I Couldn't Care Less: Sticking to the Script

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A hypodermic needle and a vial

Sticking to the Script

I wonder how many carers support the people they care for with medication. Now some people, of course, are working with complex stuff like injecting medicine, the sort of thing I have never had to do. But plenty of people, for one reason or another, have to manage medicines, request prescriptions, fill pill pots and so on for the person(s) they care for. My wife is dyslexic, so she struggles to cope with all the complex names and when new quantities need to be ordered. Well. I've been doing this for a few years now and figured out a few things through generally making mistakes. So I thought I would share such insights as I have gleaned with you and see if they help.

In my case I got caught because the amount of medication I was dealing with started to build. At its peak there were maybe 15 or so items on the list. But it started with one or two, so I wasn't preparing from the word go. Prepare from the word go. The minute you leave the surgery or consulting room, you may already be carrying important information you might easily forget. I have in the past tried to remember the instruction, 'One a day for the first week. Then two a day for the next week. Then three a day after that,' or something. That can get pretty confusing pretty quickly. It can get even worse, because sometimes the weekly changes can be optional, as with painkillers. Take up to six if you need them, but no more. So this is job one. Write stuff down, in the room if you wish. Or even ask your doctor to write instructions down. Don't, if you can avoid it, start having to play catch up.

So you've left the doctor's surgery and picked up the medication. My suggestion now is that you write this down when you get home. For quite a while I had a notebook devoted to medication, which I nightly prayed was never found in a police raid. I listed each medicine, the dosage, what it was for, when it was first prescribed and how it was supposed to be taken. When a medicine was dropped I crossed it out. When it was replaced I crossed it out and wrote in the new one. This may sound like an awful lot of hassle but I found all this information to be genuinely useful. Quite apart from finding various times when I needed all this information myself, there were also times when it was useful for medical professionals. It's always worth taking a list of medicines to see consultants and others, because they often ask what a person is on. They often ask the dosage as well, for various reasons. You may even find ‘have you tried [name of long and complicated drug] before? If you're organised, you can say, 'yes, Sam was on this for a year about 3 years ago'. If you're extremely organised you can say. 'but stopped because it caused a horrendous allergic reaction'. Then we all know not to try that one a second time, and you look like super-carer.

Sorry, this piece has been rather dull. I'm hoping that someone will have read it and found it actually useful. Anyway, I'll finish with the one most routinely useful thing I do and then I'll go away. Here it is. When you get a new box of tablets, do a bit of maths and work out when the contents will run out. Then work back seven days. Go a little bit further back if you are around Christmas, New Year or a Bank Holiday. That is the day you need to order a repeat prescription. Mark that day on your calendar, or in your organiser or phone. Order the medicine on that day, then make another reminder a few days later to go and collect the medicine. Stick to this and you should never find yourself trying to take frantic last minute action because you have run out of something vital. Have a good week.

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