Real-life handbag essentials: pillbox, prescription and lipstick. (Image: Supplied.)
What are your handbag essentials? Let me guess: phone, keys, wallet, lipstick, emergency Twix bar – the usual suspects. But if you have a chronic illness like I do, there’s something else you’re always stashing in your bag: medication.
Well, in an ideal world, I’ll always have my medication in my bag. Just like how I always remember to pay my car registration and flush the toilet after I use it. In reality, I’m quick to forget about my medication, to the detriment of my health. But don’t worry, I always wash my hands after using the loo, I promise.
Running around unmedicated is obviously not living my best life. So, if you need to take meds everyday like me, here’s some tips on how to remember those pesky little pills.
Be open with your friends and family about your condition.
It’s hard to admit this, but I often feel embarrassed about having a chronic kidney disease. There’s many undignified things that are involved in managing the condition, and taking medication three times a day is at the very tip of the iceberg.
There’s something revealing and vulnerable about taking out a pillbox in public and gulping down a little white pill. It might not sound like much, but that gesture tells the world, “I’m not well. My body doesn’t work like yours. I won’t survive without this little pill.”
But as exposed as I may feel, it’s of utmost importance to me that I tell my friends, family and colleagues about my kidney condition. Not only does it explain some things about my lifestyle (e.g. sometimes I have to stay home for an entire day to do a 24-hour urine test, which is basically collecting all my wee in a giant bucket. #sexy), it also helps to keep me accountable for my own health.
If everyone around me knows that I have to take that little pill at 2pm, it makes it easier for me to remember to take it. The more I accept my kidney condition as part of my body and myself, the easier it is for me to incorporate good health habits into my lifestyle. Mamamia staff confess their biggest lies. (Post continues after video.)
Get a pillbox.
I’ve got a little purple pillbox, with separate compartments for my 6am, 2pm and 10pm doses. I find it’s really helpful to have my medication pre-organised for the day ahead, to avoid that brain-draining moment of thinking, “Hang on… did I already take my medication? Am I about to accidentally overdose? Wait – can you overdose on blood pressure medication? Who ate my emergency Twix?!”
These pillboxes are available at all chemists, and are generally ugly as hell. To combat this, get thee to a craft store and then go nuts with a glue gun, sequins and glitter. Or, you can smother your pillbox with fun nail polish colours. But whether you decorate your pillbox or not, it really doesn’t matter – the most important thing is that you’ll remember to take your meds.
Carry spare medication with you, on your keyring.
Okay, so you’ve got your pillbox and you’re all organised but what if you accidentally leave it at home? Never fear – if you’ve got one of these handy keyring pill totes (I got mine from Chemist Warehouse), then your pills will stay with you wherever you go!
Again, these pillboxes are not exactly chic-looking, so feel free to go wild with the nail polish and/or craft materials again. When in doubt, ask yourself, WWKLD (What Would Karl Lagerfeld Do)? He would definitely customise his pillboxes, make no mistake.
Carry your prescription with you at all times.
All right, so you've left your pillbox and keys at home. It sucks to be you...or does it? Not if you've got your prescription in your wallet! If you bring your script with you everywhere, all you have to do is find a chemist and then get a new dose of meds. And if you take meds everyday like I do, there's no such thing as having an oversupply.
Guess what, carrying emergency chocolate with you is good for your gut...I think. (Post continues after gallery.)
Ring the alarm.
I'm now at the stage where I just know when it's pill o'clock. But three years ago, when I was first diagnosed with my kidney disease, it wasn't that easy to automatically take the pills at certain times of the day. Plus, I was both embarrassed and in denial about my disease, so "accidentally" forgetting to take my uncool medication was part of my MO.
Eventually, I realised I was doing myself no favours by omitting the meds from my life, so I set alarms in my iPhone to remind myself to take them. It worked a treat.
What are your tips for staying on top of your health?