Lupus and Medication: Are you skipping your pills?

Did you know that nearly 40% of people with chronic conditions forget to take their daily medication? Let's not be one of them! Here are a couple of reasons for skipped doses, according to a recent Medical News Today article. I'll plan on highlighting a few more in upcoming posts: 

1) Too inconvenient -- From experience, that could mean the pills are too big (horse pills!), too gross (that taste!), or have to be taken at inopportune times. Be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist for other options for all of the above. There's often a another choice for pill size, taste, or dosing. 

I specifically remember struggling with the time restrictions of taking my personal wonder drug Cellcept when I first started the drug. I had to take it 3 separate times during the day, but each time, the pills had to be taken "an hour before eating or two hours after a meal." Let's say I slept until 8:30am. and ate at 9am. I had to wait until 11am to take the first dose. That meant the second dose had to come after lunch rather than before, but that was usually while I was napping. Then dinner was the same juggling act. It really was a challenge, and eventually, I resorted to setting an alarm to take that first dose bedside. I would attempt to go back to sleep, but for a fatigued lupus patient whose painful and swollen joints had been awakened, it was tough. So the next time I saw my doctor, I asked how we could reconfigure the dosing - and we figured out a way to cut out that middle dose, and make it a twice a day drug. Instantly, my days improved! 

2) Lack of symptoms -- Again speaking from my own foibles, it can be hard to adhere to a regimen when you don't see any immediate benefit (or consequence) to taking (or not taking) a pill. But let me assure you - there are many hidden benefits to our meds that we simply can't see on the outside. 

For example, that calcium pill that was always too big for me to swallow, and a hassle to buy OTC? It was doing something, I assure you, even if I couldn't see the results.  Years ago, I made the mistake of skipping mine for awhile for the reasons above, and my bone density scan picked up on it. When my doctor asked about my calcium pill, I came clean. He assured me there were other ways for me to get my supplemental calcium,  and suggested I switch to chocolate chews. I still take those today!

Best rule of thumb - do not self-medicate by adding or subtracting pills from your regimen on your own. If the doctor prescribed a medication, there must have been a reason. Talk it over with them thoroughly if you have any doubts, and be sure not to close the conversation until you're satisfied. 


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