What Are You On?

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So, I went to my doc’s office for a one month checkup after my recent throat surgery and there was a new nurse practitioner. We chatted for a few minutes, she was lovely. Then, she asked a series of quick preliminary questions to update my status, before the doc came in.

It all seemed normal until she asked, “what meds are you currently taking?”

None, I said. She stopped typing, turned to look at me as if I’d just grown a third eye. She then rattled off a mini laundry list of meds I surely had forgotten to tell her about. With each one I shook my head no. And, after a moments’ pause, she moved on.

Something about that exchange really bothered me. It wasn’t that I was being questioned or that her demeanor was disrespectful. It was something much bigger. What bothered me so much was that we’ve become a nation in such physical disrepair that the automatic assumption was that a 43 year old American male simply had to be on something!

That’s just not cool.

I think what bothered me even more, though, was that, even though I was susbtance-free, it’s been a hell of a few years for me from a health and fitness standpoint with a lot of injuries and funky situations. In my head, the question about meds translated to, “so, what else is wrong with you?” And, I didn’t like the answer.

I’ve already started to address much of it. But, I’ve decided to come clean about what’s been going on with me, health and fitness wise, with a series of posts that’ll start on Monday. In part, because it’ll help motivate me to continue the process I’ve begun, which has been a challenge due to continuing pain. But, also, because I’m concerned not only for myself, but so many friends, colleagues and others, especially dads, who I’ve seen literally falling apart at the seams, yes, along with me.

Stay tuned, this should be interesting…

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15 responses

15 responses to “What Are You On?”

  1. Wow Jonathan, I have to say that I am looking forward to following your journey, I have also embarked on a “get my self together” tour…

    Too many pills?!- It’s not just the 43 year old set either. I just went in for a pretty extensive oral surgery. What shocked me was the amount of pain meds I was prescribed. I rarely take anything so I was concerned that the amount of meds was an indicator of how painful my experience was going to be…

    I was given one med to take two hours before so that I would relax, another to take after so I wouldn’t freak out, a muscle relaxer to prevent any face spasms, then Oxycodone for post surgery. I was supposed to take a muscle relaxer twice a day and a full Oxy pill every four hours. I did that for the first day and never took another pill. I was WAY overmedicated and my doses were apparently lower than usual because I had told my dentist that I am super sensitive.

    I have so many pills left over I could probably sell them on E-bay (if it wasn’t illegal) and pay for the surgery!!!

    Pain is a signal that there is something wrong. We are meant to feel the sensations of our body and then take that information in to account when making adjustments.

    I am so glad you brought this topic up and I am looking forward to watching as the conversation continues-

    Love and Light,

    Shelley ;0)

  2. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Shelley – Yeah, been there, too. Looking forward to the convo, too.

  3. Lars-Christian Elvenes says:

    Hey Jonathan,

    Interesting topic, and important too I think. To be quite honest, in my Norwegian (and probably stereotypical) point of view, Americans do seem a bit on the overload when it comes to meds. Everyone’s on Prozac or Xanax or something else. See it very often in the movies and TV shows Maybe it’s something that’s become “the norm”(which makes it even more important to question this).

    Another one is the fact that I’m no longer surprised (again often in movies and tv shows etc) by the phrase “My psychologist says…” or something to that effect. I’ve got nothing against psychologist (I’ve studied psychology myself), but I do get concerned when it seems like everyone needs one. Isn’t it enough that you’ve already have a lawyer each? 😉

    I’d go for some excercise and healthy eating before medication (if I can).

    Great post. Looking forward to the next one 🙂


  4. Jonathan,

    I think it’s great you are sharing some of your health related stories.

    I think sometimes that readers sometimes can get the feeling that only THEY suffer from the “life meets you right where you are at” things and not modest public figures like yourself.

    As for me, I’m a physical specimen and have no ailments of normal people:)

  5. It’s scary indeed. Everyone is on something… My grandpa is a dentist and he mentioned that old antibiotic medicines still work incredible for someone that hardly ever uses anti biotics and they are much easier on the human body – however people are being introduced to much more powerful drugs that aren’t necessary and actually hinder long term benefits of antibiotics when people get sick in the future… Don’t know how accurate that info is, but it is a direct reflection of an over drugged society.

    Also, all the pain killers out there can’t be good for people and families.

  6. Jonathan your post and exposé is well done. I too have been on a journey. We share our age and concerns about health and mental welfare among other things.

    I have a post where I am reviewing and being honest with myself and readers about goals and achievements towards those goals. http://bit.ly/big-goals-09

    While I am happier than I can ever remember being, and I am med free as well, I am struggling a bit with my weight. 10 days ago I cut sugar, so we’ll see how that goes.

