Every morning I have my phone alarm set to ring at 6 am. Every morning, weekday or weekend, workday or holiday, because at 6 am I take my first dose of medication. I take six different pills for my Parkinson’s disease, one to make up for not having a thyroid and one contraceptive. I prepare my morning doses a few weeks at a time in containers with one compartment for each day of the week (see photo) and keep next to my bed together with a bottle of water. That way I can take my meds while still in bed and more often than not, I will go back to sleep for a while longer before getting up. This way the meds will have kicked in when I rise and moving will be a bit less difficult.
What I usually do is that when the alarm go off, I try to silence it as soon as possible, to try not to wake up my family. Then I take out the container and find the right day’s compartment. This is not always easy to do in a dark room and sometimes I use the light from my phone screen to guide me. I empty the content of the compartment into my left hand and count the pills using my right. 1….2….3….4….5….6….7….8, put them in my mouth and swallow with a sip of water.
This morning was a bit different. I woke up at the sound of the alarm at 6 am, still half asleep as usual, I counted the pills in my left hand, almost automatically, silent in my head: 1….2….3….4….5….6….7….. Wait, one more time: 1….2….3….4….5….6….7….. I’m starting to wake up more and process the information… Okay, so one pill is missing… Did I drop it when I emptied this morning’s compartment in my hand or did I make a mistake when I prepared the container for this week? I don’t know which and I really want to go back to sleep so I don’t want to wake up too much. What to do? I examine the seven pills in my hand to find out which one is missing. I have done it so many times that I can recognise the shape of the pills with my fingers, even in the dark. I can actually even recognise and count them in my mouth by sorting and identifying them with my tongue. It doesn’t take long for me to realise that it is one of the small round white pills that is missing. But which one? I take three small round white pills every morning. The thyroid medication has a very distinct groove across the middle that is very easy to recognise and I found that one in my hand. Okay, so it’s either my contraceptive or my once-a-day Parkinson’s medication… I think for a second: Would it matter if I were to take a double dose of either of those, just for one day? I reach the conclusion that, no, it probably wouldn’t matter to double the dose of either of those this morning. With this I make a decision: I take the seven pills in my hand and put them in my mouth, take a sip of water and swallow. Then I take out the eight pills from tomorrow’s morning dose, locate the two small round white pills that do not have the groove in the middle, take both of them with some more water and put the rest back in the compartment for tomorrow. Pleased with my decision, I go back to sleep.
When I wake up a few hours later, I find a small round white pill next to my pillow.