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Experimenting with drugs
Old 03-12-2014, 12:31 PM   #1
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Experimenting with drugs

Upfront... sounds like an introduction to today's funniest comments, but......

Totally serious, and for DW and me, actions that have helped us, and we think, may be extending our livespan.

Sometime ago, I had written here that we listened to our doctor, and didn't second guess her recommendations for pharmaceuticals, except to request generics. That's true... but there's a second part of this, and that is we watch our health, and do some experimenting with dosages. In most cases, it's a matter of balancing health and side effects.

To begin, since it's usually a one time thing, we read as much as we can on the WebMD and similar website about the interactions, side effects, dosage amounts, warnings etc. More practical than the fine print fact sheets that accompany the prescriptions.

After that, we take the medicine as recommended, and consciously watch for side affects... sleep, intestinal problems, nervousness, whatever was part of the "possibles".
.................................................
Next, instead of tryingto explain, some experiments, and what we did to improve.

Frist, was Lipitor... started when it was introduced, and it did drop the cholesterol readings, successfully... Kudo's to the Doctor. Some four years later, with tweaks in the arm, thought to be from tennis injury, then some aching in the legs, Doctor diagnosed arthritis, and prescribed Celebrex. It helped. (this was before Lipitor and muscle weakness reached the news)...
The price of Celebrex seemed high, so turned to aspirin, but with more tummy problems... Finally decided to stop lipitor... an experiment. In two weeks, leg and arm pain went away. Doctor recommended Simvastatins, and that worked pretty well... but Triglycerides were still very high... 700+... Went to Crestor, that helped, but still expensive. We changed doctors because of moving. New doctor prescribed fenofibrate (generic) and that worked for aches, cholesterol and triglycerides, plus reasonble cost.

Next, borderline diabetes... Dr. prescribed Metformin, diagnosing metabolic syndrome. Took the pills for a year, then after a summer of moderate exercise, lost about 7 pounds. Went off the metformin at camp, when I ran out of pills for a week. At a mall health clinic, had a free blood test with result of 74... below the 114. So much for metformin... wouldn't have known, except for that test. Blood sugar, now fine.

Then... DW... several different situations, now all under control, but a few interesting experiments.

An accidental experiment for me... At the time, she had been taking clonazepam for another reason... I had begun to have sleep problems... down to 2 or three hours/night. Doctor prescribed the OTC Benadryl first, which just made me dopey, but with very restless sleep. Changed to Ambien... For me awful... sleep, but with continuous nightmares and terrors. Then (I wouldn't usually do this, but tried DW's clonazepam, and slept like a baby. Worried about addiction, tlked to Dr. and she rhetoriacally asked me... "how old are you"... and when I told her, she laughed and said "... and you're worried about addiction?" So now, have the prescription... .25 mg to.50mg/night and life is good.

DW takes BP Amlodipine, and gets "good show" at Dr. office for BP in the 110/65 range... Trouble is, she has had some dizzy spells, when getting up from a chair or rapid movement... We have a home BP machine so started monitoring regularly... sometimes, as low as 95/50. This time, we did it on our own... cut pill in half, and watchfully see BP up into the 120 to 130/75 range... low for our age, but a little higher that what the office praised her for. The good part... dizzy spells are gone, and more energy.

One more... Two years ago, after having hand "pins and needles" and some pain especially at night, a doctor... neuropathy... diagnosed as carpal tunnel. An operation... $12K... but no relief... sent to a neuropathy specialist who wanted to do a huge battery of tests, but when pressed for expectations was non commital. I did some very extensive reading about the problem, and came to the conclusion that it was peripheral neuropathy... with an almost zero chance of improvement... OLD AGE... Coming to grips with that, life has normalized... and in the way people with permanent disabilities deal with them, have made it a tiny part of my life. Don't even notice it any more. Have a prescription for nerve pain, ... gabapentim, but harldly ever use it.

