These are random musings of my life journey, the people, animals, places, and events which have woven, and continue to weave, a tapestry that is me. We all know there is no real destination, only the ongoing experiences which blend together, creating the trail. Each step gives a glimpse of what is to come, without allowing me to see the end result. It is exciting. I have a home base that is mine, that gives me a place to rest. This is it. This is where my heart is, no matter where I journey...................

Friday, January 18, 2008

Being Thoughtful About Medications

I'm just waking up, and I had a good night's sleep. I feel generally better, I think. At least I'm not aching now. I have a cuppa tea, and I'm back in bed with the laptop for a slow wake-up process. Fortunately the dogs are not chomping at the bit to go outside. They rarely are any more, sometimes staying in bed an hour or more after I'm up. A sure sign of their ages. :'(

I am feeling much, much better today. Very minor aches in a few areas of the body, but certainly manageable, tolerable today. Thanks to all of you for your kind thoughts and well wishes over the last three days. It has been wonderful, knowing that you were out there and cared about me. And the kitty! BTW, he has eaten every day, but I've missed seeing him. I'll keep feeding him so he will stick around and perhaps in better weather I'll be able to "talk" with him again.

As I was responding to comments in the previous post, thoughts about medications came to mind, and I though I'd explore that a little. To Sherry I wrote:

"Yeah, medications ... They have their place and I'm certainly not against them, however, I think we consumers have to be knowledgeable about them, and use them judiciously. So many take meds without any idea of what they do to the body or even knowing the side effects. So dangerous. And I'll admit that I've done it, too. No more. I research them."

Sherry is one of my blog friends who has done battle against breast cancer, and as most us know, that battle means lots of medications are used. Cancer is one of those diseases that requires a long list of meds, the kinds used to either combat the cancer or to help the body keep going during, after, and in spite of that treatment. She understands when I talk about awareness and limiting the usage of meds, and I get what she does because of my own physical challenges and those I confronted during my husband's long illness and eventual cancer.

There was a time, about 15 years ago, that I was taking an embarrassing number of medications. (P=prescribed; OTC=over the counter)
  • Anti-inflammatory for arthritis and fibromyalgia, 2x daily (P)
  • a medication for pain relief, every 4-6 hours (P)
  • antidepressant to boost the pain reliever and to avoid depression that is common with chronic pain, 2x daily (P)
  • a mood elevator to help me sleep and to help my outlook on life, at bedtime (P)
  • a medication for acid reflux, 2x daily (P)
  • frequently, I was on antibiotics to combat diverticulitis (a chronic infection in the lower intestine) (P)
  • antihistamine/decongestant for allergies, off and on (P)
  • Tylenol, as needed between doses of pain medication, to boost their effectiveness (OTC)
  • fiber supplement to assist digestion, 2-3 x daily (OTC)
  • joint lubricating supplement to assist anti-inflammatory med. (OTC)
Understand that these were all recommended by a doctor, even the OTC. They were all necessary. However, after being on these for nearly 10 years I wondered why I was still taking some of them. I had changed my diet to a high fiber, yet I was still taking a supplement. I was eating more carefully to avoid acid reflux. I was having no symptoms of these afflictions. I had gained weight, over 50 pounds during this time period. I felt sluggish, often foggy in my thinking, and generally wasn't feeling "good." And when I packed to go on a trip, the pills were unbelievable to pack.

I had changed doctors because of a health care plan change. I talked to my doctor about his opinion; could I possible get rid of some of these things? He said yes, yes, yes! He was glad I wanted to give it a try. Over the next year I weaned myself off almost all the above under his supervision.

Now I take just the anti-inflammatory, the joint lubrication pill, an occasional acid reflux pill, occasional Tylenol, an occasional muscle relaxer for sleep when the fibromyalgia flares up, and OTC allergy medication. I haven't had an antibiotic for over 10 years! I've had no flare-up of the acid reflux or diverticulitis for over 10 years! I dropped that weight and then some (I still have weight to lose, and it is very slowly dropping without diet), and I feel better, more than I can even describe! I believe my body was simply toxified (is that a word?) from all the garbage that I was advised to take.

It's essential that we use medications when we need them. I wouldn't suggest anyone not use what they need to be able to improve or sustain health, combat pain, stop symptoms that have negative effects on their quality of life. I have concerns about how people taking medications, over the counter types or those prescribed by a doctor, without being informed about the medication. Fully informed. Doctors simply don't tell you everything you should know about the meds, nor do pharmacists. I'm not knocking docs or pharms; I'm just saying that the third element in this treatment package is me, you, the consumer!! Those two other parts of the formula are dealing with hundreds of us; we, you and I, are responsible for just ourselves and perhaps our children.

Our medications need to be reviewed frequently and with knowledge enough to make good decisions. If we don't initiate those conversations with our health care providers, it is likely that it simply won't take place. They assume we are feeling well with whatever regimen we are on and just leave it as it is. Additionally, it is up to us to know when we are not feeling "right." I had spent so many years in a fog that I wasn't evaluating myself well! As I began to realize it, I struggled to assess it because I didn't remember what it was like to actually feel good.

