Saturday, September 08, 2007

True confessions, part 2

Not long ago, it became clear that diabetes is getting the better of me. So I called my pharmacy to get a refill on testing strips: "Um. The last time you refilled this was 2004. We need a new prescription if you want insurance to pay for these."

Hell yes I wanted insurance to pay. So I called the doctor's office and got the nurse. Several minutes on hold later, she's back: "Doctor wants to know if you've been seeing someone else about your diabetes?"

Uh oh. "No... why?"

"Our records show we haven't seen you in the office since 2002. He's not going to call in anything else until you come in to touch base."

Busted. "Oh my, has it really been that long?" I know damn well it has. "OK. I have a day off in two weeks. Let's make it then."

In the meantime, I improved my diet considerably and dropped a few pounds, but the readings were still too high. Metformin wasn't doing the trick anymore, and I began to worry that there would be insulin injections in my immediate future.

Doctor day came. (As always, I sat in the waiting room for over two hours. It's a major reason I avoid the place, and a rant for another time.) He wanted some blood tests, of course. And then there was good news and bad news: The good news was, he didn't even mention insulin. The bad news was, he prescribed a drug that contains both metformin and Avandia, Avandamet.

Say what? Hold the phone, dude. I put on my politely concerned face: "Hmm. I think I heard something about that drug on the news, doctor... ?" Specifically, that the stuff kills people. An animated presentation ensued, wherein the doctor assured me, with great conviction, that the studies were flawed and the people running it are untrustworthy, and that the drug is absolutely safe. I got free samples and orders to return next month.

Back home, I ran a Web search on Avandia. The first related links to pop up were listings of lawyers offering to help me sue the pants off its maker, GlaxoSmithKline. Not a propitious start. Still, I found that many patients have no problems with the drug and that the FDA has left it on the market, albeit with a boxed warning. And after all, what's the point in going to doctors if you aren't going to trust their judgement?

So. It is now two weeks into my adventure with Avandia. The blood sugar levels are exactly where they were before, no improvement at all. I've had a lot of the symptoms listed as possible side effects, but the thing with me is I have those symptoms all the time anyway, as a result of other health and aging issues. There's no way to tell which thing is causing what, so I just suck 'em all up and keep swimming. At least, I did until today.

Last night I woke up with a nosebleed. I have never had a nosebleed in my life. Since the Avandia is the only new thing, I thought of that first. Another Web search did not turn up nosebleeds as a side effect, but I did find posts on message boards from other people claiming they too started having nosebleeds at night after starting Avandia.

On the other hand, I have been stuffy lately, and I take aspirin every night, so it was too soon to judge. I dutifully downed my morning dose and made a note to myself to call the doctor Monday.

And then, about two hours later, another nosebleed. This time, it started while I was in the car. Thank heaven I wasn't driving.

OK, it's only twice, and it could still be a coincidence, but I've had enough. I'm more afraid of this drug than I am of the disease. Plus, they have the exact same worst-case scenarios: stroke, heart attack and death.

There's got to be a better way.


Carly said...

Oh Sweetie

Is it possible to get a second opinion and still be covered by your insurance? Sigh. I am here for you, if you want to chat about whats going on for you. Let me know, and we can work out a time. I am going to do a post, mid-week about my adventures. I am not taking medication, but I am learning more and more about diabetes every day. The thing is, we can do everything right, and it doesn't matter, it truly has a mind of it's own. I am taking a diabetes nutrition class through my HMO if you like I would be happy to pass along whatever info I come across. It seems like things change all the time. Take care hon, and keep sharing!

Always, Carly

Tammie Jean said...

How scary! I have no advice, just a ((hug)) for you... I hope you get it all figured out...

MyMaracas said...

Thanks for the support and concern, Carly and Tammie. I can use all the hugs I can get right now. I'll be over to check on you midweek, Carly. I'm looking forward to seeing what the classes are preaching these days.