General and simple tips for handling and taking medications Part 1 of 4

06 Apr

Millions of medications are prescribed daily.  Here are simple tips for medications and other key ideas to keeping you healthy. Did you ever go for a medical appointment and you hardly understood what the healthcare professional was telling you?  What?

Here I will try to close the gap on the basic things everyone should know about medications.  I will address general issues regarding your medications so that those with new problems such as: traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, brain dysfunction, or other conditions can understand.

This may simply be a review, but you might find some new helpful hints. Individuals with brain and spine injuries as well as other chronic conditions have more fragile brains and are more sensitive to medications.  Smaller dosages are usually the rule and certain types of medications that are easier for this specific population of patients.  These patients are treated as fragile as infants and the elderly populations.

Medications are extremely important.  They can help you, but if given the wrong medications they can cause harm. Medications are the number one problem or “errors” while inpatient, and is also a problem outside of a healthcare facility. We are all made of chemicals and we are all unique so it is your responsibility to let your physician know if you are feeling worse, better or you experience no change.

Frequently, you may not need the medication as prescribed and it will need to be adjusted.  The initial dosage needs evaluated to determine what is best for your individual needs.  You may need adjustments, (more or less) in dosage.  You may need a combination of medications.

You are expected to help with this adjustment process by reporting how you feel.  You are the only one who knows how you feel.  Do NOT just assume medications should be working.  There is no one size fits all…but it seems like healthcare professionals expect that.

If your response is not as expected they begin looking at you, as though you are crazy.  You are not crazy.  They just have not found the right balance for your body chemistry.  Maybe, it’s not even the correct diagnosis.

In a series of posts I will address: Pharmacy, Refilling Prescriptions, Allergies, Mail-Order Prescriptions, Over-The-Counter Medications (OTC), Organizing Medications, Taking and Swallowing Medications, Vacations and Medications, Prescriptions Assistance and Websites for Help and possible Free Meds, Index Cards, Medication Bags, Physician appointments, Emergency Room Visits, and Hospitalizations, Basic Pain and Medications, and Important Abbreviations

Pharmacy – Get to know your Pharmacist. They are the best resource person available & without cost. They understand and listen! Ask them to sign you up for automatic refills.  If you have any questions about your medication they are readily available and willing to help answer all your questions about your medications.

Purchase your medications from only one and the same pharmacy.  Most people do not use pharmacists as a resource person, but they are the best when it comes to asking questions about your medications.  Stop by and get to know them.

You can also call your physician or nurse, but the quickest answer or concern to specific medications is usually your local pharmacist.  Make sure the pharmacist have all your diagnosis and medications in their computer system. They will suggest what to do for your specific concerns.

You can either visit the pharmacist or place a telephone call and request to speak with the pharmacist.  Make sure you are talking to the pharmacist and not a technician.  Clarify this when you are on the telephone or in person.  Don’t settle for less than the pharmacist. You do NOT want your concerns addressed by a technician…your life is valuable and you are important.

Calling your doctor’s office-If you are calling your doctor’s office about either your medications or a medical issue ask to speak with the nurse or doctor.  They might need to return your call.  Give them your telephone number, and the best time to return your call.  Your time is also important and so is your life.

The secretary should never be giving you any advice.  The only thing the secretary should be doing is scheduling appointments, some paperwork and answering telephone calls. They do screen calls to the physician and unfortunately this can become a problem.  Most offices have excellent secretaries, but not all!  If you are having an emergency or extremely serious problem with your medications or an emergency medical issue call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room.

Refill Prescriptions– Many physicians offices are refusing to fill medications over the telephone, or to even call it into the pharmacy.  Some will only fill prescriptions during your office visit. Walk out of the doctor’s office with all the prescriptions in your hand that you need. Have the secretary make a photocopy of your prescription for your personal records at home.

If you are taking routine medications make sure they are for 90 days with refills so you can submit them to your mail-order pharmacy.  They are also cheaper to refill because you pay the one time deductible for a 3 month supply versus paying a deductible for each month. (This is changing in recent years with different insurance plans) Every dollar adds up!

If you need to call the doctor’s office for prescriptions try not to call on Mondays unless it’s an urgent situation. Leave a message on the answering machine with your name (spell it out slowly & clearly), telephone number, the name of your prescription for refill, the dosage, and what you are taking it for.

