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My mother and her sister have both had milestone birthdays in the recent past (if they were marriages, they’d be diamonds).  With their new age stature, they started playing a game.  It’s the “who takes more pills?” game.  They were keeping track – nine was beat by ten, until Aunt was diagnosed with diabetes bringing her up to 13, then Mom eclipsed her with 15.  And then Mom came down for a visit, took one look at our kitchen counter and decided the game wasn’t fun any more and she wasn’t going to play. Which is such a shame, because CrabbyCancerMan so has them beat.

I have lost count of the number of medications that have been prescribed since this journey began.  There is a file literally an inch thick with notes from all of the different bottles and canisters, the warnings, side effects, recommendations and directions.  Some weeks, I’d visit the pharmacist every single day.  And a few times, twice a day (okay, and once, three times in one day, but even they agreed that was a rare circumstance).  Each doctor would have an area of focus with a new recommendation for a medication to help with x symptom, or y side effect.  And since there’s a bit of trial and error in this, we get them all, see what works, report back, and then have a whole pile of medications that CrabbyCancerMan no longer takes.

Smart, smart Crabby Cancer Wife that I am, I save them all, just for in case.

So this week, in the frenzy to get ready for Round 2 (ding ding!), I decided to clear off the counter a bit.  Put away the medications that aren’t being used, consolidate some of the bottles, check the expiration dates and that kind of thing.  So I pull out each bottle, check the notes for what it does, when it should be used, what it might interact with… and wouldn’tyaknowit, found a medication amongst the pile to answer one of the current side effects.  Miracle of miracles!

So here are a few thoughts on medication management, should you find yourself in the same predicament, to make life easier:

  • Keep a running list of the medications that the patient is taking.  It may be helpful to make it a spreadsheet, with one tab for medications prescribed, and a second for what is currently being taken.
  • You may want to write out a schedule of medications – both as a reminder of when to take what, but also as a check list to be sure that the patient has taken everything that needs taking on a given day.
  • The doctors should be talking with each other, but it may be helpful to give copies of this list to each doctor, just to be sure.
  • Go over the list with your pharmacist if you have any questions.
  • Keep a copy of the list with yourself and with the patient for in case a trip to the ER is needed – it will make life easier for the doctors there and the coordinating doctors.

Really, there should be an app for that, but for the life of me, I haven’t found one that really does what I want it to in the way I want it to.  Caregivers and patients, if you have one that you like, please give it a shout out.

And when in doubt, you put the lime in the coconut…

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