As someone with CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome), I take a LOT of prescriptions. Some I take twice a day. Others, three times a day. Certain pills, if I don’t take them within 15-20 minutes of when I’m supposed to, will make me throw up all day or other bizarre punishments. On top of all my prescribed meds, there are some vitamins and other supplements, like fish oil and GABA,that I’ve added in as well to help me feel as good as I possibly can. If you were to measure my pills by daily volume, you’d fill about a 1/4 c measuring cup. That’s a lot of pills.
Now, CRPS and Pain are not great on the short-term memory, and they also inhibit the mind’s ability to manage complex tasks. Certain of the medications I take, (gabapentin and opiod painrelievers, I’m looking at you) also contribute to these mental difficulties. Making sure I take the right medications at the right times, and remembering if I already took this or that pill, definitely qualifies as a complex task requiring short-term memory. And I just don’t have it.
I tried several systems before I developed my current one. I tried turning bottles upside down after taking a pill, labeling the pill bottle caps with the time of day and number of pills to take, creating complicated positioning systems to leave clues for myself as to where I was in the day’s routine, and even giving up entirely and making my sweetie responsible for my pills. I bought special pill bottle caps with built-in timers that told you how long it has been since you last opened the bottle–the batteries all died in a week or two. I resisted pill organizers for a long time, because I didn’t want to be the classic old lady with the giant pill organizer in my early 30’s. I also still had trouble with a lot of organizers because they either weren’t big enough or didn’t have the right number of categories. I found one at the $2 store (inflation bites) that sort of helped, at least for the twice a day ones, but only could handle 3 days of pills before refilling. And then finally, at that same $2 store, I hit the jackpot. Eureka!
These lovely little modular pill boxes that came in sets of three and could fit together, a bit like legos, in infinite numbers and combinations. I bought them all–10 sets, 30 boxes. I made half of them AM and half PM, and I had 15 days of the twice-a-day pills–I only had to sort pills twice a month!I grab one PM and one AM every night for my 9pm pill time. I know I’ve taken it that night already if there is a full AM on the bedside. And in the morning, either it’s there full to take, or I already took it. If I worry that I may have forgotten, all I need to do is look. If I’m going to be out late, I put the AM next to the bed before I leave and the PM in my purse. It doesn’t take up a lot of room and my phone alarm goes off to remind me to take my pills every time I have one. If I leave in the morning before 9, I can pop that pill case in my purse and will have it when the 9am alarm sounds. So that’s perfect for my twice-a-days.
The ones I have the worst trouble with are the 3-times-a-day pills. I don’t have a work schedule and often feel nauseated due to some of my meds, so my meal times are not on any regular schedule, and these work best if they are taken precisely every 8 hours. I tried a few confgurations, but I found that the most convenient times were 5am (I wake up to the alarm, take the pills, and have the easiest time getting back to sleep at that hour), 1pm, and then 9pm with the rest of the pills. That 1pm was always getting missed or delayed because I happened to be out away from my pill bottles, or other inconveniences, and I was still having trouble remembering if I’d taken that dose or not–and I wouldn’t want to take them twice!
Finally, I ordered a bunch of these metal capsules online–you’ve probably seen them; they are shaped like a pill, with an o-ring where they screw apart, and usually have a keyring on the cap. I got enough I can fill 15 of them with my daily midday pills, and then just clip the tiny little case to my mobile phone–I take my phone everywhere anyway, and as long as it’s around, I get my pills right then and there when the alarm goes off. I can swap the case out in the evening when I get my other organizers out of the fridge.
So that’s my system! Anyone else have a pill system that works well for them? I’d love to hear about it!
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