Alarm going off on person's watch to remind them to take their pills while people watch from behind

Pills Dictate My Life

Pills dictate my life, as I'm sure they do for many people reading this. When you have a chronic illness like ankylosing spondylitis, our meds often dictate what kind of day we are going to have. We never want to forget them. We do everything to remember them. And we fear what will happen if we miss a dose.

But this is just one of the ways pills often dictate my life.

Don’t forget

We never want to forget to take our meds. Knowing that, if we do, there could be dire consequences! Most of my chronically ill friends set timers so they don’t miss a dose. I’ve seen as many as 10 daily timers set to remember to take various medications at different times of the day.

And while most meds I have taken are set to the three meal times, there are some that have very different dosing instructions. And this makes staying on top of things rather difficult.

Because I never want to forget my lunchtime pills I carry them around in a travel pill box I keep it in the leg of my cargo pants. (Another side effect of chronic illness is cargo pants so we can carry everything we need.) I love this pillbox, even if it sounds like a maraca when I walk.

Fortunately, all of my current medications have very simple schedules. However, not all are like that.

Take on an empty stomach

I hope everyone reading this knows what I am going to talk about, but if you don’t, please allow me to share the joys of having pills that must be taken on an empty stomach. When the bottle says empty, it seriously means empty! This means the pill must be taken one hour before or two hours after eating.

This means our eating now has to be as scheduled as our pill taking. No more random “I feel a little hungry” snacks. If you just took your pill, or your pill time is coming up, there is no eating for you.

I lost 40 pounds in 2019, and I partially blame it on the empty stomach rule. I ate dinner at 6:00, I took my pill at 8, therefore no snacking until at least 9. And let's be honest, it’s very rare that I eat at 6. The later my dinner the closer to that “no eating before bed” rule takes over. I got really good at denying myself snacks.

Family would call up to invite us out to dinner. Unfortunately, I just took my pills so I need to wait. And weekend breakfast? Forget about it! I felt trapped and denied of food because I wanted my meds to work.

Don’t let them see!

You might not feel awkward taking your pills in front of people, but I am. Especially working in a school. I definitely don’t want to kick back 5 lunchtime pills in front of a class of elementary children. What if they tell their parents their teacher uses drugs in school?

I don’t always remember to take them in the lunchroom in front of my peers (who might judge me the same, who knows?). But, two of my pills need to be taken with food. What do I do? Duck out of class and hope nobody is in the hall? Call the next-door teacher over to cover so I can hide in the bathroom?

I'm taking NSAIDS and antibiotics! It’s not speed or ecstasy! But, I still feel the need to hide my innocent pill-popping.

Pills dictate my life

I need to take these pills. I really really wish I didn't have to, but nobody has come up with anything better.

I must carry them around and sound like a maraca. I must avoid eating because my pills tell me to. And, I must hide in a rather unsanitary bathroom with a paper cup of drinking fountain water so I can take my pills without judgement.

When you are chronically ill, pills can dictate your life.

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