Psych Meds – I’m not CRAZY!

My doctor told me I need some kind of psych med.  NO WAY!  I’m not crazy!!

Stop right there.  This needs to end right here, right now.  I’m SO sick and tired of people thinking only “crazy” people need psychiatric medications.  There are a ton of different medications for a ton of different problems!  And what do you mean by “crazy” anyway?  Who do you call crazy?  Besides, your doc offered you a psych med for a reason.  Why?  Do you think you deserve to keep feeling like you do right now?  Would you like to feel better?  If you didn’t, you probably wouldn’t have gone to see him/her.

Those drugs just mess with your brain!

Well, kind of.  I mean, that’s what needs to be messed with.  Let me break this down for you.

Your body relies on balance.  It only works right when everything is in balance.  So all of your organs need to be in balance to work right.  Your liver needs certain chemicals to work.  Your kidneys need other chemicals.  Your guts need different chemicals.  All of your organs need their own specific chemicals in just the right amounts to do their jobs.  Guess what.  Your brain is an organ.  *gasp*  Right?  If it’s an organ, it needs to be……… balance!  All of its chemicals need to be just right for it to work like it should.

What does that have to do with the crazy-meds?

How are you feeling right now?  Not so great?  And you’ve been feeling this way for a while?  That’s most likely because the chemicals in your brain are out of balance.  You may not have enough serotonin or dopamine, or too much GABA, or a host of other mood related chemicals.  When you don’t have enough of something or too much or something, there is no balance and you feel crappy.  The job of medications is to bring things back into balance!  Get it?  They don’t do anything to change YOU, just put an organ in your body (the brain) back in balance so it works right.

*2 weeks later*  You said I would feel better if I took this pill.  I’ve been taking it for 2 weeks and I don’t feel any better!

Yeah.  It’s only been 2 weeks.  Psych meds take longer to get into your brain and start working.  Your brain is very smart (well, some people’s brains are smarter than other’s); it has a thick barrier to prevent stuff from getting to it, kinda like a moat or force field.  It takes at least 4-6 weeks for enough medicine to creep through the barrier and start working.  When enough makes it in, it can start messing with your levels, trying to get things straightened out.

*6 weeks*  I still don’t feel better!

I’m really sorry.  We may need to try a different medicine.  It doesn’t mean you’re hopeless.  It means the drug we chose wasn’t fixing the problem.  We have no way of seeing exactly which chemical in your brain needs to be bumped so we pick the most likely culprit and try to even it out.  But that isn’t always the chemical that was out of balance.  This is when you get annoyed, I apologize profusely, and we try a different drug that works on a different chemical.  This is a process of elimination.  But when we hit the right chemical, you’ll feel so much better!  Don’t you think it’s worth a little trial and error to get your brain in balance and you feeling like a person again?

So ditch the stigma.  Seriously.  I don’t want to hear anyone else call someone on psych meds “crazy”.  The only “crazy” people I know are the ones refusing to get help because of a stupid stigma.

If you feel like you could use a little help getting yourself under control or just know you don’t deserve to feel like you do, talk to your PCP.  Sometimes psych medications can help.  If so, at least consider them.  Regardless, always reach out.

Diabetes (part 2)

Ok, well that was completely confusing.  I thought you were going to make this easy!  What I get is that there is sugar in my blood, which is bad, and Diabetes is bad because my blood sugar is too high.  I don’t quite get the how though.

Understanding Diabetes, almost all versions, starts with the cells.  Your whole body is made of cells.  They do different things, like muscle cells and blood cells and skin cells and a million other types.  As we said before, every cell needs sugar, also called glucose, to work.  Without glucose, they will eventually die.  But sugar is a big molecule (Ah! I hated chemistry!) and cells can’t just suck it up.  The big molecule can’t squeeze through the walls.  It needs a door.  Insulin goes into cells, kicks the guard awake who then opens the door, letting the glucose in.  Yay!  Now the cell can use the glucose, do a bunch of complicated things, and make energy.  The insulin does other stuff with cells, helping get a bunch of things moving.  It’s kinda like the drill sergeant in your body, keeping cells in line, and getting the process of using glucose going.

What do you think happens if the cells don’t listen to the drill sergeant?  What if there isn’t a drill sergeant at all?  That’s diabetes.  It’s the state of not having a drill sergeant.  Where does the drill sergeant, I mean insulin, come from?  The pancreas.  An oddly shaped white organ in your stomach kind of wrapped around your actual stomach and kicking the liver.  It is the home of the cells that make insulin.  There are special cells and special ways things are made, but we’re focusing on the basics.  If it stops making insulin, the cells have no drill sergeants, they get no glucose, and they die.  If your pancreas makes some insulin but not enough, some cells get drill sergeants, some don’t, and the ones that don’t will die.  If your pancreas makes drill sergeants but your cells are insubordinate, refusing to recognize or use the insulin, the cells get no glucose and, you guessed it, they die.

That’s a lot of death. 

