Thank you to Walgreens for sponsoring this blog post.
This post is to spread awareness about prescription drug adherence. We both live with chronic health conditions that require medication. These are our stories about our health Wake Up Call ☎️
Being diagnosed with a chronic illness can be scary, but it can also come with relief. For me, I was happy to have an answer, and I was grateful to be taken seriously by my doctor.
I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome in 2016, shortly before I turned 20. For the past six months, I had been battling severe cystic acne, uncontrolled weight gain. There was also a worsening of the cyclical depression that had been occurring for even longer. My periods had stopped for ten months, then became so erratic and painful that I would lose sleep from cramps. Ariana and I had started dating before most of my symptoms really started to show. As she witnessed their onset, she started pushing for me to see a doctor. After months of pushback, I listened.
I was lucky.
Lucky enough to have a support system, and lucky enough for my doctor to give a quick diagnosis. I was also lucky enough to have had a short escalation of symptoms, which allowed for a quicker recovery. I had no large cysts on my ovaries, and I have yet to experience the pain of a cyst bursting. Hopefully, this is an experience I never have to have. By the time I was three months into treatment, my physical symptoms were all but gone.
For me, my health was entirely dependent on my medications.
Immediately after my diagnosis via ultrasound, my gynecologist put me on a birth control which regulates my estrogen. This prevented the external symptoms of PCOS as well as any growth of the cysts on my ovaries. She also later added in a medication which regulates my insulin levels. People with PCOS are more prone to Diabetes and don’t metabolize sugar as well as those without it. I also took an antibiotic prescribed by my dermatologist for the first year. This was to clear up my skin and prevent the painful cysts that had taken root deep within my cheeks.
Two years later, I take my medication every day.
Staying on my medication to manage my PCOS symptoms is integral to maintaining my quality of life. My emotional state, energy level, physical appearance, and reproductive health all depend on taking my medication. The Walgreens app provides tools that help ensure that you never miss a day of your medication.
For me, routine is integral to my health, so I use a pill reminder every day to make sure I take my medication on time. Walgreens not only offers a pill reminder feature on their app, but also has features like Save a Trip Refill and Walgreens Express TM help make medication refills quick and easy. Visit your local Walgreens pharmacist to find out more!
The process of my diagnosis happened suddenly.
I was 17 years old and I had just started my first day at a summer job. I was feeling all around bad throughout my first day of work and by the time I had gotten off of work, I had an intense headache. Once I got home, my parents who both have hypertension (high blood pressure) were checking their blood pressure with an at home blood pressure cup, as they often did.
I mentioned to them that I wasn’t feeling very well and they insisted that they check my blood pressure. Of course, I hesitated because it was just a headache. My dad proceeded to check my blood pressure and the numbers were extremely alarming. My parents thought the reading might have been wrong because there was no way that a 17-year-old child could have a reading like that. After checking my blood pressure once more, my parents realized that I needed to be rushed to the E.R. right away.
I was trying to keep my cool because I didn’t think any of this was a big deal at the time. I didn’t even know what having hypertension really meant. Before I knew it, I was sitting in the E.R. with my parents and I could feel their concerns radiating.
At this moment I knew that something was wrong.
My name was called and I was sitting in a room with a nurse while he wrote down my information. He didn’t talk much, but the one thing I will never forget him saying was “you’re so young. This will have to be a lifestyle change for you. You will have to change your diet and prioritize your health from here on out because I never want to see you back in here for this.” That might sound harsh to some of you, but that terrified me. I took his words literally.
What I thought would be a quick trip to the E.R. turned into me being checked into a hospital room because they couldn’t get my blood pressure down enough. Nightfall hit and I was being told by my parents that they would have to leave me there for the night because they had to go to work the next morning.
I never knew the words “high blood pressure” would ever relate to me at 17 years old.
Throughout my one and only hospital stay, I was educated about my diagnosis by amazing nurses and worked closely with my doctor to have every test ran in the book to figure out why my blood pressure reading was alarmingly high. To conclude my story, there wasn’t a direct cause for my high blood pressure reading. I’m 24 years old now and I’m pretty sure my uncontrolled anxiety levels and a high sodium (salt) diet is what put me in that hospital bed at 17. I left the hospital with the treatment plan of a low sodium diet and medications to help keep my blood pressure levels at a healthy and normal reading.
If it weren’t for that one random reading initiated by my parents, there could have been a fatal ending. Hypertension in most cases doesn’t have any symptoms and if left untreated can cause stroke, and even heart disease. It’s still scary for me to think about. I am so happy that I worked with such an amazing dedicated team throughout my hospital stay. I work closely with my doctor to maintain my treatment plan of taking my medication once in the morning and once at night. 7 years later, my blood pressure readings have never been better and I still haven’t forgotten those important words from the intake nurse the day I checked into the hospital.
My medication is life-saving.
High blood pressure isn’t a condition that should be taken lightly, and taking my medications is an essential part of my life now. Making sure I take my medication regularly and as prescribed by my doctors is essential to my health and my future health. I never want to see the inside of a hospital room for my high blood pressure again.
Because I take my medication twice a day, I love the built-in reminder feature in the Walgreens app. They also have a 24/7 Pharmacy Chat available to help answer any questions you may have about your medication, no matter what time you need to ask them. For me, this is so important for me to feel secure because I take a variety of medications. Being able to access tools that make it even easier to stay on track are amazing for my peace of mind.
Find out more by visiting your local Walgreens pharmacist, and download the Walgreens app here!
What are your health stories? How have medications changed your life for the better? Share them in the comments below!