Over the years, we've had many more self diagnosis/medication situations, but not necessary here. Here's the point of the post... As we look around us at people who are as old and older than us, we see many who are taking as many as 15 different pills/day. Not for us to say whether they are needed or not. Most of them trust their doctors, and credit medication with keeping them alive. At the same time, I do not and could not criticize the doctors, as their prescriptions are based on blood tests, and the symptoms that present. Also, I would guess, more likely to add a prescription and watch the results, than to take away and see more problems or death.

For us, it takes some effort to read about and understand our personal health, but we feel it's worth the extra effort. didn't intend this to be so long, but sometimes personal experiences mean more than long narratives. I believe that sharing, helps in understanding.
As always, my opinion only... YMMV
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Old 03-13-2014, 08:07 AM   #2
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Some of those are good experiments but I think you overvalue your doctors' advice. If they were doing their jobs they would have gotten you off the unnecessary drugs themselves. Statins at your age? What for? Your peers with 15 meds are closer to the rule than the exception. We should all read "Are Your Prescriptions Killing You" and toss in a modicum of scepticism about the value of many of our prescriptions.
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Old 03-13-2014, 08:39 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
Upfront... sounds like an introduction to today's funniest comments, but......

Totally serious, and for DW and me, actions that have helped us, and we think, may be extending our livespan.

Sometime ago, I had written here that we listened to our doctor, and didn't second guess her recommendations for pharmaceuticals, except to request generics. That's true... but there's a second part of this, and that is we watch our health, and do some experimenting with dosages. In most cases, it's a matter of balancing health and side effects.

To begin, since it's usually a one time thing, we read as much as we can on the WebMD and similar website about the interactions, side effects, dosage amounts, warnings etc. More practical than the fine print fact sheets that accompany the prescriptions.

After that, we take the medicine as recommended, and consciously watch for side affects... sleep, intestinal problems, nervousness, whatever was part of the "possibles".
.................................................
Next, instead of tryingto explain, some experiments, and what we did to improve.

Frist, was Lipitor... started when it was introduced, and it did drop the cholesterol readings, successfully... Kudo's to the Doctor. Some four years later, with tweaks in the arm, thought to be from tennis injury, then some aching in the legs, Doctor diagnosed arthritis, and prescribed Celebrex. It helped. (this was before Lipitor and muscle weakness reached the news)...
The price of Celebrex seemed high, so turned to aspirin, but with more tummy problems... Finally decided to stop lipitor... an experiment. In two weeks, leg and arm pain went away. Doctor recommended Simvastatins, and that worked pretty well... but Triglycerides were still very high... 700+... Went to Crestor, that helped, but still expensive. We changed doctors because of moving. New doctor prescribed fenofibrate (generic) and that worked for aches, cholesterol and triglycerides, plus reasonble cost.

Next, borderline diabetes... Dr. prescribed Metformin, diagnosing metabolic syndrome. Took the pills for a year, then after a summer of moderate exercise, lost about 7 pounds. Went off the metformin at camp, when I ran out of pills for a week. At a mall health clinic, had a free blood test with result of 74... below the 114. So much for metformin... wouldn't have known, except for that test. Blood sugar, now fine.

Then... DW... several different situations, now all under control, but a few interesting experiments.

An accidental experiment for me... At the time, she had been taking clonazepam for another reason... I had begun to have sleep problems... down to 2 or three hours/night. Doctor prescribed the OTC Benadryl first, which just made me dopey, but with very restless sleep. Changed to Ambien... For me awful... sleep, but with continuous nightmares and terrors. Then (I wouldn't usually do this, but tried DW's clonazepam, and slept like a baby. Worried about addiction, tlked to Dr. and she rhetoriacally asked me... "how old are you"... and when I told her, she laughed and said "... and you're worried about addiction?" So now, have the prescription... .25 mg to.50mg/night and life is good.

