Double Trouble: Remembering Your Medication

When I was picking out baby stuff for Deirdre (then Baby Bun), I had only one stipulation: I wanted the lightest car seat and stroller on the market. Since I'm prone to arthritis, I wanted no part of heavy, bulky paraphernalia. In fact, I opted for what they call a Snap 'n' Go Stroller - a simple stroller shell which is super lightweight. I thought having a light stroller at my disposal, I would be more apt to use it, rather than lug the baby around in the awkward (and heavy) car seat/carrier. A girlfriend generously bought us a second Snap 'n' Go, which we put in Johnny's car - so we'd never be without one while out on the town.

Well - best intentions being what they are, I found myself out shopping the other morning, without - you guessed it - my Snap 'n' Go. Little Deirdre was an absolute doll during the outing, never making a peep as I lugged her and her car seat in and out of the car about a half a dozen times. I didn't notice any pain at the time, but later that afternoon, I could barely move my wrists they were so sore. On top of that - I'd forgotten to take my dose of prednisone that morning - so I was in some serious pain! It only lasted only a day, but since then, I've made some changes in the way I remind myself to take my medication. It's inexcusable to miss a dose like a did. I mean, come on - it's working like a charm. Why should I work against myself? And we've rearranged the strollers so that I'll be sure to have one the next time I'm out. I'm just glad little munchkin didn't know the difference!

Here are the fool-proof ways I plan on remembering to take my medication each morning:

1) Use a daily pill box: When I was first diagnosed, I was vehemently opposed to using one of these. I thought it was an indication that I was old, decrepit, and sickly. While I was guilty of the latter, I soon realized that the best way not to be categorized as such was to take my medication when and how I was supposed to. The pill box only made my efforts that much easier. So - it's back to the pill box I go.

2) Write it down:
Although my most recent infections probably warrant a couple of entries on my Chronic Control spreadsheet (which I haven't kept in over a year because I've been symptom-free), I think at least I'll start by jotting down the times I'm supposed to be taking my medication. Because I take the antibiotic 4 times a day, in addition to the other medication that I take twice a day, I'm in serious need of a reminder as to whether or not I've taken the appropriate pills. So, I wrote the following on the outside of the prescription bottle, "6am, 12pm, 6pm, 12am", denoting the approximate times I need to take a pill. Each day, when I take the medication, I make a slash (or some other designation) through the coordinating time, thus proving to myself that I've taken the pill (because in an hour, I'm not going to remember!) I started with a forward slash the first day, then used a backward slash the second day. I'll continue doing that until I've made an asterisk, and then maybe I'll circle it, underline, etc. until the medication is complete. It's working well so far - I have yet to miss a pill under this system. AND most importantly, the infection is I know I'm doing something right!

3) Take medication at the same time everyday: This dovetails into #2. And while you're supposed to do this no matter what medication you're on, I find that if I commit to a specific time to take my pills, I tend to remember to take them. They say it only takes 14 days to form a habit...but since I'm only on the antibiotic for 10 days - I need all the help (tricks) I can get!

Here's a link for more tips on remembering your meds. Enjoy!


Anonymous said…
You are very wise to look for effective ways to remember your meds. It's not easy to manage just a few meds every day, and your Chronic Control chart looks totally daunting! WOW!

Please visit this site and try all of the free software and services. The OnTimeRx concept was designed by a Purdue pharmacist and it has been helping people manage even the most complex drug regimens since 2000. These solutions really work well and they are affordable, simple to set up and easy to use.

Click on the AARP starburst on their website to read about the problems and other suggestions and solutions that are also available. Some of those may also work for you - and people of any age - this is not just a problem for seniors.
Good luck.
Sara Gorman said…
Thanks for the suggestion! I'll definitely check out the website - it sounds great.
Marilyn said…
Hey there Sara, the chronic control sheet sounds more like something my husband would use (he is a CPA) but I have found that a Lupus Journal works good for me. I have a small hot pink binder (so it won't get lost) which I keep all my lupus info in. I have a calendar and track when I start a new med, when I have a flare or have a dr. appt. I also keep photocopies of all my blood work results and medications with dosages. That way if there is every an "emergency" my family knows exactly what to tell the doctors.

Also, if you don't mind me asking, how high of a dosage of prednisone are you on? I've been on it since my diagnosis in June and can't seem to go any lower than 10 mg. It is so frustrating but at least I am out of pain so it is worth something.
Sara Gorman said…
Oh, that 10mg mark is a real troublemaker! It took me a long time to get below 10 mg (like a year or two), but I just kept working on it slowly. I'd taper down to 10mg, and then go for 7.5mg, and it would feel like I hadn't taken any medication at all! Don't know why our bodies tend to wig out under 10mg, but they must need the extra bump in order to supress the pain. When your body's ready, you'll be able to do it. I promise! I do know that 5mg (which is what I'm on now) is considered a maintenance you're actually pretty darn low for controlling your active disease. Hopefully, some of the crummy side-effects have subsided as you've tapered the medication. Check out my previous post on prednisone if you like -
It will let you know you're not alone in your love/hate relationship with the magic little pill! And your blog is great! I'll be sure to visit it now and again to see what you're up to!

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