It’s Okay to (Respectfully) Question Authority

I recently ordered the Nurse’s Pocket Drug Guide 2011 by Judith A. Barberio along with some great literature for my children to read as part of their schooling next year with Barnes & Noble giftcards.  This has got to be the perfect gift to give a homeschooler!  Giftcards to Amazon and places like Barnes & Noble are awesome.  Especially since you may purchase textbooks through both sellers.

Anyway, you might ask why I ordered this drug guide, when I am not even a nurse.  Well, because I feel we should all be educated, or at the very least, know where to get the information we need to keep our families healthy and to protect them from possible mistakes.

In this case, I want to know what is being prescribed to my family and I also wanted to look up some things that have been prescribed in the past.  So, what does that have to do with questioning authority?

Caution: Male readers might want to drop off now!

About 7 years ago, I had a baby who had a very difficult time nursing,  We pretty much went through the ringer before he was finally able to nurse on his own.  In the meantime, I had used a hospital grade breastpump, which was awesome!

But for the next several months, I had mastitis.  I had mastitis on and off for 9 months, to be completely truthful.  I was in and out of the ER (I got very ill with it, high fevers, vomiting, etc.  I was so ill that I had to be taken to the doctor’s office and the ER in a wheelchair.)  I could not function.  I also had my first and only UTI during that time, too.  I was a complete mess.

My doctor and nurse practitioners kept prescribing me Augmentin.  I would get better for a few weeks while on it and then I’d be sick again after three weeks.  This time was very difficult for me.  I had to hire house help, and be very careful about my immune system.  It was a real trial for myself and our family.  I think many people don’t really understand this kind of debillitating situation.

This went on for many months.  I’d go into the ER, where doctors would tell me to stop breastfeeding.  I refused to do that.  Talking to a lactation consultant/midwife in the meantime definitely helped!  My OB tried to send me to a surgeon, because he didn’t know what to do with me.  I never went.  I was convinced in had nothing to do with needing surgery.

The Augmentin made me quite ill, in addition to the high fevers I would get that already made me vomit.  I questioned the use of it several times.  But each time I was assured it was a good, broad spectrum antibiotic and it should work. 

Except it didn’t.  I also questioned whether it could be a strep germ and not a staph germ.  Staph is what usually causes a breast infection.  But it is not impossible it could be strep.  We had had strep throat in the house several times that year.  They debunked me there as well.

One Sunday morning in April, when my baby was about a year old, I had to go into the ER AGAIN because I did not want to wait until I was so ill that I could not walk.  The triage nurse gave me a hard time about not waiting until Monday.  I wanted to lay into her, but I did not.  I simply explained that I could come now on foot, or be wheeled in on Monday when my husband really needed to be at work.

The doctor I saw came in, looked at me and said, “That looks very painful, is it?”  YES!  It was painful.  But the pain I could handle.  Who cared about the pain?  I could not handle being so ill anymore.  He said, “I am going to prescribe you Dicloxacillin.”  Now I had had this prescirbed to me a long time ago and felt that it had worked back then.  I became so relieved that I said, “Finally, I get someone who knows what they’re doing!  Thank you so much!”

Guess what?  That was my last breast infection with that baby.

Through all this and since then, I have learned:

  • I did not have 14 breast infections in 9 months.  I had one breast infection that was never killed off.
  • OB/GYN’s don’t necessarily know that much about breast health.  When they are stumped, they will refer you to a surgeon.  I have heard this happen with other women.
  • Question respectfully.
  • Follow your gut.
  • Do your own research. (I did not do this enough!)
  • Get as much help and advice from as many different people as you can.
  • Augmentin is Amoxicillin & Clavulanic Acid.  It is used for infections caused by H influenzae, S aureus & E coli.
  • Dicloxacillin  is used for pneumonia, skin and soft tissue infections caused by staphylococci; streptococcus and S aureus.
  • Be assertive.  I should have been more assertive.  I’ve learned my lesson.

I have never had any further issues like I had with my third child.  I know we went through that time of trial for a reason and we all grew through it.  But sometimes I can’t help feeling like I lost 9 months of my life unnecessarily because I did not research or question authority enough.  But I know that because of the experiences I had with my third born baby, I want to spend my “retirement” years in lactation support for the La Leche League.

I have nothing but the utmost respect for Western medicine.  There is definitely a place for it (although it’s maybe not always the first place).  But doctors only know what they know.  They are imperfect humans as we are.  We must take responsbility for our health and the health of our loved ones.  Do the research.  Know what’s going on.  And don’t accept it just because your doctor says it.  Follow your gut.

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