After sustaining a spinal cord injury and becoming paralyzed, you are probably going to have medications that you need to take every day or week. Plus, you’ll probably see several doctors regularly. This is especially true for those first couple years after your spinal cord injury. Managing this information and remembering to take your medications at certain times can be stressful.
In this article, I give you my top tips for managing and preparing your medications. Also, I share a helpful smartphone app that may help you manage your medications and doctor’s appointments. It even reminds you to take your pills!
I am Mason Ellis, and I am a C5 through C7 quadriplegic. I make YouTube videos to help you live life just like you would’ve able-bodied. If you enjoyed this article, check out my YouTube channel for spinal cord injury-related videos and subscribe, so you don’t miss out on future videos!
My Process for Managing Medications
When I first came home from the hospital, I was taking more medications than I ever had before. With so many new things to keep track of and learn, it can get complicated. Plus, it may be hard to stay on track without missing a dose of your medications.
Check out my video about managing your medications below.
Tip 1. Use a weekly pillbox organizer.
When I first started managing my medications myself, I used a single pill bottle. Each morning, I would put all of my medications in the pill bottle that I would need that day. However, I discovered that it takes a lot of time out of my day, which adds up.
Eventually, I figured out how to save time by using a weekly pillbox. Now, each week starting on Sunday morning, I fill up my weekly pillbox with all the medications I will need for that week.
The pillbox has a separate section for each day of the week, Monday through Sunday. I hold each bottle in one hand and hold the cap in the other hand. Then I dump the pills into each day of the pillbox and put the lid back on the pill bottle. I repeat this for all the days that I need to take each pill.
Tip 2. Request Pill Bottle Lids That Are Non-Childproof or Easy to Open
When you’re living with limited hand dexterity due to a disability like a spinal cord injury, you may find that some pill bottles have lids that are more difficult to open than others. Childproof lids can prove difficult for me to open and use.
That’s why I’ve learned to make a quick request to my pharmacy not to include childproof lids on my pill bottles. This way, it’s much easier for me to get the lid off and on.
However, this may be right for everyone. For example, if you have children, you may want to keep childproof lids. On the other hand, you might be able to find a safe place to store your medications away from where your children can reach them.
Tip 3. Use aids or tools to open pill bottle lids.
Another tip for opening more difficult pill bottles is to use a helpful tool like a pill opener.
Also, you can get creative. One way I’ve found to open my pill bottles is by using the rubber wristbands to grip since I don’t have finger function. This prevents the pill bottle from moving around. Then I take off the lid by pressing my thumb against my chest and twisting my wrist.
However, you can find a lot of different types of tools and adaptive devices for opening bottles, including pill bottles, online. Just search for a pill bottle opener, and you’ll find plenty of options. What works best for you will come down to your own personal preferences.
Tip 4. Use a single pill bottle to hold your daily medications.
Once I get the whole week’s pills set up in my weekly pillbox, I’m done preparing medications for the week! Then each morning, I pour that day’s pills into an empty bottle.
All the pills I take with food go in the lid, then I dump the rest in the empty bottle and take them with water. I put the pills that are left in the lid into the empty bottle and put the lid on. I keep the pill bottle with the pills I take later in the day in my backpack on the back of my wheelchair.
The next day I do the same thing with the empty pill bottle, and I only fill up the pillbox once a week. This saves time doing it weekly rather than daily since you don’t have to go through the opening and closing of all the pill bottles every single day.
Tip 5. Keep track of what medications to take by using a smartphone app.
One way to ensure you take all your prescribed medications at the right time each day is by using a smartphone app specifically for managing medications.
I personally use an app called Medisafe, which I talk about in detail in my YouTube videos, which you can also check out below. I keep the app on my phone’s home screen, which is always easy to access.
More Details About the Medisafe App
The home screen of Medisafe is split into four sections, and you can customize it however you want. You can change the look of the home screen to fit your needs. Each section represents morning, afternoon, evening, and night medications.
At the top of the screen is today’s date. You can swipe left or right to go to the previous day’s or the next day’s medications.
Here are a few things you can do with Medisafe.
- Reschedule medications
- Set up notifications for different times throughout the day to remind you to take your medication
- Stay on track by marking “take” when you’ve taken each medication, so you never forget which ones you’ve already had for the day
- Enter and view your list of medications and supplements
- Customize each medication, including the symbol, color, dosage needs, and name
- Add vitals and measurements, such as average heart rate, blood pressure, etc.
- Enter doctor information, such as name and phone number
- Get reminders when it’s time to refill
- Share health information with a caregiver, parent, spouse, or child, so they can see whether you’ve taken certain medications and get reminders too
I’ve been using this Medisafe app for a few years, and I don’t know what I would have done, especially in the early days of my injury, without it. It helps me keep on track as far as my medications and doctor appointments go.
How do you manage your medications?
If you enjoyed this article, check out my YouTube channel for spinal cord injury-related videos, and please subscribe, so you don’t miss out on future videos! Also, check out all my posts on the 180 Medical blog, which include helpful tips for all aspects of living with a spinal cord injury.
Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes and is not medical advice. Please consult your physician for medical advice or in the case of an emergency.