It’s the lid that may eventually kill me - The Explorer: Voices

It’s the lid that may eventually kill me

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Posted: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 3:00 am

I, along with most “upper youth” folks, am aware that some prescription medications can be dangerous if taken in the wrong dosages or in contradiction with other prescribed medications. However, it’s those stupid childproof caps that are likely to do me in.

I understand the safety issues that prompted their invention. I won’t argue that they serve a good and worthwhile purpose, but only in homes where children are routinely present and seniors don’t prevail. Personally, I don’t know how much longer I can stand the exasperation involved in taking my daily procession of medications knowing that by the time I manage to break into the bottle, there’s a good chance I’ll be ready for the next scheduled dosage.

To further complicate matters, I’m having trouble maintaining the hand-strength necessary to actually open the containers. I’d have about as much luck cracking open walnuts with my bare hands.

I finally convinced myself that it wasn’t just me having the problem, so to test my theory I drove to a nearby pharmacy several days ago and asked one of the younger pharmacists to open a pill bottle that I pulled out of my pocket. He gave me that all-too-common look implying, “Oh good, you’re one of those muscularly challenged seniors,” and agreed to pop it open without a hint of a challenge.

Uh-huh, go ahead buckaroo; I can’t wait to see the secret lid twist he’ll use that I’ve been missing all these years. After a couple of minutes into his surprising confrontation, he looked up and asked me to have a seat; he’d be right back, he noted. Because I’ve been using this pharmacy for a while and I trust its pharmacy staff, I quickly agreed to hang around. I assumed he needed to handle a more pressing medical issue, but he seemed to be a bit stymied as he walked away muttering to the bottle under his breath and straining to twist off the lid. I knew the feeling, and I wished him luck.

He returned in about five minutes with my defiantly sealed bottled clutched in his hand and the cap remaining in place. He told me that this particular bottle was, in fact, proving more difficult to open than acceptable or usual from this manufacturer, and he would be glad to replace the entire container for me. I didn’t need or want another little opaque orange bottle on my medicine cabinet shelf; I just wanted to break the secret cap removal code for future use on other similar bottles. 

Much to his dismay, I pulled two more containers from my pocket for his inspection and opening pleasure. To his mounting disappointment, each of the tops defied the “young guy” removal expertise. I explained that getting the medication out of most prescription bottles is habitually an exasperating, unacceptable ordeal, especially for us somewhat muscularly diminished types. Imagine how many elderly folks simply miss their scheduled medication dosages because they can’t liberate the pills from the container. From my perspective, this serious health-maintenance issue needs immediate attention and it should be prompted by those directly involved with the initial loading and dispensing procedure – the pharmacists.

He told me he’d look into the matter and then make specific recommendations regarding the redesign of prescription bottle lids for seniors. That’s nice, but I needed an interim measure for handling this problem today. Needless to say, he was stumped for the moment but hastily dug into his cranial vault for a quick answer. Aha, he had the solution – a seven-day pill dispenser that offers user-friendly flaps that snap open and shut with the moderate pressure of a thumb and forefinger. That sounded good, but I had to ask about the airtight properties that can damage some prescription medications stored in less-than-securely-sealed containers. That’s when my pharmaceutical friend promptly displayed that “I’m stumped by the old guy” look on his face.

I couldn’t make him suffer too long so I offered my personal interim solution, the multi-purpose zipper-lock storage baggie. My wife uses these transparent trouble-solvers for everything from storing tea bags to securing emergency purse cookies for those times when the sudden need for a chocolate chip becomes a crisis.

I’m sure it made the pharmacist’s day when I told him I’d be back in a week or so to hear his permanent, professional solution. That’s okay; it’s fun to keep these young professionals on their toes.

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