Do we act this way?!
A recent article in a well-known tabloid reported that 3 in 10 stroke survivors – they used that vile word victim – will go on to have another stroke as many of us are not taking some of our medication, such as statins. Apparently, we don’t like the effects, such as nosebleeds, sore throat and diarrhoea and a few more. We are supposedly ignoring GPs and stopping potentially life-saving treatments because we don’t want to suffer from minor side effects. Well, on reading this, I felt my blood begin to boil rather; I don’t know how anyone else feels but talk about generalisation!
I am more than aware there are occasions when people do not take their medication correctly, sometimes due to unpleasant side effects, but usually more severe than this, I might add and on these occasions it would be usual to discuss the situation with a consultant or GP depending on who you are under at the time.
There are also times when especially those of us with brain injury have not fully understood or indeed forgotten some of the medication needed. To a person who does not need to take many different types of medication and those who have to spread them throughout the day, for example, it is very easy, if not prompted, to become confused, mix up doses or forget altogether. This is why blister packs or having someone put them up at the relevant times for each day is hugely helpful, but not everyone has this help at hand.
Often too, GPs are so terribly busy, they have explained something quickly and someone with brain injury will have replied yes they have understood, but by the time they have reached the door to leave the consulting room they have already forgotten the information they were given.
I admit statins get bad press and I often hear survivors say they don’t want to go onto them because they don’t want cramps or pain. I have been on them since my stroke and I tend to encourage survivors to do as they are advised. Start with an open mind and remember also there are many different types, so if any difficulties occur, talk to your doctor about trying a different sort. Also, make sure – as advised – we do not eat grapefruit whilst on them and remember the benefit and protection they provide.
In defence of the article, I have to add that Queen Mary University of London found that some patients gradually stopped taking the medications over time because of side effects which cost the NHS about £9 billion a year in stroke care. I have to ask the question here has it been taken into account how many of those people have attempted to get appointments to discuss the situation and not been successful, in the hope to have an alternative medication and again been unsuccessful due to the huge restraints on the NHS – the appointments and budgets are not available.
Lead researcher Dr Anna De Simona said, ” Side effects of medications, especially statins, may cause anxiety in some patients and their concerns are not always addressed by practitioners.” I think in part this answers some of what I asked, do you agree?
Researchers are now urging GPs to make sure patients are fully aware that alternative medications and treatments are available.
To conclude, I feel they should do some follow-up research on just how hard and in what a responsible manner we stroke survivors work tirelessly, all on our own, towards our rehabilitation. Rather than give the impression we are an irresponsible ignorant bunch! Sorry, but as you can tell I found it somewhat insulting in its slant and generalisation of us all. Out of interest, I would be fascinated to know how many survivors regularly take statins as I do.