Water and fortitude. That’s how you choke down potassium chloride tablets.
Seriously, these things are huge.
Alas, another medication has been added to my daily arsenal, although hopefully only temporarily. And a different new medication has been added full time for now.
I finally got those 15 tubes of blood drawn and, as I knew would happen, my potassium is low, because me. And because it’s a side effect of the Florinef that I was fully expecting, even after only two weeks on a tiny dose. So I’m on 20 mEq (that’s one of those gargantuan tablets) twice daily. I’ll have my level checked again at the end of two weeks on potassium and we’ll decide how to proceed from there. But I’m not sure Dr. Wilson is too optimistic that this is a limited thing because he gave me a month’s supply and put refills on the potassium prescription. ? Be still, my beating heart.
Actually, on second thought, that’s something I should definitely not say when discussing potassium supplementation, since that’s a decidedly literal undesirable side effect of potassium…ok, no more gallows pharmacy jokes.
The second medication added is propranolol 20 mg at night. Based on my e-visit with Dr. Wilson, he concluded, “Your adrenaline is too strong at night by symptoms list and vitals check list. This can lead to poor sleep with resultant next day have [sic] more exhausted [sic], worse exercise intolerance, and more headaches/body pain. If we can get your sleep better you will feel better. For now we need to add a low dose beta blocker at night to control this response and help rest and make next day better. I am going to start with immediate release Inderal. Over time if you note some help we may change to a 24 hour sustained release form of the beta blocker. I will send the script to your pharmacy. No other change in the medications at present. As you do better over time we will taper medications off.”
I love the man; after only one appointment I know he’s one of the best doctors I’ve ever had. But he’s added three medications in the past three weeks. I know it’s what I need to get this stupid POTS under some semblance of control, but I feel like all I do is take medication all day.
This means I’m up to 11 pills in the morning (mostly little ones, but four big ones), six in the evening (five big ones and one little one), 12 salt tablets throughout the day, and various other as needed medications as well.
That’s a lot of water and fortitude.
Because let’s be honest, being blessed with a chronic illness requires a lot of both.
Hydration is key for maintaining good health in general, as we all know. It plays a bigger role in some illnesses than in others, but it’s still vitally important.
But fortitude…that’s a different beast altogether.
When you start having those troubling symptoms that may continue for weeks to months to years, you need fortitude to decide when it’s finally time to buck up and go see a doctor.
If that doctor dismisses you, you need fortitude to put your foot down and find another doctor. And perhaps another. And another.
If you finally find a doctor who figures you out, you need fortitude to accept what the doctor just diagnosed you with.
If you finally receive a diagnosis, you need fortitude to make the adjustments needed in your life recommended by your physician (such as starting three new medications in a short span of time.)
As you learn more about your chronic illness, you need fortitude to accept that there may be no cure, and in many cases, no real treatment to help you. This, despite the advancements in modern pharmaceutical science that created a pill to increase a woman’s libido (by one sexual act in a two to three month period of time. Sounds like a great deal for a drug that can kill you if you drink any alcohol while you’re taking it.)
As your illness progresses, you need fortitude to possibly take matters into your own hands to achieve the quality of life you desire and deserve.
As more people become aware of your illness, you need fortitude to stand up for yourself to silence the naysayers and mockers who have the audacity to claim your illness isn’t serious, that you’re exaggerating, or even that you’re an addict.
If more health problems crop up as time goes on, you need fortitude to accept the fact that some illnesses have comorbidities and you may just be lucky enough to be afflicted by one of those.
Depending on your illness, you need fortitude to accept that the illness may rob from you your dreams for the future. A degree. A job. A spouse. A child. A family. A career. Being active. Being independent. Growing old.
So if I had to advise someone with a newly diagnosed chronic illness on how to manage it in general terms, I’d tell them two things.
Water and fortitude.