By Stephanie Hodgson
7 Dec

The C Word

Friday, December 07, 2012

Compliance or non-compliance: that is the big C word. And compliance is a topic that needs to be addressed here, in all seriousness.

I never thought of myself as someone who doesn’t follow doctors’ orders. But at my last appointment I got the wakeup call of my life.

Over the past few months, thinking that I’d try to go natural and holistic, I tried going off some of my medicines. One of the reasons I did this is that one of the main medicines I take causes really bad heart burn or acid reflux. I had begun to feel too toxic with all of the medicine I was taking, and had thought my liver or kidneys were failing, not to mention my heart.

At my last appointment, I did my 6-minute walk better than the last one, but still, this alone wasn’t going to impress my doctor, who had to tell me that because of my not taking my medicine regularly, she had to add non-compliance for the first time to my chart. Then we had a big discussion about why I had not been taking the medicines as prescribed.

My doctor told me that, unfortunately, my heart is going to fail a lot sooner than my kidneys or liver if I don’t take the medicine. I explained my concerns, and for the acid reflux and stomach issues, she prescribed a medicine to help alleviate this problem. She also mentioned that she would have me on a continuous IV of PH medicine, but because I haven’t been taking my medicine right said she wouldn’t do this right now—if I didn’t do what was necessary for the IV line, I could die if it wasn’t administered properly.

So, since my last appointment, I’ve yielded, and I’ve been very compliant in taking my medicine and using my oxygen. I have also been walking more. And I have to admit, I feel much better.

Compliance is something we as CHD patients need to really consider, and this has never been an issue with me until the past few years. I know that one day my heart will either give out due to the hard work it goes through on a daily basis and the possibility of needing a lung or heart/lung transplant has been in my future since I was first diagnosed. And just because I have outlived doctors’ expectations doesn’t take away the seriousness of needing to comply with the medicine and oxygen regimen prescribed.

In fact, if we as CHD patients aren’t compliant, doctors will not even advise or recommend us to the transplant team of doctors, because after transplants there is the addition of anti-rejection medicines.

Besides the medicines we have to take and oxygen we need to breathe, we can still try to do the other things beneficial for our hearts and overall health, like getting proper rest, exercising, and eating nutritional and heart-healthy foods.

If we have any issues with a certain medicine, we can discuss it with our doctors and see if there is another alternative we can take or maybe the dose can be adjusted.

So, to comply or not to comply shouldn’t be in question, but rather living in such a manner that we take our hearts, health, and life seriously and be responsible in our daily care.

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