You need to make sure your prescriptions are written correctly and filled properly.  Is it written the way your doctor said they were giving?  Did the pharmacist fill the prescription as written.  Is it the right pill?  Is it the right dosage? Medication mistakes happen more often than any other medical error.  Take control.

Make a list of all the medications you need refilled when you have an appointment. Write any concerns about the medications:  How it made you feel? Better, worse, or no change.  Note new problems you have had since starting the medications.  Problems that continue even though you started the medication.

Also note any positive changes and precisely what those changes are.  This will help you problem-solve and be your own healthcare advocate and detective. By keeping a close-eye on your symptoms you can provide your physician with vital information used in assessment, diagnosis and treatment plans with a higher rate of accuracy.

General and simple tips for handling and taking medications Part 1 of 4 covered the following:

  1. Introduction
  2. Pharmacy
  3. Calling the Doctor’s Office
  4. Refilling Prescriptions

12 responses to “General and simple tips for handling and taking medications Part 1 of 4

  1. Lydia H

    April 6, 2012 at 1:42 am

    I really need to get a complete list of everything put into my IPad. I know my meds but get confused when asked. The nurse at my doctor’s office uses the “formal” names. I know them by the “brand” names usually. You know, the easy ones to remember.

    One other thing with meds: if you’re taking a lot or at different times, a pill box can really help. When I was first injured, my friend set up my med box every week. I took the morning and evening doses at the same time. It helped me track if I took them or not. Now, I do my own box every week. I’m not on a lot of meds but the box really helps keep me on track.

    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      April 6, 2012 at 7:20 am

      It’s good to know you have figured it out, because it is harder than most people think! Thank you for the suggestion of the pill box. I have included that in one of the posts. I hope you do find some of the suggestions helpful. I do appreciate your comments and any other suggestions as well.

  2. markinidaho

    April 6, 2012 at 2:24 am

    Are these comments meant to be read by survivors of mTBI/TBI? The long paragraphs can be difficult to read for those of us with visual processing difficulties. Five lines per paragraph is about my max. Grammatically correct paragraphs are for those will full functioning brains.

    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      April 6, 2012 at 7:24 am

      Thank you for your comments. I will try to keep the paragraphs simple and short. If you do not find them easier to read, please let me know. I am delighted to hear from those who find it difficult to follow. Take care and stay safe.

  3. annass

    April 6, 2012 at 4:33 am

    FREE pill/med reminder mobile APPLICATION for android – MedDose – TRANSLATED IN 7 LANGUAGES with many advanced features COMING SOON!!!!! This is a must have app for anyone taking medication

    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      April 6, 2012 at 7:28 am

      I appreciate your input. Never heard of this, but I will add it into my future post on medications! Thank you for your input. This sounds like an excellent application for android! Can’t wait to take a look. Stay safe and take care.

  4. Kathy

    April 10, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    This is a suggestion for markinidaho. I find it difficult to read long articles and remember what I read. I try to break the article down into smaller segments. Myself, if I start to get overloaded I stop there, let my brain rest and resume when I feel a little better. Prayerfully this wll help you.

    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      April 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm

      Good suggestion. It is always easier to read small amounts of information and return to continue reading. The hardest part is changing and disciplining oneself to do this simply because we all want to believe we can handle it and want to return to a previous level of functioning. We never give up hope, but at least we all keep reading in whatever small segments that help.

  5. wendy

    April 11, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    I liked this post. As someone who has allergies, I have to be very careful with my medications. I am very close to my pharmacist, but I also do a lot of research to find out what the inactive ingredients are in my medications.

    thank you for coming by my blog.
    I do not have a brain injury, but am dealing with a brain disorder. I have Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension. Still a moutn full. Right now they are still getting the medications right, but I’m MUCH better than I was.
    long story.

    I will be looking more at your blog, and look forward to the next 3 parts to this series.

    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      April 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm

      Wendy, you have a lot going on. Have you tried looking at the medical bracelet that has a flash drive. It’s very nice. I have pictures and other information in earlier posts. Just thought it might be something you could use if you don’t already have. It’s great you keep up on research and your own health. Keep the power and control in your own hands. Take care and stay safe. Edie


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