If You're Clumsy and You Know It, Pour Your Meds

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    Ah, the indignities of late middle age: needing stronger glasses every year.....discovering that crepe-paper has replaced the skin on your hands......having to take enough prescriptions to require one of those med-minders the old folks use. Follow me as I chase mine all over the bathroom.

    I've got to admit it: I HATE filling up my pill minders each week.

    The reasons for this are many, not the least of which is being reminded that I take enough meds to need the things in the first place. Then of course I had to buy color-coded ones for the day and evening meds because I got the clear ones mixed up a couple of times, and took the nighttime meds in the morning. Ever fall asleep on the john? It happened to me.

    But the main reason I hate this weekly chore is that it's simply a time-consuming pain in the rear. Eleven prescriptions plus three OTCs equals a lot of labels that need to be read (with squinty eyes--why can't they make these things in large print?!) and adult-proof bottles to be opened. Then, because I'm a nurse, I don't handle meds with my fingers, I pour them out into the caps one at a time.....which is quite a trick when they all want to come rushing out in a flood.

    Sometimes, of course, I end up having to touch the pills anyway, which I have to remind myself is really OK since I'm not giving them to somebody else. But I've been known to swear horribly when they fall on the floor, because in my house, there IS no five-second rule. If it hits the floor, it goes in the trash. No exceptions. Except....

    Actually, there are two specific meds that I will pick up and (ugh) use no matter where they land (well, other than the toilet). One is ziprasidone, which is a little less than $5 per capsule, and the other is Celexa....or rather, the half-dose of Celexa that I'm allowed. It's cheap, but my doctor watches me like a hawk with that one because the standard dose once caused a wee bit of mania. Once. So he continues to let me have my baby dose, but doles it out to me in 30-day allotments, and I have to cut the tablets in half.

    This has caused more consternation than any other aspect of my regimen. First of all, the tablets are tiny and oval-shaped, which makes dividing them evenly with the pill-cutter next to impossible. The generic Celexa also has this slick outer coating whose only function I can figure out is to assist in launching the tablet OUT of the pill-cutter at warp speed, whereupon I clutch frantically at the air trying to catch it before it goes into the bowl or disappears behind the vanity.

    One time a few months ago I had the bad luck to knock over the uncapped bottle, and those slippery little suckers went EVERYWHERE. Not only did I have to overcome the "yuck" factor in retrieving them, wiping them off, and putting them back in the bottle, I now had to fish several out from under the sink and decide what to do with them.

    My nursing instinct told me to flush 'em immediately, but my practical side knew I'd have to explain why I needed another refill, and I really didn't want to do that. As it happened, I picked up one tablet that had somehow miraculously landed in my slipper, and it broke in half as I was dusting it off.

    What the deuce??!

    So I took another tab, did the same thing on purpose this time, got the same result. A third pill handled in this fashion also broke neatly in half.

    And my first thought was You mean to tell me I've been sweating over these @#*& things for the past year and I could've been doing it the easy way this whole time!? ARRRRRGGGGGGHHHHH!!!

    That realization caused a blue streak to issue from the bathroom that was so epic in scale that my husband asked me if I was hurt. I hesitated before answering him; how do you tell your mate of 33 years that you're a total ding-dong who can't figure out how to divide a simple tablet?

    "Only my pride," I said. And we shall leave it at that.
    Last edit by Joe V on Sep 24, '13
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    About VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN Guide

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  3. by   Liddle Noodnik
    hee hee ... if only it was only lol
  4. by   Liddle Noodnik
  5. by   Hygiene Queen
    I lost a whole bottle of levothyroxine in my sink.
    Of course the sink was very wet and all my precious pills promptly fluffed up and dissolved.
    Every single one.
    Even the ones that looked intact ended up as mush between my fingers.
    I was pzzzzd!
    Thankfully, they are pretty cheap, but still!

    I hate cutting pills and the ones I hate the most are the tiny risperidol and those stupid shaped little slick ariprazole.

