That’s Lupus in My Medicine Cabinet. What’s in Yours?

Ines Martins, PhD avatar

by Ines Martins, PhD |

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My Mountain, My Lupus column

Have you ever gone to someone’s house and checked out their medicine cabinet? My grandma once told me the medicine cabinet can say almost everything you need to know about a person. So, today, I am going to walk you through what’s in my medicine cabinet, which meds I take, why I take them and the side effects these meds have caused.

I am curious to hear if you’ve had the same or different reactions to your meds.

I don’t use a cabinet; I use three separate drawers.

To get started, I first should confess that my meds don’t fit in a standard medicine cabinet. Instead, it is spread into three drawers on the right side of my bathroom sink. They rank in order of the prescription and how often I take it. My daily meds are in the bottom drawer, as I am usually sitting down on the bathroom floor to take them all. The common cold/flu meds drawer, which is predominantly for the kids, is the top drawer. The third, middle drawer is overflow meds and over-the-counter meds for me.

Let’s start with the easiest of the drawers, which is the overflow and extra OTC meds. Here is where I keep ace bandages and any meds that I have an extra bottle of for some reason or another. I have three bottles of prednisone and four bottles of Gabapentin that I keep in here, as well as ibuprofen and  a few Fentanyl patches for when my body is just out of control in a flare-up. This drawer also contains steroid face/skin cream for when I have a breakout or a rash.

The kids’ drawer is self-explanatory as it carries various cough and cold meds for teenagers and adults: NyQuil, cough drops, Band-Aids and Neosporin. Hydrocortisone Cream and allergy pills are kept here.

Then comes what I call the ‘Money Drawer,’ filled with more than 20 bottles of different meds that keep me going daily.

I remember in my early days when the kids’ medicine and mine both could fit in a medicine cabinet. As the years wore on and I hit my late 20s, I thought it was odd that I was having so many illnesses all at once. Stomach problems were out of control and loose stools became a way of life. IBS pills helped with the stomach cramping, but not the stools. I gained 30 pounds in about two months, and everyone who knew me thought I was pregnant.

I had to go on birth control to control my runaway periods. I lived with a slight fever daily, and when I got a cold or flu I had it for weeks, while the kids wouldn’t even be knocked down enough to miss school. I started seeing my doctor every two weeks for crazy ailments that we just couldn’t figure out.

He began doing lab work every time I came in, searching for the elusive needle in the haystack. I just didn’t have enough symptoms to call it for what it was. He noticed my thyroid levels were off. I began thyroid medicine. He said I had anemia, so I began iron pills. My face broke out with “adult acne” and began scarring, and I started acne meds.

I stayed on all of meds, like a good girl, but kept getting sick.

It was like this for two years, even after I moved to California. I stayed on all of my meds, but the fevers never went away. The acne scars got worse and left a red rash across the bridge of my nose and cheeks, and my body never felt right.

It wasn’t until I had my first bout of arthritis that I had even heard of a rheumatologist. It was by accident that I saw a partner of my rheumy, who was treating me for gout, mind you, and she asked if she could run some very expensive tests. She didn’t believe I had gout and definitely didn’t want to stick a needle in the joint of my toe for a biopsy. Thank God for that woman’s never-ending curiosity to discover the truth, and for her dislike of unnecessary treatments.

I am currently on steroids for flare-ups, Plaquenil for lupus, Acyclovir for cold sores in my nose during flare-ups, hyoscyamine for IBS cramping, Fentanyl patches for pain, morphine extended release for pain and oxycodone for pain. Nexium for heart burn, Gabapentin for nerve pain and neuropathy, Zofran for the constant vomiting and suppositories for when I can’t keep the Zofran down. Calcium for my osteoporosis, Vitamin D for lack of sun, and still take most of what I mentioned above. Lunesta for insomnia, Xanaax for anxiety, and pretty much everything else that Ive been on since before my diagnosis.

Ten years, 28 pills daily, four different diagnoses, and I have three drawers to show for everything I have been through.

I have lupus in my medicine cabinet. What’s in yours?

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.