PSA

Here is my public service announcement (PSA).

Not to be confused with prostate-specific antigen, Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and I’m sure many other words starting with those letters positioned in that order.

Do you take any medication? Any medications?? Even one medication?

“No, only vitamins, no medications”. “Which vitamins?” “Umm…”

“Just a blood pressure tablet…oh I don’t know what it’s called, its the pink one”

“The doctor started me on an antibiotic this week, no I don’t know what it is”

Here goes, my entire public service announcement: KNOW YOUR OWN MEDICATIONS.

Every day, somewhere between 4 to 18 times depending on shift length and how busy the department is, I walk into an ED cubicle and ask a patient, do you take any medications? And I get some frustrating answers: frustrating in that the patient or their carer hasn’t taken ownership for their own or the patient’s healthcare, frustrating in that I have to put in a lot of time and effort that the patient didn’t think was worthwhile, and isn’t necessary, and I forget why else; I’m sure there was something.

 

I’m not whinging about having to do my job. The whole point of a pharmacist is to elicit the best possible medication history from or for a patient, and I have to dig a lot to get the optimal history. It’s the reason I go to work and the challenge of it creates a real sense of satisfaction once I’m certain of a patient’s medications. But I do think that patient’s have to be engaged and do their part. Obviously I cheerfully exempt unconscious patients, those who are demented/delirious, institutionalised patients and anyone else not in charge of their own medications. But the rest of you? Own your health, for your own sake if nothing else.

You don’t have to be a doctor, a healthcare professional or know anything really about medicine to excel at managing your own medications. You just have to put in  a little time and effort, and get to know the following: the medication generic name (the one in small print), or the brand name (I can work with that), and the strength of the medication. That’s it. I’m not even asking you to memorise it. In fact I don’t want you to rely on your memory. When you’re in the ED, there are so many things going on that with you that your medication name and strength are going to get prioritised right out of your memory recall centre, and be useless to both me and you! So write it down, photograph it, tattoo it on your skin if you must! Okay, the last one is a joke, people!

After that, I need to know a couple of things about each medication: how many times a day you take it, what time of day you take it, and anything else pertinent to the medication specifically. If its written down, all you have to do is hand me the list and that’s all I need; if its on your phone just hand me the phone. So if you don’t want me bugging you, and asking you questions, be organised! I will reward you.

And as an added bonus, if your medications are written out neatly and the list shows you know your doses, your medication chart will be written up quicker, more accurately and your medication chart will be safer. I think that’s worth some effort.

For instance, one patient today brought all of their own medications in a box with a handwritten list saying what time of day each was taken. I was able to record all the information I need: generic medication name, strength (from the medications themselves), and the amount she took and what time of day she took it (from the handwritten list) while the patient was sleeping. When she woke up, I just quickly ran through the list with her to confirm it was up to date, and that was that! Easy, fast, and done, just like that! Her medication chart checked for accuracy and the patient was safe to go to the ward, medication-wise.

A lot of patient’s are very good at bringing in their own medications. In fact Epworth patients are exceptional at bringing in their own medications. This is mostly because they know from their last admission or from savvy ambulance drivers that if they don’t bring their own we’ll dispense what they need, but they’ll pay the same cost as if they were getting the medication dispensed at their usual pharmacy. Most figure they’ll just use what they already have. But having all the medications together in one place at the start makes taking a medication history a lot easier and more accurate, so there’s a hot tip for you.

 

Let’s try this again: do you take any medications? Yes? So what are they? Acceptable answers include:

  1. Here is a photo on my phone of all my current medications including vitamins showing the medication name and strength of the tablet/capsule clearly
  2. Here is my medication list that I keep in my wallet/handbag/toiletry bag that I bring to hospital with the name and strength of each medication and what time of day I take them
  3. Here are all of my medications in some sort of bag
  4. Here is the name of the pharmacy where I get all/most of my medications dispensed regularly

Personally? I carry a list in a plastic slip case that I got the the National Prescribing Service (NPS): it has sections for medication name, strength, amount, time of day, diseases, allergies all neatly in a double-sided fold up sheet that fits into a plastic cover; I think you can get them from NPS online.

So even if it’s one, or two, or “just” vitamins/non-prescribed medications, take the time to record them some way, some how. This isn’t just for hospital, but of course this is from my perspective working in a hospital. But I’m sure your GP, your specialists, and maybe others will make good use of your medication recording. So get going, and do me proud! I’d love to see your efforts, so send me your best!

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Sad songs

This has been a pet project of mine for ages, in my head and on my Shazam app at least. Finally I’m getting around to sharing it with you. This isn’t going to be an in depth discussion of songs, so much could be said, but this is just my list of songs that help me.

