Are you trying to kill me?

Margaret, an eighty-year old with dangerously high blood pressure, had failed every medication I had ever prescribed. She claimed one made her gain weight (the cookies and Pepsi had nothing to do with it.) Another made her tired. A third caused hair thinning and the fourth made her teeth hurt (never mind that her mouth was full of rotting teeth.) I pointed out that minor hair thinning beat a massive stroke but my pep talk did no good-- she refused to take the medicine. Not surprisingly, Margaret showed up for her most recent appointment with a blood pressure of 210/115. "Are you taking that new blood pressure medication I prescribed?" Margaret scowled and pulled the package insert for Lisinopril out of her purse. She handed it to me and pointed accusingly to the paragraph she'd highlighted in yellow. "Why'd you prescribe me a drug that causes fatal demise? Are you trying to kill me?"

What??? I skimmed the hand-out and had to bite the inside of my cheeks to keep from laughing. It didn't say "fatal" demise, it said "fetal" demise, if used by a woman in her second trimester of pregnancy. At age 80, she was hardly at risk for getting pregnant!  When I told her this, she crossed her arms and sputtered, "If that drug can kill teeny tiny babies, I ain't taking it." She glared at me like I'd prescribed Cyanide. (Apparently, she'd rather keel over with a stroke.)

Another time, shortly after her husband died, she'd had trouble falling asleep and had requested something "mild" to help her out. I prescribed a month's worth of the lowest dose of a mild sleeping pill. The next day, she called the office to inform me she would NOT be taking it. Did I know, according to the package insert,  if she took 18 of them all at one time, it could KILL her? Why was I prescribing such a dangerous drug? Was I trying to kill her? When I pointed out she was only supposed to take ONE pill and not EIGHTEEN, she sputtered, "if that drug can kill people, I ain't taking it."

I give up! If she got tired enough, she'd fall asleep!