6 posts from April, 2018

5 Earth-friendly ideas for patients

Posted April 27th, 2018 by

As Earth Month winds down, explore some environmental pointers, including how to donate (gently used) wheelchairs, what to do with empty pill bottles (earbud/jewelry case, anyone?) and where to dispose of unused meds (April 28, 2018, happens to be National Prescription Drug Takeback Day at 5,000+ sites across the U.S… read on!).

1. Donate unused medical supplies. Before adding unused supplies or gently used equipment to your trash heap, see if they’re on the wishlist of organizations that accept medical surplus, such as InterVolMedshare and Project C.U.R.E. (click to see lists of what they’ll take).

InterVol’s general rules of thumb for donations?

  • Would you want the item/supplies used on you?
  • Does it have one year left before the expiration date, if it goes in the body?
  • Does the equipment function as intended (no broken or missing parts)?
  • Is the equipment in good shape (no rust, rips, tears, etc.)?

2. (Properly) hand over unused medications. Few organizations accept prescription drug donations from individuals, and drug donation and redistribution laws vary by state. Look into the regulations where you live and comment below if you know of any organizations that accept donated medications (such as Insulin for Life, which collects some insulin and diabetes supplies).

Note: This Saturday is National Prescription Drug Takeback Day (April 28, 2018, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration twice a year so that people can bring unused or expired medications to a local collection site for safe disposal (search for a site near you). In the last Takeback Day in October 2017, people dropped off 456 tons of drugs.

3. Safely dispose of unused drugs and medical waste on your own. Cancer.net offers these pointers for medication disposal: “If you decide to take the matter into your own hands, you should always follow the disposal instructions found on the drug label or the patient information leaflet that comes with the prescription. Do not flush medicines down the toilet or sink unless this information specifically tells you to.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration lists the few medications that should be flushed— but check with your local water treatment and/or sanitation department about any rules or regulations.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers this info on proper disposal of discarded needles, sharps and other medical waste. Wondering what to do with old oxygen tanks? See this guide.

4. Find new uses for empty pill bottles. An Indianapolis-based charity called The Malawi Project organized a hugely successful pill bottle collection drive to send the ubiquitous orange containers to the African country hit hard by HIV (where people were carrying their pills loose or wrapped in paper). After a million pill bottles quickly poured in, the organization stopped accepting donations — but they still encourage people look into other organizations still collecting them, or contact local animal shelters to see if they need them.

Recycle Nation says that few communities accept the orange (#5 plastic) pill bottles in their recycling programs, but a company called Preserve collects them at natural food stores across the country (check out this map) to use in their recycled plastic products. CVS Pharmacy is reportedly working on pill bottle recycling programs.

People have come up with lots of other creative ways to reuse or upcycle pill bottles — just a few neat ideas include:

  • “Hide-a-key” container (with a rock glued on top)
  • Earbud/headphone holder
  • Jewelry case
  • Mini sewing kit
  • Child-proof storage for quarters (for parking or laundry), pins, nails/screws, medical sharps or other small items

5. Go paperless with your insurance company and doctor’s office. Opt for electronic communication, if you’re comfortable with it. Many providers now offer email and/or text reminders rather than snail mail postcards or phone calls. Also, hospital gowns can be a drag for patients, and the paper ones contribute to medical waste. Depending on the medical setting and type of visit, ask your healthcare provider if it’s necessary to fully undress and wear a gown or use other (optional) disposable items for your visit.

Happy Earth Month!

Have any favorites from this list, or any “green” tips of your own to add? Join PatientsLikeMe to talk about topics like this and swap ideas with others.

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Managing MS fatigue & guilt

Posted April 24th, 2018 by

Ever feel guilty about how your MS symptoms impact your life or the people around you? Like you can’t “pull your weight” or that people don’t understand that needing to rest is a real symptom and not laziness? The PatientsLikeMe community can relate — there are nearly 26,000 members with MS reporting fatigue as a symptom, and over 800 forum threads on fatigue and guilt.

Here’s what some members are sharing about their fatigue guilt:

Missing out on family time

“I slept all afternoon and missed a beautiful afternoon with my wife and daughter. To make it up to my wife when I woke up I decided to tackle the kitchen and the laundry. I managed the kitchen but had to give up halfway into the laundry. I hate missing time with my family and not pulling my weight.”

Worrying about the future

“…my issues come when I feel guilt about the future, I worry about my kids having to take care of a sick mother…”

Breaking plans

“When I feel the most guilty is when I’m having a good day and I promise to do something for someone, and the day comes and I can’t do it cause I’m too tired or my body hurts. That is when I feel the worst. You see, breaking a promise to myself doesn’t hurt as much as having to explain why I can’t do something I said I would.”

How members are managing:

Celebrating the small things

“I’m trying not to beat myself up now its to the point where I feel good if I can go down in the basement and carry clothes up or I feel good if I get a home cooked meal finished and remembered the veggies in the microwave sort of thing I am learning to let go of all the guilt and celebrate the things I can do its so much less tiring that way.”

Accepting your “new normal”

“I have accepted today that I have limits and I am not responsible for them.But I am responsible for looking after myself so that I don’t cause things to get worse and my limits smaller…Since I have stopped trying to act like I am normal and not sick, I am happier, relaxed and much easier to get along with than before.”

Taking action online

“My guilt is alleviated because there are so many things I can do online, from signing petitions to send to congress to helping tutor college students – use your computer to make yourself feel that you are still useful at something in life.”

Managing fatigue

Knowing how to manage fatigue can help too. Check out these tips from one woman living with MS and see how members of the community are treating fatigue.

Do you feel guilty about how fatigue and other symptoms of your MS impact your life? Join the PatientsLikeMe community and share how you cope.

 

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