The trials and tribulations of taking prescribed medication while traveling the world….

The comments here today are in no manner intended to be any form of medical advice.   We are not medical professionals. Please see your medical professional for advice and consultation.
Decorative doors in Morocco are common.  Some believe symbols and a beautiful door may drive away evil spirits.
Where do I begin?  Here we go… doing my best to describe a situation that easily may become a dilemma for seniors or those taking medications while traveling.  No matter how hard I’ve tried I am plagued with hereditary health issues.  Since I was 16 years old, I exercised, watched what I ate, stayed slim (except for a few short periods which I later remedied) and lived a healthy lifestyle. 
I was motivated by fear, watching family members fall prey to diabetes with subsequent amputation and untimely death, morbid obesity, heart and arterial disease, thyroid disease and the painful condition I changed a few years ago by changing to my restrictive diet.
With my efforts all these years, I have no alternative but to take a few medications, one for high blood pressure.  But, let’s face it, millions of seniors over 65 take medications for this and other conditions.  Its not unique.


These doors have similarities that many who designed the riads found particularly appealing.
Over the years, I’ve read how to reduce the necessity for medications for hypertension and have made huge efforts to eliminate the need for the meds to no avail.  Invariably, the symptoms stayed steady and I was merely kidding myself that I could function without them. 

Luckily, almost three years ago, I stumbled across a doctor who steered me in the direction of this strict anti-inflammation diet that I’ll follow for the remainder of my life, that that has changed the quality of my life, now living pain free (except for the occasional pain in the bum right shoulder which I’ll gladly live with).  Without this change, we’d never have been able to travel for a two week vacation, let alone travel the world for years.

In some of the narrow alleys, we could only take photos from an angle as shown.

After the first six months on the restrictive diet, all of my lipids dramatically improved from bad to normal.  But, the high blood pressure, entrenched deep within my genes, remained.  I have no choice but to take medication, most likely for the remainder of my life.

As described in this site many times in the past, taking medication while on a vacation/holiday is not necessarily an issue.  Its imperative to bring more medication than you’ll need in the event of delays, with the medication in it’s original labeled bottles along with copies of your prescriptions in the event you are questioned.  Only once have we been questioned about non-prescription and prescription medications except in Belize.  Long story.  Here’s the link.

Two interesting doors..
We’ve posted many times as to how we decided to purchase our few medications through a reputable online pharmacy, a year’s supply at a time, to be shipped to us wherever we may be.  When down to a remaining four months of a drug, we place our order.

Alas, an order of a few months ago that we received in South Africa via snail mail, had a problem. Before sending the medication, they contacted me by email, explaining the dilemma.  The pharmacy company, ProgressiveRX was unable to correctly fill the blood pressure medication.

The drug in question is Lisinopril with Hydrochlorothyazide.  The pharmacy company only had the drug Lisinopril by itself without the Hydrochlorothyazide, a diuretic used to reduce fluid in the body and subsequently in the blood vessels (simplification). They didn’t have access to the combination drug or the two drugs separately. The combination of these two medications, available in a single pill was the only drug that worked for me after trying many combinations years ago. 

We also noticed exceptional doors while we were living in Tuscany last summer.

What was I to do?  Find a doctor to write a separate prescription for the required 12.5 mg dose of Hydrochlorothyazide and then take the two pills together?  Worrying about running out entirely, I advised them to send the 10 mg. Lisinopril by itself and I’d figure out the rest.  I didn’t want to go to a doctor’s office in Africa unless it was an emergency with fears of communicable diseases in such a place.
Taking my copy of the prescription to a pharmacy in South Africa provided no options. They didn’t carry the drug or a reliable equivalent. Knowing that I’d run out of my old supply in the first few weeks in Morocco, I realized I’d have no choice but to try taking the Lisinopril by itself and see what happens.  Within three or four days, I could feel that my blood pressure was high. Many do not feel any symptoms from hypertension making it important to have it checked from time to time.

A serious kitty nap at the base of a tree.

I know many of you will write to me suggesting I don’t self treat.  Medical care in many countries is sketchy at best, especially with the language barrier.  That’s why we have emergency evacuation insurance. 

In fairness to medical professions in every country, surely, there are fine doctors in most countries.  Finding one’s way to them is tricky, can be costly and time consuming.  We didn’t determine this dilemma to be a medical emergency at this point.

With Spring Break on the horizon, yesterday the souks weren’t as busy as usual.

Taking a copy of the prescription with me as we wandered through the souks and Big Square on several occasions we stopped at a few pharmacies, none of which could understand the dilemma.  Alas, on Monday, before we started our sight seeing tour, Samir directed Mohamed to take us to a certain pharmacy, outside of the Medina.

The pharmacist spoke excellent English.  We left her with a copy of the prescription and a short time later she called Samir, explaining she could supply the separate drug, Hydrochlorothyazide in 25 mg pills which I could cut in half an add it to the Lisinopril dose each day. 

(Oddly, I had packed a pill cutter.  We’d never used a pill cutter until our precious dog Willie was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 for which we were giving him Morphine, cutting the stronger doses in half over the few weeks until he left us.  If you’re a dog lover, you may enjoy reading the first blog I’d ever written, during his last days of life, written from his perspective. Please click here for the link.  Please scroll through the archives to read from the beginning. Get out your hanky).

Occasionally, we’ve seen a modern looking spa type store in the souks, often selling the popular Argan oil, thought to be highly effective in treating the skin and hair.

We ordered a year’s supply to supplement our year’s supply of the Lisinopril and we’re good until we’re in Hawaii next March. Today, Samir dropped off the prescription order for which we reimbursed him.  Heartfelt thanks to Samir for his assistance in this situation.

The entire cost for the years supply was US $33.20, MAD $270.  I can only imagine the cost of this drug in the US for a year’s supply, perhaps as much as 10 times more.  (I could drag out the soapbox for that discussion but I won’t at this time)!

Had she only been able to get the combined drug, I’d have no use for the year’s supply of Lisinopril for which we’d already paid the online pharmacy.  Luckily, it all worked out well.  

The rooftops in Morocco are also similar to those in Tuscany.

An interesting fact that we’ve discovered in many countries including Morocco, is that pharmacies don’t necessarily require a prescription for many drugs.  However, this could make replacing a drug one accidentally left at home time consuming and frustrating.  Also, some narcotic drugs may be acquired in some countries without a prescriptions which ultimately could result in an arrest if one didn’t have an accompanying verifiable prescription on hand. 

I ask myself, “What could we have done differently to avoid this situation?”   Not much, really.  Now, feeling like myself again after the addition of the second drug and the recovery from the recent illness, we feel we did the right thing.

The last archway we enter on our long trek to Pepenero.

Traveling long term has it challenges.  We don’t have all the answers since we, like many of you, learn as we go.  Hopefully today, if one of our readers gleans a morsel of information from us sharing this story, our efforts are well spent.

Tonight, we’re dining in after a fabulous dinner yesterday at our favorite, PepeNero.  OK, we’ll admit it, we’re already doing repeat restaurants.  But then again, Madame Zahra’s amazing dinners are surely repeats that we can’t resist.

Tomorrow, we’ll share photos of artifacts from the interior of our riad that we’ve found rather interesting.  Hopefully, you will too!

Photo from one year ago today, March 27, 2013:

Our veranda in Belize was located at the left edge of this sidewalk.  We couldn’t have been closer to the Caribbean Sea than we were.  For the post from that date, please click here.


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