Saturday, March 05, 2005

My Rant - The Aunt, The Uncle, The Coumadin

Usually I try my best to report the headlines I find ... online and offline ... relating to health and wellness ...without expressing my own personal opinions on the subjects. In fact, I do my best to keep my personal opinions to myself, but a recent conversation I had with my husband's Aunt has me so steamed up I can't help making a few comments here.

Her husband (our Uncle whom we all love dearly) just got out of a 4 day stay in hospital owing to shortness of breath and heart palipitations. They still aren't sure if it was heart related or stroke related but there is one thing for certain, it's a warning sign and warrents some serious lifestyle changes.

Now, here's the part that got me so riled up.

The Aunt fully admits they haven't been eating properly, admits they haven't been getting proper exercise, admits they haven't been making healthy choices ...and yet, believes the medication our Uncle is now taking should take care of the problems he's going through ...that they don't have to worry, since it was a false alarm after all.

Rather than make positive lifestyle changes, their only change is adding prescribed Coumadin (some spell it cumidin, it's also known as Warfarin) to his daily regimine. They wouldn't even consider adding a very healthy 100% juice to his diet as one small positive step towards lifestyle changes.

Do they even look at the Warning Labels on the drugs they take?

For example, here are some potential side effects for Warfarin (coumadin)...

--------- copy -----------

If you experience any of the following serious side effects from Warfarin, stop taking the medication and seek emergency medical attention or contact your doctor immediately:
· an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives);
· black, bloody, or tarry stools;
· blood in urine or vomit;
· coughing up blood;
· bleeding gums or sores in the mouth;
· decreased urine production;
· yellowing of the skin or eyes;
· severe dizziness or headache;
· easy bleeding or bruising under the skin;
· purple discoloration of the toes or fingers;
· sudden leg or foot pain; or
· unusually heavy menstrual periods.
• Other, less serious side effects may be more likely to occur. Talk to your doctor if you experience
· excessive gas or bloating;
· diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting;
· hair loss; or
· decreased appetite or weight.
• Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome.

------- end copy ---------

And the worst part, after knowing about the above potential side effects, is that he is already easily bruised. In fact, his skin has grown so paper thin, just brushing against the coffee table can cause a major sore that takes weeks to heal.

Then add to this the fact that he has arthritis and has been taking aspirin and other pain relievers for it (a HUGE no-no with coumadin)... plus, he loves to go trap shooting (was honored for his skill last year) which generally results in very large shoulder bruises every summer.

Sadly, not enough people do heed the warnings for most presecription drugs. When you realize most of those warnings are the bare minimum that most drug companies are forced to apply to their products makes you wonder why people "swear by drugs" to undo damage they have done to themselves. For example, the Washington Bureau reported in conjunction with the amiodarone warning label ruling... "A highly toxic heart drug continues to be prescribed to millions of patients nationwide without the detailed consumer warnings promised by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration more than a year ago. "

So my question is --- "Why do many people leave their health up to others and refuse to take responsibility for their own lives and lifestyles?"

My husband's Aunt is not the only one. Sadly many seniors (our Uncle is in his 70's) refuse to think that they themselves could be responsible for the many ailments they have, or know they are in part responsible yet sadly they continue to believe there are magic pills available in these modern times that can wipe out 20 to 40 years or more of poor lifestyle habits. Even worse, because those magic pills are presecribed, many believe there is no danger in taking them.

Most people aren't even aware how many presecription errors are made each year.

Okay... so I'm ranting ...and it's only because I truly care. It hurts to see someone suffering so much, yet angers me to see their stubborn attitudes towards simple little things they could be doing each day to dramatically enhance their health ...and their lives.

Stay well and be healthy...

We care about you!