Tuesday, June 23, 2009


When I was about 23, I went out with on a blind lunch date with a guy who was finishing law school at Northwestern who already had a medical degree. I was a graduate student at the Medill School of Journalism when the campus was in the 680 N. Lake Shore Drive building, so we decided to meet at Corner Bakery.

We sat down and after asking me if I was a liar because I was in journalism school or “do they teach you to be liars” I knew the date was awash, and tried to eat my turkey sandwich as fast as possible without choking.

However, I am not rude, and didn’t leave abruptly. Also, I can talk to anyone, so we started talking about medicine, and I said, “yeah, my mom takes a lot of pills.”

And his response was, “Shocking! A Jewish woman who takes a lot of pills.” (followed by a roll of the eyes)

Although this guy was clearly an ass, this tale (and let me tell you, I have many like this one) came to mind when the autopsy report of Jay Bennett, former band member of Wilco, was released on June 23 concluding he had died of a pain killer overdose. In the last couple of years, other, celebrities have died of accidental overdoses specifically Heath Ledger and Anna Nicole Smith.

Many people are taking prescription medicines, and while I make no judgment about this fact, I do worry (Shocking! A Jewish woman who worries.) the medications are not being taken properly and that many are at risk of accidental overdose or permanent damage to major organs. Call it self medicating, call it drug abuse, call it illiteracy, this is a huge problem that seems to be under addressed.

According to a 2008 article from webmd.com, 24,000 people died in the U.S. from accidental drug overdoses in 2006, a 100 percent increase from the year 2000.

The biggest rise in these accidental poisonings is among men and women of working age, 20 to 64, and is mainly due to abusing prescription pain medicines such as oxycodone, methadone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and buprenorphine. source: Webmd

In our culture, the first instinct would be to blame physicians for allegedly overprescribing medications or the drug companies for glamorizing medical products on commercials. Whether this is true or false, consumers of medications must take personal responsibility for prevention of dangerous drug interactions. How can you do so?

First of all, I need a disclaimer. I have no medical degree or experience. These are just some suggestions based on my own experience as a consumer and the experience of friends. If you are a medical professional and have something to add or dispute, please feel free to do so in the comments section.

1. Keep all of your prescriptions at one pharmacy. That way if your orthopedic surgeon prescribes something that interacts with something your internist prescribes, your pharmacist will hopefully catch it in case you forgot to tell one doctor about a medication you are on or your doctor made a mistake. (it happens) Also (this happened to me once with sulfa) if a doctor doesn’t know that a minor ingredient in a medication contains something you are allergic to, if your pharmacy records are accurate, the pharmacist won’t fill the prescription.
2. Update your pharmacy with any drug allergies.
3. Keep a personal record of drugs you have taken and any negative reactions. Even if they aren’t allergies, it’s good to record sensitivities.
4. If your heart starts racing, call a doctor or 911 immediately. If you lose any kind of sensation of anything, can’t breathe well, or have any other unusual symptom after taking a medication, call your doctor immediately.
5. Ask your doctor and research the effects of alcohol in conjunction with any medication that you are being prescribed.
6. Know if you need to take a medication with or without food or at a certain time of day.
7. Don’t take more or less than you are prescribed of a medication.
8. Don’t take Tylenol or acetaminophen after a night of drinking. It can cause liver damage. Don’t take more acetaminophen than recommended. It can also cause liver damage.
9. Don’t just stop taking a medication (unless you are instructed to do so). Call your doctor and plan a way to wean off of it if necessary.
10. If you are in emotional or physical pain, don’t take a little extra of whatever you are taking to dull the hurt. Call a friend. Call your doctor. Call 911. Get help. Be aware that self medicating may kill you.

I Must Be High

You always wanted more time,
To do what you always wanted to do
Now you got it

And I, I must be high,
To say goodbye
Bye bye bye

You never said you needed this
And you're pissed that you missed the very last kiss,
From my lips

And I, I must be high,
To say goodbye
Bye bye bye

And you never looked in my eyes,
Long enough to find any piece of mind
But now you got it

And I, I must be high,
To let you say goodbye
Bye bye bye


dirk hussein obama said...

I would add:

1) You're not really sick

2) Don't take any precription drugs. The doctor and pharma company probably benefit more than you do

3) If you are given some quack diagnosis, the disease may still be less annoying than the cure

4) Jewish women are particularly overdiagnosed and overprescribed, this in no joke

5) You don't have allergies, its just you live in a filthy environment which you have never really cleaned in a serious manner

6) Don't take any medicine that makes you gain weight as it probably makes you worse off in the long run

7) Try some physical activity for a change, you may forget your alleged illnesses

8) Sharna call me

Anonymous said...

9) Don't have a financially troubled, live in doctor-feel-good with weak CPR skills