Monday, March 14, 2005

Methimazole, Hives, and a Touch of Irony

Perhaps the reason I worked on my blog so much yesterday was because that's really all I could do. Though I vowed not to write about my personal life here, but to only record my thoughts and opinions, I will recite this tale of woe in it's entirety for the sake of better explaining my opinions of the pill culture.
It all started with hyperthyroidism, (no this isn't a form of alien's are gods pseudo-scientific philosophy that holds the thyroid to be a symbiotic divine being that lives within our necks waiting to be harnessed through meditation so that we may channel an extra-dimensional force in order to attain enlightenment, quit smoking, and lose weight), a condition where the thyroid is overactive. The thyroid is the metabolic pacemaker, it affects all areas of the body especially digestion and heart rate.
With my heart rate skyrocketing and my body weakening I sought help in the form of doctors. I had options, try taking pills to calm it down or have it ablated with a radioactive iodine pill. Which would you have chosen? I chose none of the above. Instead I waited until my heart palpitations got bad and then got a prescription for Propranolol.
The palpitations got better but I still felt like crap almost a year later when I had the opportunity to go to another doctor. So on his advice I started taking Methimazole a thyroid inhibitor. Three out of one-hundred people taking Methimazole experience side effects, so 3%. I just happened to be in the 3% margin and broke out with giant hives all over my body while my esophagus swelled almost closed.
I've never even seen a hive in my life so I thought I was getting some weird disease like rheumatic fever, polio, or meningitis. I had also considered for a moment the possibility that I was going to star in a new reality show series called The Plague, where contestants die, come back to life, and compete on national television for brains.
I never wanted to take any pills in the first place, in fact I'd have been happy to go through life without ever taking another pill. I take vitamins but I won't take a Tylenol if I have a raging headache, I will take a bath and eat wasabi instead. I feel like life is full of natural pains and these are reasonable and if you can deal with them without medication then do so.
The reason I started taking any medications was because I was in a bad position (mostly I didn't have health insurance and America hates poor people), I was having unreal palpitations, it was scary and I thought I was going to die. That's what it took to get me to take pills, and then because my guard was down, later I allowed my endocrinologist to prescribe another pill. Can you see the irony? As soon as I let my guard down I get screwed over with serious side effects. The worst possible side-effects were a necrotic liver and death, I guess I lucked out this time.
To further prove the incompetence of the medical system I continue my tale. I go into the emergency room complaining of severe heartburn AND hives. At the time it felt like really bad acid reflux or something, but I also had hives, and I said that I thought it was an allergic reaction to my medicine. They never listen, the doctor said that the hives just looked like bug bites and gave me a prescription for Prevacid. What a completely asinine fool. So being comforted by their infinite wisdom I go home and go to bed. I wake up feeling fine the next day, UNTIL I took my morning pills, vitamins Propranolol and Methimazole. I suffered all day until about 11:PM I couldn't take it anymore and went back to the ER. Now that my hives were enormous and I couldn't swallow they take me seriously. They gave me a powerful antihistamine, and I ask, "Is it possible that I could be allergic to this too?, to which he replied, "That's a very good question." Thanks teacher, I already had one drug interaction and what's their solution, MORE DRUGS of course. How dumb can you be? Well I'll tell you how dumb. I took the pill because I'm a bit of a gambler, I figure with the odds of this killing me I could win the lottery three times, so what the heck.
Good news I'm alive and my hives are subsiding, mostly because I didn't take Methimazole this morning I'm sure.
My abstinence with medications has paid off in the past, I am rarely affected by common maladies. I barely ever get sick, if I get a headache I have learned to ignore it even when it is really painful which is more useful than learning to swallow a pill, and it costs less money.
My biggest issue is antibiotics, the last time I took an antibiotic was when I was a child. I'm not dead, and I have had colds, though less and less frequently. You need an immune system, if every time a person gets a cold or influenza they take antibiotics, how are their bodies ever going to get stronger against these illnesses? On the rare occasion that I am sick I will be sick for no more than 24 hours. When I say sick, I mean "feverish," or "shouldn't go into work or school," not "I have a little cough or a runny nose."
I even survived pneumonia once with nothing but 3 days of sleep, water, and a small bowl of mashed potatoes. Though I wouldn't do it that way again, it worked. Now I would go to the doctor if I had pneumonia, but never if I had a cold or a small infection.
Also, what's with all of these antibacterial products you see everywhere? Never bought any of them and I'm not covered in infectious sores and scabs. I never put Neosporin or even a Band-aid on a cut or scrape. I once had a hole the size of a nickel in my shin where you could see the bone and that healed up fine with no serious infection. I always hear people say things like, 'If I don't put Neosporin on it it will get infected.' It will get infected anyways, and guess what, you won't die from it. Most every cut or scrape gets slightly infected with bacteria, but that's just life, you get a scar and you're fine. Soon we'll have anti-bacterial bread, antibacterial paper, or my favorite antibacterial bullets. I think that's actually marketable.
Another thing I take issue with is the drug companies. At some point they got the brilliant idea that they could market their drugs directly to the consumer instead of through the doctors. They have since come up with a heap of gimmicks in order to sell their drugs at higher prices. Does anyone else think it's screwed up that they market their pills by brand name just like they are Nike sneakers. Some people will only buy brands because they think it's better, you know who you are, sick freaks.
So now we have patients and doctors sold on this idea that some drugs that are identical to cheaper ones are better, or maybe they're just sold on the idea that they are saving money by buying the generic made by the same company, maybe that's the real scheme? Everyone knows that some people will buy something just because they think they can save money.
While it's nice to live in a capitalist society it has it's shortcomings. Do I think the government should step in and muzzle the irresponsible drug companies? No, I think the drug companies should be an honest business, and not try to push as many pills down our throats as possible. Medications are a necessary part of a working society, they should be proud to fulfill that need. They can still make a lot of money by being the best, they don't have to resort to conniving marketing schemes.
In theory I believe that's the way capitalism is supposed to succeed, the people with the best services succeed. Now it seems like whoever has the best brand name or other superficial and unnecessary quality wins, and I think America suffers in it's own stupidity for it. Perhaps the government could urge the companies to change their policies, but of course never force them to change unless it violates someone's rights. That's just not the way it works is it? I believe we have party hackery and greedy lawyers to thank for that.
One last thing, I have a quote from USA Today,

Drug side effects and other related health problems reported to the Food
and Drug Administration reached an all-time high in 2004, a
government estimate shows.

Perhaps it's time we lay off the drugs a bit?



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I was desperately searching for information on methimazole and hives and wound up here. I woke up 3 days ago with hives and they are much worse today. I have been taking methimazole for about 4 weeks now for Graves disease. My doctor tried to convince me to ablate my thyroid but that seems too extreme to me and doesn't address the auto immune pare of the disease. These hives are making me crazy! It was nice to see that I wasn't losing my mind and that there is some correlation between methimazole and hives. I am sorry you had to go through it. I see that it was as old post. How are you doing now if you don't mind my asking.

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