    What excites me about your post is your commitment to honesty at all cost. If we can’t be honest with ourselves we will not be successful at life. By revealing our processes in the light of the web, I hope that we can bring others into a similar resolution of clarity and transparency. It’s a lot ot ask. It’s a lot to hope for. But I believe, it’s the only way to be.

    Thanks for your contribution.


  7. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Lars – I often wonder how we compare to other countries in terms of chronic med use. Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not anti-med, I know people who need to be on them for the long haul, but there’s that middle group who could do what they need through lifestyle, but default to the far more effortless pill-based option. Again, not passing judgment, it’s just not my path…I hope.

    @ Matthew – Always knew you weren’t “normal!’ LOL!

    @ WMG – Yeah, it’s a bit frightening how bacteria adapts to thwart meds. A bit scary.

    @ John – No doubt, weight gain from a combo of inuries, illness and a massively more sedentary lifestyle has taken a big toll. Still figuring out the answer, but as someone who’s been taught others how to take control for a dozen years, excited to share my journey, stumbles and all

  8. Kerry says:

    Hi Jonathan,
    I have to agree with Lars, I’m from Australia and there is a definite perception that Americans readily take medication and I’m not sure how true it is. I was reading a blog the other day and a woman was writing her tips for sleeping well … there were only four and the fourth was a drug! I nearly wrote a comment I was so shocked but wondered if that was a cultural response. I suppose it was like you say – it was more shock at the acceptance that of course a drug would be a normal response to dealing with an issue. Thanks for sharing, I look forward to reading more 🙂

  9. Natalia says:

    Gosh, that’s definitely disturbing! It would have been a lot better if she had smiled or expressed gladness.

    Rock on, by the way!

  10. Last week I also met one 62 year old person and he was so fit, you could hardly belive. With just few grey hair he was looking in fifties. Despite eating outside for whole day, he was fit. On questioning he told he was practicing Yoga for last 35 years and at home he was taking bitter food (most good food is bitter) like bitterguard and couple of other things which I forgot. He was on no medicine at all.

    Your post is also inspiring and I am looking forward to your series soon.

  11. Whoa, man. Wow. Well, this is going to be interesting and I know that whatever is in store for you (and by extension, your readers), you’ll bring honesty and insights into it that will benefit everyone.

    It’s funny how as soon as you raise this topic of overmedication, you’re suddenly branded as anti-medical, as though you just declared all of Western medicine a crock of shit. Everybody loves their little boxes to put things in, negating possibility with labels. Can there be a middle ground that doesn’t automatically discount alternative methods as “hippie dippy” nor call for the downfall of conventional care?

    I would like to think so. I think people are hungry for that, and that’s why Andrew Weil has been so successful.

  12. Brodie Welch says:

    Kudos to you for taking the opportunity to examine your life and yet not want to medicate away the ways in which your body might be trying to communicate with you. Health challenges can be powerful portals to new ways of being. Is healing the eradication of symptoms, or something deeper than that?

    We miss the invitation to change by medicating over a symptom. Considering that over 100,000 people a year die from taking pharmaceutical drugs (properly!), we do this at our own peril! While pharmaceuticals certainly have their place,
    most chronic diseases and pain can be better addressed with diet, lifestyle, herbs (which are simply strong foods), examining our thoughts and emotions,stretching, visualizing, and breathing. Non-drug interventions like acupuncture and bodywork can help catalyze change as well.

    Of course, it’s so much easier to take a pill than to take responsibility for one’s life. But who gains? And who loses?

    Magnified out to the national level: At this time of crisis in our health care system, and when 80% of the reasons people seek health care are related to stress, why aren’t we teaching kids how to breathe and meditate? Wouldn’t that save a ton of money?

    I wish you all the best in your journey.

  13. In my corner of Spain, everything is diagnosed by blood work and cured with pills. If it can’t be found or cured by one of these two things then it doesn’t exist or is incurable.

    Boggles the mind.

  14. Keith says:

    Hello Jonathan,

    You are embracing a topic that I too am very passionate about. As a nation, America is certainly over medicated and I’d love to be a part of a movement to battle the mentality that there is a pill for every ill. Maybe your coming articles will be the catalyst for that movement! I stand with you!

  15. Yes, dentists have been guilty of overprescribing prescription drugs. One of the main reason Americans so readily get on drugs is the massive amount of TV advertising (is it $6 Billion/year?) that Americans are exposed to. It’d be curious to see how many Rx drugs an average person that does not watch TV takes.