Sunday, February 25, 2007

What I learned about prescription drugs.

In my larger post concerning the ABC's of Bowel Resection Recovery at Home I described a bad experience I had with pain medication. In summary I got high, then almost came apart with fear, anxiety and shallow breathing. Stopping the drugs did not relieve the symptoms as fast as I thought they would.

I am sure many people who have read about drugs and drug dosing may know what I learned. I have been under Doctor's care for years, sometimes taking medication for high blood pressure, etc. At least twice through the years I can think of being hammered by side effects of drugs that I was not aware of. However, I never thought about the capability of unintentionally increasing the impact of potential side effects until my episode with the pain medication.

The first piece of awareness came from a pharmacist when I called asking if this pain medication could cause the side effects I was encountering, fear, anxiety and shallow breathing. The pharmacist said they could, and probably are contributing to the symptoms. The pharmacist further explain the concept of drug half life. Drugs are not simply flushed from our system within a certain period of time, but their effect seems to decrease by half over time. So if you had a concentration of a drug built up in your body it might take a lot longer four or six hours to eliminate the drug.

The second piece of knowledge came from of all places from a TV show. I was watching an episode of CSI when one of the characters explained the impact of heroin. Simply stated, when the buzz from the drug is gone, the drug is not eliminated from your system. So, if you were to take more drugs to relive the buzz, you could be building up residual drug levels in your system that could lead to a toxic level or an overdose situation. As a recovering alcoholic I wouldn't be surprised that drug addicts are constantly walking the edge of being in an overdose situation.

Perhaps many of you know this, perhaps you think me naive. However, when I really ran into the negative side effects was when I decided to take the pain medication every four hours, instead of every four hours or as needed. I may have been my own worst enemy. The label every four hours as needed is a little misleading to me. Perhaps that is how health care people understand directions. I guess what is meant is don't take this drug more often than four hours, but use it as needed, if not needed don't take it!

Another lesson learned the hard way. Wish I'd known.

Best wishes all.

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