I’ve been working my way down the list of objectives given to me by my attorney for my SSDI hearing. Here’s where we’re at:
1. Keep a diary
2. Make a list of things you used to do but can no longer do
3. Make a list of medications
4. Write out a description of your job duties of your former jobs
5. Meet with your lawyer
Next up is to prepare a list of my medications.
Keeping track of my medications has been fairly difficult. My diagnosis is bipolar type 1, but recently my psychiatrist has moved me into the category of “treatment resistant” bipolar disorder since I have tried numerous medications that haven’t had any (positive) effect on my symptoms.
Basically what this means is that I have been trying every new medication my psychiatrist throws my way, usually every couple months. I’m constantly ramping up on a dosage or ramping down, so even trying to predict what I’ll be taking in three weeks (at my hearing) is sketchy at best.
I’ve talked a bit about this before, but the way I go about handling all of the information that comes with trying so many new medications is that I have a spreadsheet where I list:
- the medication I tried
- when I began taking it and when I stopped taking it
- the maximum dosage achieved
- the side effects that ultimately caused me to stop taking it
I keep a separate section for medications I am currently taking, with similar information.
I also keep a list of hospitalizations at the bottom of the spreadsheet for a very important reason.
Let’s say I am going to the emergency room, or entering an inpatient hospitalization, or even going to see a new psychiatrist – this sheet has my entire medication history on it. All I have to do is hand it to the nurse or doctor when I arrive instead of trying to prod a brain that is thoroughly out of whack for this information. And, hey, if you want to have your prescribing doctor’s information on the sheet, that never hurts either.
I keep all this information in a spreadsheet on a cloud (through gmail) so I can access it from any computer with internet in an emergency. So far, it has really helped me.
Ok, so side note, I am preparing my medication list to include all of the medications I’ve tried so that I can demonstrate (if it comes up) that my symptoms have been treatment resistant at my hearing. Again, it is always better to have more information than not, so I want to consider my entire history, as well as my current medications.
If you are compiling a list of your medications, it is perfectly reasonable to start with your current ones. Open up the medicine cabinet, grab your bottles, and start your list.
You want to list all medications, so consider things like herbal supplements you might take (I take fish oil), over the counter daily medications (I take pepcid AC daily for an abundance of stomach acid), or things like prescription face creams (which I use for acne). You also want to consider medications you take as needed.
These things may not seem important, but they might be addressing issues that are side effects of the psychiatric medications you’re taking. I have stomach issues and acne from taking lithium, so I use two medications to address those side effects.
My current medication list looks like this:
- 1200 mg Lithium Carbonate (once daily)
- 20 mg Latuda (once daily)
- 50 mg Tegretol (once daily)
- 5 mg Risperidone (as needed)
- 10 mg Ambien (as needed)
- .01% Tretinoin Gel (once daily)
- 20 mg Pepcid AC (twice daily)
- 1000 mg Fish Oil (once daily)
From what I understand, this is all that is required for the social security hearing. I know from experience, however, that if asked to recall information about my previous medications I will have a bit of trouble, which is why I want to be ready with the full history list.
If you are interested in making a list of your full medication history, there are a few things you can do to help in the process.
- You can ask your prescribing doctor to give you a list of what they’ve prescribed. Most doctors I’ve met are happy to share this information.
- Look at old medication bottles. I have a bit of an OCD thing where I can’t throw mine away, so I have every psychiatric medication bottle I’ve been prescribed since 2003. This was extremely helpful in piecing together which medications I took and when.
- Look through a blog or journal. You may have written something about trying a new medication, or stopping an old one.
- Ask a family member or friend if they remember any details.
Having a history of your medications can be helpful, but it isn’t absolutely imperative. After all, you could always begin your list with what you’re taking currently, and if things change, update it. Realistically, I only really care about having a history list so I don’t wind up taking the same medication twice, when I’ve already had a bad reaction to it in the past.
Here’s a chopped down version of my list:
- Latuda 40 mg (12/10/13-) – back and neck muscle agitation, mood destabilization
- Geodon 120 mg (10/28/12-8/2/13) – developed muscle spasm in jaw, intense dizziness, fainting, no appetite
- Lorazepam 1 mg (10/1/12-10/25/12) – worsened mood (hostility)
- Trileptal 150 mg (6/12/12-6/21/12) – worsened mood swings
- Zyprexa 5 mg (4/3/11-6/6/11) – 40lb weight gain in two months
- Zoloft 100 mg (4/7/11-4/13/11) – triggered mania
- Abilify 5 mg (4/13/11-4/20/11) – extreme nausea and dizziness
- Clonazepam (4/3/11) – severe mood swings, panic attacks
- Seroquel (4/2/11-4/3/11) – extreme dizziness, trouble focusing, intense drowsiness
- Prednisone (2/04/11-2/6/11) – severe mood swings with uncontrolled crying spells, unprovoked panic attacks
- Lamictal 25 mg (2/23/11-2/26/11) – rash, discontinued
- Wellbutrin 150 mg – (no memory)
- Neurontin 300 mg – (no memory)
- Fluvoxamine 150 mg (12/02-2/03) – worsened depression, mania, psychosis, and homicidal/suicidal ideation