hard to swallow

Monday, June 10, 2013

news alert pills are hard to swallow... 
literally and figuratively!

I'm not the best pill taker. My mom use to have me practice with Skittles or M&Ms cause my younger siblings were swallowing pills and I was still taking the liquid - we won't mention how old I was :) anyways figuratively speaking... 

How many time have I talked with patients about the importance of medication compliance and yet I (a nurse I might add) really struggled with having to take all of these new medications! It was a mental battle for me. What was the deal?! 

pan·ic (noun)
1. Sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behavior.

I started having lots of anxiety and panic attacks shortly after everything started. These emotions were entirely new and I hated that I couldn't control them. All of the sudden it was like I couldn't think or breathe... I felt like I was going to die... nothing helped...  I couldn't function... it was absolutely crippling. I felt like I was crazy. I stopped driving, I didn't want to be left alone, and I hated being around people I didn't know. I felt trapped. Sometimes it lasted for a couple minutes but other times it would last over an hour. It sucked!

What really made me feel crazy was having to take medication for the anxiety and panic attacks BUT it gave me my life back. I could function and think. I'm so thankful for coworkers, family, and friends who were supportive. Xanax (anti-anxiety) didn't work so I tried Ativan (anti-anxiety) before switching to Lexapro (anti-depressant). 

As a nurse, I understood what each medication did and why it was important that I take it. I still complained just about every time I took pills. We tried to make it fun... I had Katy Perry songs as the alarms for when to take them and stored them in a zebra print box. Still hated it but I took them with an unhappy heart :) And it wasn't just the "crazy" pills but it was the baby aspirin and the iron supplement and the pain pills and the stool softeners. 

Now I get it... and now I know. I used to be shocked when patients would just stop taking their medications or take them differently than prescribed... not any more. If I didn't feel that pressure to not be a hypocrite I probably would do the same. I still don't quite understand WHY it's so hard to "swallow" pills I just know it was for me. Any thoughts?!

So here is to transparency and destroying assumptions about medications. I have had a great team of providers who have worked with me on treating my health issues. I am sooooo excited to see the number of pills I have to take diminishing :) :) 

congenital heart defect cardiac surgery
Cheers to some (not so) delicious Milk of Magnesia 
Dear future Nurse Practitioner LeeAnn don't forget....

to explain medications to the patient including side effects, what the medication does, and why the patient needs to specifically take it. Also include the time frame the patient will need to be on the med. 

do NOT assume why a patient is taking a med... ask them

to discuss med compliance with patients & acknowledge that taking medications sucks especially a lot of them... of course in a more professional manner :)


  1. Love that you're using your blog to tell your future self things that are important and on your mind today but may be lost over time. Great idea!

  2. thank you - that was one of the reasons I wanted to do this blog. I learned soooo much and don't want to forget any of it when I am a NP :)

  3. Anonymous12.6.13

    YEA!!!! I love this :)


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