Help I'm growing a moustache!
Help I'm growing a moustache!
And the other wonders of medication side effects.
The handful of drugs I take daily cause me both joy and pain. My success that can be seen externally is often compromised by the hardships I suffer personally. Juggling this is my daily warrior mission.
After 4 months of being on my new immune suppression drugs, I am starting to feel less like a rag doll and more like a functional human. I can once again climb steps, drive and shop independently. My brain fog has slowly slipped away and I'm coping better at work. I can smile and my eyes don't fatigue as quickly. Best of all I'm wobbling around the agility field (can't call it running just yet).
I wanted to write this post about helpful hints on how to deal with common side effects. I realised that many of the strategies I use are band-aids. Prevention when dealing with side effects seems almost nonexistent. It's a game of let's see what your body reacts to and then let's deal with it. What makes us unique as snowflakes also means that not all of us get the same reactions from drugs.
So what is the best generic ways of dealing with any side effect?
Let food help you not hurt you.
A healthy diet is my personal No. 1 suggestion for containing side effects. If you know you need extra calcium try get it in your diet rather than yet another pill. Some food and medication combinations should be avoided, such as eating grapefruit when taking Neoral. Alcohol can also change the effectively of prescription drugs, and I would generally not encourage it.
Doctor on call
Your first point of call should always be your doctor who prescribed the medication, better yet your Neurologist. Don't just stop the medication! Shortness of breath, rashes, swelling and an erratic heartbeat are the top indicators of a trip to the ER.
Start reading the inserts in your medication packages. This can help you identify if the stomach cramps you have had for the last two days are from your medication or the bug going around the office.
Tracking my symptoms has also helped to paint a clearer picture of which drug might be the cause.
Make sure you take your medication at the right times. I.e. Take prednisone with food and never at night. I stayed awake for two nights before realising this one!
A probiotic taken before medication can also help protect your stomach lining and prevent stomach ulcers.
A meet and greet marathon in your system
Taking a hand full of drugs can mean they interact with each other. Make sure your doctors know all the medication you are on. This includes prescription, over the counter and homoeopathic drugs. Vitamins and something as harmless as St Johns wort can affect immune suppressants.
Of all the things I have tried to reduce these symptoms, I have found very little ‘boere raad’ (knowledge from old / old wives tales) that actually work. Medical web pages mainly suggest stopping or decreasing medication. This too is not an option currently for me.
Being mindful, healthy snacks and clean eating have helped me to control my weight, restore my gut health and manage my symptoms. I also try to use natural products I know help rather than harm my system.
Ultimately I have to be happy with myself and know why I'm doing this to actually survive most of these side effects. I have to appreciate the small victories. Like my 'wobble' around the agility field to see the comparison of why to continue. Why having to now deal with excess facial hair is not the biggest problem.
I need to keep reminding myself of my immediate and long-term goals. Some of these are working with others helping them change their lives, the possibility of the pitter patter of tiny feet and one day growing old with my husband. I know I have a greater purpose than a handful of pills.