Yup.  So let’s recap what we’ve learned so far.  We have sugar in our blood, called glucose.  Cells need glucose to work; without it, they die.  Insulin is the chemical needed to open the walls of the cells to take in the glucose; insulin is the drill sergeant needed to make a cell eat the glucose and use it.  Without insulin, the cells don’t eat so the cells die.  We learned last week that most glucose goes out of your body in your pee, so it relies on the kidneys working correctly.  And we learned the pancreas is where the insulin comes from.  You eat.  Glucose enters your blood.  Pancreas makes insulin. Insulin travels to the cell and wakes it up.  Cell opens walls and takes in glucose.  Cell eats glucose.  Cell is happy.  Got it?  Good.

Phew!  Tell me that’s it.  Cuz I can’t take anymore of this sciency stuff.

We’re almost there.  I promise.  Your body needs to be in balance to work.  Your glucose needs to be at a certain level with your insulin so the cells get exactly what they need to live, but not more.  That is why your body made some safeguards so you will never have too little glucose.  Fat cells are full of fat (duh), which is the storage form of glucose.  So your fat is like a grain silo.  Your liver is also a storage site.  In fact, your liver is the first place your body goes to when it needs a little more glucose but you haven’t eaten lately.  Your blood glucose, so blood sugar, gets low, the liver dumps the glucose it has been saving up, and your blood sugar goes up so your cells can eat.  Now we’ve added another organ to our chain of organs affected by diabetes.

Holy moley, that’s a lot of work!  I had no idea so many organs were needed to keep my cells eating.  Actually, I didn’t know I even had all of those organs.  So what does any of this have to do with diabetes?!

Well, we know the order of operations: glucose into blood, pancreas drops insulin into blood, insulin opens doors to cells, cells eat; if there isn’t enough to eat, liver drops extra glucose in the blood, insulin ….. You get the idea.  But now I’m going to make you wait until next week to find out more.  Ha!

As always, I teach medical lessons specific to your body at First Priority Medical Clinic at 15th/Lewis.  We have openings everyday.  Give us a call, make an appointment, ask me about your personal medical issue, and boom! You learn something new (about you).  918-398-9663

Hormones: Basics

My friend said he is getting hormone shots.  Do I need them?

That is a loaded question because there isn’t just one hormone; your body makes tons of different kinds of hormones!  A hormone is any protein made in one place in your body, called a gland, that only works somewhere else in the body.  They’re like mail carriers.  For example, the thyroid gland makes a few different hormones, but the gland itself doesn’t do anything else.  It just sits there sending out mail.  The thyroid hormones (there are a few) hop a ride in the blood stream and drop off a message at the organ your thyroid is trying to talk to.  The organ hooks up with the hormone and then does whatever it was told to do by the thyroid gland.  Make sense?

Your body has tons of glands.  Glands, glands everywhere!  Sending out hormones.  For example, adrenaline goes from a gland on the kidney to lots of places making you feel pumped up.  Your brain releases a hormone to tell your thyroid to make, well, a different kind of thyroid hormone (that one’s weird).  Your pancreas makes insulin, which acts on cells to store or drop sugar/fat.  In fact, diabetes is usually caused by failures in the gland or end cells, not the messenger (insulin).  So many glands!  So many hormones!

And birth control pills.  They are just a combination of hormones that stop sperm from making it to the egg and the uterus from accepting an egg.  A gland in the brain sends hormones to tell the ovaries to release eggs and other hormones to make the uterus ready to hold that egg if it’s fertilized.  So, unlike some people think, birth control pills do not kill babies.  Once that egg meets sperm and attaches, a baby is coming no matter how long the mom takes the pills.

But what about those shots?  When people say “hormone shots”, they usually mean the sex hormone testosterone.  Testosterone is thought by a lot of guys to help them …. Perform sexually.  The evidence shows, though, that it is only good for increasing libido; it does nothing once things get going.  And, it only works if you’re actually low; taking more testosterone than your body needs does nothing.  So I hope your buddy got his levels checked before starting shots or else he’s just wasting a lot of money.

There you have it.  There are hundreds of hormones in your body, all going from one organ to another, doing different things, keeping you in balance.  So the next time someone says they’re getting hormones, ask them which ones.

If you want to talk about hormones (probably yours, not the science), come see me!  I’m here to help with whatever you need.


It’s that time of year when everyone starts sneezing and sniffling.  Allergy season in Oklahoma!  Allergies are a reaction to allergens.  Anything can be an allergen including medications, foods, pet dander, pollen, or anything else.  The reaction you have is your body’s way of saying “NO THANK YOU!”  Sadly, you can develop an allergy to anything at any time, even things you have used every day for years!  

Allergic reactions often consist of:

  • Runny nose, usually clear but occasionally yellow
  • Congestion and sinus pain, sometimes causing headache
  • Itchy eyes, often red
  • Itchy, scratchy throat and mouth
  • Sometimes itchy other places
  • Cough, clearing the throat

Allergies should not cause body aches, fever, deep or constant cough, chest heaviness, thick or dark mucus, or other more severe symptoms.

