At the first informative meeting at the hospital where I was to undergo my transplant, the doctor asked what was the number one reason people lose their new kidney. The answer was, “Not taking your meds.”
“Well duh,” I thought, “I’ll never forget to take MY meds.”
Guess what, I forgot to take my meds. Once, and it freaked me out. It happened several months after my surgery when I was feeling sort of back normal and anxious to resume at least the appearance of every day life. I was gleefully running errands and picking up my son from school when the alarm on my phone went off. I use the alarm to alert me when it’s time to take my meds. My alarm went off but I had no meds. Then I went home to forget them completely until I woke up at 2am in a panic.
After that one fiasco, I knew I needed a system so I would never be without my meds. The answer: very tiny zip-lock bags.
I found my tiny zip-lock bags at the drugstore made just for carrying a daily of dose medications. I keep a packet in my purse at all times. I also gave a packet to my husband and best friend. I keep a supply in my desk drawer and the glove compartment of my car.
I take an inordinate amount of meds. If I don’t take them I’ll get sick and possibly lose my new kidney. There’s a lot riding on my ability to take my meds at their designated time each day. With these little packets of pills spread about, if I forget, somewhere close by, there is a dose of meds. I have relied on these little stashes more than I can say. They’re also great for a weekend getaway when you don’t want to lug your entire inventory around.
If you’ve had any kind of transplant, have any kind of chronic condition, or you take a lot of vitamins and supplements, you probably have a big bag of small plastic containers. My in-laws carried all their meds in a large plastic bag, not even a zip-lock, until I showed them a better way.
I’ve found that a cosmetic bag is the way to go. They come in multiple sizes for everyday or weekend travel. They have pockets, handles, and zippers so you can tote those suckers around without being afraid of losing any precious cargo. They’re also very cute and I might be a little addicted to their cuteness. Target has a large selection of cosmetic cases that change with the seasons. It’s always my first stop when I go there.
Cosmetic cases don’t scream, “Make way! Sick person in the vicinity!” I don’t want to get caught carrying around a plastic bag filled with meds because, first of all, it’s nobody’s business, and second of all, I hate people feeling sorry for me.
Once someone gets a look at all my meds, I hear,
“You have to take all those pills EVERY day?!?”
Then I have to endure their cringing face when I say, “No, I have to take all these pills TWICE a day.”
So a cute, discreet cosmetic bag for me, please.
If you want to get fancy, there are plenty of specialized pill organizers. I’ve tried a few and there is a lot of garbage out there. I’ve bought cheap pill organizers where the lid breaks off before I’ve even had a chance to put a pill in. Then there are those where the lids that never really close and you end up with a days supply of meds in the bottom of your purse. Most pill organizers have very tiny pill compartments. I take many pills of assorted sizes and I need a lot of room for those babies. The best site I have found is called “Forgetting the Pill.”
On this site I discovered a clever and creative company called “Sabi.” They have an array of pill organizers that are stylish, sturdy, and well designed. When I pull out my elegant pill organizer, everyone around me says, “Oooooo, what’s that?” Am a sensing jealousy? Probably not, but this pill case is envy worthy.
After my kidney transplant I was told to have a list of my medication with me at all times. It sounded like a threat. For a while I carried a typed list in my wallet that got wrinkled and tattered like my dollar bills, then I found an app that solved several problems for me. It’s called “Pocket RX” and you can find it on the App Store.
This is a truly helpful phone app. I first loved it for having a thorough dictionary of medications making it easy for me to enter my medication without having to spell Sulfamethoxazole. I have lots of meds and each name more impossible to spell or say. I could easily look up my medication, the prescribed dose, and create my daily list, and have it neatly tucked away in my phone.
Another great attribute of this app is that you can run a “Med Check.” Pocket RX will take your medication list and then give you a list of drug interactions, precautions, and side effects. This became so important right after my surgery when I started all my medications at once and had so many side effects. I could look up and find out which med or group of meds was contributing to my side effects. This actually helped my doctor lower one of my doses. Yay!
There is also a place to type in your pharmacy and your prescriber. There is a resource page where you can find the “Help Library,” “Find a Doctor,” “Pill Identifier,” and “Symptom Search,” among other resources. There is even a blog by the developer who writes about updates to this app.
For me, this app is extremely useful on so many levels. It has features I didn’t even know I needed. My only suggestion on improving this app would be to have the ability to include vitamins and supplements because they can also interact with medication.
You can read about “Pocket RX” here:
You can find “Forgetting the Pill” right here:
This is how I organize all my meds. I hoped you found some useful information. If you have any tips of your own, please share. I’m always looking for easy ways to organize my health.
This is BRILLIANT Barb!!!!! You have distilled a year of trial and error and research and brainstorming into 4 minute read – you go girl!
Thank you Cindy! I’ve discovered how much I love pill organizers. Weird.