My e-mail is buzzing. "Have you seen the news about Singulair? Are you worried?"
The short answer is, "No, I'm not concerned at all."
Maybe you're concerned - now is the time to get scared smart.
This is not the first or the last time there will be press releases like the one released from Merck linking use of its asthma/allergy medication Singulair with suicide and changes in mood and behavior. The Food and Drug Administration reports that examining patient reports and evaluating studies may take up to nine months. What are we as patients to do in the meantime?
Listen to our bodies, record any unusual symptoms/side-effects and have clear, honest and complete conversations with health care team members. It also helps to enlist friends and family to observe us because sometimes it's not easy to be objective and note a gradual descent into depression or subtle signs of anxiety.
Sometimes the act of "recording" sounds daunting. When I have mentioned this to parents in the past they have responded with a litany of excuses including, "I don't have enough time.", "I hate to journal.", I can't keep track of one more sheet of paper.", etc." Here's a news flash - it doesn't have to be pretty or eloquent, it just has to be legible and easily accessible.
I have always used the somewhat tattered, humongous family calendar. It's impossible to lose something that huge and it's user-friendly as the symptoms are jotted right on the corresponding date. A highlighted arrow extends through consecutive days of identical observations. Hauling that calendar into the doctor's office catches attention and proves that I'm a serious parent/patient.
That leads us to the all important patient-health care professional relationship. Approach each appointment like you're preparing for a test in school. The Partnership for Clear Health Communication part of the National Patient Safety Foundation, suggests that you use their Ask Me 3 health literacy program as a frame for appointments. Ask:
- What is my main problem?
- What do I need to do?
- Why is it important for me to do this?
Obtaining answers to these questions will jump-start you into a dialogue that should be accompanied by note-taking and repeating back to the health care professional what you believe you heard. Taking the medication as prescribed and reporting any signs or symptoms that are concerning you should enable you to be a smart, not scared, consumer.
Published On: March 31, 2008