s likely we know very little about it and even if it has, we are constricted to what is currently understood about a condition, and don’t forget to add to this that all bodies react slightly differently. Fundamentally, yes, we are the same, but also there are minute differences that can add up to a whole lot of difference when you are taking medications. What works for one may be completely useless to the next person.
Dreaded Side Effects
Which brings us to side effects. Some are simple to deal with, some are pure hell, and it differs from person to person what you might experience. Of course, for a chronically ill or disabled person, there are also all the other drugs you may take or conditions you might have that can impact how your body will react to a new drug.
All these factors affect how medications work and some medications interact really badly. Unfortunately, research tends to only highlight the interactions that are lethal, so we don’t always feel fully informed on medicine interactions.
Also, particularly with complex drug combinations, Doctors and Pharmacists can disagree about the suitability of mixing certain medications too, which can cause even further uncertainty and delays in treatment. For a patient, it can feel extremely unsettling to have two medical experts disagreeing on what is considered a safe mix and dose: whose advice do you follow?
Treat the patient, not the symptoms
All of this is made more complex by the fact we have a healthcare system that focuses on the symptoms, not the whole person. If we looked more at the whole picture we might understand better how different medications and conditions would affect one another.
Those living with chronic illness are often living with several conditions at once, and should be considered the expert on living with their unique combination of conditions when any medical discussion is taking place. Unfortunately, the patient is often treated as an unreliable witness in their own medical history, which can impact care offered.
However, this doesn’t mean the disabled and chronically ill community should give up on medicine. Getting the right medications for relief is a giant puzzle, one that sometimes takes years to work out. Yes, it can involve much trial and error (and a lot of headbutting with medical staff) but for some patients identifying the right medicines for them can be a real game changer for everyday living.
If someone you know is going through the endless-feeling loop of trying and failing with certain medicines to help their condition, the best thing you can do is believe them when they say the drugs are making them feel bad, offer to accompany them to appointments and trust that they aren’t exaggerating side effects.
Being a good ally to the disabled community means understanding how much work it takes us to find a medicine that works, it’s like kissing a lot of frogs!