How Many Medications Are Too Many?

How Many Medications Are Too Many?

Caps and tabs and injections, oh my!

e63f4d8f58b48e334376a48ff53ec938The majority of the time you visit the doctor’s you walk out with a prescription. Is this right? Is it wrong? I guess I can’t really make a blanket statement because it depends on the situation.

But!

What I can ask is how much is too much?

These days we have a laundry list of doctors…
Rheumatologist.
Orthopedist.
Pain Management.
PCP.
Eye doctor.
Dentist.
Orthodontist.
Blood doctor.
Psychologist.
Psychiatrist.
Functional medicine.
Gynecologist.
Dermatologist.
Chiropractor.

This is just an off the top of my head list of the doctors I see. This list spans different medical systems, different states, different recording mechanisms . . . Aka my health record is not shared across all of them.

So what does that mean?

This means they rely on me to tell them everything I’m on, how I’ve been, all my test results and everything else in between. Which, in my case, is completely fine because I stay on top of my medical history. But for someone who goes to the doctors every so often, this may not be a priority.

 

For me, the following doctors have me on medication:

Orthopedist
Pain Management
Rheumatologist
Blood Doctor
Psychiatrist 

Currently my pill box is filled with:

Vicodin
Wellbutrin XL
Effexor
Prilosec
Neurontin
Humira – ok, I keep it in the fridge
Lovenox – these don’t fit in my box since it’s an injectable, so I keep it under my bed 😉

It’s slowly going down, but that’s what I’m taking currently. I also take supplements which help my overall health. Example: fish oil, curcumin, vitamin d with k2. My doctors hardly ever ask about my supplements and take that into consideration.

I don’t get all of my medications from 1 pharmacy either.

My Pain Mgmt doctor requires me to get my medication from one pharmacy (don’t even get me started on this one, it is so ridiculous. I HATE this pharmacy), I get my other pills filled at a CVS right by my house, and my injectables need to come from a specialty pharmacy. This specialty pharmacy is then broken out into different subsections, all with different names, numbers and resources. So for my Humira I have to call one number (Acredo) and for my Lovenox I have to call a completely different number (Express Scripts).

Now when I go to the doctors and they ask me what medications I’m on they’re overwhelmed when I rattle off the list. With the exception of my rheumatologist, I think they stop listening after the 4th or 5th drug.

There are certain rules that I know apply for some of my medications. Some of them I’ve found out NOT from the prescribing doctor, but by through trial and error, from other doctors, from my pharmacist and from others who are on the same medication.

7b19e1147148ef1326850c1b8631eb6cFor instance –

• If I need to go on an antibiotic I need to stop my Humira.

• Since I’m on Lovenox, I am unable to do foot detox baths.

• I have been on Prilosec for the past 2 years. After doing some research on the internet, it seems like these types of drugs don’t work for prolonged use. I mentioned this to my doctor and she suggested I stop taking it. Shouldn’t SHE have approached me about it first????

I attended a funeral viewing a few weeks back and we were having a discussion about medications and how much is too much. The family member who passed away was in her 90’s and was on a long list of medications. A family friend was telling us how she knew a woman who just stopped taking all of her medications and actually ended up feeling BETTER. With the exception of my Effexor and Wellbutrin XL all of my meds have different purposes. At some point you have to wonder if they’re all interacting negatively or maybe even overriding each other. And most importantly, at some point you have to wonder what all of those medications are doing to your insides? So many medications end up giving you side effects and sometimes you wonder what’s better – the original problem or the side effect?

57713a317f68ce0f534bc5a55ee61963I was on methotrexate for about 10 1/2 months. I would take it and it would make me feel horrible for at least 2 days. It was getting to the point where I’d take it Monday, Tuesday I would feel absolutely horrible and barely move, Wednesday I would feel a bit better, but not great. Thursday and Friday I would have good days and then starting back up on Saturday or Sunday I would start to feel lousy again. After talking with my rheumatologist, we decided it wasn’t worth taking the meds anymore. Woohoo! I was fine with that.

We put so much trust in our doctors and pharmacists to make sure our medication is safe. Unfortunately, these days you must make sure you’re on top of your own medical situations. Last I checked, my pharmacies don’t all interact with each other and have a master list of all my medications. There are some great strides being made to remediate this – ie. electronic records – but it doesn’t always solve the problem. Case in point, my doctors across health systems and states.

So how many medications are too many? 

It’s kind of like expecting an answer to the question ‘how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop’?

 

The advice I can offer is:
HowManyMedicationsInjections– Make sure to keep on top of your medications. Know what you take, when you take it, dosages, what the side effects are, interactions, things you need to avoid, etc. You’re putting this drug into your body, therefore you should be an expert on it!
– Create a master list to take with you to doctors appointments. This will prevent you from forgetting medications you take regularly.
– Before you start taking a medication make sure you understand the drug. Don’t blindly take medications. Question your doctor about why they’re prescribing the drug. Is there an alternative to the medication? Is there a way you could deal with the problem in a holistic way? Sometimes you’re prescribed a medication whose drug rep was in that week and not necessarily the treatment that YOU need.
– And most importantly, don’t abuse taking medication. If you don’t need to take a medication don’t take it. If you’re prescribed a medication and you feel that you do not need it anymore, speak up and talk to your doctor about your options. There are so many people I know who jump to get antibiotics at the first sign of a sniffle. This not only isn’t going to help you (unless you truly do have an infection), but will cause an immunity to the drug.

 

Be responsible, be knowledgable, and be smart when it comes to taking medication.

Wishing You A Pain Free Day!

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