My pharmacist knows me by name

Large collection of pills and pill bottles

            My part-time job

Alternate titles for this entry:  No time to work full time; I’m not an addict; Why I need a Ph.D. in biochemistry. I want to share a typical day juggling my cornucopia of medications, which are intended to keep me well.

6 a.m.: Dog wakes me to take my first batch of 6 drugs (+ one supplement so one drug doesn’t make me sick). My stomach needs to be empty for one, no milk products for an hour with another. Two drugs are diuretics to manage my “pregnancy”.

Then try to go back to sleep, only to awaken within an hour or two dreaming about swimming or waterfalls or, when my unconscious is less creative, having to pee really really badly. No one needs a psychology degree to interpret that.

Two of the a.m. drugs are in the no-grapefrut-ever group. J. got really mad when I asked the pharmacist what would happen if I broke this rule, especially since my chemo would be affected. She is humourless sometimes.

8 a.m.: Inject my $10 per day blood thinner (thank goodness for drug plans), nicknamed “hepburn“, while marvelling at diabetics who do this several times a day. Since I have few platelets and am on blood thinners, expect bad bruising at the injection site.

11:30ish: (Forget to) take a pill before eating to protect ulcers, but not too close to chemo or it’ll interfere with its absorption. Take it when I remember. Ulcers vs. leukemia? I’ll take ulcers.

Lunch: Eat whatever I want, except for grapefruit. I really miss grapefruit, especially now that it’s both in season and off limits.

5:30ish: Same pill, same rationale as 11:30ish, same likelihood of forgetting.

6 p.m.: Same routine as lunch. No grapefruit for dessert. Will have to settle for chocolate chip cookies.

8 p.m.: Take iron supplement for anemia on an empty stomach (but not with a.m. pills), eating only if stomach upset intolerable. (You know the discomfort will be bad when the pharmacist grimaces: “Do you have to take that one?”) Orange juice is okay with it; calcium and whole grains aren’t. Iron aggravates ulcers. What’s worse, anemia or ulcers?  Anemia wins this one.

Between doses, check remaining pill supply. If needed, go to doctor to renew drugs, visit pharmacies (one at the Cancer Centre, the other closer by), and take 1/2 hour every other week to fill two week-long pill dispensers. Book the occasional blood test to ensure drugs are working.

Risk a breakdown if antibiotics for ulcers are added to the regimen. More rules, too few hours in the day: two doses daily on an empty stomach but not within two hours of iron or milk products. Have more stomach upset. By the end of this treatment, anticipate calcium deficiency and weight loss from very short windows of time to eat. Resort to bingeing on cheese and yogurt at 2 a.m., while trying not to wake the dog.

Just writing this entry has exhausted me. In fact, I think I need a nap. We’ll talk later, okay? But please don’t ask me why any of these rules apply. I have no clue.


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