My Life as Seen Through my Pharmacist’s Eyes

all of it

The entirety of my current medication regimen

Chronic Lyme Antibiotics

My Current Chronic Lyme Disease Antibiotic Regimen

just say no to yeast

Antibiotics = Yeast Infections. My attempts to prevent them during long-term antibiotic use.

Standard Meds

2 Antidepressants I hope to quit when I no longer have chronic pain, Singulair for allergies, Crestor for Cholesterol and birth control pills because I can barely handle Bella as it is

vitamins

I still need a few more supplements because of the Lyme, but these are the basics

Pain Relief

My “Super” Cream, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Klonopin (because anxiety is fun!) and my trusty Sumatriptan

A Week's Worth

I’m Only 37-Years-Old and I Take All this Crap Every Day. WTF?

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Holy Crap! I just made $60 doing absolutely nothing!!! (or why I hate Pharmaceutical Companies, Insurance Companies, and the FDA)

I know this sounds like a scam, but I swear it’s true. All I had to do was drive to my local pharmacy and pick up some prescriptions and WHAM – $60 extra in my wallet.

$60 is not a small amount of money. Not with the rise in gas prices, the cost of food and anything associated with owning a home. You and I both know this. Do you want to know who apparently doesn’t know this? The FD-fucking-A.

They still maintain that “A brand name drug has to go through 10-15 years of research and testing in animals and people before it can be sold to the public… All of this testing can cost over $1 billion.”

I call shenanigans!

We’ll use my case as an example. My husband and I both use Singulair for our allergy and asthma problems. There have actually been periods in my life when I was miserable because I couldn’t afford the drug, even WITH insurance. Our current insurance charges $40/30 day supply for most name-brand drugs. That means R and I were spending $80 a month on this medication and now with the generic available (FYI – it’s called Montelukast SOD ), we’ll be able to cut our costs to $20/month, which is a BIG deal when money is tight.

But even though R and I were paying $40 a month (as were millions of other Americans), our insurance companies were also paying additional money at the same time. And for 10-15 years.

And for what? Why is the expiration date on a patent a certain amount of time? Aren’t some drugs easier to develop than others, like extended release versions? Don’t some drugs require less trials. I’m not an idiot and I know the pharmaceutical companies pour investment money into hundreds of medicines that never make it to market, but I don’t see any of these companies crying poverty.

But I am. And it has a HUGE impact on my health, and I’m sure my story is not unique.

I have been having problems with my depression lately. Medicines that used to work, no longer do. So Doc T started raving about this awesome new med that she wanted me to try. I was a little reluctant to add another $40 to our monthly costs, but my mental health is more important, right? Well, it’s not more important that nearly $100 for ONLY 25 pills. And that would be EVERY month. I can’t afford that. So instead we’ve been trying a mixture of generic drugs to get me through until we can figure something else out.

Maybe this drug would help me, but I’ll have to wait 15 years to find out I guess unless we hit the lottery.

And the insurance companies are no better. In addition to my depression, I have a severe problem with migraines. Luckily the main treatment med (Imitrex) has a generic version available (Sumatriptan). The problem? I can ONLY get 18 pills per month. Huh? Do you know what migraine treatment meds do? They constrict blood vessels. That’s about it. They’re not addictive and they usually don’t have severe side effects. You know what I can get TONS of? Vicodin. 60 pills is $4.06. An addictive narcotic is not a problem with the insurance company, but a medication that has an extremely specific use is limited. And as any migraine sufferer knows, when things are at their worst, you can get migraines more than 18 days a month AND it can take several doses to finally kill the damn thing. And then they wonder why there’s a prescription drug problem in this country?

I don’t know. I guess in the end, it’s all a scam after all.

My Day in Pharmaceuticals

Pills, pills & more pills

I know lots of people with chronic pain take lots of pills. In comparison, I take rather few. That’s mostly because I’m in a period where nothing is really helping, but these medications allow me to function and care for my daughter. I will note that I have been severely slacking on my vitamin. I was on some antibiotics that made me nauseous and the vitamins are huge and I have problems swallowing large pills as it is. So here they are, in order from left to right…

  • Methocarbamol (muscle relaxer) – 750 mg x2 up to 3 times per day (trust me, I do all 3 times)
  • Excedrin Extra Strength (acetaminophen, aspirin & caffeine all considerately put into a single pill) – 2 to 4 of these daily to try to fend off the oncoming migraines that start with pain in the forehead area
  • Sumatriptan (generic for the migraine treatment imitrex) – 100 mg as needed. Usually once a day, sometimes more.
  • Sertraline (generic of the antidepressant zoloft) – 100 mg per day. I wanted to take more, but for some reason it made my anxiety shoot through the roof.
  • Singulair – 10 mg per day. Because allergies suck.
  • Wellbutrin XL (antidepressant) – 450 mg per day. I had one brief month when I first started taking it that I felt awesome, like the old me. Now I just combo it with the Wellbutrin so I can function.
  • Sprintec 28 (birth control) – Daily Pill. I am definitely in no shape to be either pregnant or a mother to 2 children at the moment.
  • Klonopin – 2mg as needed. At night to help me get to sleep or for freak anxiety attacks or social anxiety attacks.
  • Ventolin HFA Inhaler (not pictured) – 90 mcg as needed. If I actually exercise, my asthma acts up.
  • Oxycotin – 20 mg. My last ditch effort to kill the pain when I want to avoid a run to the emergency room. I rarely get to that point thankfully. Tylenol 3 with codeine and Vicodin no longer have any effect on my pain anymore.

Things I’ve been slacking on:

  • Vitamin D – 5000 IU per day (Vitamin D deficiency)
  • Vitamin B2 – 100 mg per day (headache prevention)
  • Magnesium – 500 mg per day (headache prevention)
  • Co Q 10 – 200 mg per day (cholesterol)
  • Red Yeast Rice – 1200 mg per day (cholesterol)

If any other migraine or depression sufferers come across this list and have some grand suggestions, please keep 2 things in mind:

  1. We can’t afford name-brand drugs, only the generics.
  2. These are other things I’ve already tried over the past decade or so (mostly for migraine prevention):
  • Propranolol (Inderal La, Innopran XL, others)
  • Verapamil (Calan, Verelan, others)
  • Amitriptyline
  • Nortriptyline (Pamelor)
  • Prozac
  • Topiramate (Topamax)
  • Lamotrigine (Lamictal)
  • Magnesium
  • B2
  • Cymbalta
  • Lyrica
  • Tizanidine ( Zanaflex)
  • Massage therapy
  • RFS

So that’s my day, trying to keep the pain at a manageable enough level that I can interact with my daughter and attempt to be creative once in a while. It’s an exhausting life, but there are so many out there so much worse off than me, I feel I have no right to complain, just inform.

As a side note, I do keep both a headache journal and a food journal and have been unable to find any food triggers at this time. Stress, heat and hormones definitely all contribute.