The reality of a treatment plan for chronic migraine tends to involve a lot of medicines. This can include vitamins, preventative, abortive and nausea medications, and maybe even pain medications. As you probably know all too well, a large part of finding what helps involves much trial and error. While vitamins may be the lesser of the evils, they still add to the medication clutter and to the number of pills we take each day. The preventative medications tend to also be a daily dose of some pill that was intended for depression, seizures or blood pressure. The others fall into the medications that we use when we have an attack; the abortive, nausea medicines, anti-inflammatories, pain medicines and even over-the-counter medications such as Benadryl, caffeine, or Aleve. In this article I’ll talk about how I’ve learned to manage it all after 8 years of dealing with chronic migraine.
Let’s face it; we all have a basket or drawer full of various medications. I personally have a basket, which I keep hidden, that contains everything. The medications I take daily are divided once a week into one of those Sunday through Saturday containers and the bottles go back into the basket. I use a make-up bag to separate the medications needed for an attack. This is done on purpose for the event that I am out of it enough that my husband is trying to fetch my medicines for me or if it is the middle of the night and I need it to be easy. This saves us from digging through all of the bottles looking for certain types of medications. If it seems like I am dying, that make-up bag is what I need!
Choosing a pharmacy and managing refills
In my experience, the choice of pharmacy has made a huge difference for me in my ability to manage my prescriptions. My insurance plan does allow for a mail order pharmacy to be used for 3-month quantity of prescriptions. I use this feature for certain medications only, such as my hormones for endometriosis, my anti-acids, and prescription anti-inflammatories. I have learned that any prescription that offers a co-pay card, such as some of the abortive medications that do not have generics, are better to be filled at a local pharmacy because the mail order pharmacies do not tend to accept those copay discount cards. Additionally, I have had better luck using a small local pharmacy in comparison to the big chain stores. Initially I was worried they would not be able to have everything I may try but if it is not a medication they carry regularly, they have it the next day. When some of the larger chains could not fill my preventative for a month, the smaller one had it on hand. Plus, it seems like the staff gets to know you better at the Mom & Pop places.
Being able to afford the medications your doctor prescribes can become an art in its own. When a new medication is brought up, I highly suggest asking the doctor if there is a generic or if it is a formulary brand, meaning there is no generic available yet. If there are no generics, ask the doctor about prescription copay cards. This is also something you can look up yourself on the drug website provided by the manufacturer. These copay cards can help reduce your prescription copay from $75-100 down to $10-30 in most cases. The copays can add up so fast, even if you are not on a fixed income!
Managing “old” medications
Another important element to dealing with the ever changing migraine treatment plan is handling old prescriptions once you stop taking them. From my personal experience, keeping all of the half used prescriptions around not only add to your medication clutter but can add to your feelings of frustration toward your migraine care. There is a National Drug Take-Back Day held once a year that is coordinated by local law enforcement and overseen by the DEA. For the most part it is asked that consumers do not flush prescriptions, with an exception of a few possibly fatal narcotics. If needed, prescriptions can be mixed with used coffee grounds or kitty litter and placed in your trash. Information on drug disposal and the National Drug Take-Back Day can be found online. Some local cities have drop box locations at the police station, you can definitely call and ask where any available drop bins are for your area.
Have you found any useful tips and tricks to managing your medications? What has and hasn’t worked for you?