Niall's story: Living with multiple medicines

Find out about Niall and hear him speak about the value and challenges of taking multiple medicines.

Age at interview: 45
Number of medicines: 7
Cultural background: British (Caucasian)



Niall works full-time as a public servant undertaking health policy research and writing. He has one young daughter and he lives in Sydney.


Current medicines and conditions

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

  • Diabex (metformin hydrochloride): diabetes
  • Diamicron (gliclazide): diabetes
  • Lipitor (atorvastatin): high cholesterol
  • Lipidil (fenofibrate): high cholesterol
  • Lexapro (escitalopram oxalate): depression
  • Fish oil: joint function; general health
  • Ventolin (salbutamol): asthma reliever.


About Niall

Niall lives an active and healthy life, yet he was diagnosed with metabolic syndrome in his late 30s. His father has a range of chronic conditions, which prompted Niall’s partner to encourage him to see a doctor about being tested for these conditions. Niall’s professional background in health means he was aware there was a strong chance he would develop the same conditions as his father. Various life stressors mean that Niall has also been taking medication to manage depression. All of the conditions Niall is medicated for are currently well managed, as his test results are within normal ranges.

More about Niall

Niall says he is taking his medicines for ‘his genetics’. His father’s medical history includes diabetes, gout, kidney failure, kidney transplant and heart valve replacement, so his then-partner was concerned about Niall’s risk of developing these conditions. Despite being tall, eating well and exercising regularly, Niall was found to have a cholesterol level three times higher than it should be. He also had other signs of quite advanced metabolic syndrome including high triglycerides, high blood sugars and fatty liver.

Because he works in a health-related area, much of Niall's information about his medicines comes from written information he receives in his work capacity or from knowledgeable colleagues he approaches to discuss things with. He has found it frustrating finding information about having multiple conditions, as is the case with metabolic syndrome. He moved house a couple of years ago and has since used the one pharmacy, so he is increasingly raising concerns with one of the pharmacists on staff. He also has a good relationship with his GP. Niall has found GPs and pharmacists to be very willing to engage in discussion and they appear to enjoy having rapport with their patients, regardless of how busy they may be. His work has also influenced him in taking a more coordinated approach to his own healthcare, such as keeping a Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) to coordinate the care he receives as he transitions between health professionals.

Taking medicines is not really a problem for Niall. He has a routine that is very easy to maintain, so he has rarely made a mistake. He has experienced few side effects and they all passed quickly. One exception was the day his daughter was born, as everything was disrupted. He also keeps his medicines where they are visible to him, but out of reach of his daughter, which helps him to remember to take them.

While Niall is conscious of spending quite a bit of money on medicines, particularly as it adds to the cost of seeing specialists, he is also aware that he would have to spend far more if he lived in a number of other countries. The most difficult thing for Niall is coming to terms with the fact of chronic illness and that he will be dependent on medicines for the rest of his life. But his blood test results and his lack of symptoms clearly indicate to Niall that his medicines are absolutely worthwhile. 


Listen to Niall's story

Niall describes a time when his father (who is on some of the same medicines for the same conditions as Niall) went to hospital and had his medicines and medicines list with him, which was really important and helpful
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The cost of Niall’s medicines contributes to the overall high expense of his healthcare.
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Niall needed time to get used to the idea of having to take medicines for the rest of his life, particularly given his inclination to avoid doctors, an inclination that is shared by many men.
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Niall has a very precise procedure for removing his medicines from the packet, counting them and taking them to avoid making mistakes.
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Niall feels he is dependent on a lot of medicines and, since he is still young, they remind him that there will be more medicines as he ages.
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Niall needed the dose of several medicines to be adjusted before he and his doctors started to see some real improvement in his blood test results. A new GP was particularly proactive in this respect.
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Niall found that the problems he initially had with his medicines were resolved and were worth working through because of the benefits gained by continuing with them.
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Niall thinks it a good idea to ask questions of health professionals to fully explore all the available options regarding medicines. He finds they welcome discussion with their patients.
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Niall rarely forgets to take his medicines. However, the birth of his daughter and the first few months of her life did have an impact on his medication routine.
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Niall knows that he is doing the right thing with his medicines because of the reduction in his symptoms, as well as his test results.
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Niall’s father has managed diabetes for many years and has a more complex regimen than Niall. Consequently, Niall is optimistic about the state of his diabetes.
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Niall keeps his medicines where he can see them but also where it is safe for his daughter and others.
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Niall describes the kinds of things he needs to consider regarding his medicines when he is going away for work or holidays.
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Niall really noticed the cost once he was taking five medicines.
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The Living with multiple medicines project was developed in collaboration with

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