I think I'm an official pharmacy snob. There's no other way to explain it - when my doctor gives me a new prescription, I don't waste a single day getting it filled. But when he makes the recommendation that I start an OTC drug, I take my own sweet time picking it up at the store. It's as though I think I'm above the pedestrian aisles of the drugstore...like the back of the store where the pharmacy is located is only for the privileged and elite. What do I think that little slip of paper is? An "invitation only" to mingle with the cool kids (aka the pharmacists)?
I'll cut myself a little slack by saying that it's tough enough to find time to fill prescriptions and retrieve them from the pharmacy. Adding a laundry list of OTC's just makes the list of errands that much longer (and more costly). But I need to remember just how important those OTC's can be.
Here's a short list of my current OTC's and the impact they've had:
Calcium - This one, of course, is a no brainer. With all of the prednisone I've taken over the years, I have no choice but to keep pushing the calcium. I might have mentioned in a previous post that about four years ago, I kept "forgetting" to pick up my calcium supplements. They were (and are) big honking pills that seemed pretty expensive to me, and I decided for a spell of a month or so that I could drag my feet on picking up another bottle. When my doctor asked about the calcium, I begrudgingly told him that I hadn't taken any in awhile. He was not happy. He ordered a DEXA scan immediately, and not surprisingly, my bone density had fallen. I learned my lesson - and vowed never to skip those horse pills again. And you know - I've known many women in their 60's and 70's who struggle to get around - and all of them swear that if they'd taken calcium, their bouts with osteoporosis wouldn't be slowing them down today. I wholeheartedly agree.
Pre Natal Vitamins - There are a ton of facts available online about the importance of pre-natals, but sometimes it's still tough to convince yourself that you need to take them, alongside all of the other pills you pop. But without a doubt, the folic acid, the vitamin D, the added iron and calcium all make a huge difference to both mother and baby. Just look at the facts, according to WebMD:
*Folic acid can reduce your risk of having a baby with a serious birth defect of the brain and spinal cord.
*Calcium during pregnancy can prevent a new mother from losing her own bone density, as the foetus uses the mineral for bone growth.
*Iron helps both the mother and baby's blood carry oxygen.
You have to admit, that all sounds pretty essential. No arguments from this corner.
Iron - My earlier posts about iron and the effects of iron deficiency should be enough of a reminder, so I won't beat a dead horse. I'll just say this - when I was severely anemic (during both of my pregnancies and back in 2004 when I had a killer bout of pancreatitis), I thought I was going to die. My body was completely void of energy, my vision was blurry, I couldn't stand for long periods of time (by long, I mean, like 5 minutes), I had the urge to sleep around the clock, I had no appetite, and I felt lethargic, depleted, and drained all the time. It was awful! Within days of starting the iron (and in the case of my pancreatitis episode, within hours of my blood transfusions), I felt like wonder woman. So - sign me up - I'm all over the little red pill.
Baby aspirin - This one, I've never had a huge hang up with...I suppose the testimonies of two of my girlfriends from lupus group convinced me that I shouldn't mess around or risk skipping the aspirin. Both women suffered multiple miscarriages, prior to being diagnosed with lupus. Once it was discovered (or suspected) that they had lupus, they started a baby aspirin a day, and both went on to have multiple successful pregnancies. Gone were the miscarriages - apparently, thanks to those little 81 milligrams of aspirin. And they're such a cute little pill - cheap and easy to pick up at any store - who would want to take the risk?
To this OTC list, I'm even going to throw in cold medicine, Tylenol, and other pain relievers or fever reducers. I mean, what an impact these little drugs can have! During this pregnancy, my doctors have recommended that I by-pass any and all cold medicine, and use only regular strength Tylenol (candy, in my opinion), when necessary. And have I ever missed my old standbys! The two colds I've had lasted way too long - much longer than if I could have nipped them in the bud with a little Tylenol Cold or some Dimetapp. And Extra Strength Tylenol is the only way to go...but I'll have to continue to hold off for a few more weeks.
So here's to the OTC's of the world - I'll never underestimate you again. I promise.