Towards Safer Drug Treatment
and Enhanced Patient Empowerment

Stay Organised, Stay Engaged: My Story of Managing Medication

by Joan Jordan

Saturday afternoons are when you will find me sorting my medication for the coming week. This habit has formed because most pill organiser gadgets start on Sunday. I currently use a 7-day AM PM plastic organiser, which is moisture-proof and has large compartments. Each day of the week has a different colour and can be individually removed to take with me if I need to. It doesn't take long—clean hands, lots of blister packs popping, and putting each pill in the right place.

Previously, I was self-injecting and stored my medication in a fridge. This was slightly limiting because I needed access to a refrigerator. Oral medication is much more convenient. The only thing is that sometimes I forget if I have taken my tablets or get confused if I have taken the right amount. My organiser helps me take the right medication at the right time. It has become a part of daily life, like brushing my teeth.

When you think about the number of participants and the timeframe of a clinical trial, it is understandable that not all possible side effects will be reported. I have reported one using the Irish Regulator's management system. The issue was hair loss, which is important to me but would not stop me from taking the medication because the benefits are too valuable to my health. This side effect is now written in the Patient Information Leaflet. This makes me feel that I have been listened to and am helping other people taking the same medication.

Every month, I use an app to order my medication from my pharmacist. All of my prescriptions from all my healthcare providers are recorded there. I pick up my order the following day. It is so convenient! Once I get home, I check that all the boxes are there, the expiry dates are good, and if any of the Patient Information Leaflets have been updated. If they have, I reread them and make sure I understand the changes. I store the medication in a dry, cool environment where children cannot access them.

When I visit my GP, I show her the app detailing what medication I am currently taking. It's important that she knows this because of possible conflicts. We discuss if all my prescriptions are necessary and if I am experiencing any unusual side effects. I feel like she listens to me, and we often have considered alternatives to my current treatments.

I had my first symptom of Multiple Sclerosis when I was 22. I could not see properly through my right eye (optic neuritis). I did not get a diagnosis until 14 years later. While I cannot change what has happened in the past, I can make sure that I now play my part in my own health. It is so important that I tell my doctors the truth and that I take the right medication at the right time. Nobody has more skin in the game than I do.