Side effects poster child

Hello, my friends from everywhere! My long-planned speaking tour on Medication Safety Awareness is finally up and running (you can follow it here) although we had to pause it in Atlanta due to AC repairs. The summer heat in Tennessee and Georgia took its toll! It has been a tremendous undertaking for all of us, especially for my husband, the kids, and Daria, our Mioritic Shepherd. Nevertheless, we were all on the road and ready for the challenge. Our friends from several cities around the US offered their support making this possible, so we were able to come to meet quite a few of you.

For those of you not following yet the tour updates, the MSA2018 seminars cover the topics below – check them out in the tour links!

1. Anemia & Cancer

2. Vitamin D

3. Probiotics & Prebiotics

4. Metformin

Now, you may be confused about the title I picked for today’s post. Well, on the itinerary I added a continuing education event for me to also learn from others better than me. That’s something I strive for whenever the opportunity arises because I LOVE learning new things, discovering new ways etc. Being around Knoxville, TN, one of the mornings was just the perfect opportunity to join the Pharmacology 2018 discussion at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. I am a UT alumna and this makes such events even more special. It’s that feeling that you aren’t only where the best are but you have their brand on your shoulders too 🙂 Of course I’m biased but this isn’t the actual story I wanted to tell you!

So, I woke up that day around 7:30am (slept at 2am) to get prepared for the 8:30am event. Made a strong coffee in the hotel room and headed out hoping to grab a hotel breakfast bite on my way out. Too bad, breakfast was all gone! Eh, I must admit that, out of all my diary stories from this tour, this was far from being the worst it could happen at a hotel. I looked on the positive side of sipping my Lavazza Rossi and hoped that my very slight tiredness-driven headache will go away.

(Does this sound familiar?)

It didn’t go away. Once I arrived at the event site, I grabbed another coffee. I was quite hungry but who needs food when the presentation is so interesting?? The mid-morning break had more coffee (!!), so I didn’t miss pouring myself another large cup. In meantime, the pharmacology of my early caffeine dose hit both my gut and my bladder. I surely lost more water than I sipped coffee. Naturally, the negative water balance had a say on my headache: it became more noticeable, more bothering, sharper and difficult to deal with. I had ibuprofen in my purse. Yet, my pharmacist rationale told me I shouldn’t take it on empty stomach (!!!), so I didn’t. That was a bad idea.

By lunch, my eyesight was blurred and I found myself holding my forehead every few minutes. I left. In the car, I decided that I had to take ibuprofen sooner than later. The extent of headache required 800mg. My empty stomach screamed not more than 400mg. So, I took 400mg with LOTS of water praying not to get too hard on my stomach. I was ready for 20min of pain. Should I have taken 800mg, I may have gotten an effect in 10-12min but also risked a GI bleeding and acid reflux. Eight minutes later I was holding my forehead continuously begging for the headache to pass. Luckily, I wasn’t driving! Still, my sitting position and my empty stomach enabled very little of the now juicy drug-water mix in my tummy to move into where the absorption could take place, so – guess what? – no effect! The car motion and the acidity only made me nauseous and dizzy. I soooo didn’t want it to come out up! Nope, not because of the unpleasant experience but rather because I wanted it IN so badly to get an effect SOONER!

Fortunately, my brain was still functional. Telling myself “c’mon, girl, YOU are the pharmacist!!”, I took action. I asked my husband to pull off and I stepped out of the car at the nearest shadow. Stretched out slowly as tall as I could keeping my eyes closed and taking small laborless breaths of air. I started walking slowly with very short steps. Why? I wanted my gut moving and the drug juice relocated from my stomach to my gut ASAP. The first 20 steps were celebrated by the most welcomed burp. Hahaha! It was working. Next 20 steps took away the acid reflux, then I noticed a very slight improvement in my headache after the following 20 steps. “Oh, Lord, thank you!!”. The drug was getting in my blood as I was thinking of it. I started counting and kept my body as straight as I could while walking to keep my gut moving. “The story is hysterical”, I thought. It was, it really was. One minute later I was headache-free. All-drug-in, done!

The crusty smell of chicken nuggets of the nearby McDonalds reminded me that I was very hungry. Ten nuggets later I was like new. Wow! I then kept thinking how easily this could have gone out of control. I had quite a few side effects that, honestly, I shouldn’t have blamed on the drug at all. It was all MY FAULT. Did it ever happen to you? I’m sure it did. Was it fair to blame on the drug? Well, the method above has just been confirmed under the close supervision of a healthcare professional, so feel free to try it 😀

For the best quality of life:

  1. Do not drink 3 coffees on an empty stomach when you wake up with a slight headache. You may have heard that caffeine is “good for headaches” but it really depends what caused the headache in the first place.
  2. If you have headache medicine in your purse/pocket, use it sooner than later.
  3. If you fail the common sense, as I did, remember what worked for me – it may work for you, too!

Stay healthy and follow my updates this summer!

Find all my posts here

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Dr. Alice

I teach people how drugs work, when they are needed, and why. My expertise as a pharmacist and researcher allows me to determine whether taking or not taking a drug will pose any risk given all current circumstances that apply at this moment. Many times we don't know unless we try, but other many times walking the extra mile pays off giving in return more wonderful moments and more to give to others.

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