Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Who needs enemies?

Today I went to my new primary doctor which is actually my old primary doctor but I switched doctors to someone closer when I got married. Yes, says the girl that travels over 100 miles to Boston to see her Rheumatologist! Anyway I am soooo glad I did.

I am gonna list my medications that I currently take and why I take them. I normally wouldn't want to disclose this information for all the world to see but in the name of educating I will. First you will see the medication brand name then the generic name if there is one available.

Celebrex (Celecoxib) helps decrease inflammation

Elavil (Amitriptyline) pain so I don't feel like I have a sunburn

Lunesta (Eszopiclone) sleep aid because these meds give me insomnia

Cartia XT (Diltiazem) controls my high ass blood pressure

Microzide (Hydrochlorothiazide) water pill to help with blood pressure

Trexall (Methotrexate) chemo that kills the bad RA inflammatory cells

Celexa (Citalopram) makes me happy because RA sometimes makes me cry

Ultram (Tramadol) pain pill that I am convinced is just a sugar pill

Folic Acid helps with the side effects from the methotrexate such as nausea, hair loss, puking

Lidoderm Patch (Lidocaine) placed over my port to ease the fact that the port is pressing on my brachial nerve

Orencia (Abatacept) targets the cells DNA to put the kibosh on the inflammation as the cell is forming given intravenously through a port in my chest

Klonopin (Clonazepam) anxiety pill because I hate that I have to be poked by a HUGE needle 1-5 times in my chest to get access to my port

OK so there you have my medications. A lot right? Now let me educate you a little on something I learned from working in the pharmacy. I'm going to spell out the process of filling a prescription to prove my point. Don't worry I have one. Please note when I say CHECKPOINT

  • You are at the doctor and he/she writes you a prescription for a specific medication CHECKPOINT

  • You bring said prescription to your pharmacy of choice

  • The ever so friendly pharmacy tech takes your name, DOB, insurance information, and prescription from you

  • A pharmacy tech deciphers the script and adds it to your profile in the computer CHECKPOINT

  • Your insurance company is billed for the medication

  • Your insurance company approves the medication CHECKPOINT

  • A pharmacy tech sees your medication request in the queue and prints the prescription information

  • Your medication is pulled off the shelf and the bar code on the medication bottle and paperwork are both scanned to make sure you are getting the correct medication and dose.

  • Your medication is counted and placed into a pill vial which has been affixed with your label containing your name, medication name, instructions, etc

  • Your prescription bottle is passed on to the pharmacist

  • The pharmacist checks that the technician has taken all the correct steps to get you exactly what the doctor has ordered CHECKPOINT

  • The pharmacist looks at a picture of the pill and the pill in your bottle notating the various markings making sure everything matches CHECKPOINT

  • The medication is dispensed to you and you go on your merry way hoping to feel better soon.

That's 5 times you see the word CHECKPOINT. That's 5 times that if there was a medication interaction it would have been caught. Even if you don't use the same doctor or the same pharmacy for every script, the insurance company will catch the interaction and inform the pharmacist not to dispense. Now my above medications have been told to about 5 doctors, 6 nurses, and 2 different pharmacies in the last 4 months and NO ONE, until today, caught that I should NOT be on Ultram because mixed with the medications I am on will cause seizures. WHAT?? Guess who has has 2 seizures and has passed out 4 times since being on that medication?

I am a pharmacy technician. I have been for 4 years. I received a very high score on my national exam. I have done continuing ed classes and I have not received a grade below 90%. I am educated on medication. I missed this as well as other professionals. That is very scary. I can't enforce enough that if you have a gut feeling something is not right with your medication (which I ignored) SPEAK UP! Get a second, third, even forth opinion.

I know this post might have scared you. This is your body. You have RA and you work so hard to fix your body. Why contaminate it with the wrong medicines?


  1. Brigid,

    Wow! This is quite a wake-up call to the medical profession and important message to RA-ers alike, isn't it? Thank you so much for your candor as a patient and perspective as a pharmacy professional. I'm sorry to hear about your seizures, in addition to the other issues I'm sure RA has brought you.

    Again, many thanks!

  2. I agree. My heart goes out to those who are not educated and are going at this blind. You have to look out for you because in reality the doctor is looking out for you and hundreds of others as well.

  3. Wow. That is scary. I will definitely be paying more attention. The only thing I've found over the years is when I was on a med that reading ALL of the possible side effects it was causing the "menstrual-like cramps". I had been having severe cramps for several years, and once I stopped this med, they stopped.

  4. I learned this really early on in one of my first prescriptions given me for ra. It was an antibiotic treatment. I am highly allergic to sulfur and guess what...right there on the insert (which only by chance I forced myself to read all that garbage) it said DO NOT TAKE IF YOU ARE ALLERGIC to sulfur. Now how in the world didn't my own doctor which had this clearly written in my records and the pharmacy which I made them log in my med allergy didn't catch this. I was sooo lucky but it was a huge eye opener for me early on in my treatment. I always tell everyone now that if you are experiencing any weird side effects listed or not, suspect your medications first. And what scared me even more was that our FDA reporting system is a voluntary process in this country which means many, many side effects (possibly even life threatening ones) ARE NOT being reported. I always check, double check and research my medications carefully now before I will accept any prescription let alone fill it. And have you read about the recent prescription compliance grade we are all going to be given by FICA? How come we can't get a grade on doctors ability to accurately prescribe medications and a pharmacy grade on their accuracy? My heart goes out to you. Scary indeed!