    Made me think of my psychotic pt who blew up on me because I accidentally broke her lorazepam in half while trying to pop it out of the package.
    She lit up like a firecracker and chased me half way down the hall.
    Good times!
  6. by   Fuzzy
    I cannot drop my pills. Doing so can cause a large vet bill. the dogs will catch them before they hit the floor. BTDT.
  7. by   Spidey's mom

    Dropping pills at home, for me, is not the same as dropping them in the hospital. I'll pick them up and take them regardless.

    Fortunately the dogs are outside most of the time . .. . .
  8. by   herring_RN
    I do the same for my husband. Morning in a large transparent weekly container. One is not scored as has to be cut in half.
    Evening in a smaller one.
    Eye drops BID.
  9. by   nursefrances
    Love it, Viva!

    Almost everymorning at 5am, after letting my dog go outside for a potty break, I will give her the morning dose of phenobarbital for her seizures. Every Sunday morning I refill her pill reminder box. We need one because it is given BID and with so many of us in the house who will give it (or forget to give it ) it is much easier to figure things out with the lovely little plastic pill box.

    Well, last week as I was dealing out her little half pills, I bumped the open bottle and about thirty little pills spread out all over the kitchen floor. Some rolled under the refrigerator. What a pain in the butt. There I was at 5am, wishing I was asleep instead, picking up little microscopic pills from the floor. What we do for our little furbabies.

    The first time we requested a refill of her (Baby, the 5 pound Yorkie) meds from the vet, the vet assistant asked the most glorious question ever......"Would you like me to cut them in half for you?" I could have hugged her through the phone if it was possible. Now, every time I request a refill they split the pills for me. I love my vet.
  10. by   nursefrances
    I forgot to mention before....I LOVE the title of this article. Awesome!!!
  11. by   merlee
    Very cute article. Issues that I deal with every day!

    When I was a home health nurse, I made a rule for all of my 'clients' - once you were up to 4 pills, I taught you how to use a pill minder. Yes, 4. Seemed like most people could manage 3, but starting getting confused at 4. So each of my clients got pillminders at that lucky number.

    Welll, now, because of my own health issues, I, too, use a pillminder. And I find it very convenient. I pour once every 2 weeks, then just look at what I've got for that day, and down the hatch they go! If I had to open 9 bottles every morning it would make me crazy.

    Of course there was one time when I flipped someone's nearly full minder, and pills went every where! OY! BTW - my pills are not near a sink, so those issues don't come up.

    The airport security agency wants you to carry all your bottles with you, but I would need another carry-on for that, so my pre-poured pills are in the minder, and all the prescription info goes with it in a large zip-lock bag. Never been questioned. And my insulin and syringes come on board with me, as well. Lots of extra syringes in my checked bags, too. You can get 'N' and 'R' in most pharmacies without a script (cheapest is Wal-Mart!) but you CANNOT get syringes without a script!

    Hooray for pillminders!
  12. by   wooh
    I accidentally threw a brand new bottle of my $95 miracle reflux medicine in the trash at the gas station. I cried when I realized what I'd done the next morning. I was having a bad week anyway, and that was just the moldy icing on the cake.
  13. by   VivaLasViejas
    Quote from wooh
    I accidentally threw a brand new bottle of my $95 miracle reflux medicine in the trash at the gas station. I cried when I realized what I'd done the next morning. I was having a bad week anyway, and that was just the moldy icing on the cake.
    OUCH. That hurts!!

    Reminds me of a couple of months ago, when I nearly left $222 worth of Geodon behind at the hotel I was staying at during a conference. The only reason I had the bottle with me was that I had a call out to the doctor as to whether I was supposed to be taking 40 mg or 80, and I didn't have a chance to talk to him before I had to leave town. Now, why I didn't just take a few extra capsules with me, I don't know, but I didn't and it almost cost me dearly.....thank goodness I took one more look around the bathroom before I checked out.
  14. by   sharpeimom
    While we're on the subject of pill splitters, the one from the vet's is much much much sharper than the one we bought at the drugstore for humans. ????????????