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The Stress of Starting a New Medicine

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“Is your new medicine working yet?”

Ever since I mentioned I could use some happy thoughts for starting a medicine, I’ve been asked this question at every meal and tutoring session. “No not yet, it takes six months, thank you for checking up on me!” is my usual response. I’m always really thankful that my sisters care enough to ask about my health, but after the 10th time of answering that question I just want to cry. Not because I’m frustrated with the question, but because I am tired of the stress of a new medicine.

Starting a new medicine is hard, especially when you’re trying to get an illness under control. There is so much behind starting a medicine that most people don’t think about, especially with medicines that treat a difficult disease. Because we are currently in a situation where we believe I have one illness, but could have possible others, we are starting with a medicine that covers all the bases. Which is great, except for a few things.

First, it’s scary. You’re hoping that this medicine doesn’t clash with the 5,000 other medicines you take every day and cause a reaction. You also end up praying you don’t have an allergic reaction to it right off the bat. (That fear comes from the time I tried a sleep medicine and had to go to work. I wasn’t able to see because my vision was so bad, and I could barely ring up customers… oops). That fear during the first couple doses of what the medicine is going to be like can almost completely turn you off from trying it all together.

Next is the side effects. You have to be pretty careful, which is why you should always listen to your doctor when they instruct to take the medicine a certain way. With some medicines you won’t have any side effects at all, but the stronger the medicine, the harsher and more likely it is that you could have side effects. That’s what I’ve noticed so far, so don’t actually quote me on that! But, in other words, you’re nervous to see if the medicine will make you sleepy, jittery, nauseated, dizzy, etc. For me, the medicine I’m trying has made my appetite completely disappear, but I’ve had worse. There is also the threat of possibly getting the more severe side effects of your medicine. I never suggest looking up your new medicine on your own. I promise you will see scary things that way, so I think it’s best just to ask your doctor what you need to be aware of and the signs of when you should consider stopping the medicine. Less scary, more comfortable.

Another problem is the potential of the medicine not working. For some medicines it can take months to work. You lose track of how you felt a few months ago, you’ve developed new symptoms, you’ve changed environments, so many factors go into your health that you can’t tell if it’s working or not. If it doesn’t work, then you wasted time on that medicine, but if it does it’s a massive reward. That’s why I find it’s best to write down how I feel when I wake up in the morning and how I feel when I go to bed. Plus, keeping track of any factors like water intake, stress, medicines, the start of a new symptom, starting your menstrual cycle, etc., can help you and the doctor see if the medicine worked for you or not.

No matter what, you have to start somewhere with medicine, so you eventually suck it up and take the medicine like a good little patient. Always follow your doctor’s instructions because they did go to school for an eternity so they could make you feel better. A new medicine, especially while chronically ill, can be challenging, but I know I have the support of an amazing family and a tight-knit sisterhood to get me through it.

Also, thank the Lord for modern medicine.

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Originally published: October 20, 2016
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