>Q. Recently, I did something I think might be very harmful to me.
One of my doctors gave me a prescription, but accidentally left a blank slip attached below it. One of my other doctors had stopped giving me a certain prescription, so I wrote it up myself and signed his name. The pharmacy filled the prescription.
I realize now that I might have broken the law. I am so afraid that the police or the sheriff might come after me that I'm about half-crazy with fear.
A friend of mine said that the pharmacy files prescriptions away and keeps them for a limited time. Is that true? Does the pharmacy send a notice to the doctor when it fills a prescription?
I will NEVER do this again. (The prescription was not for a narcotic.)
A. Forging a prescription is fraud and is considered a felony in most states. Even though the medication in question was not a narcotic, this is a very serious violation. That said, it is highly unlikely that the pharmacy would notify the physician that it filled the prescription. The prescription will be kept on file for several years.
You may escape detection this time, but never try such a dangerous stunt again. Not only is it illegal, but it could be very bad for your health.
>Q. Please send me any information you have on sleep. I suffer with insomnia, as do my friends. We have all tried zolpidem. It sometimes helps me drift off to sleep, but it doesn't last more than a few hours. After that I am like a treeful of owls again, wide awake.
Over-the-counter sleep aids don't work at all or cause the men in my group discomfort from prostate problems. We would like to know more about Sonata, Rozerem and other sleep aids.
A. Part of the problem may be the generic formulation of zolpidem (Ambien). Many readers report that certain generics are less effective than others.
Zaleplon (Sonata) is a short-acting sleeping pill that can be helpful for people who wake in the early hours of the morning. If they have at least four more hours to spend in bed, it can help them fall back to sleep.
We are sending you our Guide to Getting a Good Night's Sleep for more information on zolpidem, zaleplon and ramelteon (Rozerem), plus nondrug approaches. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (61 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. I-70, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.
The sedating ingredient in OTC sleep aids, including drugs like Tylenol PM or Advil PM, is diphenhydramine (Benadryl). It can cause problems for men with enlarged prostates.
>Q. The skin around my nails becomes dry and rough, and within a few days the skin cracks open. I've found that using a nail file to smooth away the rough skin helps to avoid the cracking. If the cracks still appear, I put on a dab of Polysporin and a bandage at night, and the crack usually heals within a day or two.
A. Readers of this column have been offering remedies for split and cracked fingertips for years. Some of their favorites include instant glue or liquid bandage to seal the split. Others use ChapStick or a heavy-duty moisturizer. Rubber gloves can help protect hands from detergent, which is very drying.