Healing or a Heart Attack

I’ve talked a few times this week about a recent psychiatry appointment where my psychiatrist bumped up my Buspar and my Lexipro. In addition to the anti-social social anxiety issue I talked about yesterday, there are a few more moments I wanted to highlight before leaving this interaction in the past.

During the appointment, the psychiatrist mentioned that there was a “theoretical risk of cardiac side effects.” I’m sorry, I thought to myself, I’m not a doctor but I know that cardiac means heart and I like my heart, thank you very much. It has done an excellent job the last 33 years and this is one area where I would like to know more than just the theory.

“It is fine,” the doctor said, “I have no reason to believe that you have anything to worry about it and I am sure that if your primary care doctor were here she would say the same thing, which is that based on your risk factors I have no reason to be concerned.”

“What risk factors?” I asked.

“Well your cholesterol levels and your weight,” the doctor replied.

So, I think the doctor just said instead of healing, I might have a heart attack. And he called me fat. Awesome.

Obviously, this is slightly facetious, and largely a response of my anxiety, which says that it is probably the right choice for me to be getting psychiatric help for my anxiety. In all honesty, despite the fact it was an extremely unlikely risk, the doctor pulled up my last EKG and explained it to me in detail what the “theoretical cardiac risks” were and how we would respond if anything actually happened. Which was much appreciated and a sign that I found a decent psychiatrist. Yay me.

And even though the doctor might have been slightly annoyed that I didn’t take his word for it when he first said it wasn’t serious, I feel no shame because that is part of what advocating for yourself means. Because there is a big difference between healing and a heart attack and I have the right to know what lies in between.

It also highlights the fact that mental health medications can have serious side effects in addition to the merely obnoxious ones like nausea, dizziness, or the like. And those serious side effects are exactly why you want to advocate for yourself. And hopefully this blog and series like Medication Monday help with that.

So now, hopefully if you find yourself in a similar situation, you will know the right questions to ask too.

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