My friend Val would correct me. They are not pills – they are tablets. They are not pill bottles – they are vials. That’s pharmacy talk. This is my version of the struggle of taking over the “home-pharmacist” duties – and the lack of tools to help me!
When Mom had her stroke in October – the neurologist was wondering about compliance with her meds. Her heart rate was slow – and she was taking metoprolol, but we really didn’t have a way to tell if she took two pills by mistake. At that point, she carried her prescriptions in a little “pill purse”, and there really wasn’t an organized way to tell if she took them once, twice or not at all.
When she got home from the hospital – I got her a “pill organizer” and started filling it every Sunday. I even started removing the OTC Prilosec from the wrapper and putting that in with the other pills – so that we’d actually be able to track if she’d taken it. She has a “double-wide” pill organizer. AM and PM are marked. At the time, she had 4 meds – so I could pretty much just make sure I put something from each bottle in the pill container in the correct slot.
For the next month or so – that worked fine. I even bought an extra organizer – so that when I went on vacation for 8 days – I could fill the pill containers before I left. Oh yeah – that was the vacation where my dad was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia.
When he got out of the hospital – I added his pill organizer to my Sunday task. That was trickier. I think he has 7 pills in the morning, 1 at noon and 3 at night. One of those is three times a day, one is twice a day – most of them are AM – and one is PM only. They gave me a list of discharge meds – but it’s hard to figure out – because you have to skip over nitroglycerin – and the twice a day meds are besides the 1x meds. Come on – can’t you give me a list that helps me fill the pill organizer? Can’t you give me a list that tells me what to put where? Can’t you give me a list that tell me – you should have 7 pills in the morning, 1 .5 tablet each day in the noon meds, and 3 tablets in the night time meds?
I wondered about non-compliance before. Each one having multiple prescriptions – and it seemed like they were continually going to pick up one Rx that had run out. I’m now the Czar of Pills. I have a plastic container of active prescriptions for Mom and one for Dad. I have a larger plastic container of DC’d meds — and I still have a grocery bag of “vials” that I found in their cupboard that I haven’t been able to figure out why they were there. I take this seriously. Even though i have the lists pretty much memorized, I go thru the list of current meds as I fill the organizers. I thought I was doing a pretty good job. And then – as I was filling my dad’s daily meds – one vial had 8 pills – and one vial had 1 pill. I looked closer. They were both filled the same day. I screwed up. I missed one med for one week. My dad has congestive heart failure and COPD. Could I have killed him? I don’t know.
What I do know is that computers are probably capable of generating a tool that would help me fill those pill organizers. Someone should sell that to every company who is producing an EHR!
Follow me, as an Only Child’s Journey into Parent Care continues…….