I wish I could tell you that those stretch marks you see in this photo are my “warrior tats” from my pregnancy, but the story behind them is a lot less remarkable.
Those stretch marks you see are a delightful side effect of a cocktail of steroids that I was prescribed and had injected into me. Not only was I gifted stretch marks, but was also gifted some swelling and weight gain. Over the years, I have been prescribed everything from opioids to birth control and diabetes medication to treat various conditions—all of these which carry a variety of side effects. Some side effects that I have had are quite bizarre like, the time I was seeing shadows while taking an arthritis medication or the time that I had nearly lost my liver to The Pill.
As if the side effects weren’t enough, I had to endure being laughed at by my doctor when I told him I was seeing shadows from the prescribed arthritis medication. After a few moments of side eye, he did apologize for laughing, and then said, “It couldn’t have been the medication because that was not a listed side effect.” At first, I felt offended, then I felt embarrassed because I knew he thought I was crazy.
From then on instead of telling doctors when I was having a reaction to any medication, I would either stop taking it or endure the side effects. However, keeping silent only meant that I was doing a disservice to myself and others. My silence and that doctor’s reaction made it seem as if I was the only one experiencing these unfounded side effects, but of course, I was not.
Below are a few things that I have learned, firsthand, about prescription drugs. I hope that you will keep these lessons in mind the next time you are given a new drug or have a reaction to one:
You were not part of the study that allowed the drug to be brought to market.
Pharmaceutical companies must meet strict laws and industry standards before a drug can be approved and given to people. After years of controlled studies and research to ensure that the drug works as designed, the drug is then put on the market, and given to the masses. There are certainly more people being prescribed and taking the drug than there are people that actually participated in the study which allowed the drug to be brought to market. Odds are, you were not part of the study, so of course, the side effects you may be experiencing will not be listed amongst the “common side effects.”
Doctors are marketers.
Doctors often have “unique” and “complex” relationships with pharmaceutical companies. Therefore, they will push certain drug brands above others. They are given a “script” about the drug, and if your side effects don’t fit the script, don’t be surprised by their reaction.
A drug can have many names and formulas.
Always keep in mind that names can be deceiving. Many medications change names and formulas over the years. For instance, Oxycodone is a drug that is also marketed as Norco, Percocet, or Vicodin (and also has very similar chemistry to Morphine)—all have the same main ingredient but differ slightly in formula and strength. The new drug name may deceive you into taking the same drug you had a reaction to.
The drug was not created to treat the problem for which it was prescribed.
Once upon a time, a medication was designed to treat one specific disease; however because researchers witnessed an “improvement” to some of the patients’ “other symptoms,” the FDA gave the thumbs up for the company to profit from two categories. For example, to treat my arthritis, a doctor once prescribed me a drug that was initially intended to treat Bipolar Depression, because it was somehow discovered that in some of the Bipolar Depression patients, this drug helped to also alleviate some of their arthritis symptoms. However, for me, that medication caused me to see shadows because it was attempting to treat an imbalance that didn’t exist in my body.
Quick research goes a LONG way.
Just recently, a doctor prescribed me an antibiotic. I had informed the doctor that I was nursing and trusted that whatever they prescribed, would be safe for my baby. Without doing any of my own research, I went to the pharmacy, picked up the prescription, and luckily, wound up never taking any of the medication. Why? Because after I picked up the prescription, I researched it online and found that it would have been harmful to my baby. I wasted $5.00 (yes, I know that isn’t a lot of money, but who has money to waste?) and time at the pharmacy that could have been used toward something else. In addition to that instance of wasted time and money, I had to go back to the pharmacy, spend another five bucks, and wait over an hour while the pharmacist convinced the doctor to prescribe me something else.
So, word of advice…do your research. Next time, before you waste time and money going to the pharmacy, do a quick search on your phone to see if the prescribed medication will work for you.