As a patient dealing with chronic illness, I regularly visit a number of doctors, each of whom prescribes for me a variety of pharmaceutical concoctions. Along with my primary neurologist, I see a primary care physician, a urologist, a neuro ophthalmologist, an endocrinologist, and a pain management specialist. Each of these MDs makes good use of their prescription pads, and subsequently I have enough pharmaceuticals in my bathroom to open my own apothecary.
I'm sure this delights the hell out of the big pharmaceutical companies, who rival insurance companies and the New York Yankees on my list of most detested entities on Earth (one of these days, I'll post a long and barely coherent rant about Big Pharma and its rancid influence on the healing professions), but it's left me with literally handfuls of pills to take each day.
As I'm chugging down these little vessels of wonderfulness, in their dizzying array of different shapes, sizes, and colors, I often wonder if they might be doing me more harm than good. I mean, here I am, in possession of a finely balanced symphony of physiology, a body that has taken millions of years of evolution to develop, and I'm two or three times daily ingesting substances that profoundly manipulate the workings of many of its systems. Of course, in my case, evolution as provided me with a body that probably should have been recalled, but that's besides the point. A little research into many pharmaceuticals reveals that their mechanisms of action are poorly understood, other than the fact that they appear to work. Kind of like magic; here's a quarter, now it's gone, except it's not really gone, now is it?
On their own, each of the pills we take may be beneficial, or at least not harmful, but when taken in addition to other medications, serious consequences can result. Drug interactions are a significant cause of death in this country, and as responsible patients we shouldn't rely on our doctors to keep track of each and every prescription that has been given to us.