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Monday, May 21, 2018
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Kramer: Medication overload weighs on seniors

Right now I’m on medical overload. Last month it was my husband Oscar’s knee surgery, and this month, the surgery’s mine — two eyes rescued from cataracts two weeks apart. But what has motivated me and moved me to this medical subject is a senior’s — and I am one — relationship with medications.

Oscar took some for pain and I’m now documenting, recording, tracking and going nuts putting three different kinds of eye drops into two different eyes in individual amounts for a total of 16 drops, four different times a day. Please don’t misunderstand. I’m eternally grateful for the results they provide. And I have only gratitude and praise for the doctors who fixed what needed fixing and made Oscar’s and my life so much better.

What has caused me discomfort is my recent impulsive decision not to read all the warnings that came in the boxes with my eye drops. I’ve never done that before. I’ve always been a devoted reader of instructions, except for high-tech gadgets with long and technical language that confuses me. I know that what I’m avoiding doing isn’t good for me, and when I finish writing this I’ll probably feel guilty enough to read what came in the boxes.

But my relationship with medications has changed somewhat since television became a home for so many of them to extol their powers and caution their possible negative results. Hearing that the medications I’m taking for a combination of common senior problems may, when mixed together, cause more severe or possibly fatal outcomes has convinced me to be very wary when a new med needs to be introduced.

I trust my physicians and choose them very carefully. I know that they know the good, the bad and the ugly about the medications they prescribe. And they know what’s good for me. But the drug store’s invitation to be made aware of the possible repercussions of what I’m ingesting or dripping into my eyes causes a degree of fear I’d rather avoid but dare not.

What the drug manufacturers are doing is justified and required by law. I understand the reality and necessity of that. I’m just struggling to adapt my needs to their legal responsibilities. And the conclusion I have come to is that if I want to take less medicine, I need to pay more attention to the things I can do to keep myself healthy. Some medical problems may be genetic or inevitable. But I need to listen carefully to what my body is saying and do what’s best for it. And that includes compliance with my physician’s advice and experience.

There’s a fine line for me between knowing and understanding and knowing and becoming wary. To read or not to read is my decision. Ultimately, I control what goes into or on my body. I think I’m going to read what came in the boxes right now. Ignorance is not bliss.

Freelance writer Judy Kramer can be reached by email at [email protected] She is author of the book “Changing Places: A Journey with My Parents into Their Old Age.”

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