Fear of medicine
Have you ever been afraid of taking medicine? I have. Who knew that there’s actually a name for a fear of medication: pharmacophobia.
Appearing irrational to Dr. Laptop
As if I were once again the 19 year-old girl who quit taking thyroid medication, the day I learned I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), I was convinced there must be a simpler answer – that did not involve long-term medication. I had no idea what an RA diagnosis meant: rheumatoid disease (RD).
And I had no idea what Dr. Laptop thought of my questions – until years later when I requested my chart. His notes showed he thought I sounded silly. Really, I was ignorant of a lot of things. Since they hadn’t let me know my lab results during the month I waited for them, I still hoped maybe I did not have RD, and asked whether I could be treated with antibiotics.
Facing the big guns in spite of fears and side effects
A few weeks later, my podiatrist helped me get in to see a more reliable rheumatologist. Dr. KBC prescribed DMARDs as treatment and explained to me how they work. I was afraid of them, but at that point, I could barely move, and I knew I had RD.
After that, every time I had a Biologic shot or infusion, I had to face down fears, usually with great encouragement from loved ones. Pain medicine was another great hurdle that I eventually had to overcome. And my fears weren’t unreasonable either. The first pain med I tried caused the room to spin for 16 hours. (Or at least it seemed like it.)
Who’s afraid of the big bad prednisone?
Then there was this little bottle that I still have, with the little dose of a medicine I thought was so potent it was dangerous. Prednisone.
When I look at the dose, and remember what the nurse told me, it’s hard to fathom. They were 5 mg. tablets. And I was told that while I was traveling with family before I began the DMARDs, if things became completely unbearable (worse than they were? I couldn’t imagine), then I was to take one tablet with breakfast. One.
That episode created a misconception that would last for years. I’ll tell you the rest of that story very soon.
Medication fears based on information versus fears based on unfamiliarity
Fears of medication can be based on information – and they can be perfectly reasonable. Or fears can be based on a lack of information or even misinformation. Each of these fears could be handled in various ways.
A person might decide not to take a medication because the risk seems to outweigh the benefits. Sometimes more information is enough to moderate fears. Other times, we decide to take the medicine in spite of fears – hopefully with some support – because that’s our best option.
What about you? Have you been so afraid of medication that you had a hard time taking it? Or decided not to? Have you ever decided to take a medicine even though you were afraid?
The day I learned I had rheumatoid disease is a day I’ll never forget. We met a guy that we came to know as Dr. Laptop. He walked around with his laptop in hand, and never looked up. It was 2006 – it wasn’t some mini laptop or tablet… Continue reading It’s Ok to Laugh if You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis
I learned the hard way – a very hard way – that thyroid medicine is not an option for me; it’s a necessity. After becoming very ill a couple of times, and suffering consequences, I ultimately learned to be grateful for it so I can… Continue reading Can I Delay Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis? part 1