Managing medications can be a basic part of mental illness/chronic illness life. But doing it without a system may only work for so long, especially when brain fog gets in the way. At that point, it might be time for a pill dosette, which is a bigger step than just picking up a hunk of plastic from the store.
I’ve been on twice daily (or more recently, three times daily) meds for over 10 years. I had my lineup of pill bottles, and I would pop my doses at breakfast-time and bedtime, no big deal. Having worked as a nurse for years, I figured managing my meds would never be an issue.
Things started to shift about 5 years ago. I was no longer working full-time, so I didn’t have the same routine. My mental health also declined, along with my cognitive functioning. I started using a system of putting bottles where they’d be right in front of me and then moving them after I’d taken my dose, but that stopped working so well when I was no longer noticing things that were right in front of my face.
My system wasn’t working very well, and I was noticing more and more often that I couldn’t remember if I’d taken my morning meds. Bedtime was easier, as I couldn’t sleep without those. Then there was one morning that I took my bedtime meds in the morning, which knocked me out for the whole morning. Then that happened for a second time, which happened to be a morning I had a massage appointment booked. I had to call and cancel at the last minute because I couldn’t keep my eyes open to drive there.
Bring on the dosette
At that point, I decided to embrace my inner old lady and get this bad boy.
I’ve had it for a while now, and it’s working out well for me. I still forget some doses, even though it’s right in front of my face, but at least now I can see when I’ve taken them and when I haven’t.
It was a bit of a mental shift to go from managing my meds in bottles to using a dosette, because they’ve definitely got that old person association. But by the time I got it, I was already well-established in chronic illness pill-popping mode. I’ve also ceased caring much about fitting in with the world, and I’m embracing my inner old person in other ways, like getting one of those shopping trolley things to carry groceries.
Moving further into old person territory
Actually, the shopping trolley felt like a more significant decision to make. The grocery store isn’t far from me, and I always used to walk. But as slow-moving as I’ve been the last couple of years, the walk is really tiring, especially if it means carrying groceries. Maybe I’ll manage to walk more with the trolley so I can pull the groceries along rather than carry them. But getting it involved really looking at my functional limitations and recognizing that they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. And if I don’t care that people are seeing me unshowered and in schleppy attire, and I’m used to moving slower than the senior citizens with walkers, there’s really no reason to care about them seeing me with my little old lady cart.
I’ve come to accept that trying to do things unaided just doesn’t work very well, and I’d rather come up with good systems to compensate than persist in trying to do things in the way I used to be able to just for the sake of it. It’s a different life, this chronic illness thing, but it’s the one I’ve got, so it doesn’t accomplish much to try to fight it.
In general, transitions in life are inevitable, but chronic illness seems to speed some of those along. I feel rather like I’m 40-something going on 70-something, and that 30-something who lived a mostly normal life feels very far away. But things change. Now, I’m a person who uses a dosette and pulls a grocery trolley, and that’s okay.
Do you have a system for organizing your medication? Are there any ways that chronic illness has made you embrace your inner old person?
Ashley L. Peterson
BScPharm BSN MPN
Ashley is a former mental health nurse and pharmacist and the author of four books.