When I was first diagnosed with Hashimoto Tyroiditis disease I was prescribed medication to take everyday. Before that diagnosis, I only pill I took daily was a vitamin D tablet in the winter. Here in New England, almost everyone is diagnosed with low D during the winter months.
Now I look at my vast array of medications and wonder “All these can’t be good for me!” I have since had a diagnosis of two types of arthritis (one can make you blind overnight!) and Type Two Diabetes (medication induced). The amber bottles of pills keep growing.
My medications a combination of drugs to battle the chronic illnesses, and drugs to combat the drugs that combat the chronic illnesses.
Side effects need their own drugs it seems, but these drugs also have side effects.
So, if you are like me you have more than once thought “I wonder if these medications are making me feel ill? Maybe it’s not the disease, maybe it’s the medications!” Less is more is my thought, and my insides make horrible noises most of the day in rebellion against the medical onslaught. This just doesn’t seem right, or even good for me.
I decided that the one doctor I trust the most and I needed to have a little talk. So, I took a list of my medications, and asked her “Why am I taking each of these? Are there any I can cut out, or work toward cutting out?”
It was a very good conversation.
First off, I wasn’t taking many of my medications in the optimal way. My thyroid medication is a bitch, I need to take it on an empty stomach. Problem is the other medications need to be taken with food. My solution was waking at 2am and just taking them. The problem is, they work best if taken on an empty stomach with a glass of water. Not a sip of water in the middle of the night.
We talked and came up with a solution. I now take the pills first thing in the morning with a water bottle I keep by the bed. Then I wait 20 minutes and take my arthritis medications. I’ve noticed a difference in how I feel throughout the day.
My doctor also went over timing for my other medications, what I should drink and eat (I wasn’t nearly drinking enough for many of them). She reminded me, I have a more than one serious illness. Several, as most people with an immune disease, have more than one serious illness.
Some of my medications are common for people my age. The statin is needed as my family has unusually high cholesterol. We just do. Even the vegan weird hippy cousin, she’s delightful, but she’s on a statin.
Also going over my side effects with her was very important. Side effects can be very dangerous, and she suggested a new pill to help with my stomach complaint.
Did I get to drop any of my medications? No. I’m still not happy about the number of medications. But, as she reminds me over and over “You have several very serious illnesses.” People with serious illnesses take a lot of medication. Just because it’s an “invisible illness”, meaning I look fine, doesn’t mean it isn’t truly dangerous.
I have a friend that complains her husband refuses to take his blood pressure medications. She is upset, but not enough to really make sure he takes them. She jokes “If he has a heart attack it will be his fault!”
He’s proud he doesn’t “take pills”, he says he feels great. He’s thin, he rides his bike, and he “eats right”. The blood pressure cuff of course doesn’t know any of that.
It’s hard when you don’t LOOK sick, but I imagine it’s even harder when you don’t FEEL sick, to take your medications.
But, while I am still unhappy about the number of medications I take, and I want to cut down, I’m happy I did speak to my physician about each and every one.
WHY am I taking this
WHAT does it do
WHICH side effects do I have (and how can we treat them?)
WHEN can I stop taking this (maybe never?)
WHATEVER can I do to perhaps get off this medication?
HOW do I take this medication to get the most out of it
Also, if you are having a problem with one medication (and how to figure out which one can be hard), see if there is an alternative you can try. There usually is and often you are much happier with that alternative!