[Editor’s Note: After suffering a manic episode because of miscommunication about medication with her doctor, Kimberly shares tips on how to make sure you understand your treatment plan. Kimberly is a Warrior Mom and also has bipolar disorder. -Katherine]
I flopped down onto his couch and then rested my head in my hands. My psychiatrist knew immediately that I wasn’t well.
“This sucks,” was all that I could muster up.
He turned his attention toward the computer and reviewed the last few appointments. I had been on a downward spiral for a few weeks.
“You’re taking this amount of X. You’re taking this amount of Y. And you’re taking this amount of Z,” he said to confirm where I was at on my treatment plan.
I shook my head no.
I wasn’t taking any of the dosages that he had documented. I was taking way less.
He cocked his head quizzically and returned his attention towards the computer.
“When did we change this?”
“I, I don’t remember. In the fall perhaps?”
I watched as he scrolled through every note he had written from that day back to August.
“I don’t have any notes regarding a decrease in your dosages,” he said
I was dumbfounded. I knew that he had changed my dosages at some point. I just don’t know when.
“I swear I’m taking what you told me. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry,” I said as I began to cry.
“It’s okay, Kim. Let’s figure this out.”
Taking medications has been a necessary intervention for me. And for the most part, they have worked really well.
Over the course of a few years, I have been on numerous combinations and dosages and I have been extremely compliant. (Yes, I admit that I do still have to take them, but please don’t be discouraged by that. We all react differently in our recovery processes.) Heck, I’ve even bought one of those handy dandy pill boxes that my Grandma used to use. I keep an updated list of my medications and dosages on a piece of paper for my husband so that he’s aware of what I’m taking. In other words, I’m a psychiatrist’s dream patient.
At some point in time, however, there was a misunderstanding.
Perhaps he “thought” of decreasing my dosages and I misconstrued what he wanted me to do. Perhaps he actually told me to decrease them and never documented it. My prescriptions are dictated right to the pharmacy so I never receive the actual slip of paper. When the pharmacy gave me a refill of the original dose, I just cut the pills in half because I thought that’s what he had wanted me to do.
Either way, we were both to blame.
I thought that this would be a great learning experience for all of you taking medications. Here’s what I’ve learned:
- Write down what medications you are taking and their dosages.
- When your doctor changes your medications/dosages, you can ask him/her/them to write it down for you.
- It would also be a good idea for you to also write it down taking note of the date the change was made. I keep a journal to document this, as well as the reason for the change.
- Make sure to clarify with your doctor frequently about your medications/dosages, how effective they are, and any side effects you may be having.
- You can also ask your pharmacist for a list of medications and the dosages that you are taking.
Has there ever been a time during your recovery, that you had a misunderstanding about medications with your doctor?
~ Kimberly Morand