Excerpted from Stroke Connection May/June 2004
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You can improve your chances of improving after a stroke by being a good patient.
Here are a few tips:
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist to make a “medication map.” This map:
- Organizes all medicines into a daily schedule
- Helps you make sure you take them at the ideal daily times
- Gives a final check for any drug interactions
- Separates any medicines that should not be taken together
- And is a golden opportunity for you to be fully involved in your health care
Making this map helps you integrate your medicine into the way you actually live. It allows your doctor to determine if the timing and combinations are OK.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist if they offer “brown-bag sessions":
- Put all the medicines you now take in a bag
- Have these professionals review them for dosage, strength, appropriateness, interactions and any other possible problems
- Check expiration dates
- Never order a prescription over the Internet without a prescription, and do not automatically trust information you get from the Internet. Appropriate information has references and at least a byline of a reputable person. If you find information that troubles you, talk to your pharmacist or physician before you act on that information.
- Never take prescription drugs on the advice of friends or neighbors because your symptoms are “just like theirs.” Drug therapy must be individualized.
- Ask your doctor if you should be taking any vitamins or minerals.
- Use a dosing calendar so you can check off each dose as you take it. This is especially helpful if you have trouble keeping track of whether you’ve taken your medicine.
- When refilling a prescription, check to be sure that the drug in the bottle is the same as the drug in your original supply. If it’s different, ask your pharmacist to explain the difference. (Generic drugs from different manufacturers often vary in size, shape, color, etc.)
- If you take medicines prescribed by more than one doctor, check the generic names for duplicate drugs with different brand names. This could cause serious overdoses. If you’re not sure, ask your pharmacist to help.
- Ask what the goals of any treatment are and how long it will take to reach them.
- Always ask that the prescription include both the name of the drug and the disorder for which the drug is taken.
- Inquire if the medicine prescribed offers the best balance of price and outcomes.
- Always keep follow-up appointments with your doctors and for laboratory tests.
- Always open the bag and check its contents before you leave the pharmacy.
Source: Adapted from The Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs 2004 by Dr. James Rybacki