What do you think about the multiple drugs we have to take? When one lives as I do with fibromyalgia & chronic pain as well as other symptoms, do you think some of it is a crutch? Lack of faith? Or what? —Margaret deVries, Ladson, SC
No one would tell a child with diabetes that her insulin was a “crutch.” Nobody would think that a man with a heart condition lacked faith because of his dependence on nitroglycerin. We all underst& that medications help hurting bodies to function more normally.
So, I suspect that your question goes deeper than that. Perhaps others have questioned the validity of your illness, fibromyalgia.
Chronic pain syndromes are no different from diseases such as diabetes or heart disease. Seeking relief from a myriad of poorly understood symptoms is not a sign of weakness.
Pain is primarily a brain function. Our knowledge of brain function is still in its infancy, & that has contributed to the stigmatization of diseases involving chronic pain or mental illness. But a new day is dawning in brain research. New discoveries are shattering old concepts of pain perception & the way pain affects the brain chemicals responsible for mood & mental health. These advances will help take the guesswork out of treatment for conditions such as fibromyalgia.
Ultimately, the decision to take a medication is between you & your doctor. Overmedication is always a risk, especially if you see several doctors. Review your list regularly with your primary physician to see if any medicines should be eliminated.
Here is a simple test to see if a medication is right for you: Does the medication enable you to function more normally? Is the side effect profile acceptable to you & your physician? If the answer to both of these questions is yes, then don’t apologize for taking it.
Amy Fogelstrom Chai, MD, MS, is an Internal Medicine specialist with additional training in the area of medical research methods. Her experiences as a patient helped to redirect her priorities to home life & Christian ministry.