Plan Your Next Medicine-Toss

Coasters in white, in a pile, with gold lettering spelling out, "Hip Hip Hooray"

First, a quick definition.


What Is A Polypharmacy?

pol·y·phar·ma·cy
ˌpälēˈfärməsē/
noun
  1. the simultaneous use of multiple drugs to treat a single ailment or condition.

Are You Taking Part in a polypharmacy?

If so, then listen up.

There are, indeed, many patients out there, who can be classified under this term. Is it completely necessary? Or is it something that can be avoided? Unfortunately, the public often seems to believe that physicians automatically prescribe medications. Some think that physicians even benefit from these prescriptions being sent. Others simply label us ‘pill-pushers’. They believe the meds are simply e-prescribed to merely shut the patient up, or even end the visit.

But I’m here to tell you that nothing could not be farther from the truth.

It gives me no greater joy, as a physician, than to watch my patient evolve into a healthier individual, and to shorten his medication list. It can happen. I see it play out time and time again, and, for me, it never gets old to see.

Take hypertension, for one.

Dropping a blood pressure medication is extremely empowering, from both my end and especially from the patient’s. How can it happen? Patients starting out in need of a medication may come in months or years later, new and improved, after having initiated a low-salt diet or instituted a new gym regimen, even sporting new physiques. This can often lead to pressure reductions, and I really love when that happens. I feel pangs of pleasure just watching the unfolding of their success, imagining it a reflection on me, after all, even when I know darn well that my role is to merely stand on the sidelines and cheer.

My patients are the real players.

When they’re in the red zone, these players, they can then show me their moves: jump over hydrochlorothiazide. Juke atenolol. Spin move enalapril. Insert choice medication here and the joy still remains, a universal feat.

For when the play is done and my player has scored, dreams are made. Can you imagine the feelings of elation? We literally throw a party right then and there, in the exam room, clad uniform (err, gown) and all, never complete without praise and high fives.

The best part is, it doesn’t need to end at just blood pressure control. Apply above to other ailments and you find a similar process with same end-point jubilation. Tackle elevated cholesterol. Back pain. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Even the common cold!

Dropped medication should always equate with a victory dance.


How To Drop A Medication

So how does one drop a med? First you have to be in a position that enables you to do so, i.e. having lost weight, dropped a bad habit, etc. Second, doing it with your doctor’s approval and direct observation is a must.

Remember, when you’re ready for medication unloading, your doctor will guide you through lowering the dose, or weaning off. Getting there may be hard, but lies in your hands. You’re the player. Make a plan with your doctor and decide if taking off that medicine is in the stars for you. Even make it a plan from the start! Never, ever get discouraged as you keep your eye on the ball. The goal-post is not far downfield and your own medicine-toss is just a few shoves away!

A single football sits neatly on football turf, on the left hand corner of the picture.

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