General and simple tips for handling and taking medications Part 3 of 4

20 Apr

Physician appointments, Emergency Room Visits, and HospitalizationsTake all your medications, vitamins, herbs, natural remedies, and anything over the counter.  Take a list of your medications as well.  Sometimes there are mistakes with medications and this help alleviate those errors.

Also when mixing new medications they need accurate medications, dosages, and other information on the bottles you might not disclose. Protect yourself every way you can to prevent medication errors.  Be your own detective…and keep yourself alive without further problems.  Prevention is the best medicine.

When you take medications to the emergency room or hospital they may send them to their pharmacy.  That is okay.  Remember you are use to taking your medications at a certain time, and the routine becomes quite different when you are hospitalized. 

If you take your medications along with you, chances are you will receive them within the first 24 hours. Some places will not charge exorbitant fees for each pill, by using your own. You can suggest to your nurse the times you take them at home and they may try to schedule them close to those times (possibly within a couple hours).

It’s not a guarantee, but you can try. All medications need to be kept and administered by healthcare professionals while hospitalized.  You are the most important person on your healthcare team.  Without you…there is no healthcare or team!

Pain and Medications– Do NOT let the pain get out of control.  Once the pain is out of control it takes longer and more medication to make it work.  Stay on top of the pain.  When you deal with chronic pain, you are usually aware at the onset of pain.

Many times pain cannot be controlled with medications and other alternative interventions need to be explored.  Pain will be discussed in detail in a later post. Everyone wants to ignore the pain and wait it out.  It’s a fact that it’s harder to get it under control once your pain has peaked.

It’s like walking down a mountain…if you are at the top of a mountain and suddenly you get pain, you can walk down the mountain in pain…but it’s going to be very hard to get back up that mountain in pain. If you take the medication while you are still on top of the mountain it will help you climb down the mountain and it will also be affective to get back up without much difficulty.

I’m tired of hearing how everyone is worried about drug addiction.  Drug addiction is a very real and horrible situation, but when you are dealing with acute (sudden or duration less than 3 months) pain you need that medication to get you through it.  It’s not as though you will be addicted with acute (sudden onset) of pain.

Chronic pain is extremely difficult for patients to deal with and when someone finds the answer to help them they need to share what works for others to learn.  It’s an issue always open to discussion and help others.  It’s horrific to deal with chronic pain.

Regardless you deserve to live a life as pain controlled as possible.  I chose not to use the word pain-free, because if you deal with chronic pain or medical issues…that’s simply impossible.  Dealing with traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, and chronic illness (mental and physical) it’s all a balancing act and is up to the patient to take control and be responsible.  Even if you don’t remember or can’t follow through, you are still held accountable.

Know What Medications are for What.  Write down exactly what you are taking and what it is for.  You need to take care of yourself and know your medications.  To help you learn this, use this learning tool.

Take one pill out of every container.  On a colored piece of cardboard (if you have a number of pills) or a Colored index card tape the pill to the cardboard.

  1. Write the name of the pill (both name brand and generic names) underneath each one.  Include both the name and generic name.  Next to each pill list these:
  2. Write the dosage and how often you are to take it (for example:  10 mg every 6 hours,  or 50 mg twice daily, or 30 mg [1 pill] at bedtime).
  3. What are you taking it for?  High or Low Blood pressure, Muscle spasms, Bladder spasms, Seizures, Headaches, or Specific Pain to name just a few reasons. Write this next to the pill.
  4. Write who prescribed the medication.

Keep track of this.

  1. Name of the pill? (Name brand & Generic names)
  2. Dosage?
  3. Frequency?
  4. What are you taking it for?
  5. Who prescribed the medication?
  6. When did you start taking the medication?

Memory Aid-Place this memory aid of cardboard in front of sink and mirror that you use when you brush your teeth.  Read this over when brushing your teeth so you will remember what you are taking.  Traumatic Brain Injury is not an excuse for knowing what you are taking, it’s assumed you can handle everything. As sad as it is, this is a lot to remember…but this helps with independence and learning. You may need help doing this project, but than you will also learn in the process and take control back.

Supplies you need to make your Medication board:

  • 8 x 10 piece Colored cardboard (because most pills are white they are harder to see)
  • scotch tape or clear packing tape
  • Pen or Fine Permanent Marker

For those advanced: If you have access to a computer you or someone can help download the picture of medication you are taking and tape picture and reasons you may be taking.  Highlight your dosage and reasons.  And tape to cardboard.  Make this a happy board by either drawing boarders or put stickers around boarders.  This should be fun and educational.  Keep yourself healthy.  Everyone wants to be independent and this is your life!


****If you are taking psychotropic medications for depression, anxiety, pain or a variety of mental and physical illnesses consult your psychiatrist for all medication issues.  Always consult your physician for medication specific issues. NEVER stop taking medications because you feel good.  It’s likely  that you are feeling better because you are taking them on a regular basis.

