Friday, June 1, 2012

Doctors Make Hall of Shame List

Wow, I just read this article, featuring a hall of shame for a bunch of fibromyalgia doctors with a definite conflict of interest between taking care of their patients and helping pharmaceutical companies make more money.  Not too surprisingly, one of my former doctors made the list.  (I am in Illinois, so I'll let you guess who it is.)

Although, to be fair, despite my husband referring to him as a quack, I must say that the drug he put me on was not one of the big three - he was the one who put me on Pristiq.  This was several years ago, before his suburban Chicago office that I was visiting was suddenly shut down.  At the time Savella wasn't even approved yet.

Also, his big thing at the time was the theory that FMS was really just a yeast overgrowth condition gone systemic.  He convinced me to go yeast-free for 3 months.  He actually prescribes this avoidance diet for 6 months, but we had to stop at 3 because I'd lost so much weight on it.  However, I felt worse on it and we concluded that it was not my problem.  He claimed I was the first patient who didn't improve on this diet.  Sorry.  Really, I did my best to make sure I didn't cheat so I would know if I had any control over my symptoms.

I also didn't like how how simplified FMS to just two basic symptoms: pain and fatigue.  I got a hold of a video of his about the whole yeast overgrowth theory for Fibromyalgia patients and kept repeating that "pain and fatigue is Fibromyalgia."  As a patient, it got irritating pretty quickly.  What an oversimplification!

As the article mentions, some of these doctors used to be about the patients, but since then have gotten mixed up with suspiciously pro-drug company studies and such.  Even my last doctor seemed okay until he pushed me to switch from Pristiq to Savella.  Ever since then, I felt I was on my own.  He didn't call me back while having horrendous withdrawals during the initial switch, and he didn't call back when Savella was causing my blood pressure to skyrocket and my head to ache all the time.  They must have gotten to him, too.  I left him after weaning off Savella by myself.  BY MYSELF!  I had a doctor who had nothing to do with me while I was in crisis.  No thanks and good-bye.

My current doctor is very nice and she reduced my prescriptions by substituting two kinds for one, old one, which is available in generic form, which translates to cheaper for me.  She listens to me and my needs.  She respects my desire to be on fewer meds, due to side effects causing more problems than my Fibro, it seems.  She's good.  I worry though.  Does everyone have a price?  Am I going to go in there one day and see a different side of her?  I sure hope not, but I'm on the lookout for those subtle cues.

At any rate, since then, I've learned lots from Fibromyalgia Network, including the fact that all their funding comes from membership fees - none is from any advertisers.  They publish lots of interesting articles and study findings in their quarterly journals and, although some of them credit doctors from this unfortunate list, most of them seem to make good sense.  There is lots of advice about how to cope and do stretches and exercises that are beneficial for us.  A lot of the scientific stuff is broken down with graphics that help us understand how chemicals can get out of balance or how drugs affect our bodies.

Be your own advocate, fellow fibromites.  Look out for those who seem to be helpful, then push products on you.  There's no shortage of sleazebags out there willing to prey on desperate people in pain.  If someone is selling you something, be skeptical.  Do your homework and learn as much as you can from many, objective sources.