It was nearing the end of a busy afternoon; old lady RA had been keeping a low profile for most of the day. I sunk into the couch cushions with a cup of tea, and scooped up my pill box, looking through the transparent lid with the day-of-the-week labelled on it and noticed something odd – there were still pills lounging in slots beneath days gone past…uh-oh…
In the beginning of my diagnosis, I had only one pill to take; easy enough to hop out of bed and pop it with my daily breakfast. Eventually, one medication wasn’t enough to battle the invasive symptoms of the old lady, and I had to add more; I advanced from one pill a day to six pills, sometimes eight, all taken at different times with and without food. It started getting a bit confusing and I found it tricky to remember to take them, especially on busy days when arthritis was not my main focus. I purchased a compartmented pill-box to help me keep track– but I soon realized the pill-box wasn’t enough – there were still days I would forget to take certain medications. I needed a new plan. I discovered by trying to stick to a regular pattern throughout the day helped me remember to take my medication.
I try to get up at the same time each day (depending on the old lady’s temperament). I take my first set of pills with my morning coffee or tea, settle at my desk and check emails; I have breakfast, do a bit writing and take another one; I take subsequent pills over lunch and dinner, attempting to follow the same strategy, associating certain activities with each stage of medication. Staying on a regular routine helps trigger my memory so I remember to eat those meals and take those pills. However, it’s not foolproof – often life throws you a curve ball and takes you away from a regular schedule – and then, things get a little bumpy. I can always tell when my life has taken a detour from its regular path because there are extra pills in my box, and the presence of those pills are a calling card, pulling the old lady from her dormancy. Wandering too far off my routine will sometimes come back and bite me in the-you-know-what; but I do my best.
My routine will change, that’s just the way of life, but I try to maintain certain activities for the sake of my foggy memory, my swollen joints and my overstuffed pill-box.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.