Friday, December 2, 2011

How Lipitor and Dr. RW Killed my Dad

I've never been known to mince words. I say it like it is. If Dr. RW were standing in front of me, I'd tell him that I think he, with a combination of medicines and his own ineptitude killed my dad. If there were a way for me to sue him for every penny he has, I would. It wouldn't bring my dad back, but maybe it would stop him from "practicing" medicine on anyone else.

The guy was seriously a joke. You know the joke: "what do you call a doctor that finishes last in his class? Doctor." That's him. And besides that, he looks like Beaker from the Muppets. Beady eyes, long neck, red hair, skinny pointy head. Yep, that's Dr. RW.

He put my dad on some medicine for his arthritis many years ago. Didn't do any of the monitoring of bodily organs that he should have, but one day just told my dad that he couldn't take the drug anymore. No explanation, nothing. Come to find out, one of the serious side effects of this drug was that it destroyed his kidneys. It could have been stopped sooner if Dr. Inept had monitored it more closely. But he didn't. Dad found out from another doctor the reason why he couldn't take the arthritis medication any longer and what effect it had on his body.

Later he put Dad on Lipitor to lower his cholesterol. You know in the commercials where it says "Lipitor can have rare, but serious side effects. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience one of these side effects." If you ever do suspect or experience one of them, don't stop contacting your doctor until they have researched it and conducted enough tests to completely rule that out.

From that point on, Dr. RW kept prescribing more medications to counteract the side effects of the previous medication. He prescribed Neurontin (gabapentin) to alleviate the leg cramps and muscle fatigue in his lower leg, which was actually a side effect of the Lipitor (atorvistatin). Abrupt withdrawl from Neurontin nearly killed him in May of 2009. That was another doctor, though. He was not nearly as inept, but had an ego the size of Texas and did not appreciate being questioned over his medical practices.

But back to Dr. RW/Beaker/Inept/Idiot. He had a way of raising my dad's blood pressure. It was always "one more test" or "one more night in the hospital" or something. Finally we'd had enough. Dad was scheduled to have open heart surgery in March of 2005. We took that time to contact Dr. RW's office and let them know that Dr. RW was not to visit Dad in the hospital because he would no longer be Dad's doctor. But true to Dr. RW, he showed up in intensive care anyway. Less than 24 hours after his surgery, he came to the ICU to review Dad's chart with the excuse that he had to sign off on his progress.

Well this is what happened: One of my brothers and I were in with Dad and a nurse, and suddenly the blood pressure monitor started making sounds like it was going to take off or something. Another nurse rushed in the room and asked what was wrong, that his blood pressure was through the roof. Dad just pointed through the window to the desk, to the back of a tall, gangly, red-headed man in a long white coat. I told the nurse, "that's his FORMER doctor. We released him today. He tends to get Dad's ire up." The nurse pulled the curtain and Dad's blood pressure started going back down. The other nurse went to the desk to ensure Dr. RW would not try to go in and see Dad or speak to him.

That was the last we saw of Beaker. To the best of my knowledge, he did not ever try to make contact with my dad again. It seems so simple and seems like that would be it and things would get better. Unfortunately, there was 19 years worth of incompetence and ineptitude from Dr. RW building up inside Dad's body. 19 years of damage that could not be undone. I'm not blaming all of my dad's health issues on Dr. RW. There were things Dad could have done differently that would not have put his body in the condition it was in. Like 45 years of smoking, for starters. 

I guess I have two points I'd like anyone who reads this to take away from here. 

1) You are your own best medical advocate. You are the best medical advocate for your family members. Ask questions. Do research. No, do informative, intelligent research. Know what you're taking and what the side effects are. Question your doctor if he or she tries to put you on additional medication to alleviate the side effects of a current medication. Know the difference between generic and name brand medications. Know the consequences of abruptly stopping a medication. Ask questions, ask questions, ask questions. Doctors DON'T know everything. My brother says there is a reason they call it "practicing" medicine. Everybody is different. Just because your doctor has 12 patients who take this medicine or that medicine and they tolerate it quite well doesn't mean you will tolerate it well. Know your body and know what things your body is trying to tell you. Speak up for yourself and don't ever hesitate to tell your doctor no. If you refuse a medication or a test and they say they have to put in your chart that you refused something, make damn sure they put your reasons for refusing in the chart as well. 

2) Love your family. Love your dad, love your mom, love your siblings, love your spouse, love your children. Love them all because you never know when will be the last time you are able to tell them you love them. And if you have a family member who is taking medication or having medical tests done, ask them how they are and how they are feeling. Don't accept "fine" as an answer. We all know that F.I.N.E. stands for "f*ed up, insecure, neurotic and emotional." Ask specific questions and ask what you can do to help them. 

Just because someone has a medical degree (or a juris doctorate or a higher degree of any sort!) does not mean that they know more than you do. Some knowledge does not come from a book. Some knowledge comes from your heart.

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