Watch out for the purple urine

Posted 1/31/24

When I was growing up in the 60’s, things were a lot different than they are now. Not only was the culture much different, but my mom was also different. She did not believe in taking …

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Watch out for the purple urine


When I was growing up in the 60’s, things were a lot different than they are now. Not only was the culture much different, but my mom was also different. She did not believe in taking medication, (although she did use her eye drops for glaucoma.) It was not a philosophical choice, but she just preferred using home remedies. If I had a bad headache, aspirin was not the answer, but a calming nap under warm, comfy covers with a cold compress on my eyes would do the trick. If I had a bad cold, the treatment would be the same, except for the addition of Vicks VapoRub under my neck.

My mother would drop dead if she saw the list of medications currently on my menu, but she is already dead, so I can carry on following my doctors’ advice without feeling guilty. I take over-the-counter drugs such as Tylenol and Claritin, as well as a medley of prescribed medications, presumably to relieve any negative physical symptoms and keep me from dying from a heart attack or stroke. However, the side effects of many medications can CAUSE heart attacks and strokes!

In order to inform consumers of the potential side effects of medications, the FDA requires that television commercials for prescription drugs must include information. Consider a commercial for the prescription sleep aid Lunesta; a reassuring, assertive voice notes “the drug will deliver you to the land of restful sleep”. Then a soft, soothing voice talking very quickly, reports that the side effects include headache, dizziness, getting up and doing things while still asleep, such as driving a car, rash, pain when urinating, diarrhea, feeling sad which can lead to suicide, joint pain, vomiting, hallucinations, or death. 

I learned a long time ago about the side effects of medications when, in college, I was prescribed Inderal for familial tremors and mitral valve prolapse. I seemed to misplace a lot of things, never to find them again. One day after doing the laundry and putting the clothes in their proper drawers, I went to the drawer to get out a new pair of pants. The drawer was empty! An hour later, the drawer was full! This freaked me out until reading that the side effects included memory loss and hallucinations. No thank you on this medication.

Amnesia is a condition right out of soap operas. Who gets amnesia besides those who have head injuries? It is one of the side effects of the pramipexole I took for nocturnal myoclonus. I did not develop amnesia, but I did become a compulsive shopper and compulsive eater, side effects I did not know existed. Compulsive eating has led to weight gain. I was able to utilize my shopping energy to purchase inexpensive things on-line before Christmas and donate them to a church in Providence that had 300 families for whom to buy gifts. Of course, now that I realize that these are side effects, the medication no longer lounges in my pill case. 

There are a multitude of other odd drug side effects. Some prescription laxatives can turn urine purple. (Surprise!) Hearing loss, memory loss, chapped lips, abnormal dreams, inability to sit still, necrosis of the skin, blood clots, and sudden cardiac death are some other notable side effects. One of the most used chemotherapy drugs can result in the patient losing his/her fingertips. The drug causes the top layers of skin to peel off. A 62-year-old man undergoing cancer treatment was detained at United States Customs because the agents could not find any fingerprints. 

Most of the individuals managing chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, arthritis, and cancer rely on prescription drugs. For instance, diabetes medications play a crucial role in regulating blood sugar levels, mitigating the potentially devastating effects of diabetes including heart disease, kidney issues, nerve damage, skin conditions, dementia, blindness, stroke, and hearing impairment. It is apparent that the risks of taking diabetic medications is minimal compared to the extensive possible complications of the drugs themselves. 

Taking medications can lead to side effects such as hallucinations, (WHERE did those clean clothes in the drawer go?) and compulsive over-eating, (Buffet City, here I come!) These were easily managed through a discussion with my provider and elimination of the offending pills. Prescription medications, in general, have become integral in maintaining and improving health, offering effective means to mitigate risks and enhance the overall quality of life. Just watch out for the purple urine.


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