I dread finding a new doctor. Not because there is a lack of good or even great doctors out there, but because I hate the moment when I have to explain that every time she (or he) wants me to try a new medicine I have to check the ingredients and possibly call the company. If you are a doctor, stop rolling your eyes now! No, I don't have a tinfoil hat and the aliens are not talking to me through my fillings, I am not one of those people. I just don't want to get sicker while I am trying to get well, I have a corn allergy and corn is a common filler ingredient in prescription and over-the-counter medications.
This is why I (heart) my current doctor, her sister has a true corn allergy too. She is fine prescribing me the same safe antibiotic each time I need one (about 1x/year), she wrote me a script for compounded Tylenol without a question, and she believes me when I say, "No, I can't take that." She loves that I check the medication options against a list on my palm pilot and that I research what might work for me and what is not safe. She is my ideal doctor and I got very lucky in finding her. I never imagined finding the perfect doctor for me and I still can not believe how great she is -- on top of having a sister with a corn allergy she is a talented, compassionate doctor and funny too.
I've unfortunately dealt with other doctors, usually briefly, who either would not listen when I explained that I could not take a medication due to a corn allergy, could not understand that I was allergic to a common filler in a medicine, or would not believe that I had a question about the inactive ingredients in what they were prescribing. Let me be clear, I have no problem with their choice of medicine, I go to doctors because I need help from experts. I respect the fact that they are very busy, very hard working professionals with years of study, practice, and experience. I just know that I have been diagnosed with I corn allergy, that corn and corn derived ingredients make me very sick and can make my throat swell shut. I don't expect anyone who is not an allergist with their own corn allergy patients to know all the ins and outs of medication issues. I used to try to explain the corn-in-medicine issue to the few doctors who didn't believe me, but after dealing with an ER doctor who got really ugly about my lack of medical expertise, I have come up with new, unpleasant tactic for those who don't want to listen. I will be a HUGE jerk about it. Here is what I imagine myself doing:
I will smile sweetly, open my eyes wide and say, "OK if I understand correctly, you are saying there is no possibility of a single corn protein being in the medical grade corn starch in this medicine and no chance of it causing an anaphylactic reaction. I believe you, since you are the doctor. Here are my Epi-pens. Here is my Benadryl. I think we may need some assistance and witnesses for this--I'm going to take the medicine in front of you but first I will need you to accept full liability for any allergic reaction, which you say can't happen." Since I live in America, which is a frivolous lawsuit happy country, this is not a nice thing to say, and I would never ever even think of thinking it around anyone who is being rational. Yep, I'm going to be a horrible jerk, but he started it. (I hope that the ER doc was having a bad day and is not really that awful to everyone.)
I really (heart) my current doctor. And I (heart) my previous family doctor, from the other side of the country too; Dr. M. was my doc when we discovered the allergy. He is amazing in a whole different kind of kind of way, as things kept getting cut out of my life while I was working with my first allergist, Dr M. was never troubled by any weird request I threw at him and was happy to give me all the information I needed to figure out if I could take a medicine (I can't imagine anyone else really wanted the inserts from the samples). He and his staff were so encouraging, they would fill me in on the latest info on food allergy research and laugh with me when I told them about my latest stupid mistake.
His PA gave me some of the best advice I've ever received on confusing labels. I saw her for lingering symptoms (fat tongue x 3days) from a reaction to a vitamin that claimed to be soy, wheat, egg, corn and a bunch of other stuff free. It obviously wasn't corn free. She tried very hard to keep a straight face while listening to my fat tongue impaired explanation and finally said, "If you don't know precisely what the heck is in the darn thing, don't put it in your mouth." Words to live by.
After a martial arts injury resulted in a pinched nerve (T-12/L-1) that presented oddly as extreme lower right quadrant pain, Dr M. sent me for a host of uncomfortable and unpleasant tests. From this we discovered my allergy to CT-Dye and just how much corn is in all of the stuff you have to swallow to have your insides looked at and how much corn in the things that mask the flavor of the nasty stuff you have to swallow. Unflavored barium shake anyone? It has been years, but just thinking about that shake still gives me dry heaves. Dr. M. and his amazing staff managed to get all the tests ordered minus the corn ingredients -- that had to be a minor miracle and a major headache.
I really (heart) my doctors. The thing that makes both of them stand out is that they are fine with my coming to their office having researched possible diagnoses and treatments for what is bothering me. I don't do this for fun, I don't know if I am even in the ballpark with what I have come up with, but I do this to see what medications they may want to use so I can check out the inactive ingredients beforehand and come up with a set of safe medications. I am never trying to be difficult, I am trying to be safe and to not throw off their office schedule with requests for extra information. So many people on the Avoiding Corn Forum have not yet found a family doctor who understands their corn allergy, the problems it creates and the steps we take to stay healthy. Every time I read a post about someone dealing with a doctor who can't understand how we react to common medication, I wish the writer could just skip all the frustration and go to my amazing doctor.
I used to have a hard time standing up for myself, but this allergy put an end to that. I hope I will never have to use the jerk speech, I don't like being a difficult/weird/over-informed patient, having to check my medications, or asking the pharmacist to call the doctor and ask for a different medication because they checked and found corn. If I say no to a medicine, it certainly is not because I am second guessing my doctor's choice of medication to treat a particular illness, it is just because I can't take the second dose once my throat has swollen shut. I really (heart) my doctors because they understand and because they would think this post is funny. Maybe I'll send it to them on Valentine's Day.