I was going to do a brief post on my trip upriver yesterday. The photos show the view on the first ferry heading out, the empty bridge to the US which usually had a long line of traffic, millions of dollars of wood piled on the empty runway (Irving of course. Someday I’ll do a real post on Irving. Just think of the animals looking for homes in the areas clearcut to produce those piles.), and the view waiting for the last ferry to get home.
That’s what I was going to do. Unfortunately for you I had an epiphany at 4:00 this morning. 🙂 First some background. Some of you haven’t reached the age where the number of pills you take everyday starts to exceed your ability to remember them without boxes sorted by time and day. Every time you get a symptom of anything there’s a pill to address it. I’m at that age and the variety of pill bottles in my cupboard is frightening. Many people take many more.
About a year ago I developed a cough. Not just any cough – the same cough my Mother had for decades. A horrible choking cough which requires an unlimited supply of tissue to catch the phlegm which is produced. It wasn’t fun for her or the people around her. Now I had it. I was and am not amused. I have been having visions of me doing this for the rest of my life and it has been really depressing.
I’ve seen the people at the local Clinic frequently in that time, and other medical professionals around the Province, but I’ve never mentioned the cough. As far as I know, my Mother never mentioned it to her Doctors either.
Weirdly, I didn’t have the cough last week. I also didn’t have shortness of breath. In fact I felt better (once the Covid symptoms had passed) than I had in months.
During one of those middle of the night random thought journeys this morning I realized that the only time my Mother didn’t cough was when she was in the hospital. She was there a few times over the years for surgery, strokes, and a broken hip. One difference between her being in the hospital and her being at home was the medications she was taking. One pill in particular was not given during the hospital stays – Famotidine. It’s the active ingredient in Pepcid and it’s used for heartburn, acid indigestion or in extreme cases stomach ulcers. She took it for many years.
I too was prescribed Famotidine last year. This 4:00 am insight made me go online and check for side effects. Sure enough a persistent cough is one of the most common. Shortness of breath is on the list as well. I wasn’t taking that pill last week.
There was point early in this century when my Mother was nuts. She loved her Doctor and did whatever he wanted her to – which mostly involved taking various pills. Even he got to the point where he said they should review all her meds and he stopped a lot of them. She became much more stable after that.
Interactions are commonly evaluated before any new prescriptions are handed out. Side effects can only be addressed once you start taking the meds and then only if you actually say something.
I can’t change the past but I am changing my future. If you’re willing to take some advice from somebody who’s been there, speak up. Also, do a better job than I obviously did as an advocate for somebody else who won’t speak up for themselves.
One of the advantages of writing medical exam papers is that you run across Information that would probably not come to the attention otherwise. So I learned that one medicine I was taking often had the side effect of a dry by persistent cough, and another could have what is politely termed gastro-intestinal side effects. Yep, tick both of those.
The local pharmicist reviewed my medicine (an annual thing pre-pandemic) to see if there were any side effects, and I mentioned them. He was able to substitute the cough one easily; the gastro-intestinal one needed a doctor’s say so, because the cost was greater. But both changes were cheerfully made, I didn’t have to pay a penny and the side effects went away.
My brother-in-law and I compete to see who takes more. He usually wins hands down. My husband (his twin) takes … nothing. I suppose he has that joy still to come.
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Yeah we’re lucky with our health care systems. I apparently just forget to mention stuff 🙂