Iain Girvan is senior policy analyst and father of five from Wellington, New Zealand.
Born with a rare heart condition in the late 1970’s, Iain underwent open heart surgery to correct an extremely complex birth defect known as transposition of the great arteries. The condition was repaired, but never cured and, with little data available at the time, a poor prognosis was given. Nonetheless, beating the odds, Iain has successfully survived to raise a family and attained senior analyst positions within central government.
Iain’s heart, and health began deteriorating as he pushed into his late 20’s. At this point his consultant cardiologist intervened and prescribed him diuretics for fluid retention and high blood pressure. Cardiology prescribed Iain a drug called Lasix (furosemide), which is an extremely potent diuretic. The drug essentially lowers blood pressure and reduces pressure on the heart by reducing the overall volume of blood in the body, not only can this leave a patient dehydrated, it can have extremely serious side effects such as electrolyte imbalances, requiring yet further medication to ‘restore the balance’.
Essentially becoming reliant on prescription medication affected his lifestyle significantly across all the spectra of health, from physical to mental. At his worst, Iain was prescribed 80mg a day of furosemide, a very high dose.
“I used to spend my day stressing about when I could take my diuretic, what meetings I had, did I have to travel? I never knew if I was going to need the bathroom an hour after taking my pill or how many times I would need to go. My “record” was about every 10 minutes for nearly two hours. I was dehydrated, I had lost most of my salts, I was a mess. I was getting depressed and my kidneys were starting to suffer.”