More about Phoebe
Phoebe currently takes 10 medicines regularly and additional medicines only when she needs them. The medicines she finds the most difficult are the skin patches Transiderm-Nitro, which helps to prevent angina, and Oxytrol, which helps with her overactive bladder. She finds it a challenge to remember when to apply the patches and when to remove them, especially the Oxytrol patch which has to be changed every four days.
Phoebe has a medicines list that she finds helpful and takes to doctors’ visits. Phoebe experiences side effects from her medicines, some of which she expected and which show the medicine is working. Some side effects affect her daily life, such as not being able to go on early morning social bus trips because of her fluid tablet.
Phoebe managed her overactive bladder for many years herself, with the help of exercise classes, but the condition affected her quality of life. Since starting Oxytrol a year ago, the condition has improved greatly.
After seeing seven psychiatrists, Phoebe’s bipolar affective disorder is now well managed. Phoebe consulted her family before starting to take lithium to help stabilise her moods. She initially had some side effects from lithium such as changes to her sense of smell, and has had to have her lithium dose adjusted due to interaction with her digoxin. Phoebe sometimes adjusts the dose of Epilim which she also takes for this condition, to help her cope with life’s stresses such as Christmas and holidays.
Phoebe was diagnosed with an overactive thyroid in 1989 and sometime later experienced atrial flutter or fibrillation, for which she started warfarin.
Sometime Phoebe finds it difficult to see her GP as soon as she would like to. Phoebe keeps all her scripts at home and sees one pharmacist to make it easier to keep track of her medicines Safety Net. Her pharmacist will explain about new medicines and Phoebe also gets information about her medicines from the MIMS in the library. When starting new medicines, she always reads the piece of paper that comes in the package, especially about possible side effects.
Phoebe finds it quite hard to manage the routine of taking her medicines, although she manages well 99% of the time. She packs her own medicines into a dosette box which she keeps on the kitchen table—this helps to help remind her to take them. Knowing what each illness the medicines are for helps her to stay motivated to take them. Phoebe also uses a pill cutter, carries a bottle of water with her to take her medicines when away from home, wears an SOS bracelet advising that she is on warfarin and uses a warfarin booklet to record her blood test (INR) results, her doses of warfarin and the date of her next appointment.
Phoebe thinks it especially important for people to know about interactions between medicines and side effects. She would like health professionals to consider the whole health picture of a person and not just the particular part of the body or illness that they are treating.
While trying to remember to take them is the hardest part of taking medicines, the best thing about her medicines is that she is still alive.