This is going to be PART 1 of another blog “series,” but this one is all about the importance of medicine/treatment with IBD and ways to comply with it. I’m not sure when I will write part 2 because there are so many other things I want to touch on. Please let me know what other topics interest you so that I can answer your questions and/or talk about things you are intrigued by! Happy reading!
“Wow! I’ve never forgotten to take my medicine!” – Said no one ever with Crohn’s disease. 😆 (If you are that person, either wow! You’re skilled, or just be honest and stop lying. For all of you wondering, I am by no means anywhere close to that person. But I’m working on it.)
“Wait, so you like, don’t have like twelve different alarms on your phone for all of your medications? WHAT?!?!? You DON’T TAKE any medicine at all?!?!?” (Yes, my friends, it’s true. Not everyone takes medicine on four different schedules. No, I don’t have twelve alarms, but there are definitely more than 1!)
“Aww, I feel so bad for you. I can’t imagine a life in which the pharmacist doesn’t know your name, birthdate, and daily medicine routine on a personal basis. How do you live?” (But seriously, how do you live? Before my mom even drives up to the window they have a giant bag waiting for us. Talk about special privileges.) 😆
Anyway, so as you can obviously tell, this post is going to be all about medicine. No, I’m not talking about the tylenol you take when you have a headache. (And is it just me, or does tylenol do absolutely nothing when you need it to?) I’m talking about daily medicine. Most, if not all people with IBD take some form of regular medication and/or other treatments. Whether it be shots, pills, IV’s, feeding tubes, special foods/drinks, or any other type of medicine/treatment, the point is, you have to take/do it again, and again, and AGAIN.
IBD isn’t curable (yet). So, it’s not just a weekly course of antibiotics and then your free to go off into the Amazon rainforest and forget about those pills you took a while back. You “get” to take medicine again, and again, and AGAIN. And if you haven’t already figured this out for yourself, let me tell you something. It gets
pretty VERY annoying.
Now, there are those people who say “Taking pills/shots is totally fine. I never get annoyed about it. It’s just a fact of life. Stop focusing on all the negatives and be happy you can access the care you need! Come on! Just suck it up and take a few pills. It’s not that hard.”
Well, guess what: I thought I could be that person. I thought I was that person. But I’m not, and that’s okay. I’m not saying I don’t appreciate that I can access the many medications I need, as there are many who do not have this privilege. However, I do fall short at the “suck it up, it’s just a few pills,” and “I never get annoyed about it” parts. I want
ed (still do 😆 ) to take every pill/shot every day at the perfect time without feeling the slightest bit annoyed. But I’m also human, and let me tell you, part of being a human is that you’re going to get annoyed. That’s okay too (most of the time).
The thing with med compliance is that once you skip it once, you’re bound to do it again. If you see that one forgotten day “messing up” you’re pill box, why not skip it again and mess it up some more? But you must realize that this is a trap that far to many people fall into. “Oh, one day won’t kill me. It’s fine. That pill didn’t really matter, I don’t really need to take it anyway.” Yet for some “mysterious” reason, one day becomes one week, and then a month, and before you know it, you feel like complete and utter crap, and then your doctor asks what the problem is, and an embarrassed and sick you responds “I stopped taking my medicine.” Also, if you doctor prescribes a medicine, it’s implied that you do need it, and it’s okay to take bazillions of pills and shots. (Plus, those little container thingies make great storage containers if collecting tiny weird stuff is your thing.) If you ever feel that you’re medication is not right, or that you don’t need to take a certain one, TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR! Sometimes doctors do mess up and give the wrong dose. If something feels wrong, let your healthcare team know immediately!
So, onto the real point of this post: how am I supposed to take my medicines day after day after week after month after year without getting bored (yes, as dumb as it sounds, it can happen 😆 ), or “forgetting” (accidentally, or “accidentally”), or just outright wanting to scream every time you want to go out and have to pack your pills/shots/other supplies? (Also, I have to admit the fact that every time I set up an injection I just have this urge to squirt it across the room. But I don’t, because, well, ummm…you can’t exactly get away with that.) Below, I’ve included my top 5 “remedies” for “medicine block”, when you feel like you just. Can’t. Do. It. Any. Longer. Like. For. Real. No. Joke. You. Can’t. Take. It. Any. More. (Literally “take it”) 😆 .
- PILL BOXES! Seeing all of your beautiful medicines waiting for their chance to slide down your throat in a beautiful box is just irresistible, right? In all seriousness, pillboxes provide motivation to take your pills every day without fail. You would feel horrible if you flaked and left lonely capsules uneaten, right? Plus, seeing an empty box at the end of the week or month is a feeling like no other. (Yes, I am officially a medical nerd, and very proud of it!) Weekly pillboxes are great, especially if your dosages are changing often. Monthly boxes are even better if you know that your does is staying the same for months/years. You can also get super fun colors/styles of pillboxes that fit your needs.
- REMINDERS! Set a timer on your phone/tablet/computer to tell you when to take your medicines. It’s easy and lasts for as long as you need it. Also, many companies that make “major” medicines (such as biologics) have an email system you can sign up for that send you emails when your next dose is due. Or, if you want to get really creative, train a wild pigeon to alert you when you need to take your medicines. (On second thought, maybe it’s best if you don’t do that…)
- REWARD SYSTEMS! Create a goal along with chart or mental tally to see how long you can go without missing a dose (hopefully forever, right?). You or your parent can provide a reward for you when you reach your goal. This provides even more motivation to remember your meds.
- LET THE WORLD KNOW! Okay, you don’t have to go around telling strangers about your daily medicine routine. However, placing your pills on an open space that you can’t miss will help you remember to take them, and this allows for others to remind you (if you are okay with that).
- NOW, NOT LATER! Set a specific time for when you take your medicines, and stick with it. If you notice that your forgot or were unable to take your meds at the usual time, take them as soon as possible. Use the alarms and above methods to help with this. Saying that you’ll take them later is the biggest lie anyone has ever told. I am horrible about this, so we can get better together. (Wow that was cheesy, but it’s true.)
I hope these tips provide helpful hints on complying with medications and treatments. But, we are all humans, and it’s okay to forget once or twice. The important thing is that you correct your mistake to the best of your ability, and don’t make a habit out of it. If you forget a “super important” medication, such as a weekly injection, call your doctor/nurse to get back on a safe track. Although medicine is annoying and it is unfair that some people need to take bunches of pills and shots and other people don’t, know that it is for your health. Without medicines that we have today, many people with IBD wouldn’t be able to lead the normal lives that they can today. Look out for another post about these topics, and please contact me with any suggestions for further posts!
DISCLAIMER: I am by no means a doctor, nurse, or medical professional. This post is by no means intended to diagnose or treat any disease or ailment. I am not suggesting what medications you should and should not take. This is up to your medical care team and yourself. Please consult a medical professional with any questions related to your own medication and/or health. I hope you found this post useful, but please do not use it as a “doctor”. There are people who are certified to do that, and I’m not really in the mood to get in trouble. Thanks!