DW takes BP Amlodipine, and gets "good show" at Dr. office for BP in the 110/65 range... Trouble is, she has had some dizzy spells, when getting up from a chair or rapid movement... We have a home BP machine so started monitoring regularly... sometimes, as low as 95/50. This time, we did it on our own... cut pill in half, and watchfully see BP up into the 120 to 130/75 range... low for our age, but a little higher that what the office praised her for. The good part... dizzy spells are gone, and more energy.

One more... Two years ago, after having hand "pins and needles" and some pain especially at night, a doctor... neuropathy... diagnosed as carpal tunnel. An operation... $12K... but no relief... sent to a neuropathy specialist who wanted to do a huge battery of tests, but when pressed for expectations was non commital. I did some very extensive reading about the problem, and came to the conclusion that it was peripheral neuropathy... with an almost zero chance of improvement... OLD AGE... Coming to grips with that, life has normalized... and in the way people with permanent disabilities deal with them, have made it a tiny part of my life. Don't even notice it any more. Have a prescription for nerve pain, ... gabapentim, but harldly ever use it.

Over the years, we've had many more self diagnosis/medication situations, but not necessary here. Here's the point of the post... As we look around us at people who are as old and older than us, we see many who are taking as many as 15 different pills/day. Not for us to say whether they are needed or not. Most of them trust their doctors, and credit medication with keeping them alive. At the same time, I do not and could not criticize the doctors, as their prescriptions are based on blood tests, and the symptoms that present. Also, I would guess, more likely to add a prescription and watch the results, than to take away and see more problems or death.

For us, it takes some effort to read about and understand our personal health, but we feel it's worth the extra effort. didn't intend this to be so long, but sometimes personal experiences mean more than long narratives. I believe that sharing, helps in understanding.
As always, my opinion only... YMMV
It sounds like you are active (as active as you can be) and obviously take the time and effort to research what you are taking and how it effects your body. Most people think a pill is the "cure all" to their problems and never attempt something as simple as a basic lifestyle change that could ultimatley make their quality of life much better. Good on you!

Mike
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Old 03-13-2014, 08:41 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by donheff View Post
Statins at your age? What for?
Well, yeah... based on age, higher readings for cholesterol, tryglycerides, PSA and blood pressure are more commonly accepted as "normal".
In my case original LDL was over 350, and tryglycerides 1000 at one point. Even now, with medication, levels are in the high range, but the doctor seems to consider that ok, considering past history.
Have learned to understand blood tests, and always ask for a copy of the reults after annual physical.

One more small point. Before we go to for a physical, we always spend some time, questioning each other (DW and me) about those little things that have bothered us during the past year... even if they don't seem too important. I make a list of the questions we need to ask... things that we used to ignore or forget about some years ago. Always have blood tests before the Dr. visit.

We are very, very happy with our young 36 y.o. female doctor. She's up on the latest medicine, and if there's ANY question, instead of showing off her knowledge, she'll take a break and look up anything that she's not positive about. She has attained sainthood (for us) by spending an hour or more checking through every health item possible, and never letting us go with any kind of a question unanswered. We have never had a better doctor, or felt such confidence. (she's very personable, and calls me "Dr. Bob".)
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Old 03-13-2014, 03:23 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
We are very, very happy with our young 36 y.o. female doctor. She's up on the latest medicine, and if there's ANY question, instead of showing off her knowledge, she'll take a break and look up anything that she's not positive about. She has attained sainthood (for us) by spending an hour or more checking through every health item possible, and never letting us go with any kind of a question unanswered. We have never had a better doctor, or felt such confidence. (she's very personable, and calls me "Dr. Bob".)
Please ask her to clone herself and distribute her clones to those of us that need someone like her !

I've done the 'experiment' thing myself, typically caused by failing to refill the prescription ! Results have typically been awful for me so I stay on the drugs (2 - Lipitor and an Anti-anxiety).
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Old 03-13-2014, 10:29 PM   #6
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I long for the days when experimenting with drugs was for recreational purposes.
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