Pill Proliferation by
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Prompted By Pills

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Every time I try to sort out all of the pills in my life, the lyrics of White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane run through my head:

How did I get to the point where I needed to make a spreadsheet to keep everything straight?

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don’t do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she’s ten feet tall

No, I’m not getting high. All of the pills that fill my medicine cabinet have been prescribed by various doctors in the last few years. For most of my life, I took three prescriptions: thyroid pills to knock out a cold nodule discovered in my thirties and two allergy pills to combat bouts of asthma that arrived when I was in my late forties. Over the counter, I took multi-vitamins and various pills for headaches.

How did I get to the point where I needed to make a spreadsheet to keep everything straight? I remember my mother going through this as she aged. My brothers and I worried that she was confusing her medications, so my younger brother went to her house every week and put everything into a pill sorter. Mom hated that because it ruined her system and confused her even more. I get it now. Once you have a system that works for you, any changes really upset the apple cart.

My system worked pretty well until recently. My morning pills were on one shelf of my medicine cabinet and my evening ones on another. But when those prescriptions started to grow in the last couple of years, I needed to add a pill container for the kitchen to hold the morning meds I needed to take on a full stomach. The thyroid pill stands alone in the bathroom because it must be taken upon awakening on an empty stomach. I learned that the hard way when my internist told me to take an over-the-counter iron pill but never mentioned how or when to take it. Unfortunately, I popped it in my mouth with the thyroid pill so I wouldn’t forget it. The iron wiped out the benefit of the thyroid medication and my numbers dropped drastically until my neighbor, who is an endocrinologist, figured it out. So yes, it matters when and with what other medication you take a pill. Pharmacists are very helpful in figuring this out.

Over the past ten years, my pills grew to include Prilosec for indigestion (thanks, Mom); Claritin for allergies; Vitamin D, Calcium, and Magnesium (new internist); Mobic and Colchicine for pseudo-gout in my knee (new additions from my rheumatologist); iron and vitamin C (to make the iron happy). Some of these are morning and evening doses. The only way I could avoid making mistakes was by creating a spreadsheet.

Then there are the time-limited pills like antibiotics or meds for fungal infections or pain relief pills during gout flair ups because I can’t take NSAIDS (aspirin, Advil, Aleve, etc.). Despite, or maybe because of, all of the meds floating around in my system these days, as Larry David, a fellow member in the 75+ club would say, I’m feeling “pretty pretty pretty good.”

Profile photo of Laurie Levy Laurie Levy
Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.

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Characterizations: funny, moving, right on!, well written


  1. Ah Laurie, I feel your pain – at least some of it as I too take a thyroid pill ON AN EMPTY STOMACH!

    I friend of ours who happens to be a retired doctor himself has said.,
    “You know you’re getting old when the first thing you pack when you travel is your pills!”

  2. Khati Hendry says:

    In the universe of people taking meds, yours are pretty tame Laurie. It seems like a lot but at least half are vitamin and mineral supplements. Still, I get it. Oh, for the days we never took a thing! But pretty pretty pretty good isn’t bad either.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      I know many of my pills are over-the-counter but I still need to take them, along with prescriptions, on a schedule. You are so right about longing for the days when I only needed my thyroid pill and occasional NSAIDS for headaches.

  3. That’s a great picture, Laurie. I’m guessing that really IS your medicine cabinet. I’m gathering momentum with my medication list, and, for some peculiar reason, I’ve arranged them from right to left in order of the times to take them. Beyond the prescription spheres and gelcaps, I’ve got a few herbs and tinctures that I’ve adopted over the last few years including lion’s mane mushroom concentrate for memory — what memory? — (they’re also good to eat); turmeric, good for immune systems and blood pressure; and a giant orange pill I take to banish Donald Trump from my random access memory!

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