It’s our job to take care of our own body

At the August 20 regular Thursday meeting of the World War II Vets of Tulsa, one of our regular attendees rose to inform us of a problem he has experienced with a prescription furnished by the Veterans Administration clinic in Tulsa.

The side effects, he explained, were so serious that he had missed at least a month of meetings. He went on to state that there was no warning from the VA doctor about these possible side effects. He then passed out a four-page document listing instances of such in others. In a telephone conversation the next day, he advised me that his “BW” (beautiful wife) had researched the subject to produce this document.

In this case the culprit was the antibiotic Levofloxacin, brand named Levaquin, which – according to the document – along with another, Ciprofloxacin (known also by Cipro) “can cause fluoroquinolone toxicity.” This condition is “a disorder of the musculoskeletal system” or, in common terms, drug poisoning. The common symptoms are extreme pain and loss of motion.

Space available does not allow a complete listing of the numerous documented cases. However, his statement and a reading of the whole four pages reminded me of some things that have come up in my lifetime, especially the last thirty years. These seem so important in my mind that they should be passed on to all who will listen or read.

It seems that the reporting requirements of Medicare and now Affordable Care Act are placing such time-consuming reporting requirements on our doctors that in order to have any time with a patient, they are having to reduce the number of patients. My own ophthalmologist explained to me that he has had to reduce his patient numbers by at least one fourth in order to allow sufficient time with each. The Affordable Care Act has been mislabeled Obamacare because it should be called Pelosicare since it was passed before PRESBO was in office. We all remember Queen Nancy, former Speaker of the House, stating, “We have to pass it so we can find out what is in it.”

When Anne, my late wife, and I were married in 1986, at age 59, one of her long-time friends (a classmate and roommate during her first two college years) who became a doctor, came down to visit, and while here, became very adamant with instructions to us. She stated that when at a doctor’s appointment, we should always be accompanied by a family member or close friend, and if a hospital patient, get out as soon as possible. In the meantime, have someone with us at all times to see that proper care is given and when any staff enters to do something, question the person to make sure he/she has the right patient, the right medication or procedure and whatever it is has been properly ordered.

Further, it has been my observation, from both her and my late Mother, that there have been excessive prescriptions. Each of the specialties would issue one, or more, usually without consulting with the others. Anne had a full-page sheet of medications, single spaced, to furnish her doctors, while Mother had two full pages. I am convinced that both had been over-medicated and this was born out just before her departure from this life. She was in the hospital, as a new patient, in Salina, Kansas, and all medications had been withdrawn. The last time I saw her there, she appeared without the pain and more healthy than in the previous five years.

The bottom line, as her doctor friend said, is that it is our body and it is our job to see to it that we take care of it. Incidentally, the Hippocratic Oath long taken by graduating doctors, begins with “first do no harm.” Unfortunately, information has reached me that the oath is no longer being required, although confirmation of that has not yet become available to me.

We need to make sure we take the medications as instructed and stop if side effects surface.