Medical patients and the drug problems they don’t have

Some people don’t understand that using drugs, not to mention very large amounts of serious drugs, can have side effects. Bad side effects, I mean, not just seeing the pretty colours.

Like the guy from this story, coming to the ER totally out and in shock. But his friend is sure it’s not related to the tons of drugs he’s on because… he does that often and usually doesn’t react badly. So sad it’s actually very funny.

I personally saw an event that went in a totally different direction, a few years ago. A patient came to an ophthalmologist, to have his eyes examined, because they were red and itching.

In the examination it looked like he had acute conjunctivitis[1]. A viral infection. And yes, it’s easy to tell the different kinds of conjunctivitis apart, usually. It’s surprising in how many obviously different ways, under magnification, the tissue can react, when all you see without magnification is red and some swelling.

The doctor gave him a prescription for steroidal drops to reduce the inflammation[2]. And also gave him the usual explanations on how to avoid infecting others in the meantime.

A real problem, and he received treatment. Nobody questioned him about what happened, or hinted in any way that his problem may be anything else than the viral infection it was.

And yet before he left the guy felt the need to explain that his eyes are red because he has a problem, not because he’s been smoking marijuana. He said that he doesn’t smoke drugs. In case it wasn’t clear enough, he further clarified that it’s not just that he doesn’t smoke, it’s that he doesn’t do drugs at all. And he repeated that therefore his eyes are not red because of drug use. Can’t be, since he isn’t smoking or using any.

He repeated that several times, stressing the point. Before he calmed down, and left, the doctor had to assure him that he believes him, and that the eyes have another legitimate reason to be red.

Of course, marijuana does other things beside making people’s eyes redder. And just because there’s something else that makes the eyes red, doesn’t mean there’s no marijuana in the body anyway. Just saying.

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  1. Inflammation of the conjunctiva, the white part of the eyes[back]
  2. Germs are easy, there are plenty of good antibiotics. Viruses are harder, usually you just reduce the symptoms and wait until they die off by themselves after a couple of weeks[back]

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