I have done my share of building projects in my lifetime. I’ve built decks, boathouses, kit built airplanes, and even a dirt track race car or two. One of the most important rules in fabricating anything is to “Measure twice and cut once!” This helps reduce material waste as well as keeps everything square and assures proper fit. Just imagine if you make an incorrect measurement when building the framing for a window. Then when your windows arrive, the hole you left is too small. Time and money is lost redoing the job.
How is this relevant here you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked. Quite a few of us members of “Club Paralysis” and “Club Getting More Age Under Our Belt” require some kind of regular medication on a daily basis to control things like bladder issues, blood pressure, chronic pain issues, anxiety and depression or any number of other fun and thrilling afflictions. Often this involves multiple medications. Some of these medications are taken on a regular schedule and some are taken as needed. I personally take multiple medications daily and they are not prescribed at the same frequency. This requires me to keep them organized so I take them correctly to get the maximum benefit as expected. As you can imagine, this can become a bit confusing at times. “Did I take the blue and green capsule at 6am this morning before I cathed? What about the big white oblong pill I take at lunch? Oh phooey... I can’t remember!” Some pills need to be taken with food and some cannot be stopped suddenly without an adverse effect. Keeping it all organized is important and it is also very important to keep your meds secure, especially if you have small children in the house.
I have created a system that works for me. I store my pills in my gun safe and use a daily pill caddy which I load each night when I take the last pill of the day before I go to bed. I take pride that my system is fairly fool proof and safe. Well, you know what they say about pride coming before a fall....
Recently, I had reached the time to refill my prescription for Gabapentin that I take three times a day to control the nerve pain I am “blessed” with as a result of my (SCI) Spinal Cord Injury. It is a large white oblong tablet. I called to have it refilled and planned to pick it up in a couple of days from the pharmacy. You see, I live out in the country and don’t go to town everyday so I put it on my list of things to do on my next trip to town. In the meantime, I used the last pill out of the bottle I keep in the front of my safe. When the time came to reload my daily pill caddy –
it happened to be on a Thursday. Next trip to town would probably be on Sunday. Not to worry, I always keep a few extra pills of each prescription I take tucked away in the back of my safe for times like these. So in this case like so many times before I reached into the back of my safe to my “secret stash” and pulled out that extra bottle of large white oblong pills. I counted out enough to get me through the weekend and refilled the bottle I keep in the front of my safe and my daily pill caddy for the next day. Another crisis averted by my superior pill organization method. Can’t fool me!
Friday was fairly normal. Saturday I woke up a bit sore which was strange since I had not done a lot of physically demanding stuff the day before. “Oh well. I guess it’s just one of those days.” I had a busy day planned. I did some cleaning and organizing around the house plus that evening I played a gig on my guitar with some friends. By the time I got home, my nerve pain was at a higher than normal level. Hopefully a good night’s sleep and all will be better tomorrow!
Sunday I awoke during the early morning hours with some pretty intense nerve pain in my low back and shooting down in my legs. I thought, “Well Pooh! I’ve overdone it again! Okay I’ll have to take it easy today and let this stuff settle down!” So I decided to take my morning meds a little bit early so my Gabapentin could get a kick start on the day. I wiped the sleep from my eyes, opened my pill caddy and dumped the morning combination in my hand. “Green and blue capsule? Check! Small flat oval yellow pill? Check! Large white oblong tablet? Check!” Down the hatch with a couple of big gulps of H2O they went and back to the pillow my head went to await some relief. But alas! It was not relief that came next. I awoke about an hour later still burning with nerve pain and now my stomach was not feeling so good. Again I thought, “Well Pooh! I should not have eaten that pizza when I got home last night!” I reached for the Tums!
I ended up driving to town to go to church and went by the pharmacy to pick up my refilled medicine. I had planned to do some other errands while I was in town but I was feeling too “puny” so I headed back home. When I got home I just wanted to get inside and lay down on my bed. I rolled out of the car and left all my things sitting on the front seat, including the refilled meds. By Sunday night I was miserable. I had that stabbing, shooting, burning nerve pain, with a queasy stomach, and now I couldn’t go to sleep. If that wasn’t enough, I also starting to feel kind of emotional about it all. “This is not fun!” Especially dealing with it all alone. It’s time to call somebody.
I made a call to a trusted friend who said, “I’ll be right over!” Trusted friends are the best! When she got to my house we talked about what was going on and I was an emotional wreck. The nerve pain was off the charts and I just felt like crying. She had picked up a pizza on the way over in case I needed something to eat! Pizza! The last thing I wanted was pizza! Bless her heart! She did not know. Any other time I would have devoured it. Now I could not even smell it.
She finally said, “Have you taken all your medicine?” “Why of course!” I said feeling a little insulted. “And I’ve double checked it three times!” “Well, let’s double check it again,” she said. Come on! I do this all the time. Every day! Plus I have my fool proof system and I’ve already rechecked it. She asked, “Is anything different?” “Well, I ran out of Gabapentin and had to use some from my extra stash.” She thought a minute and said, “Let’s check that.” My thought? Silly girl! You are forgetting my fool proof system. But I guess it can’t hurt.” To the safe she went. I showed her my daily pill caddy, the pill bottles in the front of the safe and then told her to reach to the back of the top shelf and grab the big fat pill bottle with the large white oblong tablets of Gabapentin. “Is this it?” She asked! “Yep” I said confidently. “ But this says Ibuprofen 800mg. Take as needed for pain.” “WHAT! LET ME SEE THAT! It can’t be! My fool proof system!”
So, to make a long story short, I had been off the Gabapentin for three days which explains the severe nerve pain. I had been taking three Ibuprofen 800mg tablets a day for three days which explains the gastric upset. And the combination of the two explains the emotional distress. Don’t ever let anybody tell you it’s okay to stop taking Gabapentin cold turkey when you have been taking it for several years.
That brings us back to the start of this story. Always! I repeat. Always measure twice and cut once. On second thought, better make that measure three times.
Talk to your health care professional before you start taking any medication. Some questions you could ask are:
1. Why do you need the drug?
2. How and when to take the drug?
3. How to store the drug?
4. What are some symptoms if you forget to take the drug?
A helpful method is to actually write a chart of when you need to take the medication directly onto the medicine container. Check off the doses as they are taken.
Make a chart on your bathroom mirror using a dry erase marker. When you are done taking the medication, a swipe of a paper towel will clean it right off.
It's your health. Be proactive.
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The opinions and experiences presented herein are for informational use only. Individual results may vary depending on your condition. Always consult with your health care professional. This individual has been compensated by Bard Medical for the time and effort in preparing this article for BARD’s further use and distribution. BMD/BMDA/0718/0682