Pharmacology for Dummies

Well, I’m back to civilization, after a week in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and three days in Madison, WI, visiting daughter Chana and her fiance Mike.  I know you’re all wondering, “What did you do on your vacation?”  Well, among other things, I spent time in two hospitals, and got to ride in an ambulance for the first time as an actual patient.

A week ago today, I got what was either a nasty case of heartburn or a heart attack. Since I rarely get heartburn, the docs were worried about my heart.  Having had open heart surgery back in 2003, it was hard to tell the difference.  The esophagus and the heart share the same nerve bundle, being so close together, and they’re known to mimic one another.  I know that sounds a little weird, but hey, that’s what they told me.

After spending an hour or two at the Emergency Room, I was sent by ambulance to a second hospital in Petoskey, Michigan.  They have an excellent Cardiac Unit there, and I spent a very long Tuesday and most of Wednesday getting poked and prodded.  My Doc sent me down to the Cath Lab, where they inject dye into the heart, to discern if there’s a problem.  Happily, there wasn’t, and so they gave me medication for the heartburn and I was happily discharged at 8:30pm.  I was chauffeured back to the cabin, by my brothers Chip and Ken.  How’s that for spicing up one’s vacation?

Sometimes the dementia takes a back seat to other maladies.  The bad thing about an illness, including dementia, is that you’re not immune to others.  Each malady has its own treatment plan, and almost all include medication.  All medications have side effects, and some of those you have to live with.  The bad thing about dementia, of course, is that you must remember to take the meds.  And even at my early onset stage of the illness, it has already become a problem.

I can still remember my younger days, when I took no prescribed medications.  Those were the proverbial good old days, when I never thought of pills.  My ignorance of pharmacology was a truly blessed thing.  But then along came cholesterol and heart issues, and other assorted problems.  My medication count has climbed to fifteen now, and it shows no sign of stopping.  And so not by choice, I have a brand new hobby.  It isn’t easy keeping track of all those medications.  Of course they can’t be taken all together, that would be too easy.  I have my morning pills, my evening pills, and some that are in between.  Some are pills, some are capsules and they come in all kinds of sizes.  I hate to admit it, but I’ve been forced to purchase those funky plastic med organizers for my stash.

Life is changed, not ended.  This has become a daily conversation:  Cookie asks, “Did you take your medication?”  “Which one” I reply.   I get the look, and then we have another med discussion.  It’s become a daily conversation in our lives,  as we struggle with the illness.  Thank you for your thoughts and prayers, and for sharing the journey with me. And now it’s time to take my pills, if I can find them after being on vacation.  I wonder; is there a med for that?


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