Sandy's story: Living with multiple medicines

<!--td {border: 1px solid #ccc;}br {mso-data-placement:same-cell;}-->Find out about Sandy and hear her speak about the value and challenges of taking multiple medicines.

Age at interview: 72
Number of medicines: 14
Cultural background: Anglo-Australian



Sandy is a retired nurse who lives in Melbourne with her husband. Sandy and her husband have five adult children and a number of grandchildren.


Current medicines and conditions

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

  • Ferrosig (iron polymaltose) injection: iron supplement
  • Rocaltrol (calcitriol): vitamin D supplement
  • Cartia (aspirin): thins the blood due to high cholesterol
  • Sensipar (cinacalcet): hyperparathyroidism due to kidney dysfunction
  • Clexane (enoxaparin sodium): prevents blood clots forming during haemodialysis for amyloidosis affecting the kidneys
  • Betaloc (metoprolol tartrate): high blood pressure
  • Eprex (erythropoietin): treats anaemia due to kidney dysfunction (amyloidosis)
  • Renagel (sevelamer hydrochloride): removes excess dietary phosphorus, due to kidney dysfunction (amyloidosis)
  • Normison (temazepam): insomnia (difficulty sleeping)
  • Lipitor (atorvastatin): high cholesterol
  • Vitamin C supplement
  • Vitamin B complex supplement
  • Magnesium forte supplement
  • Xalacom (latanoprost/timolol maleate) eye-drops: glaucoma


Previous conditions and medicines discussed

Chemotherapy, prednisolone, coeliac disease.


About Sandy

Sandy was diagnosed nine years ago with secondary amyloidosis that affected her kidneys and is now on home haemodialysis. Sandy has no problems taking her other medicines. She keeps fits with water aerobics, goes on regular holidays with her husband and loves spending time with her husband and grandchildren.

More about Sandy

Most of Sandy’s medicines started with haemodialysis seven years ago. She started home haemodialysis five years ago, which takes place overnight every second night. This has had a tremendous impact on her health and her life. Some of her medicines are administered through the haemodialysis machine. She was initially treated with chemotherapy and a high dose of prednisolone, which made her feel ‘awful and lethargic’. It meant that she retired a year earlier than she intended, which was difficult for Sandy as she loved her work with adolescents in family planning and women’s health.

Coming to terms with her condition was extremely difficult, particularly with the knowledge that she would eventually need haemodialysis and her whole life would change as a result. Sandy found the support of her husband, nursing colleagues at work and son, who is a surgeon, extremely helpful. She also received a lot of support from her mother who massaged her ankles and talked things through with her. Sandy felt like running away the first time she had haemodialysis at the hospital, but she knew that without it, she would die. Learning how to do home haemodialysis was a complicated process; even though Sandy had administered needles to patients as a nurse, she found it was quite a different story to needle herself. She made good use in the early days of the telephone support that was available. These days she can usually work it out if she makes a mistake. Her husband also helps with the process in a practical sense, as well as being emotionally supportive. Sandy now feels so much better. She accepts haemodialysis as part of her life and has learned to accommodate the procedure so that it does not prevent her from doing the things she wants to do. For example, she books in to hospital-based haemodialysis when she is on holidays, which she does about every three months, to give herself and her husband a bit of a break. Sandy shares all these experiences through presentations she gives at the hospital to patients who are considering haemodialysis.

Sandy has explained to her grandchildren about her dialysis and that she needs it to come to their school events and see them grow up. She has an Advanced Care Plan for the end of her life; because she cannot live without haemodialysis, she can choose when she wants to die. She has discussed this with her family, including her grandchildren, who have been supportive.

Sandy has a good routine with her other medicines and she is organised, which means they are no trouble for her at all. She has experienced no side effects and only forgets the one medicine that she needs to take in the middle of the day. The ‘seriousness’ of the medicines means more to Sandy than the number she takes; if she needed more heart medication, for example, she would be more worried about her medicines.

While Sandy appreciates the support she has received from family and friends and welcomes their questions, she is mindful not to get involved in too much negativity or become ‘medicalised’. Sandy likes to be regarded as a regular person and, given how well she feels, she intends to live her life to the full for as long as possible.


Listen to Sandy's story

When Sandy is on holidays, she goes to a day clinic to have dialysis. She considers this respite for her and her husband from managing nocturnal dialysis at home.
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Sandy often finds it difficult to adequately limit her fluid intake because she has to take a number of oral medicines.
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Sandy explained to her grandchildren about her condition and home haemodialysis. This means they understand that it helps her and that she cannot take care of them overnight when she is on her ‘machine’.
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When Sandy began taking medicines for her kidney condition, she was more upset by what the future held than by the medicines themselves. She feels the same way about her heart medication.
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The Living with multiple medicines project was developed in collaboration with

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