My dad was a doctor and my mother a nurse and I once believed in the idea that everyone who entered into a medical profession did so out of a love for people and out of a strong desire to help others. And though I still believe that a vast majority of the people who become doctors or nurses do so with good and noble intentions, I’ve learned — the hard way — that not everyone can be trusted, and that some advice is just plain and simply bad.
Recently my wife, Amy, experienced a tremendous amount of trouble at work and decided to resign. Her former boss is nothing short of a bully (to put it mildly) and she was making Amy miserable. To make matters worse, the former chief operating officer of the company was “cooking the books” in order to juice-up his yearend bonuses. He was caught and terminated “for cause” but when Amy asked about his departure she was told that he left for another position. Ironically, the creep was the guy who helped Amy’s boss get her job with the company. (Think: Birds of a feather.)
The true reason for his departure created a big problem for Amy, who is a certified public accountant, because she prepared a series of financial statements which she now knows are inaccurate. Amy is not one to lie, cheat or steal, and one of her points of pride is the fact that she has never done anything unethical at any of her places of employment — even though there have been two other employers who expected her to use, shall I say, “fuzzy math” when putting company financials together. And, so it goes. Now, the third company in Amy’s life that obviously wanted to keep the charred remains of its overcooked books hidden, Amy’s boss decided to take Amy to task when she started asking too many questions.
One Friday morning Amy was asked to meet her boss and the HR manager in a conference room whereupon Amy was told that they were there to talk about her “attitude” and to discuss the weekly goals that management would set for Amy going forward. The HR manager slid a two page document in front of Amy that she was expected to read and sign if she wanted to keep her job with the company. After a brief, one-way discussion, the HR manager got up and walked Amy out of the building. As Amy stood-up from her chair she asked the woman if she was being fired and the HR manager said: “No, but we don’t want you talk to anyone on the way out.” (Really?! Can you say “IDIOT?”)
Amy contacted me to let me know all that had happened and she was surprisingly calm for someone who had just been put through the wringer. Unfortunately, however, after the event occurred she went several nights without sleeping, she developed tremors and her blood pressure shot up to 195/95. At that point Amy decided that it was time to make an appointment with her doctor’s office. Sadly, however, like so many doctor’s offices these days there was no doctor available to evaluate Amy’s condition and she was examined by an APRN (i.e., a nurse) instead of a physician or even a physician’s assistant.
To make a long story short: after two separate visits with two different nurses, the dosage for Amy’s antidepressant was doubled, her blood pressure medication was doubled, a secondary blood pressure medication was added to her daily regimen, and Amy was given a prescription for Trazadone, which is also an antidepressant that is supposed to help with sleep issues. And, boy did she sleep. For two entire days she didn’t want to get out of bed and when she did finally get up she appeared to be intoxicated.
Amy took the Trazadone for two nights and then decided that it wasn’t for her. She felt “loopy” and disoriented and she had difficulty remaining focused. She then developed tremors which reminded me of a person with Parkinson’s disease. Once Amy stopped taking the Trazadone it took three days for her to feel somewhat “normal” again; however, the tremors continued for almost three weeks! Then, one morning at around 2:30 a.m., our daughter, Kathleen, woke me to tell me that Amy had gotten up to use the bathroom and then collapsed onto the floor. Kathleen said that she told Amy to lay flat and to remain on the floor until I had a chance to look at her. When I got to Amy she was alert and able to communicate with me but she had a bloody knot in the center of her forehead. She told me that she had fainted and, apparently, hit her head, and I feared that she may have suffered a concussion.
When I thought it was safe enough to move her, Kathleen and I tried to help her up but as soon as she was on her feet Amy became disoriented and started to collapse. Fortunately, Kathleen and I were able to catch her and then help her onto the bed. Once she was settled on the bed I told Kathleen to dial 911. Within a few minutes one female police officer, two EMTs from our local fire department and two people from an ambulance company arrived. One of the EMTs took Amy’s vitals and discovered that her blood pressure was 70/50 — or extremely low.