Music-is-my-escape-saying-quotes

Since I got sick I’ve wanted to put together a collection of songs that have spoken to me about being ill. Songs that have resonated with me about being depressed, being manic, being anxious, being unwell, being out of touch with the rest of my friends and peers, about not being very much at all!

singing to the radio

By calling this sad songs, I’m not suggesting that this is a bunch of depressing songs to get you down and make you more miserable than you are at the moment. I’m planning this to be quite the opposite; a reel of songs that you can turn to when things are a bit bleak. For me these are songs that get me singing and bopping and nodding in agreement. These songs make me feel that I’m not the only one out there feeling off and poorly and badly used. They make me feel part of something, and they make me dig out my would-be-karaoke-star voice, my rapper’s beat and my drummer’s tapping of my feet, or of my hands while I’m driving in the car. They breathe something into me that changes me from how I am in that moment to something better, happier, more alive, more active, more confident and braver to face the world, and every one of those things is a miracle in itself!

Avoiding silence

Every time I go out in the car I turn the radio on. Many people advocate silence and mindfulness and I get that, I do. But a lot of times I just wanna blow my thoughts right out of my brain and listening, singing along and pretending I’m killing it at karaoke (which I’ve never done) and “talking” with someone who gets me, is important to me. Sometimes it’s the only way to express awful thoughts and it can be like a cry for help when you don’t know how else to find the words. Sometimes, it’s just music.

thunder inside

I believe that music can be and is very powerful at reaching into people and making something happen in them. If you feel that way too, then check out these songs and I hope that they inspire you like they inspire me 🙂

My playlist:

