When I was in training at Lutheran General Hospital, my fellow residents and I used to meet in the cafeteria to commiserate and eat lunch.  One of the most frequent topics of conversation revolved around how the older attending physicians tended to prescribe way too many medications.

Our teachers were dinosaurs and we were the new king of the universe.  We marveled at how the old guys would prescribe 4 medications for an illness, followed by another 4 medications to take care of the side effects of the first four, and then a few more meds to counter the side effects of the 4 meant to treat the side effects of the first four.  Is your head spinning yet?

We swore that we would never do anything that foolish!   After all, we were the new generation of enlightened docs armed with the latest and greatest medications ever invented.  Jump forward 30 years and meet the dinosaur version of Dr. Segal.  Wisdom and age showed me that the old guys I was so quick to criticize knew what they were doing.

Ron, the waiter, stated that he was on too many medications.  I’m on ten, and yes, several are designed to treat the side effects of others.  I’m sure that today’s young residents in training would criticize my treatments.

As a young doc in training, I did not realize how complicated aging can be.  Each of my meds are essential.  Without my Parkinson’s medication, I’d sit frozen in my chair 24/7.  One medication causes nausea and one counter acts the nausea.  One medication potentiates the other.

One treats my hypertension and one treats the swelling in my legs.  One of the medications treats my arthritic joints and another protects my stomach from the stomach damage caused by the anti-arthritic.

While I complain about taking “too” many pills, I am thankful I have them.  I am also working hard at taking off some weight and increasing my exercise.  Hopefully taking off 25 pounds will improve my BP and joint pains and allow me to stop taking some of my meds.

So the next time you bemoan the expense and inconvenience of taking a lot of pills, count your blessings.  Medication, when appropriately prescribed, can save your life.

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