“Don’t Google it. Don’t Google it.”
This is the internal dialogue I was having as my pulmonologist gave me a new prescription. I was told about the potential benefits and the possible side effects before I left the office. And while I appreciate that there is a pill to help ease the stress on my heart and lungs, the unknown is scary.
Starting a new medication is physically and mentally overwhelming. My body has to push through side effects and symptoms. I experience anxiety and worry about what is a normal reaction and what needs to be reported to the doctor. I have to remind myself of the potential benefits to push through.
I avoid Googling side effects and symptoms. I like to tune in to how my body is feeling without having my judgment skewed by others’ experiences. I often have increased fatigue, headaches, and nausea when starting a new medication. If the symptoms persist — or start to interfere with my everyday life — reaching out to my doctor helps ease my concerns. More often than not, I am assured that I am having a normal reaction.
Sometimes, unusual side effects or impaired physical abilities are a result of taking a new medication in combination with an existing one. I like to consult a pharmacist and ask about interactions between medications.
Starting a new medication also affects my mental health. Before I begin, my anxiety increases. I wonder whether the medication is going to work. I worry about what will happen if the medication isn’t as therapeutic as the doctors expect.
It’s a gamble. Nobody knows how I will respond to it or whether the reaction will be positive. The only way to find out is to begin taking it. For me, that is the most difficult step.
I can’t control how my body reacts to a new treatment. When my anxiety gets the best of me, it helps to remind myself that it is my decision to continue to take a medication. I can choose to tolerate the side effects and symptoms, or I can let my doctor know when I have had enough. Recognizing that I have choices makes it less overwhelming.
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.
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