By Ernie Williamson
I finally did it.
My wife had been urging me to do it for years.
I had foolishly resisted, unwilling to make further concessions to my advancing years.
But the time had come. I finally gave in. I bought a pill organizer for my medicines.
Largely because of a rare spinal cord disorder that left me a paraplegic 12 years ago, I have accumulated so many prescriptions it has become a challenge keeping track of them.
But for years, my pride wouldn’t let me use a pill organizer. I didn’t want to admit to myself that I needed that many pills to function, or that my memory wasn’t what it once was.
As time went by, however, I had more instances when I couldn’t remember if I had taken my meds that morning. I started worrying about accidentally taking too much or too little medication.
Making medicine errors, after all, isn’t unheard of.
We live in a country that has more than 20,000 approved prescription drugs available and where 66 percent of adults take at least one.
It is estimated that between 7,000 and 9,000 people die from medication errors each year, and hundreds of thousands more experience adverse reactions or complications.
As of this writing, I take 10 different medicines; seven require prescriptions. I purchase three over the counter. They are recommended by my doctors.
Those 10 medicines add up to 17 pills or doses per day. Or 119 per week. Or a staggering 6,205 pills or doses a year.
To complicate things even more, dosing instructions and contraindications mean I can’t take the medicines all at one or two times of the day. I take medicine at four different times.
That is a lot to keep track off.
So, I swallowed my pride and bought a simple, inexpensive pill organizer that lets me group and manage my medications to stay on schedule.
For instance, if I must take a pill on Monday morning, it goes in the part of the container labeled for Monday a.m.
If I can’t remember taking a certain pill, all I have to do is look in the organizer to see if a pill is there or not.
I just have to remember to put the pills in the right compartment each week.
There are more complicated devices with more bells and whistles. They are called pill dispensers and are different from organizers.
Pill dispensers automatically dispense tablets according to a dosage schedule input into the device. Smart pill dispensers may have Bluetooth connectivity with medical alert functions for emergencies.
Some pill dispensers can even alert a loved one with a phone call if the person using the dispenser doesn’t take their pills at a certain time of day, which can be life-saving.
I am pleased that I finally relented and bought a pill organizer. I worry less about not taking proper dosages.
“Pill organizers are often considered an ‘elderly’ item, but they can be very helpful for patients of all ages” says Jenna Liphart Rhoads, a registered nurse and educator.
I suggest that if you take multiple medications and think you don’t need a pill organizer or dispenser, think again. Don’t be reluctant like I was.
(Contact Ernie at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, send letters in care of The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516)