I want to know why I'm taking it, what is is supposed to do, short term and long term effects. I read (or try to) the pamphlet that often comes with medication, but I also ask the doctor and the pharmacist about it. Then I go home, get on the internet and look up the medication on at least three medical sites other than the home site for the manufacturing company. Sites like Mayo Clinic are good. And if I don't like what I see in terms of side effects, dependency, etc. I may decide to not take it. The money I'm out on it is less that the potential long term effect in some cases, and I never want to be as badly medicated, to have my body to infused with toxicity as I did back then.

The bottom line truth of my situation is this: All the "conditions" for which I was taking medications are better now than they were when I was swallowing pills by the handful. A good diet (not in the sense of "weight loss") takes care of the digestive problems, while affording me gentle weight loss. The reduced fibromyalgia complications I can't explain except by saying I'm putting less stress on my body with the weight loss, and most afflictions respond to a good diet. Rather than having flare ups several times a year which lasted for weeks, I now have 3-5 flare ups a year and most last just 2-5 days. I can certainly live with that!

How about you? Are you "responsibly medicated"? Do you know about your medications? And do you feel better taking them? Unless you are dealing with some mental health issues such as bipolar or psychosis (both of these skew assessment of feelings) you should feel better with a medication than you did before. If you feel worse ... talk to your doctor!! Sometimes getting the body from ill to healthy is not an easy road, and it might be normal to feel icky now while it changes our physiological balance. But don't assume that without medical advice. In general, medications should make us better.

I would wish for everyone to feel as much better in their lives as I do now. When you've been very ill and you get to a better balance, you know it. And you love it! One of my pleasures in life is that I feel darn good most days, especially for my age. I hope to keep that balance in my life for a long, long time. When I think what I might be like today, had I not taken my health care into my own hands, I shudder.

Sorry if this is too "preachy." I simply hope that all of you will have the best ever health, both physical and mental. You shouldn't compromise. After all ....

Life is beautiful!!!


  1. Honey, this is NOT preachy at have done a wonderful thing and I am applauding what you have said..brava!!!

    We HAVE to be aware and we have to take charge. No matter what is being given to me or done to me I ask..what is this, what is it for...I have done that since I was made responsible for "me" when I was around 16 and my mom stopped coming into the room for medical appointments. We can't just be sheep and go along blindly.

    All those meds you were on...and you managed to get off them..YES!!! We take far too many things and are prescribed things that counter-act something else. We need to constantly review what we are taking, remind doctors, especially if we go to a specialist for something and they want to prescribe - we have to say "I'm taking "x" will that be a problem?" because they don't always say "are you taking any meds right now?".

    This is especially true for MIL was taking things she didn't need and it was causing problems until I rounded up the lot, took them to her doctor and said "what doesn't belong?" and he removed what was now redundant. Was he to blame or her? Maybe both. He may have said "stop taking" and she didn't understand. Or she failed to remind him what she was taking.

    I worked for a family physician for awhile and I know that doctors do not always refresh themselves on a patient's drug list.

    We own our bodies and it is up to us to be responsible and to take charge.

    And Lynilu...thank you with huge hugs for what you said about chemo and drugs...they are poison and then they give you meds to counteract and you feel like you are taking one for the other..but you do it and you keep track all the time..noting side effects, how you feel...this is your body, your fight. And you lived through it with your husband so you know. Bless you -- and bless you for making this an important post.


  2. Sherry, What you said!!!

    Yeah, it is important to be in charge of our own medical care. As I said, everyone else in the formula has many others to watch out for; I only have me. And if I'm not paying attention to the meds or the physical events in my body, then no one knows.

    If medications are dulling our ability to keep track, then there is certainly something wrong. I would hope that all of us have others, family or friends who will help us watch and keep ahead of the curve. I live alone, but I have people who I've asked to be aware of me, how I'm behaving, how I'm talking, and tell me about unusual things in my patterns.

    Life can't be lived if we aren't alert enough to know we're alive.

    xo back to you, my friend!

  3. That's a really good point Lynilu -- if you live alone, to appoint people to be aware of what you are taking, what you are doing, how you are behaving. Being on your own has it's limitations and this is one of them...need for other eyes and ears. Excellent advice!

  4. Sherry, you're right, and I just realized that I didn't say that in this post. I have told my kids that if I seem to be loopy or anything out of the normal, to tell me. If one of them who lives far away from me notices it while on the phone, they can always call my stepson who lives here and he can check on me if necessary. Great point. Thanks!

  5. Very good post, Lynilu. This would help so many older people (and hey it's good advice at ANY age). Too many medications cause problems that sensibly taking care of ourselves can help alleviate. We are responsible for much of our won health care, in that sense. A doctor will never care about you as much as you must care about yuorself.

  6. Annie, Thanks. I agree that taking care of oneself is a primary need, and if/when one is dealing with something that needs the medications, it is easier if one is otherwise well and on top of health issues. And a doctor will care for you only as much as you care for yourself, also.

    We should all take more responsibility in our medical/physical/mental health.

    Thanks, Annie, for stopping by again.

  7. You don't "preach" you just give excellent advice!

  8. Thanks, Patti. I have had several friends with medication questions/issues lately, and my thoughts just rolled out there. :D


If you have something to say about it, just stick out your thumb, and I'll slow down so you can hop aboard! But hang on, 'cause I'm movin' on down the road!!! No time to waste!!!