Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Okay, Okay, I’ll Take the Drugs!

With my health these past few years in a sometimes “iffy” state, I’ve found myself taking more and more medications. But whenever I think I can do without, or stop taking some of them, I drop them like a hot stone. I do this because I HATE the idea of taking drugs. I never took them, or even tried them when I was kid, not in high school and certainly not as a young marine and airman. But sometimes, my aversion to the ingestion of medicines or synthetic chemicals has been to my detriment; an example of this happened just recently.
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In a roundabout way, the current rainy season recently brought on another bout in my ongoing tussle against taking pills and man-made remedies of any kind. Ahhh, and speaking of the rainy season – how I hate it! I especially tire of it this time of the year when the deluges come day after day, usually in the afternoon, and have done so for months, drenching and re-drenching in a seemingly endless cycle of wetness. It feels very much like it did when I lived in the northern climes of the United States in late winter, only there, it was the incessant cold that I wearied of. Hurry up and get here Dry Season! I miss your dust and smoke-choked Filipino skies!
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I wear high-topped leather lace up shoes partly to protect my feet while riding my scooter, but mostly because they are a required part of my school uniform. The irony is that it was these so-called “protective” shoes that caused me a physical problem more than a month ago. After getting soggy once again, they caused a tiny blister to develop on the outside of my left ankle just below the bulge of the fibula.
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I paid scant attention to the blister at first; it was miniscule, and barely caused any discomfort at all. I kept it clean and that was about it, but days passed, and still there was no improvement. Instead, it began to smart, and once it did and I examined it more closely, I noticed the beginnings of infection. I started treating it, admittedly a little too late, with Bacitracin Ointment twice a day, and did so for about a week. Still it continued to worsen; the angry red spot grew larger. I barely managed to walk without limping, especially while wearing those mostly damp leather shoes.
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After almost two weeks of this, I happened to run into a doctor friend while doing my therapy at the gym. I told him about the small infected spot and how long I’d had it, and he immediately told me to knock it down with some antibiotics, even offering to write me a quick prescription on the spot. I took him up on it, but then failed to approach him again, “forgetting” to do so on purpose. I figured surely my body was robust enough to fight off this tiny infection with just a little help from me, and NOT through the use of drugs. Another week went by.
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After three weeks, the spot was extremely tender and was an angry red. When touched, it would turn white and then return to its bright red state. I could see there was fluid built up inside; it bulged with it. I assume it was puss that could not escape from deep within the tissue. Putting my shoe on over it was agony and there was no hiding a pronounced limp. It hurt! I saw the doc a few days later and asked him if maybe the infection could become necrotic, where the tissue dies and is permanently damage. He chuckled and told me to, "go get some antibiotics already!" This time I accepted his prescription, but still failed to actually buy them, being hard-headed and all.
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Instead, I started to treat the spot every evening with cotton balls soaked in steaming hot water, forming little compresses to try to draw out the infection. Once, I even heated a needle under a candle to red hot, soaked the needle in alcohol, and used it to pierce the spot as deeply as I could, trying to release the oozing that way--all to no avail. I did this for a full week and all it did was get worse.
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A month had gone by since I had first noticed the little blister, and now, even with all my self-ministrations, an angry raging monster gnawed throbbing at my ankle. Alarmed, I remembered that back in 1940 an ill-fitting pair of shoes had caused an infection and eventually killed the 9-foot tall American giant, Robert Wadlow, the tallest man in history. I decided enough was enough. I bought a package of antibiotics.
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That first night I took one Amoxicillin before going to bed. The next morning, barely 8 hours later, the infected spot on my foot was almost healed! A miracle had taken place while I slept! There was hardly any pain at all, and the redness was nearly gone. I thought, ‘What the hell?!’ Why couldn’t my own body fight off the infection unassisted by drugs? After all, I eat fairly healthy; I don’t drink much alcohol, none at all for months in fact; and other than a few “controlled” ailments I’m fairly healthy.
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I’m chagrined, and perplexed that my own body could not do in weeks what a single capsule managed to easily accomplish in hours. Oh well, thank God for modern medical science. I take my hat off to the daily miracles they accomplish even as hardly any of us notice—and maybe we should. I’m sure my pharmacist brother, Kevin, would agree with that!
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Now, I’m continuing to take the Amoxicillin until the infection is completely annihilated to prevent any of it from surviving and coming back even stronger. Knowing what I’ve read about the over-use of antibiotics, I’ll continue not to take them unless I absolutely have to, and then I’ll take them properly. I’m still shaking my head over this one though. Let’s hear it for the drug companies! As far as I'm concerned they deserve to make some decent profits as long as they keep making products that work -- like that Amoxicillin.

