5 Rookie Chronic Illness Mistakes You Don't Want to Learn the Hard Way


Adjusting to a life with chronic illness is complicated and involves a lot of trial-and-error. There are things you need to learn for yourself, or things that will be unique to you (i.e., when you take your medications to minimize side effects). However, there are some bumps in the learning process that you should avoid all together. Here are a few rookie chronic illness mistakes you don’t want to learn the hard way. I’ve learned the hard way for you.

1. If you use a refillable pill case, make sure all the other compartments are closed before flipping it to get your pills for the day. I can’t stress this enough. Especially if your pills sit near a sink. Having six days worth of pills dump into the sink and start to dissolve is a nightmare of epic proportions. This happened to me recently — a colorful mound of dissolved pills went down the drain. I’m sure there’s a rat in a sewer somewhere feeling really good after ingesting that.

2. If you aren’t supposed to take pills on an empty stomach, don’t (if you can avoid it). Now, this one may vary for different people. I do know that some do better when they take their pills on an empty stomach. However, if you know you don’t, saying to yourself, “Eh, it’s just one time. I won’t end up in the fetal position on the bathroom floor puking my guts out,” is just straight-up a terrible decision. You may end up on the bathroom floor puking your guts out. Trust me. If you have to take pills while you’re away from home, I suggest having a small snack on hand.

girl on the great wall of china wearing a green shirt
Alice at the Great Wall of China.

3. If you travel via airplane, make sure your medications and medical devices are in your carry-on bag. Never put your medications in your checked luggage. That’s just tempting fate to lose your bag, and then you’ll end up in China without your medications for three days during your first major trip without your parents. It may also result in you throwing up over the edge of the Great Wall of China, which will not be appreciated by the people working there. Honestly, they should just be happy I made it to the edge before that happened. This picture is from right before that happy moment.

 4. Always carry a medication list that includes drug name, dosage, when you take it, prescribing doctor, and the reason you’re taking it. Many of us with chronic illness have our dosages memorized, but you always want to have that list to double check. When prescriptions change regularly, it can be very easy to get names and dosages mixed up. It is also helpful to have a list on-hand in case you have a medical emergency and an ambulance is called. I have copies of my medication list in my wallet, on my refrigerator, on my phone, and in the crate that holds my medications and supplement bottles. Make sure a friend or family member also has one available. Also, if you are in at the ER or urgent care, make sure the physician on duty looks over your medication list before prescribing you anything.

 5. If you take medications that make you drowsy, set an extra alarm. Or 10. You can’t set too many alarms, although your significant other may disagree. I’m pretty sure that’s why my significant other goes to the gym in the mornings. My get-to-work-on-time strategy gets credit for his wicked racquetball abilities. You’re welcome, Ryan.

Editor’s note: Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.

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