Many of these medications take weeks to achieve a therapeutic dose to be effective.  A psychiatrist is the best person to prescribe, adjust, and treat mental illness and related diseases.  They are familiar with these specific medications and how the brain responds to them. Psychiatrists are known to spend a significant amount of time with their patients and they do listen!

A physiatrist usually specializes in pain management and can be extremely helpful in controlling pain medically.

Always search for alternative methods to feeling better.  Pills are NOT always the answer.  


heidirmoore x
Submitted on 2012/04/13 at 5:31 pm

This is such helpful information. I have a hot tip that can really help if you have LOTS of pills to take, or if you are doling out the medication for you and a partner. I type and number a list of my medications with explicit dosing information.

Then, I write the number in bright blue pen on masking tape and put the tape on top of the corresponding medication bottle. When it’s time to put out medications, I take out all the bottles and my weekly pill containers.

HINT: If you take pills for which the dosing time is crucial, like I do, with dosing morning, noon, and night, buy three of the pill caddies you show in picture #2 (that say MTWRFSS) — I mark them with color-coded Magic Markers so I know which is which (Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner) (I take so many pills every day that mine gets pretty complicated).

Anyway, I look at the list and get out bottle #1 and follow the dosing advice — okay 2 pills in the morning spot, and one in the lunch spot for every day of the week. Then I get out bottle #2 — this one goes in the dinner spot every day of the week. And so on.

This way, I am far less likely to forget my meds, and I know ahead of time when I’m running out. I also can keep two people’s meds straight this way.

(Oh, and use the masking tape on top because then every time you get a new container, you just peel off the tape and pop it onto the new one). Hope this helps somebody!


General and simple tips for handling and taking medications Part 3 of 4 covered the following:

  1. Physician appointments, Emergency Room Visits, and Hospitalizations
  2. Pain and Medications
  3. Memory Aid
  4. Psychotropic Medications
  5. Physiatrist (Pain Management & Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation) vs. Psychiatrist (Mental Health, Anxiety, Depression, etc.)
  6. Excellent Tip from Heidi

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2 responses to “General and simple tips for handling and taking medications Part 3 of 4

  1. wendy

    April 26, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I have a symstem much like Heidi’s, Most of my pills are taken in the AM and the PM…but one I have to remember at 2pm….that’s a touch one. I used to remember it on time every time (I got a headache immediately if I didn’t, now the headaches better, and I forget) so I started setting the alarm on my phone. I can’t always hear it, so I try to keep it on me on vibrate. My husband also helps by setting his alarm too. (he works at home so he’s a great help)

    I have a list much like you described, but without the pills, that I keep in my purse behind my license. I have it on my medical ID that it’s there. (I’m looking into getting a different ID bracelet that will have everything available, but talked the the local EMS, and they said they aren’t really set up to use the USB type, and often can’t open them. So I’m waiting on that. All the bracelets I’ve found with compartments aren’t waterproof, I know I’ll forget to take it off before going in the shower.)
    My doctor’s love my list thought, I list the Drug name (brand, generic, what size the pill is, the dosage, why I’m taking, who prescribed it, and their phone number) I also list my pharmacy at the end of the list.

    I do like the idea of having a photo of each on….I may try to add that.

    I have found in an emergency situation when I or in one case my husband, have been taken to the ER, we could not have gotten home to get our medications. So having our list was very helpful.

    It’s also helpful that we go to Duke for most things, so they have the list from all the doctors who prescribe for us there…..although they are very bad about taking things off when you are no longer taking them….and they have one drug listed that they say I’m allergic to that I’m not.
    If they kept up the system properly this would be great.

    Thank you for putting these guidelines up for us!
    On many days I simply forget if I’ve taken my morning meds…or evening meds….so the little box I have that I put them in, is wonderful!! I always know I’ve got the right amount, and I did take them. (I hate taking them so much, I think I subliminally try to tel myself I already did…ha)

    Oh also on the top of my medicine bottles I use a Sharpie, and write AM/PM on them, and separate them. Then I can just pick up all my AM bottles to fill my tray…I do always double check…or my husband does if I’m not up to it. But it has been easier.

    Have a great day.

    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      April 26, 2012 at 6:16 pm

      You’ve added a lot of good information here. I’ll need to check and see where I could best add what I haven’t put in my posts. Or simply just summarize by a list. Duke is an excellent facility and some healthcare institutions better than others. Like any large institutions there are always pitfalls inside the systems, but if on average they do a good job, that’s what counts. I’m going to check the fire departments and see how the USB flash drive works, but at the very least it gives people an easy way to keep track of their own health history, medications, etc. I found even the emergency rooms are not familiar, or is it that they don’t have time? Thanks for all the helpful information.


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