In my early 20s, I only had a handful of medications and treatments that made up my daily cystic fibrosis regimen. Now, at 45 -- and a few years past the median predicted survival age -- I take between 15-20 different medications, most of which I have to take daily (or more often).
This means that I have to manage a daily medication schedule, maintain an inventory so I know when to refill each medication, manage five different companies because my insurance requires that I get certain medications from certain pharmacies and then make sure that my doctor(s) send each prescription to the correct one.
Life with CF -- or any chronic illness -- is complicated, but you can make things run a bit more smoothly by staying organized. Here are some of the ways that I keep organized with CF.
I keep a box of my “everyday medications” with me. It's just a plastic box with a lid that I purchased at Target, but it is my lifeline.
It's big enough to keep all of my basic medications, including spare diabetes supplies. The box is also easy to grab should I have to leave the house quickly in an emergency.
I get many of my medications from a mail order pharmacy. They ship 3-month supplies of nearly everything and I receive medications as my insurance requires.
As a result, I acquire stock that needs storage space until it's time for me to use it.
Enter the mother of all medicine cabinets! As you can tell, I just received a big shipment from my mail order pharmacy. If you look closely, you will see that I labeled certain shelves and corners. (Yes, I have a label maker and yes, I use it!) I also keep other medical supplies like my blood pressure machine, hand-held spirometer and a few other things that I might need.
It's important to keep a current list of all the medications you take to keep track of what needs refilling or to have on you should go into a hospital or ER or see a new doctor.
I created a spreadsheet of all my current medications and update it every few weeks. If you're interested, I can email a copy of this excel spreadsheet to you. You'll find my email address in my bio below!
Another thing I need to organize is my diabetes kit. It's portable and comes with me everywhere.
In it, I carry my glucose monitor, lancet device, extra lancets, two insulin pens, extra pen needle tops, alcohol wipes and some caramel candies for quick sugar.
My “Mini Meds” Kit
When you have more than a few medications, you realize how tough it is to keep them all with you. For example, I have to take enzymes every time I eat and have several other medications that can cause some real discomfort if I miss them. I never know if I'll be out of the house when I need my next dose, so I must have them with me at all times.
I found these cute tins in the dollar aisle at Target and realized that they are perfect little containers to carry a few medications with me in my purse.
I bought some small medication baggies (at CVS pharmacy and other pharmacies) and counted out a few doses' worth of each medication should I get stuck somewhere. I then took the extra prescription label from each bottle so that I had all important information (i.e., brand and generic names, prescribing doctor and phone number, pharmacy name and phone number, the dose and frequency) with me.
This IKEA cart seems to have been created just for vests; I know of at least a dozen other people with CF who have this cart. It's heavy, it's metal and it fits my compressor, vest and hose perfectly.
As you can see in the picture, I find that the rocking chair is an ideal chair to sit in while using my vest because the hard back forces me to sit up straight. Doing the vest for many hours a day can be taxing on the back and muscles, so keeping a strong posture certainly helps.
Lately, however, I have been too sick to go up the stairs so frequently. So, we moved the cart downstairs to the living room and reorganized it to not only hold the vest, but also my medicine box and a few other things I needed.
We also bought a magnetic white board where I can write reminders to myself.
I'd love to hear what you do to keep organized.