Saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to Prescribed Medications

Saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to Prescribed Medications

Some of you will remember the 1980s public service commercial where the man holds an egg in his hand and says, “This is your brain.” He then cracks it into a sizzling cast iron pan and says, “This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”

I’m not sure if that campaign was effective at keeping that generation’s youth on the straight and narrow path, but prescribed medications are a part of the lives of 60 percent of the United States’ population. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re like me; told that you’re stuck being a part of this never-ending tug-o-war between having to take medication and worrying about potential complications.

I wrote in a previous post about the pressure that comes from friends and family who mean well but are misdirected in wanting me to get off the medications and go all natural. We know that it’s not that simple and that every case is different. Sometimes the benefits of the therapy outweigh its risks. But now and then, one of us lupies gets lucky, and our doctors say we can discontinue a prescribed medication. Cue thunderous applause!

My doctor recently had me wean off the corticosteroids I’ve been on for at least 10 years. I’m one-part hyped to be off them, but I’m also one-part terrified. It’s like my training wheels have been taken off, or I’m swimming without my life vest. As excited as I am about being well enough to try this next step, I’m worried that I will fail. I’ve been a little achy, and my fatigue is creeping up. I’m used to not feeling anything because the corticosteroids handled it all. But I was warned about this.

Fellow lupies, getting closer to being drug-free doesn’t automatically mean you’ve been healed and will be completely pain-free. People without chronic illnesses get achy and tired as well. Getting off your meds means your doctor believes your body can handle a bit more on its own. If the pain gets moderate to severe, I’ll definitely let my doctor know we might need to try something else. But for now, I can’t simply wait for the meds to make everything better. To give my body the tools it needs to fight lupus, I must take extra special care of my body, rest, eat well, and do other things that my body likes.

Well, my body is not completely on its own; I’m still on a few meds that aren’t as intense. I pray we move closer to a world where we can get off all of these prescriptions and live full and healthy lives. I think it can happen, but until that day, I’ll take the medications that help, adjust when necessary, and work with my doctor to find the best med mix and lowest doses that my body needs to optimally function. I won’t go completely drug-free until I know my entire medical team is on board.

Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.
Shanelle Gabriel is an HBO Def Poet, singer, and health and lupus advocate who has performed internationally. She has been featured on the Rachel Ray Show, Huffpost Live, and in several publications including Women’s Health Magazine. Visit for music and poetry, videos, show schedule, and more.
Shanelle Gabriel is an HBO Def Poet, singer, and health and lupus advocate who has performed internationally. She has been featured on the Rachel Ray Show, Huffpost Live, and in several publications including Women’s Health Magazine. Visit for music and poetry, videos, show schedule, and more.

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  1. carol carney says:

    Hi….I’m wondering since you write for Lupus News Today and your column is about taking or not taking drugs, I was wondering if someone could check about other drugs that can cause or make Lupus worse. I’ve been on Omemprazole since about 1997 and I was dx’d with Lupus in 2012-2013. I just found out a few days ago that Omeprazole can cause or worsen we all need to check any meds we are prescribed with our pharmacist and dr’s to see if they interfere with our dx’s or other meds..I also found out that Batrim can cause low platelets and I am supposed to take it every other day to prevent pneumonia…my platelets are down to 68 right now..I called my dr and they told me to stop taking it…I would think our dr’s and pharmacist should know what meds they prescribe can affect our dx’s..

    • Hello Carol,

      That’s a great idea for an article. I’m not a medical professional so it might not be best for me to write this. However, I’ll definitely share this idea with the Lupus News Today team to see if we have someone that can explore this. I appreciate you reading and sharing this information. I wasn’t even aware of this! Sending you strength and positivity!

  2. Chris says:

    Hello Dear;
    Recently went off Prednisone after starting a Biologic. I read a blog “Lupus Chick” . She recommended a Quell (tens unit) she uses and it helps. Also I started using CBD oil and a CBD vapor. They contain less than 3% THC and are organic. Helps with pain, glaucoma and lung inflammation.
    Wishing you well. Hugs, Chris

    • Hi Susan,

      Totally understand the scariness of it. However, that’s usually a good sign. So many doctors aren’t really analyzing whether a patient needs the dose they’re on. Remember that worse comes to worse, you can always get back on it. Just makes sure you keep track of your symptoms as you change your dosage. Sending you love and strength!

  3. Janice Joye says:

    Hi Shanelle,

    Thanks for writing and sharing this article. I too am concerned about the many meds I take daily for SLE Lupus I’ve been diagnosed with since 2012. I’ve had drastic hair loss while, and have stopped taking Methotrexate. Have you learned of this particular med causing hair loss?

  4. Karen E Hurd says:

    Even if one is able to wean off medication, it’s *very* important that lifestyle (eat clean, watch stress, build gut health, etc) and natural support be maintained. Our daughter was able to wean off of one of her meds, but we do an aggressive supplement regimen with high quality supplements, and homeopathic treatments when called for. We also do lifestyle modifications. She has done well, but we are watchful. With any chronic illness, lifestyle is always important. Incorporating solid holistic approaches (lots of random psuedoscience out there), always helps to support the body even if you have to stay on meds.

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