If you are not sure about what you have, allergies or a cold, feel free to come by.  Your friendly neighborhood nurse practitioner can help you tell the difference and offer suggestions on what you can do to start feeling better.  Come by and see us!

Ticks! Yuck!

Diseases from Ticks

Everyone knows ticks are dangerous for more than their annoying bites.  Ticks carry very dangerous, sometimes deadly diseases.  Tick bites are most common in the summer and fall, so now is the time to learn about what to watch for after a tick bite.  And remember, pets can bring ticks inside on their fur, so keep them up-to-date on their anti-flea and tick medications.

The 2 big tick-borne diseases you should watch out for are Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF).  Lyme disease starts with a bull’s eye shaped rash around the bite that is often burning or itchy.  If left alone long enough, the person will get many more of these circular rashes with flu like symptoms, like fever, chills, aches, and tiredness.  If caught early, it can be cured with simple antibiotics.  RMSF is extremely dangerous and moves fast, so you need to catch it early.  It almost always starts with a rash on the wrists and ankles, sometimes covering the hands and feet also.  The rash is lots of red bumps and can get really bad really quickly.  RMSF also starts with a really bad headache and a fever.  So if you have a red, bumpy rash on your wrists and ankles, a really bad headache, and a fever, especially if you have recently been camping, you should see a doctor immediately.

Any time you or someone in your household gets a rash and you aren’t sure what to do about it, come see us!  The providers at First Priority Medical Clinic can help you figure it out!


So you have a rash.  What does it mean?  Should you be worried?  Is it contagious?  Are you even really sick? 

These and many other questions circle through your head!  A common rash is eczema. This is usually an area of raised up, scaly, super dry skin.  It can be itchy or hurt or nothing at all, but it bleeds if you scratch it.  Eczema can be treated at home, often with over-the-counter creams and tips from your provider.  Sometimes it is stubborn and requires prescription ointments, but we can figure it out together.  Some rashes are bumpy, like the tiny baby pimples of newborns.  These can be disturbing for new moms and dads, but they are harmless. 

As people start camping, we start seeing more and more poison ivy and poison oak rashes.  Those are so distressing for everyone involved.  They are itchy or burning, and they spread to everything a person touches, including other people!  But there are other rashes that look like poison ivy, so if you aren’t sure, it’s best to get it looked at.  So come by and meet your friendly provider at First Priority Medical Clinic today!


What is so bad about high blood pressure?

Your blood pressure has 2 numbers, a top and a bottom.  The bottom number means how much pressure your heart is feeling on it between beats when it is resting.  The top is how much pressure it feels when it squeezes.  So what?  Well…..

Your heart is a muscle, like any other muscle in your body.  When it pumps, it’s like when you lift weights.  If you lift heavy weights, you get tired out quickly and have to stop.  If you lift lighter weights, you can go much longer.  Your heart is the same.  It can’t pump against high pressure (heavy weight) as long as against low pressure (light weight).  Your arteries are those weights!  The more gunk they have in them and the smaller they are, the more pressure your heart has to push against with every beat.  That is the top number in your blood pressure reading.  The bottom number is how much pressure (weight) it feels pushing on it while it’s resting.

That’s why high blood pressure is so bad for you.  All of that hard work wears out your heart faster, like when you lift heavy weights.  The higher the pressure, the harder your heart has to work and the sooner it wears out! 

You have to give your heart a break!

There are lots of ways to lower your blood pressure.  Come see us and we can discuss the options best for you.  Let’s keep that heart pumping a lot longer! Call 918-398-9663.

High Cholesterol: So?

My provider says I have high cholesterol.  So?  Why should I care?

Well, because it is one of the many things that can cause a heart attack or stroke.  We already talked about high blood pressure and how/why it’s bad.  We didn’t talk about how your blood pressure can get high.  Remember that systolic number, the one on the top?  That is the pressure your heart is pushing against when it beats.  One of the things that makes that pressure higher and harder to push against is cholesterol clogging up your arteries.

Your cholesterol is measured in low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL).  Why do providers always nag you about having high HDL and low LDL?  Here’s why.  Imagine your arteries as a water hose.  The LDL is big and clumpy, clogging up the tube, meaning water must push really hard to get through.  HDL is like a ball bearing.  It’s small and heavy, so it hits hard.  If you shoot that ball bearing through that hose, it will knock some of that gunk off, move it down the tube, and pull it out of the hose.  So, the LDL clogs up your arteries, making it hard for blood to get through, while the HDL blasts through your arteries and breaks up the LDL gunk so the blood flows better.  The less gunk, LDL, there is and the more clog busters (HDL) there are, the better your blood will flow and the lower your blood pressure.  That’s why your cholesterol levels matter!

This is a bit complicated, I understand, and there’s more to it.  If you would like to learn more about your cholesterol numbers, come see us and we can discuss it.  Call First Priority Medical Clinic at 918-398-9663.

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