9 comments:

Senor Enrique said...

I'm one of those who shy away from antibiotics as much as possible.

Amoxicillin, eh? That's good to know. Thanks!

PhilippinesPhil said...

If you've got to knock out an infection, it WILL do it! Especially for us, since we rarely use them...

niceheart said...

I don't usually take drugs either, except for tylenol when I've got a headache. I've also heard that you can get immune to anti-biotics if you overuse it. But if you've got an infection, better take one of those pills.

Ed Abbey said...

I would have caved in long before you did. Of course for me, things are a little different since I'm alergic to things in the 'cillin' antibiotic family.

As I was reading your blog post, I kept thinking of that 'tall guy' who died of a foot infection. You read my mind and filled in the name towards the end.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Robert Wadlow has intrigued me since I first heard of him when I was a kid. I felt so bad that such a nice fellow, such a special human being, could have died from such an "unremarkable" condition. In fact, WWII brought about the development of penicillin that would have easily prevented his death, just as it saved the lives of countless GIs during the war.

Kevin said...

Okay-
So, Antibiotics work if the organism you are afflicted with is susceptible to the particular antibiotic you are taking. That means they must be bacterial, not viral. Antibiotics don't work on Viruses. Next, even though you see results after just a few doses, or even after the first dose, that doesn't mean you have killed the infection. You have just knocked it down enough that the symptoms go away. For awhile. Likely they will come back, and the bacteria will have mutated into something that is resistant to the antibiotic that you were taking.
So, heres the moral to the story. Antibiotics must be taken for their full course (7 days, 10 days, 14 days, whatever the case may be) even if the symptoms dissappear right away. Otherwise, you are actually incubating a tougher, stronger, more resistant organism. This is bad. Take your drugs. Take them until they are gone. Okay, I'm done with the lecture now.

PhilippinesPhil said...

My pharmacist brother, Kevin, posted this, I think at the end of a different post:

Kev: Okay - So, Antibiotics work if the organism you are afflicted with is susceptible to the particular antibiotic you are taking. That means they must be bacterial, not viral. Antibiotics don't work on Viruses. Next, even though you see results after just a few doses, or even after the first dose, that doesn't mean you have killed the infection. You have just knocked it down enough that the symptoms go away. For awhile. Likely they will come back, and the bacteria will have mutated into something that is resistant to the antibiotic that you were taking.

So, heres the moral to the story. Antibiotics must be taken for their full course (7 days, 10 days, 14 days, whatever the case may be) even if the symptoms dissappear right away. Otherwise, you are actually incubating a tougher, stronger, more resistant organism. This is bad. Take your drugs. Take them until they are gone. Okay, I'm done with the lecture now.

Phil: Yup, just finished the last capsule. Took them for a full 10 days. I also assume that what got into that tiny wound was bacterial as well, probably from all the "nasties" living in the mud puddles and standing water so common during the rainy season. By the way, what IS used to knock out viruses?

watson said...

It's true about what they say, getting immune to the drugs and all. In the early 90s, I really had a major problem with migraine. The left side of my head would throb unceasingly, including my left eye, left ear, and left neck.

I took mefenamic acid, 500 mg. Soon it wasn't working. I took 2 at a time. Soon I was taking 4 at a time and it still wouldn't work! I was prescribed Avamigran and it finally worked. Congratulations, Nick You have graduated to a stronger medication.

I also had a bad problem with a blister that grew on one of the toes of my right foot. It was hell for two weeks! I don't want to have that again. I didn't know Amoxicillin can help with these things. Thanks Phil!

PhilippinesPhil said...

Hey Wat, make sure if you take Amoxycillin or any anti-bacterial that you take it for the full ten days, until the infection is totally destroyed. As my pharmacists brother says, otherwise you'll only "stun" the bacterial infection and it will roar back up at you with a vengeance after having developed itself into a new strain resistant to the drug... Its different than when the body develops a tolerance to a pain killer, which is what happened to you....