Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Here I still sit waiting for my doctor’s office to return my Thursday call.Pills and a Fool I say that facetiously as I know they won’t call back. I’ve likely been lost in the bureaucracy that separates doctors and patients. Somewhere in their office are my unanswered questions of what I’m supposed to do with these medications. If the actions I take with these medications are really that important then surely they would have called me by now. Ha, ha!! I might call them again; I might just figure it out myself.

Ever since the neurologist advised me to stop taking the medications I was on, in lieu of the one he wants me to take, I’ve been withdrawing myself from them. I use that word “withdraw” because my body has not liked being without the addictive pain medications it has had for years. So, as my body is getting cleared of those medications, I’m now only taking Gleevec for my leukemia and the anti-nausea medications. Well, that’s all the prescription medications I’m taking. Left to my own ways, I’ve relied on an old friend a few times.

Throughout the years, I’ve been on some incredibly powerful pain medications including Oxycontin and other narcotics. They have only been marginally successful in helping with my arm pain. Oddly and weirdly enough, the medication that has helped me the most is little ole Advil. There is something about my chemistry and Advil that helps. It can often take the edge off the pain and help me get to sleep like nothing else I’ve taken. Nevertheless, on the advice of my pharmacist, I stopped taking Advil over two years ago.

When I got my first oral chemo prescription for Gleevec, the pharmacist said that I absolutely can’t take Advil, Tylenol, or Aspirin while on Gleevec. So, I stopped. My most effective agent to help manage my arm pain was stricken. Well, when the neurologist gave me the paper with the list of all my adverse drug interactions, I noted the website he used. At home, while waiting for my family doctor to return my call, I got on the website.

At this website, the drug interactions are classified as Serious Interaction, Significant Interaction, or Minor Interaction. With the concoction I was on, I had nine drug interactions: One “Serious,” four “Significant,” and four “Minor.” When I took out the medications that the neurologist wanted me to stop taking and added Advil, I’m left with zero “Serious Interactions,” zero “Significant Interactions” and three “Minor Interactions.”

Checking other drug interaction sites, they all said that Advil “Moderately” interacts with Gleevec and to monitor usage closely. Even then, taking Advil with Gleevec would leave me with two moderate interactions compared to two Major and five moderates. The problem is that Gleevec has interactions with more than 300 other medications. It’s hard to find something to go with it. By the way, the drug the neurologist wants me to take does not interact with Gleevec. It just makes one suicidal and everything else!!

Having one website say that Advil interaction with Gleevec is “Minor” while the other websites say the interaction is “Moderate and must be monitored,” I decided to call my oncologist’s, Dr. Tan, office. He may not be willing to sort through the medicinal mess between the neurologist and family doctor but he will tell me whether I can take Advil with Gleevec. I called my “Patient Navigator” at Dr. Tan’s office and left a message. She called me back ten minutes later to tell me that Dr. Tan was out of the office. She said she’d call me back as soon as she gets in contact with him. I think she will.

I very well know sayings such as, “A doctor who treats himself has a fool for a patient.” In this case though, the Fool might be on to something!!

Update: Dr. Tan’s office called and he said that Advil makes Gleevec stay in my system longer than recommended. He said I “can take Advil but take it sparingly.” Well, “sparingly” is not what I wanted to hear.

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