I have a pill box. Yes, one of those Monday-Friday, AM/PM, 14- 1cm square boxes with snappy lids pill boxes. Blue lids for AM. Purple lid for PM.
For a few years (7 to be precise), I avoided having a pill box. Sure, I dipped my toes in now and then, but I couldn’t commit: There was the trendy faux red snakeskin, 5x4cm square number that was quickly transformed into a travel jewelry container. Then, the plain-Jane, opaque plastic, 7-day, 1x7cm snappy lid box with 1 compartment per day. That one I “left behind accidentally” on a trip. For a while, I just transferred pills morn and night to an open clamshell on my nightstand, but I’d often go to bed too tired to remember to set out the meds for the next morning.
None of this was an issue until 2007. Yes, I’d taken meds before; perennial rhinitis made Allegra and then Zyrtec close companions from adolescence onward. But, in 2007 I lost my thyroid to planned surgery and began taking synthetic thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and vitamin D (you don’t know how important parathyroid glands are til you don’t have them…). Those were both AM: levothyroxine on an empty stomach a minimum 1-hour before eating; vitamin D with food. In the PM, my trusty pal Zyrtec. Surprisingly, just these three things became a big deal for me to keep up with. I’d find myself some mornings reaching for the coffee pot wondering, “Now, did I take my levo?” During stressful times when I was prone to be underslept, I’d ask my girlfriend to remind me. “Take your levo,” she’d chime while handing me coffee; chipper as she’d been awake for at least two-hours already.
While I knew I needed structure, I consistently avoided the pill box. It felt stodgy. I felt dependent; on meds and the health insurance that covered them. Old before my time. They don’t tell you these things when you’re making treatment decisions; how you’ll think about your thyroid every damned day thereafter – an organ you never even knew you had. So I missed pills and had days when I doubled up; not the ideal practice.
Years later, after I admitted that I struggled with depression and added another medical friend to the repitoire (an SSRI twice daily), my spouse convinced me to get my current pill box. I wasn’t excited. I was convinced it made me seem “less-than”; it made the meds and my reality more real. Nope, I wasn’t a fan.
I began filling it up every Saturday morning; a Shabbat ritual to get me ready for the week. In those moments of counting and placing, I worked on flipping the script: “You like not sneezing. You enjoy feeling happy. Living is on your “to do” list. These are aids – that’s all,” and “This pill box isn’t so bad- more space in your brain to remember birthdays and grocery lists!” It took a while, but I slowly became used to the process. Now my Shabbat replenishment is an unquestioned automatic- it’s just what I do.
Sure, I still have emotional moments when I pull out the pill box at night, but these days they’re more along the lines of tonight’s experience: I reached for the PM lids, saw my pills in the “M” slot and laughed aloud in disbelief, “Really? It’s only Monday?!”
Thank you pill box; because while Monday truly is a pill to take, you manage to make it less of a chore.