(Note: A dear friend of mine recently went through a harrowing ordeal with her doctor prescribing too high a dosage of a new medication. The experience was such that after she recovered she wanted to share her story so that others aren’t harmed in the same way.)
Managing Your Medicine- My story and a few tips
It’s a known fact that many of us are taking some kind of medication. Whether pills or liquid or injectables, medicine has made its way into so many of our lives. Yet some of us don’t know the actual ingredients of what we’re swallowing daily. Medication management is serious, as there can be errors that have cumulative effects. All of us absolutely need to have a conversation about how we monitor what goes into our bodies, how the doctor keeps track of what we’re taking, and what personal medication management looks like for us as an individual.
Generally, it works like this: You approach the doctor with an issue and there is a discussion of whether we need some type of medication. Eventually, you agree upon the starting dose. This is the sweet spot, the time you need to pay close attention. Why was that dosage picked? Is it on the low, medium, or high end of the scale? How long will you be taking it? What are the possible side effects? When will the side effects outnumber the benefits?
Talk with Your Doctor
I’m urging you—it’s important for you to have these conversations. My heightened interest in this topic comes from a recent personal experience with a very strong medication prescribed to me. I always try to work with my doctor to manage my medications. As usual, I asked various questions about the medicine and how it would work. My doctor gave me some answers, and I agreed to go by what she said. As time went on, I realized I’d been going about it wrong. I entrusted all the decisions to the doctor. What’s more, I gave away my own rights to evaluate and decide what to do.
Do Your own Research
I didn’t do enough research on the new medication. I wasn’t familiar enough with the dosage it came in, nor did I know the tremendous strength of the dose I was being given.
My lack of information plus the doctor’s total control of the situation made for a developing storm. After two weeks, all the side effects were in full effect. I was feeling extremely drugged: motor skills affected, blurred vision, my body moving so slowly in what felt like molasses, and my face expressionless with hardly any facial movement. I was essentially a zombie with this medication.
When Something Goes Wrong
It was a medicine mistake gone awry. I was experiencing too many strong side effects; I felt weak and hardly able to move, with no budging from the doctor to change the dosage. All of my friends instantly recognized that something was wrong and asked if I was okay. My sister was in town and witnessed my suffering from the medication. It was eventually she that called my doctor and convinced her to half the dose. That abruptly stopped the situation in its tracks and led me to a slow recovery.
I can only guess how many people this has happened to. The results can range from minor to life-threatening. I’d be remiss if I told you not to worry, to trust your doctor with everything. But the truth is, I’m an intelligent person who was pretty together when this happened. I had a whole group of friends who were concerned something was wrong. And I had family members on stand-by waiting to call my doctor. And it still happened!
But there are things you can do to prevent a situation like mine.
Here are some tips for selecting the medication that’s right for you and working with your prescribing doctor.
Recommendations for Your Personal Medicine Management
Research your doctor well—Is he/she conservative, medium, or liberal with prescribing medication?
Ask the doctor all the facts about the medication—What dosages does it come in? What are the side effects? Can you stop it abruptly or do you have to taper off?
Research with your doctor—Why did they select this medication for you specifically? What are the risks versus benefits?
Keep a journal—How do you feel? How are you sleeping? What side effects do you feel and how severe are they? Are there any overall changes to your physical, mental, or emotional state?
It’s a Lifelong Practice!
Medication management can save your health and help you maximize the benefits of your medication. I highly recommend building a relationship with your doctor so you are totally engaged and informed about what you are taking. It is only then that you begin to control the medicine before it controls you.
Doctors are busy and have a group of patients they need to attend to. Some of them keep digital records, others handwritten. There is no doubt they will miss something at some time or another. That’s where your responsibility comes in. Last time my doctor asked me what dosage I was taking, I thought, ‘Isn’t it her job to know?’
Get on track with your health–-it’s an important and smart thing to do.
Nirvair Kaur is an artist, scientist, writer, certified yoga instructor, and Ayurvedic lifestyle counselor. She teaches breathing techniques and other wellness tools to adults and children. Nirvair also serves as an advocate for artists with mental illness. She is the author of Mental Medicine: A Modern-day Novel for the Lonesome Soul, available on Amazon. You can reach her at Alwaysnirvair@gmail.com.