Like most RA patients I get my labs checked on a regular basis. Among other tests, the bloodwork every two months checks for liver functions. Last time, my liver tests were slightly elevated. The normal result was supposed to be 35 and it was 39. But still, you need to be cautious, so my rheumy’s office sent the result to my PCP and I met with them. The first question was whether or not I was on a statin, which I had been for about a year. One small white pill once a day brought my errant cholesterol levels down to normal limits. However, statins work in the liver and they can add to the overload. So my PCP switched me to what’s known as a bile acid sequestrant that acts in the intestine instead of the liver. These pills are huge and I take three of them twice a day. So I went from seven small tablets a week to 42 large pills a week.
My next most-numerous medication is a drug to help relieve Sjögren’s syndrome symptoms. I take three of those a day, or 21 per week, so now I’m up to 63 pills a week.
For RA, I take leflunomide, folic acid, and a daily pain pill as well as (temporarily) 10 mg of prenisone. So that’s four more pills a day or 28 more pills per week, or 91 total when added to the others. I am switching to Remicade infusions this week, so I did lose the two Xeljanz tablets a day, or the total would even be higher.
In addition to the cholesterol medicine above, to further control my lipids, I take a prescription Omega-3 capsule and a baby aspirin. I also take two blood pressure medications, plus a diuretic. That’s five more pills per day, or 35 more pills per week, or 126 total.
I am on a hormone treatment regimen, which requires two pills a day, or 14 per week, for a total of 140.
Of course, all this is upsetting to my stomach, so I am on Protonix twice a day, so that’s 14 more pills or a total of 154 a week.
That’s just the prescriptions drugs. I also take a multivitamin and, while I’ve cut down on the supplements I take, I do take supplements to help prevent fever blisters, control my blood sugar, and replace the calcium and magnesium I lose via taking Protonix. That’s a total of nine supplements per day, or 63 per week, or a grand total of 217 pills each week, or 11,284 pills a year.
All of this is not counting the two to four Tylenol I take daily and the occasional Claritin to fight seasonal allergies.
This is one of the reasons I blogged earlier about becoming a “professional patient” to be able to focus more on my health. It’s not just my RA, it’s the overall situation. I’ve been eating more healthfully which will hopefully improve the lipid levels, but until I get my RA under control (again), my ability to exercise is greatly limited. And when I’m working 12 to 14 hour days on a project, it’s even more limited.
I have to do something. I will probably go back to my statin and eliminate the new pill, thereby reducing the pill count per week by 42 and work with my doctors to investigate other ways to help my liver stand the strain. That’s not the total answer, but it’s certainly a start.
I hope the things you’re counting today are blessings in your lives. Thanks for checking in.