  1. Bom Bom by Sam and The Womp, if nothing else in the world can make you dance, this will! “As I go bom, bom, bommm!”
  2. Forget You by CeeLo Green, a great beat and another one to get you dancing
  3. The Middle by Jimmy Eat World, “it just takes some time”
  4. Firework by Katy Perry, “do you ever feel you’re paper thin”, “scream but no one hears a thing”, empowerment plus
  5. Wake Me Up by Avicii, “wake me up when its all over when I’m wiser and I’m older” – this talks to me of suicide and why people do it, to go to sleep for a while
  6. Sea of Air by Portugal. The Man, “when the time comes around, I’ll be brave”
  7. Cheap Thrills by Sia, “I don’t need no money as long as I can feel the beat”
  8. Comfort You by Eskimo Joe, just lie back, close your eyes, this is all you need right now in this moment…
  9. All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor, the right amount of girly sass to shout aloud
  10. Hands Open by Snow Patrol, bop, nod, tap along like a sick percussionist 😉
  11. Something In The Way You Move by Ellie Goulding, bop bop bop away
  12. Are You With Me by Lost Frequencies, lie back close your eyes you’re on holiday
  13. One Call Away by Charlie Puth, “Superman got nothin’ on me I’m only one call away”
  14. Apologise by Timbaland ft. One Republic, great singalong song
  15. Never Be Like You by Flume ft. Kai, “I’m only human can’t you see I made a mistake, please just look me in my face tell me everything’s okay, I’ll never be like you”…apologising for the insufficiencies that mental illness brings about and asking others to tolerate us, and acknowledging that we’ll never be as good as them
  16. Cry Me A River by Justin Timberlake, an oldy but a goody for a personally rainy day
  17. Lush Life by Zara Larsson, clap clap your hands! “Gotta get back in the groove!”
  18. It’s My Life by No Doubt, “it’s my life don’t you forget”
  19. Brokenhearted by Karmin, just a fun tune and love the rapping, “Cheerio!”
  20. Domino by Jessie J, just a good beat
  21. Livin’ It Up by Ja Rule, I’m a sucker for a good rap/R&B
  22. Valerie by Mark Ronson ft. Amy Winehouse, love love Amy Winehouse’s voice
  23. Stressed Out by Twenty One Pilots, reminiscing about easier earlier days
  24. I Love It by Hilltop Hoods ft. Sia, I love rap, I love Sia, and it’s all Aussie 🙂
  25. Brave by Sara Bareilles, “I wanna see you be brave”
  26. Reality by Lost Frequencies ft. Janieck Davy, a good chill out tune
  27. Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis ft. Ray Dalton, a nice beat and a great rap, way faster than I can actually understand! Just sit back
  28. My Sunshine by Mashd N Kutcher, a remix, “Don’t steal my sunshine”
  29. Here by Alessia Cara, sums up my avoidance of socialising since I’ve been sick
  30. My House by Flo Rida, I don’t know why but I just love bopping along to this
  31. All My Friends By Snakehips ft. Tinashe and Chance the Rapper, another song about why I don’t want to go out
  32. Hotline Bling by Drake, great beat, fun rap, just an entertaining song
  33. Stay by Kygo ft. Maty Noyes, don’t like the lyrics but the beat is nice
  34. Higher by Hilltop Hoods ft. James Chatburn, rap plus that voice! “HIgher”
  35. In The Night by The Weeknd, “dancing to relieve the pain”
  36. Summer 2015 by L.E.J, 3 talented girls and an a capella summer mix tape
  37. You Make My Dreams by Hall and Oates, bop bop bop along to the beat!
  38. The Hills by the The Weeknd, “when I’m f*&*^% up that’s the real me”
  39. Habits (Stay High – Hippies Sabotage Remix) by Tove Lo, “can’t go home alone again need someone to numb the pain”, “I gotta stay high all the time”
  40. Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys, “this girl is on fire”
  41. Good Girl by Carrie Underwood, turn it up and sing along with Carrie!
  42. Downtown by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, hilarious!!
  43. For The First Time by The Script, just easy listening
  44. Demons by Imagine Dragons, a good sad day wallowing type of song, “don’t get too close it’s dark inside its where my demons hide”
  45. May It Be by Enya, turn it up and let it wash out your mind and bring peace
  46. Sax by Fleur East, sassy singing and a great beat for your steering wheel tapping
  47. Ex’s and Oh’s by Elle King, blast it through the speakers and sing your loudest!!
  48. Hall of Fame by The Script, always convinces me I can do whatever I want!
  49. Her Diamonds by Rob Thomas, “her tears like diamonds on the floor”
  50. Shake It by Taylor Swift, the ultimate I don’t care what you think song
  51. What Do You Mean by Justin Beiber, sometimes I just can’t express what I want
  52. Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5 ft. Christina Aguilera, “mooooooves like Jagger”
  53. Lips Are Moving by Meghan Trainor, “lips are moving, hey, your lips are moving”
  54. Hello by Adele, that strong powerful voice and my amazing singalong prowess!!
  55. This Ain’t Love by Jessica Mauboy, “cos I made it through the night!”
  56. Wild Ones by Flo Rida ft. Sia, rap and Sia!! Need I say more!
  57. Young And Beautiful by Lana Del Rey (Cedric Gervais Remix), “will you still love me when I’ve got nothing but my aching soul..I know you will, I know you will”
  58. How To Save A Life by The Fray, for the obvious reason of how to save a life
  59. Faded by Alan Walker, a nice voice and soothing tune
  60. Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol, “would you lie with me and just forget the world”
  61. Fire And The Flood by Vance Joy, “everything’s fine when your heads resting next to mine”
  62. Out Of The Woods by Taylor Swift, “are we out of the woods yet?”
  63. Be Together by Major Lazer ft. Wild Belle, THAT voice!! “Maybe if the stars align…”
  64. Never Let Me Go by Florence + The Machine, sad day anthem played at painful loud
  65. Mad World by Vintage Vaudeville style cover ft. Puddles Pity Party & Haley Reinhart, “the dreams I have of dying are the best I’ve ever had”
  66. On Top Of The World by Imagine Dragons, a groovy beat and great happy day anthem
  67. Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself by Jess Glynne, for the obvious
  68. Ain’t Nobody by Felix Jaehn ft. Jasmine Thompson, another great voice and fun beat
  69. Riding Solo by Jason Derulo, “I’m feeling like a star you can’t stop my shine”
  70. Gold Digger by Kanye West ft. Jamie Foxx, a fun rap by 2 hilarious guys, beat along
  71. Chandelier by Sia, my original song because it speaks to me about being suicidal
  72. Happy by Pharrell Williams, because in the depths of my depression I would still light up and clap along! That’s powerful!!
  73. Titanium by  David Guetta ft. Sia, “I’m bulletproof, nothin’ to lose, fire away, fire away”
  74. Better Now by The Vespers, because I’m better now 🙂
  75. Team by Lourde, that voice and “we’re on each other’s team”
  76. Pompeii by Bastille, “how am I gunna be an optimist about this?”
  77. Elastic Heart by Sia, “you did not not break me, I’m still fighting for peace”

music is therapy

Obviously I’ve been at this project for a while! You won’t be listening to these all at once; maybe you won’t listen to any of them ever. That’s okay, it’s for me as much as anything.

music as painkiller

A great piece popped up in my Facebook newsfeed while I was writing this blog, music for the body and mind, article from BUPA. It’s just another perspective maybe with a bit more oomph than what I’m spouting. And then this article, from Lifehack about how heavy metal music influences your mood. Lastly I like this article about making music and our brain. Maybe they mean something, maybe it’s just more noise but I like the idea. Music therapy I’m sure is a whole other fascinating field of health professionals.

Anyway, enjoy or don’t enjoy, this is my music and I’ll be singing along!