“You’re not taking any medications?”  asked the nurse.

“There’s nothing wrong with me.  Why would I want to take pills if I don’t need them?”

“Count your blessings.  Most people your age have a list of drugs they take.”

That was only four years ago at a routine checkup with my family physician.  It seems like a lifetime.  Sometimes I think that nurse cursed me!*

Not too long after that appointment I had my first appointment with a rheumatologist, which led to my first DMARD.  Plaquenil is considered one of the milder RA drugs, and I was happy to feel so much better.   An NSAID to reduce inflammation was prescribed along with the DMARD.

A third medication was prescribed for combatting Raynauds symptoms, and that winter I was able to build snowmen with my children  – without losing circulation in my fingers and toes.

Spring came, and with the warmer weather I jumped at the chance to discontinued the Raynauds drug.

Then a new prescription, this time to stop headaches.  Followed by a new med to prevent headaches in the first place.  It didn’t work, so we tried a different one, increasing the dose until finally the headaches stopped.

Unfortunately the RA continued to progress, and another DMARD was added.

Dose increased.

I bought a pill box.

Another DMARD added.  Plus a med to ward of side effects.

Dose increased.

Another dose increase.

When I still flared on triple therapy, a biologic was next in line.  And finally I felt reasonably well.

According to my rheumatologist, this is too many drugs.   I agree, so was ecstatic when she said that we’d work on – one at a time – whittling it down to a more reasonable number.

I got to stop all the big yellow pills (sulfasalazine), but after about six weeks it became apparent that wasn’t a good idea.  Unfortunately, this was about the time we left for vacation and I missed out on what would have been some terrific hikes.  Walking from the hotel to the car was a major undertaking; trekking up and down canyons would have been impossible.  After resuming the ssz, it took another two months to start feeling better again – but I never made it back as great as I had been.

Still trying to reduce the meds, seven weeks ago I stopped the hydroxychloroquine.  For the most part I’ve been really happy with my rheumatologist, but this was not one of her better ideas.

Does it sound like whining if I yell, Why is this happening?!   A biologic plus mtx should be enough.  I thought for sure that I’d get to take fewer drugs, and was really looking forward to drastically reducing the time I spend swallowing pills (and reducing the amount of money I spend at the pharmacy).

If I ever get back to feeling the way I did last February, I’ll have a new motto:

If it aint broke, don’t fix it.


Bonus points to anyone who understands the pictures 🙂


*I also think she was wrong.  Most people don’t even go to the doctor, let along have a list of drugs they take.  Perhaps she should have said something along the lines of, “Most people we see are here for follow-up of chronic conditions, so I’m not used to seeing people who are healthy.”


7 thoughts on “Prescriptions

  1. It’s an adventure, being a guinea pig.

    I, too, can hardly believe the number of different meds I’m taking — and I’m only taking RA drugs and supplements. Oh, and a tiny allergy pill each morning that I only take from mid-spring to mid-autumn. Now I’m actually hoping to start plaquenil soon, adding another drug to the mix.

    Before I started seeing a rheumatologist again for my RA, the allergy pill was the only one I ever took. I saw a doctor maybe once a year, if that. Now I see the rheumy four times a year, have blood drawn four to six times a year, see my GP three times a year and my OB/Gyn once a year. I get a yearly mammogram (they found a lump in my breast a couple of summers back, which was, thankfully, benign, but now we’re on guard) and have been referred to a myriad of specialists, from endocrinologists to breast surgeons.

    Socks, for me all this has had a minimal financial cost, since I’m getting all this care through the VA (I do have a copay, however). It makes me shudder to think what it would be costing me if I still had conventional medical insurance. In addition, the VA has been far more thorough than any civilian doctor I’ve ever been to has, which is puzzling to me. You’d think it would be the other way around.

    Anyhoo. Great post. Got me thinking again (this can be dangerous!). Hope you’re feeling well and enjoying the warmth of the summer. Best wishes to you and your fambly …

  2. Great Post. I get it – I so get it. My Rheumatologist did the same thing by taking away a bit of MTX once I was feeling better on Humira. Mistake. Even though the dose has been increased back to the original, I can’t reproduce how great it was to be finally feel GOOD. Maybe it’s like the first time one tries New York Pizza – it tastes SO GOOD – but when one tries it again – it’s good, but not quite as awesome as remembered.

    You’re not whining, you’re coping. It’s no fun. Hang in there!

  3. I so get that. I just started taking chewable calcium and multi-vits (I figured it was time to stop stealing my son’s gummy vits) simply because I can not deal with swalling anymore pills in one day. At least my MTX is an injection, it sucks, but no swallowing.

  4. My anesthesiologist was impressed with my neatly typed list of medicines and past surgeries. If I didn’t type them out, I would NEVER remember everything. Just a few years ago I too had no medications. I had no idea how good I had it at that time!

  5. I console myself by thinking the various meds are helping to keep me alive! My mother refused to take any tablets and died at just about the age I am now.

  6. I never wanted to be one of those people that had RX’s sitting on their countertop with reminders of when to take them. But, each time I clean the countertops, I move the bottles to the side and clean. My phone now sends me reminders every Thursday for Enbrel and every Friday for Methotrexate. The supplements I take with meals. Not what I imagined for myself, but none of this has been. That stinks that you missed out on so much of your vacation fun! You aren’t whining at all. Nothing wrong with wanting to feel good. I get that!

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