The Advent Calendar of Pharmaceuticals: Reflections from a Happy Blister-Pack Customer

Look Mom, no missed pills! Also note my artful use of my favourite red notebook to cover my not-yet-taken meds as to keep the Internet guessing, at least a little bit, about my personal cocktail.

Flashback to a much worse (in the organizational sense) era in my personal history of medication-taking.

Picture this: for years, almost every time I glanced at the sign advertising blister packs while at the pharmacy, I had a thought about how useful it would be to have my medication completely taken care of for me by a professional. I choke back a total of five medications, twice daily, and it’s hard to keep track of what’s what, plus filling the pill container that I was using at home was a time-consuming task requiring patience and concentration. Since I lack both skills, my husband was the official pill-organizer in our household (thanks, A; I appreciate you).

If I stop to think about this logically for a second, as I used to very briefly when my eye caught that blister-pack ad while waiting for prescriptions, I realize how ridiculous it is that anyone should spend a ton of time counting out pills, risking making a mistake in the process, when it’s possible to pick up four weeks’ worth of meds at once, sorted and packaged by someone else, no fuss no muss. But since the same poor memory that would have benefited from the implementation of a blister-pack system always led me to almost immediately forget to inquire further, I didn’t move from “that might help us save time and prevent me from forgetting to take my meds” to actually speaking to the powers that be at my local Shoppers Drug Mart until approximately five weeks ago. This was when I finally got my act together, motivated by a hospital-based occupational therapist who recognized that my neurological “difficulties” would likely impact how I functioned upon discharge.

Together, we developed some useful strategies for dealing with these problems, i.e., I was given solutions but allowed to think that I had come up with some of them myself. Most involve my iPhone: writing almost everything of importance in the notes app for future reference, putting every appointment in the calendar app, setting alarms for even basic everyday tasks (taking medications included), etc. One of the changes that In-hospital Occupational Therapist was most insistent about was that I should switch to a blister pack. “It’s the most practical option,” I was told, or something along those lines. (I am, of course, paraphrasing. I have a brain injury; I can’t be expected to recall word for word what someone said over a month ago.) I’m pretty sure that this advice was repeated to my husband because obtaining said blister pack was one of the first orders of business that we crossed off the list when I was released into the outside world, and left to my own devices, I would’ve gone straight back to my plastic pill-organizer ways.

I’ve now spent long enough with my blister pack that I’m confident that I can assert that it’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me (in terms of medication—don’t get too excited).

Man, do I love it.

Don’t get me wrong: I still hate my medications. They make me feel horrible, even if I know that they’re ultimately good for me in that they reduce the number of seizures I have. Now, however, I enjoy the process of taking them. Through the power of positive thinking and my natural childishness, I’ve come to consider my blister pack a pharmaceutical Advent calendar. The main difference is that I get to peel back two doors each day instead of just one. Of course, there are pills lurking behind those paper flaps rather than waxy chocolates, but I’m an adult, which means that I can eat a high-quality chocolate bar, or ice cream, or both, in the waxy chocolates’ stead, if I so please. And since these days I’m almost always at home recovering from my brain injury/wallowing in self-pity, there’s ample time and self-justification for that.

Most importantly, the blister pack is a fantastic visual reminder to take my gosh-darn pills. Combined with my phone alarms and gentle nagging from my husband, it’s been my best recipe for consistent medication-taking. A perpetual Christmas season and improved drug compliance: who could ask for anything better?





One thought on “The Advent Calendar of Pharmaceuticals: Reflections from a Happy Blister-Pack Customer

  1. Good attitude 😀

    Maybe it would still be worthwhile to ask the pharmacist to drop a small chocolate in each spot of the blister pack, though 😉

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