Monday, September 3, 2007

Living Medicated

Don't you just love meds?

Those little (and sometimes big) pills, patches, cocktails and injections that get us through this chronic life take up a lot of space both in the medicine cabinet and in the shaky and undependable hard drive known as human memory.

I know. At one time, I had 13 prescriptions. (I'm down to 6 now.) I took at least one tablet from each Rx every day. Most of them I took several times. And they were not all on the same schedule. Some I took as needed.

Take this twice a day after eating
Take one pill three times a day for pain
Take one pill four times a day
Take one pill after the evening meal
Take one pill several hours before going to bed
Take one pill each week, at least 30 minutes before eating or drinking anything else
Take one pill twice a day at times when drowsiness can be tolerated
Inhale one dose in case of migraine
Use one if vomiting does not stop after a reasonable time
Take one or two pills every four to six hours for breakthrough pain, no more often than once a day (huh????)
Take one or two a day, or one every other day, depending on doctor's directions

It was enough to make my head explode. And remember, one of my symptoms is what we chronics politely refer to as "brain fog."

I tried lists, charts, little pill boxes, big pill boxes. I tried putting the pills in some reasonable order on the shelf. Now that was a laugh. I've never managed to maintain anything in a "reasonable order" in my life. I can't imagine why I thought I'd be more successful with little white and brown bottles of pills.

Mornings were particularly miserable. Some of my meds were only to be taken on an empty stomach. Others had to be taken with food. Both kinds said "take first thing in the morning." Add to that the facts that: A) I've never been a morning person, and B)all my pain meds have worn off during the night. Woo Boy. I am one finely tuned, high functioning piece of precision machinery in the morning.

Oh yeah, and my hands shake sometimes. Heh. Yeah, you should have been there watching me (sans glasses because I never, ever remember where I took the blasted things off the night before) squint at bottles, pick up and put down, open and close, shake out one and then put it back, fling another one right across the bathroom, pick up the spilled pills and finally do the only smart thing to do. Call my husband.

'Did I take my ______ already today?' I'd ask. He didn't usually know, but because I married a man who creates organizing systems in his sleep, he could usually talk me through the process and help me bring order to chaos. For a little while.

Of course the whole thing is set up for disaster. There have been times when I've skipped a dose. There have been times when I've doubled a dose.

I can't tell you how many times in the past four years I've stood in front of the mirror in the bathroom, looking at the little pill in my palm and muttering 'I think I didn't already take this. But I sort of remember the bottle. Do I remember last night or did I take it early when I got up to let the dogs out in the yard? Did I take it? If I did, does that mean I took the other one too? OK, wait, go back to the beginning......Now, I think I didn't already take this.....'

One friend uses pill boxes to take the mystery and misery out of dosing times. But the little open spaces send me into fritters.

Is it empty because I already took the dose or is it empty because I forgot to put one in this spot when I filled the box? Or maybe it's empty because when I dropped the box and pills went all over the floor, I put the wrong ones back in this space. And, what's that little gray thing down there against the baseboard?????

Fortunately my sons are old enough that I don't have to worry about them picking up a stray pill and swallowing it. Unfortunately, they both inherited a sick sense of humor from somewhere and they find my 'antics' completely amusing. That's OK, I guess. They say laughter is the best medicine.

Just please, please don't put it in a bottle. I don't think I could handle one more!

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