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The Slippery Slope of Medication Overuse

Medicine Overuse. Dependency. A never ending, hard to break, cycle, pushed by medical professionals without considering the risks.

Wednesday I was diagnosed with potential medicine overuse headache, or rebound headache.

Can I say that I am at all shocked? No. Is this something I worried about every second of every day? Absolutely.

We’ve replaced on of my daily meds with something less potent, with a longer wait time between taking doses.

We’re working to reduce how often I need to run to grab my abortive medications.

Next week, I’ll be admitted to the hospital every day for 5 days, to receive IV injections of DHE, Benadryl, anti-nausea medicine, and something else. This measure is intended to stop this migraine that’s been dragging on since September dead in it’s tracks.

In turn, I should be able to reduce the frequency of abortive medications.

Then, I’ll start my first round of Botox injections.

But, how did I get here? Me, of all people? I religiously watch the amount of medication I consume. I monitor the time between doses down to the minute to ensure medications won’t interact with each other or overlap. I pay close attention to the quantity I take in a day.

I don’t run out of pills to quickly. Yes, I often am due for my refill when it says I’m due for a refill and typically have other problems with pharmacies and insurance, but not because I’m requesting a refill too soon.

And yet, here I am. Victim to the very system that is meant to help me.

There are drugs out their where you can only receive x amount of pills in a month. But those aren’t the medications I’m on.

So, having an intractable migraine for seven months, you end up taking pain medication. You take a dose when you wake up. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Say it works: you may be good for the rest of the day, even if a little pain comes back, you may not take anymore medication. Say it doesn’t work: you wait until x-amount of time goes by, and you take a different type of medication, because meds are a guessing game and you probably just didn’t guess right on your first try.

Then you’re in this cycle.  This never ending cycle where you’re taking some sort of pain medication every day, sometimes twice even three times (that’s the max amount you can take) a day.

But the doctors all left an important piece of information out.

These medications that have 90 days worth of medication for your 90 day supply, aren’t intended to be taken every day.

These medications shouldn’t be taken more than 9-10 times in a month.

9 to 10 times.

I’ve taken 9-10 doses this week.

Why would a medical professional give me more pills for a 90 day supply, than I’m supposed to take? Why does the prescription bottle put a daily limit but not a weekly or monthly limit on the instructions?

Thank god for my headache specialist for noticing that the amount of drugs being consumed could be having negative impacts on my health.

Thank god I keep a diary down to the minute with all this information.

But now, here I am, afraid to take any meds. I’ve portioned out my medication to fit into the “no more than 10 doses in a month” which equals about 2 doses a week, with an emergency dose every other week.

So my theory is that if I stop taking the medication, with the exception of my daily preventative, that after a while, the pain will go down.

I’ve always hated every ounce of medicine I’ve had to consume. I’ve always hated trying new medications. I’ve always hated counting down the minutes until I could take my next dose in hope of some relief.

So I guess I’ll have to enjoy relying on blends of essential oils, coffee, and icepacks as my go to’s, as for now, I don’t want to touch medication.

Here’s hoping next week’s round of IV’s and extra rest will put an end to this misery for a while.

-A

If you are using any sort of pain medicine, even regular over the counter medications such as Advil, Tylenol, or Excedrin, and you are using them more than 9 or 10 times each month, you are at risk for medication overuse as well and I would recommend reaching out to your doctor immediately.

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