Miss Understood: A Pill for a Pill

Miss Understood: A Pill for a Pill

In the beginning of my journey with auto immune diseases, I started with just one prescription. I was inexperienced in terms of dealing with doctors, needles and the medical field. I even remember not knowing how to swallow my pills and needing my mom to show me how to keep from choking.

pillsdin300I’ve come a long way since then. I now take upwards to 13 medications, most being bigger than the average pill size.

But not every prescription has been given to me to help manage my diseases. Some of them are meant to treat the side effects of what my treatment plan has caused. The medications I take to control my pain and auto immune diseases have caused damage to other parts of my body, so now I have another health issue on top of the existing ones.

I’d like to think that I’m a lot more experienced now and tend to ask more questions about what I’m putting into my body. I make informed decisions about what I will and won’t take, but no matter how much I try to explain that not taking some of my medications may cause more harm than good, there are still a few skeptics who think the risk isn’t worth it.

If there was a magical pill that could fix my problems without making me sick I would be the first person in line to buy it. Unfortunately, that doesn’t exist. I take natural supplements and homeopathic medicines, but I still need the aid of my physician’s precriptions to manage my conditions. Even then it isn’t always enough to keep me from being in tremendous pain.

Some of the treatments I’ve already tried caused damage to my liver, but made me feel great as far as improving my mobility and reducing inflammation. Long term use of prednisone and other anti-inflammitory drugs have left me with gastritis. The list goes on and on.

But I know that if I was to get rid of these medications my body would be worse off. As much as I hate some of the things I have to take day after day, I’m also thankful for their existence because without them I would be bedridden and left to live in intolerable pain. So I either choose to eliminate any exposure that could further damage my health, or take the risk and have a more comfortable quality of life.

It’s easier for people to judge a situation when they’re not in it. They tend to believe they wouldn’t do the same thing I’m doing because they’re not left with a handful of options. But the truth is, you never truly know how you’ll handle a situation unless you’re living it. I’m proof of that because in the past I had always refused medicine, even if it was something as simple as aspirin.

Granted, needing to take a pill to reverse the effects of another isn’t ideal. But if I’ve already tried every other treatment plan available with no avail, then that’s exactly what I’ll do until something better comes along.

Sometimes the toughest diseases need to be treated with even tougher drugs.

Arlene GrauArlene Grau lives in Lakewood, California. She suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, migraine, vasculitis, and Sjogren’s disease.

The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only your doctor can do that!  It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.

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John H

Sadly, that picture looks like my breakfast.


Arlene- well written.
They say you can judge a profession by the number of effective tools they use. For pain, all too many tools go unused or underutilized. As you know, most doctors receive little or no official education in pain care- and most of the education is about “pills”. In fact even when it comes to pills they are clearly undereducated, as well. Drug- drug interactions happen all too frequently- despite the fact many doctors and pharmacists- and people in pain can check such at Epocrates.
At one point when i had fibro, I was taking over 70 pills a day-(herbs, vitamins, supplements) to no avail. I stopped taking pills after I realized i put too much faith in them.
Each person is free to decide what is best for them to deal with pain. And when it comes to pain art is long and judgment difficult it is hard to know who to trust or what to trust. Things can seem very insecure when you have pain and have yet to find the relief you need.
As Helen Keller once wrote- though there is a lot of suffering in this world there is also many ways of overcoming suffering.

Laura Posada

Definitely not easy for many to understand, but you have worded this so wonderfully. It is not an easy battle and I do not envy you one bit. I admire your strength and the energy with which you live your life.