More about Suzanne
In 2006, Suzanne was only taking Nexium (which she has taken for many years) and felt lucky that she was only taking one medicine. She had been taking a number of other medicines for ulcerative colitis, which gave her side effects or were ineffective. That year, she had a proctocolectomy (removal of the rectum and all or part of the colon) and a stoma inserted, which meant she no longer had to take any of these medicines. Suzanne feels that the stoma has given her life back and she now has ‘total freedom’.
Following some quite serious medical experiences, Suzanne has commenced a number of medicines that she will be taking for the rest of her life. She had a total thyroidectomy (thyroid gland removal) in 2009 when a benign tumour was found. As a result, she now takes levothyroxine sodium to replace the thyroxine her body can no longer produce. Suzanne suffered kidney failure the following year due to dehydration following an emergency relocation of her stoma. She now takes magnesium and salt tablets to help her kidneys function normally. In April 2012 she had a hysterectomy for post-menopausal bleeding. When she came out of the anaesthetic, she had an atrial fibrillation and was subsequently prescribed Metoprolol to manage her blood pressure. Suzanne is allergic to the hospital-administered painkillers morphine and tramadol, which gave her very low blood pressure, and Stilnox, which gave her a panic attack.
Suzanne also had breast cancer 14 years ago and was treated with tamoxifen for five years. She found it extremely helpful to talk to other women her age in the support group about this treatment. She has also found nurses from the Royal District Nursing Service extremely helpful with respect to her medicines and stoma care, as they see her as a ‘whole person’. It’s important to Suzanne to fully understand her medicines, so she will ask her doctors questions whenever necessary. She also keeps a written medical history that includes her medicines, which has been extremely helpful when communicating with doctors.
Suzanne has experienced some minor problems with taking her medicines, but the benefits outweigh their risks. Remembering to take them is often the most difficult thing, but she keeps two containers full (one at home and one in her handbag) which helps her remember to take them at the right time. She doesn’t like swallowing medicines. Sometimes she feels quite sick after taking the morning tablets and she once vomited. Suzanne has to avoid slow-release medicines because the proctocolectomy means her body can’t absorb them. Her medicines also cost her a lot of money, particularly those that are not covered by the PBS. But she knows that when she takes them regularly, she feels well.
Suzanne believes she would not be as healthy as she is without her medicines and they do not restrict her life in any way.