October 17, 2014

Managing My Meds: Practically a Full-time Job

The Overview
Every night before I go to bed, I make this arrangement on my bathroom sink:  

What are all those things? We'll start from the lower left corner and continue around the sink:

My Carbidopa/Levodopa

This is my main Parkinson's med. I take two pills eight times a day. That's 16 pills! The photo shows the supplies for only three of those eight cycles.

After I take the 9:30 pill, I'll cross out the 9:30 and write 12:30. I take these pills at three-hour intervals. My body knows the schedule better than my memory. It will wake me up during the night when another three-hour cycle is up.

Believe it or not, this arrangement is about to become even more complicated. My neurologist wants to see if we can get a smoother, more long-lasting flow of levodopa by mixing in some extended-release carbidopa/levodopa, substituting an extended release for a regular pill every other time. Got that?

The Take-on-Empty-Stomach Pills

When I get up out of bed in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, I take the pills shown above. They have instructions like "take without food" or "take on an empty stomach" or "take between meals." After taking them, I put the containers back in the medicine cabinet, except for the LongVida optimized curcumin. Since I take it twice a day, it stays on the counter. I'll take another before my afternoon nap. 

5-HTP and its Pill Slicer

This serotonin-boosting supplement is a dear old friend, but there's been big trouble when I've taken too much of it. I now buy the minimal dosage available -- 50mg -- and cut that pill in half. I take 25mg at bedtime.

Midodrine HCL

This is a newcomer, taken three times a day to raise blood pressure for people with orthostatic hypotension. A note that's hidden in this photo reads: "1. Upon arising 2. Before breakfast. 3.Mid-afternoon. None later"

Tonight's Bedtime Pills

This picture shows two carbidopa/levodopa pills and half a 5-HTP pill. After I take them, I reset the counter as it appears in the first photo above, so I'll be ready for another day of pill popping.

The Take-As-Needed Backups

The prescription med is nifedipine, a quick-acting drug that lowers blood pressure. I've used it when I've had dangerously high numbers. Soon after taking it, I've seen my systolic (upper) reading drop 30 points or more in 15 minutes.

Yep, that's a container of salt. I pour the salt into a dish on the counter when my systolic pressure drops below 100. I also keep an empty pill container filled with salt and put it next to my wallet on my dresser as a reminder to take it along whenever I go out. Salt effectively raises blood pressure quickly.

The salt is certainly my cheapest med. But even cheaper is another remedy that my blood pressure doc thinks may be even better --   quickly drinking two glasses of cold water.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I've never commented before, but I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your writing. I would read you on ANY topic, but I am particularly drawn to anything and everything Parkinsons's and related conditions, as my partner of 31 years recently passed away at age 77 about 12 years after PD diagnosis. I would be happy to share details of his case privately if I could find your email address.

Anyway, the main reason for this post is to alert you to an interesting film that is currently available online, in full, for a limited time.


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