Managing Medications Part I: Pharmaceutical Buffet

Multicolored Pulls in a Case

It’s become a Sunday tradition… I haul out my stash of prescriptions from the shelf, sit down at my desk, and assemble the week’s pharmaceutical buffet. It’s a less-than-tasty assortment of IBD meds, sinus treatments, vitamins, and a handful of near-planetoids they call calcium. I dole out the proper amounts for each day and assemble it all in a pill organizer that looks more like it belongs in a hardware store than a medicine cabinet. This is probably a familiar scenario to someone with just about any illness.

For what might seem like a simple task, there’s actually a lot of coordination that goes into it. Most of my medications I take daily, but one is taken only every other day so each day’s regimen is not identical. Another has a changing dosage so I have several sizes of pills that I have to assemble into the proper total for each day. I take them at various times, and one of them is not a pill, so I have to work that into my regimen as well. Some prescriptions are refilled every three months and others on a monthly basis. One of my refills requires a large quantity which means that my local pharmacy has a tendency to run out occasionally. All things considered, I have to think ahead a bit and it takes some work to coordinate it all.

To help me keep track of this I’ve developed some useful strategies. They’re little personal systems I use to manage refills, divvy up the week’s meds, and remind myself to take them at the proper times every day. And there are backups in case the primary methods fail me. I’ve found and created some useful tools to make it easier as well—everything from pill organizers to smartphone applications. Clever habits can also contribute to an organized approach.

While it would be nice to remember and manage everything without effort, medication routines can be quite complex, and some medicines require adherence to fairly strict schedules. Missing a dose or taking it late can sometimes have significant consequences, so this is not a trivial matter.

As a result, it’s important for people with IBD (and patients of any illness for that matter) to find ways to manage medications effectively. We’re not just casual pill-poppers—medications play a big role in our lives so it’s probably a good idea to pay some attention to creating routines and collecting tools that make it easier. This can be especially important for young patients who may not be accustomed to such responsibilities, and older patients who may have trouble managing on their own.

The following series of posts will explore medication management, including the tricks I employ and the tools I’ve acquired in my decade with IBD, in hopes they’ll inspire you to hone your own set. Some will be things you’ve thought of or are already doing, but others may be ideas you hadn’t considered or can adapt to make your own routine easier. And if you have any ideas you’d like to share, please get in touch; perhaps I’ll add a reader tips section in a later post.

Remember, you can always contact me at

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Tags: Coping tools , Tips ('How-Tos') , Treatments

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About the Author

Andrew Tubesing is an acclaimed advocate and humorist on the subject of inflammatory bowel disease.