Lyn's story: Living with multiple medicines

Find out about Lyn and hear her speak about the value and challenges of taking multiple medicines.

Age at interview: 67
Number of medicines: 12
Cultural background: British-Australian



Lyn is a retired caterer and lives in Adelaide with her husband. She now acts as a consumer advocate for older Australians and as a seniors’ peer educator in the quality use of medicines.


Current medicines and conditions

Some medicines are taken regularly; some are taken only as needed.

  • Panadol Osteo (paracetamol): pain management (pain from fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal stenosis, nerve pain and osteoarthritis)
  • Gabapentin: pain management
  • Endep (amitriptyline): relax muscles, nerve pain
  • Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine): rheumatoid arthritis
  • Methoblastin (methotrexate): rheumatoid arthritis
  • Salpraz/Somac (pantoprazole): reflux oesophagitis, help prevent ulcers from NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
  • Nordip (amlodipine): Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • Ferro-F-tab: iron and folic acid supplement
  • Vitamin D: vitamin D supplement
  • Norspan skin patch (buprenorphine): pain management
  • Keflex/Ibilex (cefalexin): antibiotic for infections
  • Ventolin (salbutamol): asthma reliever medicine.


Medical conditions currently treated without medicines

Sleep apnoea: managed with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine at night. 


Medication allergies

Previous anaphylactic reactions to some antibiotics.


Previous conditions and medicines discussed

  • Gynaecological problems led to hysterectomy at age 34.
  • Depression: severe in the past, but not currently needing medicines.
  • Hypertension: used to be on medicine, but since Lyn lost over 15 kg in weight, she no longer needs medicine for her high blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol: used to be on medicine, but since Lyn lost over 15 kg in weight, she no longer needs medicine to lower her cholesterol levels.
  • Symbicort Turbuhaler (budesonide and eformoterol inhaler): asthma preventer medicine.


About Lyn

Lyn has experienced a lot of pain from fibromyalgia and spinal stenosis and pain management has been a big issue for her for many years. After a number of changes in medication, Lyn's pain is now well managed with a combination of Norspan patches, gabapentin and Panadol Osteo. She is also on a number of medicines for other conditions including rheumatoid arthritis. While Lyn doesn't like having to take so many medicines, her pain is now effectively managed, which allows her to do all the activities that make her life enjoyable and meaningful.

More about Lyn

Lyn currently takes eight medicines every day, uses two medicines only once a week, and takes another three medicines only when she needs them.

Lyn has had fibromyalgia since 1990 and takes Endep to help relax her muscles. Since then she has also had spinal stenosis and five years ago had surgery on her spine, which has limited her mobility. Lyn has experienced a lot of pain both from her fibromyalgia and spinal stenosis and pain management has been a big issue for her for many years.

After her spinal operation she was put onto OxyContin for strong pain, which she weaned herself off within six months. Shortly afterwards she had a relapse and was put on gabapentin by the hospital Pain Management Unit for her back pain, which helped until she had another procedure on her back. This resulted in severe pain and she was put back on OxyContin. About 18 months ago her new GP changed her from OxyContin tablets to Norspan patches (morphine-like patches which Lyn refers to as her morphine patches). As long as she sticks to her regimen of Norspan, gabapentin and Panadol Osteo her pain is under control and she can be active and do the things she wants to do.

A number of years ago Lyn was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis which was first managed with Plaquenil alone, but last year she also started methotrexate because her arthritis symptoms were not well controlled. Methotrexate is a strong drug also used to treat cancer. Her rheumatologist gave her the methotrexate Consumer Medicine Information (CMI) to read so she could decide whether she wanted to try it, and a month later she started on a low dose, which has been gradually increased, and she can feel the benefit.

Lyn has a number of other conditions including Raynaud’s for which she takes Nordip, reflux which has been managed with Somac/Salpraz for many years and asthma, which seems to be less of a problem now, although she still keeps a Ventolin inhaler handy for asthma relief.

Lyn’s husband is a great support in helping her with her medicines. He has prepared a medicines list which she takes everywhere with her, helps pack her medicines into dosing containers and suggested she uses the alarm on her phone to remind to take her medicines, especially when she is away from home. Lyn also had a home medicines review which she found very helpful, especially as she found out that some symptoms she had put down to her illness were actually side effects of her medicines.

Lyn doesn’t really like taking so many medicines, some of which are quite strong. She has come to terms with this after researching her medicines on the internet, and speaking to her doctors and pharmacist, which has helped her to realise that all her medicines are keeping her stable and that she will be taking multiple medicines for the rest of her life. While Lyn doesn't like having to take so many medicines, her pain is now effectively managed, which allows her to do all the activities that make her life enjoyable and meaningful.


Listen to Lyn's story

Going to hospital and having to remember all her medicines was one of the worst things for Lyn about taking multiple medicines. This has been much easier since she started keeping a medicines list.
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Lyn and her husband have not had a problem affording her medicines, as most of them are covered by the PBS. She can buy one that is not covered through a hospital pharmacy, which reduces the cost.
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The side effects of some of Lyn’s medicines cause her confusion, so her husband has taken responsibility for managing her medicines.
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Lyn keeps each of her medicines in different locations around the house, according to where she is when she needs to take them.
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Lyn did not know that the morphine patches she uses were making her sleep apnoea worse.
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Lyn was concerned that the treatment prescribed by one doctor did not align with the treatment she received regularly at a hospital outpatient clinic. Talking to the clinic and her specialists reassured her that she was doing the right thing.
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Lyn has been able to maintain an active social life and increase her voluntary work because of her medicines.
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Lyn reduces her medicines where she can because she is concerned about becoming dependent on them. She has found that there are some medicines she cannot do without.
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Lyn would like doctors to keep in mind that multiple medicines can be confusing for older people in particular.
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Lyn calls on her pharmacist to help her manage her routine when a new medicine in introduced.
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Lyn’s specialist made it clear that the decision was hers whether to start a medicine that could have serious side effects. She was able to start it when she was ready.
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Lyn has experienced significant pain relief because of her medicines, which has had a positive impact on all areas of her life.
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Lyn is disappointed in herself for needing so much pain medication but says that she just has to get used to it.
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Lyn and her husband have been in two accidental situations with their medicines while travelling, one in Australia and one overseas. She describes what they did to remedy each situation.
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Lyn describes the steps she follows to ensure her overseas trips go smoothly when it comes to her medicines.
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Lyn found that many doctors relied on pharmacists to give her information about her medicines, which did not always happen.
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Lyn knows that she would not be able to do the things she wants to do if it were not for her medicines.
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The Living with multiple medicines project was developed in collaboration with

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