Me Versus My Medications
There are so many things that I believe I blocked out emotionally while coping with my chronic illness. But there are a few memories that I couldn't forget. One of my clearest memories was after getting a blood transfusion, I found out that not only did I have lupus, but I also had chronic kidney disease. You would think that was enough to take all the wind out of me, but really, it was the moment they gave me the list of medications I would have to take.
I was only 14 years old at the time, so when I saw the list of medications, I was scared, confused, concerned about side effects, and I felt a bit lost. I went from being an athlete that ate Hot Cheetos, drank Gatorade all the time, and had nachos at lunch every single day without having to think about the medications that I needed to take with or without food. I would now have to adjust to a life of medication and I did not know what that looked like for me.
Finding my new normal
Once I got all of my medications, the doctor also made sure to give me a really enormous pill organizer. I cannot stress how big this container was to me at the time, and now that I think about it, it probably wasn’t that big at all. It was beyond anything I had ever seen before and made me really emotional. I said to myself, “I’m never using this”, and I never did.
At the time, I didn't know what caused those emotions in me. Was it the size of the pill box? Or was I reacting that way because it was such a tremendous life change for me? If I could be completely honest, I struggled with organizing my medications until I was about 20 years old. Today, I have adapted and I take my medication with pride and with less offense. I have a few tips that can help anybody who experienced the same feelings, or if you find it very intimidating or discouraging to stay on top of your medications.
Find a good pill container!
Find yourself a pill container that catches your eye. If you can't find one, get a plain pill container and design it yourself. I painted and designed a couple of pill containers for myself, and it really changed how I took my medication. It made me excited to take my meds and it made me happy to look at it because I didn’t just see a pill container. I saw my own creativity through the colors I chose. It reflected more of me than my illness.
Along with a pill container being visibly pleasing, a change of routine could also be beneficial. Establish a routine of how you put your prescription meds together. What does that look like for you? Create a scene that makes you feel happy and at peace. You could turn on your favorite music and light a candle. Or do it while watching one of your favorite shows.
Don’t be too proud to ask for help
After my kidney transplant, I was so happy, but it also felt like another journey with my medication as everything was different now and there were so many new medications. I found myself going through the same feelings that I felt when I was 14 years old. Intimidation, fear, isolation - afraid of all of these new medications that I would have to take.
I asked my husband if he could help me and he gladly took care of it. He made sure I had everything that I needed for a couple of weeks until I felt confident and strong enough to do it myself physically and emotionally. The life of someone with a chronic illness is a journey that doesn’t end, so what can we do to make this journey a little more bearable? What are some things that you think that could be incorporated in your life to make this journey better for you? While this is only one task of getting meds organized, it's a big one. I remember missing medication because I simply didn’t pack them and this is unacceptable when you’re trying to take care of yourself the best way that you can. I had to make a decision. What life did I want for myself? Did I want to be scared of falling sick again or did I want to make sure I was doing everything in my ability to be well? I chose to be well. Now I have a much more positive experience with my chronic illness and how I take care of myself.
This or That
In addition to chronic kidney disease, do you also live with diabetes?
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