January 8, 2013

Little Things That Make A Big Difference to Me

I thought I'd start the new year with a brief (remember: Less Is More) photo post on a couple little things I came up with last year to help me and my receding memory. Here goes:

Pill Splitter and Reminder
With one exception, I do all my pill popping when I get up, or when I go to bed. It's easy to remember to take these pills. With the same one exception, it really doesn't matter much if I forget and skip a pill.

The one exception is Sinemet (generic: carbidopa-levodopa). I'm supposed to take this pill four times a day at about six hour intervals. After my "joy of quiet" meditation hour, I try to keep this pill schedule: 5am, 11am, 5pm, and 11pm. The first and last are easy to remember. But I was having trouble with the two middle pills: remembering to take them in the first place, and then remembering IF I'd taken them. Messing up the Sinemet schedule carries consequences: skipping the 11am pill, for example, would would create serious balance problems for me by mid-afternoon.

I finally found a system that works for me (shown below). At bedtime, I set up my pill splitter for the next day. What you see in this photo is the four daily carbidopa-levodopa pills. The white pills are the two halves of a 1mg Azilect tablet. Azilect is usually prescribed for people with Parkinson's in addition to the carbidopa-levodopa therapy. As with most of my meds, I've found that cutting the pill in half seems to work as well as taking a whole pill. So at 5am the next day, I'll start off with one-half of an Azilect and one of the four carbidopa-levodopa pills.

Now, let's pretend it's 11:30 the next morning and, as is often the case, I'm asking myself: "Did I take my 11 o'clock pill?" I look at the pill splitter and see that only the 5am pill is missing. The other pill splitter at right shows my 5-HTP supplement and my blood pressure pill -- both split in half -- and the remaining half of my statin for cholesterol.

Here's One I Need To Work On
Since I can get in trouble if I forget one of my scheduled levodopa-carbidopa pills, I need to do a better job of always carrying this pill container (I use a contact lens case). I'm often away from the house (and my pills) for an outing I thought would be over in plenty of time for me to return for my next scheduled levodopa-carbidopa. Then something else comes up that I'd like to do on the outing, but I can't because I need to return home to take the med. I must develop the habit of always taking this back-up resource with me.

Keeping a Blood Pressure and General Health Journal
I'm experimenting with cutting back on my blood pressure med (Tribenzor). After two emergency room trips, I know that too much 5-HTP (the serotonin booster that is one of the three supplements I still take) can cause pressure spikes. So I've been using a bp monitor in the morning and at bedtime. I record the pressure stats in a journal, and now add comments about any changes in my health routine. I've found this process helpful.

For example, I've been trying various ways of dealing with my bad back: different physical therapy exercises, steroid shots, etc. It helps to have a record of what I was trying at different times, and with what results.

Keeping the Meds List on My i-Phone
Anytime you go to a doctor's office these days, you must fill out a bunch of information, including the meds and supplements you're taking, the dosages, and the schedule. I tried in the past to remember to bring my list, but usually forgot. 

Then I decided to add a new contact to my i-Phone: "Med Schappi." In the comment space for Mr. Med Schappi, I keep a list of my meds and supplements, so this info is now readily available when I'm in a doctor's office... assuming I remembered to bring my i-Phone.

Here's' the i-Phone entry:

And the message:

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