Hacks for Living with Chronic Conditions

Last weekend, I asked on Instagram if you wanted to read a post about my surgery or my chronic illness hacks, and while the winner was my surgery, a lot of people also wanted to see my hacks, so here we are today! I might be using the term “hacks” a little loosely, but basically these are the things I do that make my life with chronic illnesses and pain easier.

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I've lived with chronic pain and chronic illnesses for 16 years, and over that time period, I've developed a variety of ways to make my life easier with these chronic conditions. I'm sharing them today to help make your life better, too.

Alarms for medications – I take medications at least 4 times a day, so it’s easy to miss one or more dose. I started having alarms go off on my phone to remind me to take my pills. I don’t have any sound that goes with it (it just pops up), but it’s a good reminder. I set it for later than I would normally take my medications so it’s used to ask myself, “Have you taken these yet? No? Go do it.”

Fill 2 pill boxes at once – If you’re on a lot of medications like me, you probably hate refilling your weekly pill box because it’s time consuming. When I was in college, I might have been good at taking my pills once they were in the pill box, but I wasn’t good at refilling the pill box every single week, so there would be times when I wouldn’t take my medications as directed for several days in a row after emptying my pill box. To prevent this, I have two pill boxes now so I only have to refill them every two weeks instead of every single week. Pill boxes/containers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and there are options depending on how many times a day you need to take your medications. Here are some fun ones, all of which are under $10: 7-day, 3-times a day pill case where you can remove each day; 28-days, 1-time a day pill case; 7-day, 4-times a day stackable pill case where you can remove each day; 2 packs of 7-day, 4-times a day pill cases; 3 packs of 7-days, 1-time a day pill cases that are shaped like slices of citrus fruits (you can also order just 1); 7-days, 4 times a day pill case that comes in a wallet-looking container where you can remove each day.

Order your medications in bulk – If your insurance allows it, see if you can order 3 months of your medications. I use Express Scripts, and not only does it mean that I don’t have to trek out for my medications on a regular basis, but it also saves money.

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KT tape – We’re all aware that I adore KT tape, right? For those of you who have not experienced the joy that is pain relieved from taping parts of your body correctly, let me introduce you to this amazing product. I first experienced this when I was recovering from my first knee surgery in 2015. My physical therapist taped my knee so it couldn’t subluxate (try to dislocate without actually dislocating) and it changed my life. The KT tape site has tutorials for taping for a wide variety of problems with videos and downloadable PDFs explaining how to do it. Don’t see a guide for taping for your problem? You can email them and ask! That’s what I did for my fingers because the knuckles that connect my fingers to my hands are historically a big issue for me, but they didn’t have anything on their site for it. I emailed them and they got back to me with tips, and it made a huge impact in my pain. However, if you’ve never done this before, I suggest taking to your doctor or physical therapist first.

Social media friendships – Don’t know anyone in real life who gets the chronic medical condition(s) life? Feel alone because you often don’t feel well enough to go to events? Social media for the win! This has been so helpful for me because so many people don’t understand exactly what life can be like for us, and while that’s fine in theory, it really can make you feel isolated. Getting involved online has been super helpful. Looking for patients who understand your life? Search for people by using hashtags with your condition(s). For example, #rheumatoidarthritis #arthritis #fibro #fibromyalgia, etc.

Sharing 10 ways I make life with chronic conditions (like chronic illness and chronic pain conditions) easier.

Have an emergency kit – This will look different for everyone, but I really think that it’s best to have a bunch of things that make your symptoms better when you’re feeling particularly poorly. This might include emergency medications, travel ice or heating packs, snacks, or other things. It will depend a lot on what your condition(s) is/are and what an emergency looks like for you.

Chronic Illness Hacks for the Holidays

Meal prep – Obviously eating and eating good things is necessary for every human being, but it can be really difficult if you live with a chronic condition. The solution? On a day when you feel okay, meal prep! This is the process of making an entire week’s worth of food in one day. It’s a really good way to make sure that you’ll be able to eat on days when you don’t feel up for cooking and it’s also a good way to make sure that you can eat healthily. If you’re like me and have multiple food sensitivities, you can’t really order in or find read-made meals in the grocery store. That’s why meal prepping is so great!

4 Reasons To Meal Prep

Scheduling things for time of day when I’m best – For me personally, I always feel worse at the end of the day and better at the beginning. That means that I always try to schedule things in the first part of the day so that I don’t have to cancel things and that I can enjoy them. If you have a time of the day or a day of the week where you are best, schedule things for then!

When possible, have multiple containers of your medications in various places – This doesn’t apply to all medications, obviously, but if you have a medication like an inhaler, get multiple and store them in various places so you don’t have to stress about having it when you need it. You could also do this with medications that are not prescriptions (like Advil).

Medication and medical history sheet – This is my BIGGEST hack and one of the best things I’ve done. I pulled together a sheet with all of my medication and my medical history. It has my diagnosed conditions, previous issue (like surgeries or hospitalizations), a list of my medications (including dosage and why I take them), my dietary issues, members of my medical team, and my family’s medical history. I started making this because there was never enough space for what I have to say and I see so many doctors that it’s just easier to have a sheet that I can give them instead of hoping that I remember it every time. Get it here:

What are your hacks for living with chronic conditions?

Like this post? Check out:

 Problems from my Inflammatory Arthritis + How To Deal with Them, College Tips for Disabled Students, Chronic Illness Hacks for the Holidays, So You Were Diagnosed with a Chronic Illness: What You Should Do Next

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