The EMT, Kathleen and I encouraged Amy to go to the emergency room but Amy wanted nothing to do with the hospital because she was worried about the costs. At one point the EMT even said: “What’s worse, the cost of an emergency room visit or not being around in the morning?” Even then, Amy refused to go to the hospital.
By the good grace of God, however, Amy survived and I can’t for the life of me understand why a nurse would be allowed to prescribe such powerful psychotropic medications (i.e., antidepressants) to a patient. Quite frankly, I also don’t believe that family or primary care physicians should be allowed to prescribe such powerful drugs either — unless, of course, they receive specialized training and then satisfy specific licensing requirements. Ideally, only a psychiatrist, a neurologist or an emergency room physician should be allowed to prescribe such powerful medications to patients. And, even then, the doctors should be required to monitor the patients for some period of time after they start taking them.
Amy stopped taking all of her medications and I told her that it would be wise to monitor her blood pressure on a daily basis — and everything went well for a period of time. Amy found a new job; she started walking every day with her brother and his dog; she started watching her favorite Hallmark Christmas shows and, essentially, she found her “happy place” once again. Her mood was much improved and she seemed so much better. Then, the day after receiving our COVID-19 booster shots, Amy felt ill again. She had chills, a fever and, even worse, the tremors returned. I took her blood pressure and found it to be elevated (189/112). This time, however, I was able to talk Amy into going to the hospital.
Once at the hospital, Amy’s blood pressure reading was 208/108, but her EKG was normal — which was a very good sigh — she had no chest pains, all of the blood tests came back normal and a chest X-ray revealed no abnormalities. All good news.
Interestingly, the ER doctor told us that from an emergency perspective (i.e., over the short-term) a low blood pressure reading was more dangerous than higher than normal readings. When I asked why the doctor told me that with low blood pressure one’s organs are starved of oxygenated blood, which can lead to organ failure. The doctor also made certain to let me know that high blood pressure, on a long-term basis, was also not good and that we needed to keep an eye on the readings.
Since our hospital visit, Amy has done a very good job at monitoring her blood pressure readings. She’s still going for long walks with our dog and her brother and his dog, and she is still watching Hallmark Christmas specials. More importantly, she is scheduled to start her new job on the 8th of November. And, the grace of God, I believe that we will end 2021 on a good note … and I will not be the least bit sad to put this year behind us! Through it all I just kept thinking about the Bible verse from Matthew 7:7–8 which, in the King James Version of the Bible, reads:
7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye
shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh
findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
It is so important to ask questions and challenge the advice and opinions of others; because, even if well intentioned, bad advice can lead to dire consequences.
In the meantime, on a more Earthly footing, I wanted to offer up the following two websites, which I believe are extremely valuable resources of information. They are:
Drugs.com is a free site that anyone and everyone can use to find information on pharmaceutical medications and the interactions they may have with one another. Regardless of what anyone tells you (including those in the medical field), Drugs.com is a site that should be visited before putting any pharmaceutical medication — and especially combinations of medications — into your body.
Although ConsumerReports.org (CR) also offers some free content, its membership program is where people will find the most valuable information for herbal products and naturopathic treatments. For me and my family, CR was to go to stop for all of the information behind all of the herbal supplements that Kathleen took during her fight against her three demons (i.e., Lyme disease, Bartonella henselae and Babesiosis). In my opinion, it is absolutely worth the $59.00 per year membership fee.
Anything that affects our brains has the potential to zap us of all of the things that make life worth living (e.g., love, energy, desire, hope) so don’t take anything for granted — and don’t take any one person’s advice or suggestions as gospel. Be willing to make the extra time and spend the extra money to get all of the information you need so that you can feel comfortable about anything that you plan to put into your body — or into the bodies of your loved ones!