Medical Care in Rural America: Don’t Be Afraid to Visit the City
Life in rural America is a bit different than life in the more developed areas. In many small towns, the family doctor is the only physician one ever sees. The concept of seeing a specialist is not something patients are open to. Few doctors are willing to push the issue unless the need is critical. This is the basic premise that nearly destroyed me.
I was in my early 30s when I went to the doctor. I was married with two children. I had a full-time job and was overwhelmed. My father had recently had a series of heart attacks, my son was suffering from migraine headaches and I was terrified because my mother had died of a brain aneurysm. I explained all this to the doctor and told him about the mood swings, crying fits and sleeplessness. This well-meaning general practitioner prescribed me Prozac. In a couple of weeks, I began to feel better.
About a year passed when I suffered a major back injury. The injury resulted in surgery. I lost my job because of the time it would take me to recover, and we could not afford to live on one income. Soon the pain and the depression was more than I could manage, and I went back to my G.P. He gave me pain pills and increased my Prozac. At no time did he suggest that I see a psychologist or psychiatrist for my depression.
The pain pills made me feel good, though I thought they just dulled the pain, and the Prozac was working better. I would take my Prozac daily and throughout the day my mood would be boosted by the opiates. This was my routine for the next four years. There were times when I would slip back and an adjustment of the pain meds and one more adjustment of the Prozac took care of me. In five years’ time, I went from 10 mg of Prozac to 60 mg. I was on a lot of pain medications as well.
The family doctor told me the DEA was beginning to watch the opiates, so he began to wean me back to a lower dose. Of course this brought on panic and anxiety. So he prescribed me Xanax. I was on a train that was headed for derailment but I didn’t know that.
I don’t know what caused it, but I believe it was the Xanax in high doses. I began having seizures. I had one dramatic seizure that caused me to fall into a doorframe, resulting in a head injury. That is how I ended up in the hospital. The doctors were shocked at the amount of drugs I was taking and they immediately put me in a facility to detox me and restore me to an unmedicated patient in order to properly diagnose me.
It took about two weeks to get me to a point where I could leave the facility. Yes, I left depressed. But with the help of a psychiatrist and a physical therapist, I was able to reclaim my life.
I still take Prozac in a moderate dosage. But it is used in conjunction with mental health therapy. I do not blame the general practitioner. I think he was doing what he thought was best. I am simply saying, by not seeing the proper medical professional, I nearly died. If I had it to do again, I would have traveled the hour it would have taken to see a specialist.