Throughout my life whenever I was sick and a doctor prescribed me medicine, I took it exactly as directed and never asked any questions. There were only two kinds of medications that doctors could prescribe in my mind: 1) the z-pack, and 2) everything else. If I got handed a z-pack, I did a little victory dance, knowing that whatever was making me feel ill would indubitably be squashed in a matter of two days. If it was anything else, I felt gypped, didn’t even read the piece of paper I was handed, but filled the prescription none the less and took the meds (all the while wondering why the doc wouldn’t give me the good stuff).
This past Thursday, I was diagnosed with the flu. At the doctor’s office I was handed a prescription and told to take it twice a for five days. Was it a z-pack? No. So I didn’t bother reading the paper and I brought it to be filled at CVS. $100 later, I had Tamiflu in my purse, and I popped the first pill at 4:30 before taking a nap. Something this expensive must be really, really good, right? That’s what I told myself.
I woke up at 6pm unable to breathe, not because of the Tamiflu, but because of the flu in general. Before I was given this medicine, I was taking Nyquil to help me sleep, but I wasn’t sure if I could take both of these meds at the same time without getting a stomach ache. I googled it, and trusting in Wiki and Yahoo answers (which is never smart, but just goes to show you how influential aggregated information can be), found that the general public said it was cool. Believing in the internet, I popped some Nyquil.
I stayed in front of my computer for another little while, and followed different links that people provided about both Tamiflu and Nyquil. I came across an article called Tamiflu’s Effects On Your Brain.
I read the title and thought, “This can’t be good.” According to the article, Tamiflu has caused dementia and other brain related issues in little kids, and also caused five deaths in Japan. YIKES. What is that about? The article said that at best, it will relieve the flue symptoms up to 1-2 days earlier.
Still believing in the power of the internet (and lacking the power of having a doctor on speed dial after office hours), I turned to Facebook and posted this question to my friends.
Within minutes, people chimed in to share their opinion. One friend said, “ I wouldn’t, thats crazy. most medicine is poison for us in some way anyways.. But I understand wanting to feel some relief from the miserableness.. . hope you get better soon.” Another said, “Take it so I can come over and watch really, really mediocre comedies with you, SAncho, and Dave this weekend” heh… Finally, a friend who I went to college with who’s now a doctor posted, “Hey Mel. Tamiflu/Ostelmavir is used mostly for prophylatic reasons. Lets say some of your housemates got the flu and you want to protect yourself. It can also be used within the first 1-2 days of symptoms to try and reduce the duration of the symptoms. Under those circumstances it wont prevent the infection it will simply reduce the duration by 1-2 days MAX.
If you are past the 2nd day of symptoms it serves very little purpose.”
Done and done. I decided to stop taking it.
Now, I’m smart enough to know that you can’t believe everything you read online (so I say to myself, but after trusting in WikiAnswers, I don’t know if you should believe me), and one article on a somewhat questionable site is not enough proof to make any decisions. But it wasn’t really only the article that swayed me. It was the comments on the article that actually had even more of an impact. Kind of like when you’re shopping on Amazon and you want to read people’s reviews before you even read the manufacturer’s description of the product itself. One commenter said, ” Tamiflu supposedly interrupts the virus, and is not an antibiotic, but is classified as an anti-viral. But stay away from it, and do not give it to your children. My daughter had 1 dose of it and was literally running into walls and could not stop. Needless to say she has not had another dose, and I called the Doctor who prescribed it and told him what happened. He has never even offered to prescribe it to anybody in our family since then.” and then another guy wrote, ”Convulsions, Delusions, Delerium and 5 deaths in Japan: If this was a disease, instead of a side affect, there would be warnings and mandatory vaccinations against it. Alas, since it is an effect of medication, it’s seen as a small matter.” That rang so true to me. One person gets sick from a batch of contaminated spinach, the whole country stops eating spinach for almost a year. People’s kids go literally crazy from taking this medication, and it’s a dismissable percentage that’s best not to worry about.
So, what do you think? Would you take it?