Survivor + Caregiver

I have lung cancer. My husband has diabetes and heart disease, along with PTSD, thanks to his service in Vietnam years ago. So, while he helps take care of me if my treatments make me sick and weak, I try to help keep him healthy, too.

It is frustrating sometimes. Because he faces multiple issues, he takes handfuls of pills morning and night. Some he has to have twice a day, several have to be cut in half, one has to be removed from one of those packages where each pill is separate and has to be pushed through paper and foil. I don’t know what that package is called, but let me tell you, I hate it. I always lose at least one fingernail to it and my fingers are sore for hours after pushing those stupid pills out of the package.

I’ve tried everything to make it easier to get them out of the foil pack. I stab each little compartment. The black iron pills all have little specks of white on them because the scissors I stab with take some of the black coating off.

Since it is a time-consuming duty to manage his pill-taking, I do six weeks worth at a time. We have stacks of those pill reminder boxes. Let me tell you, it is amazing how quickly six weeks passes and it is time to fill them again.

But, here’s the deal. If I don’t fill the boxes, he just won’t take his pills. Last night we thought about having a bowl of ice cream. (Hmmmm, maybe that’s why I don’t lose any weight!!) He said, “Let me check my blood before we get the ice cream out.” Yikes, it was over 300 … It should have been between 90 and 130.

I was astounded that it was so high. He’d had a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner, but an apple rather than chips. When I worried about what could have caused it to go so high, he said, “I didn’t have my meds today.”

pills, pills, pills – sorted

Well, that explains a lot. I asked him, “Are you out of pills?” meaning, are all of the little pill boxes empty. Answer, “yes.” Now, I have no idea when he finished taking the sorted pills or why in the world he didn’t mention to me that he was out. I don’t particularly enjoy spending the hour or so that it takes separating out the pills, but I never fail to do it! After all, his health depends on it.

If he runs out, he will just do without his medications. That’s worrisome to me. It is entirely possible that he will outlive me. So, then what? I am pretty sure the VA isn’t going to spring for those nice little pill packs I see advertised on TV sometimes. (I sure wish they would! Those look really handy!)

How do those of you in a similar boat handle this? And, does anyone have suggestions on how to get into those foil packs things without breaking fingernails and ending up with sore fingers from all of the pushing and fighting you have to do to get the pills out? What is the purpose of making it so difficult anyway?

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