Help me solve this real-life math problem.
January 12, 2015 4:19 PM   Subscribe

I need to use math to figure out how to fill my pill organizer correctly.

I have one of those weekly pill organizers that has 7 compartments, SMTWTFS. Each morning I take 3 pills. Two of those pills come in loose bottles - great. But the third pill comes in foil sheets that contain 7 pills each. I refill my pills on Sundays, because the leftmost compartment is for Sunday, and I have more time on the weekends to do this.

The problem: I started using the pill holder on a Wednesday, so my foil-wrapped pills are out of sync with the week. I always finish the week in the middle of a sheet.

How do I sync back up so that I can eventually finish a foil sheet of 7 pills on a Saturday and start a new sheet on a Sunday? I know it somehow involves temporarily using pills from more than one sheet until the pill holder and the foil sheet are in sync, but for some reason I can't figure out how to do this.

So how do I do this?
posted by Tin Man to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Why can't you just put the half sheet to the bottom of the box and only use it when you have run out of full sheets?
posted by Brockles at 4:25 PM on January 12, 2015 [11 favorites]

Best answer: if I understand the problem correctly, you can't figure out how to do this because it can't be done. Basically you are asking to solve the problem 7x+4=7y, where x and y are both integers, which has no solutions.

The only way to sync up your pill holder and your sheets is to use 4 pills from a sheet on Wednesday through Saturday, then put that half-sheet away and start a fresh sheet on Sunday.
posted by dfan at 4:29 PM on January 12, 2015 [10 favorites]

Best answer: Yep, your only real options to match up the offset are:

1) Throw the half sheet away (or just set it aside, being mindful of its eventual expiration) and start a new sheet next Sunday.
2) Change your refill day to match the end of a sheet.

Maybe consider creating an emergency backup pill supply (to keep at your office, in your car, with your travel toiletries etc.) and putting the half-sheet in there?
posted by contraption at 4:45 PM on January 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

When you get a refill, break your pills out of their foil sheets (which you have to do anyway, day by day) and put them in a pill bottle.
posted by in278s at 5:06 PM on January 12, 2015 [11 favorites]

At any given time I'm taking ~6-7 pills in the a.m. and ~6-7 in the p.m. The lineup overlaps but is not identical.
I got a 2-inch high clear plastic box with dividers from a hardware store. I pour all my pills into the different compartments whenever I get them, blister packs (foil sheets) included.
Then, every morning and night, I pick out what I need. (I keep little a.m/p.m. lists in the box, and a large tweezers.) So easy.
The only issue I see is whether the different meds deteriorate in a closed, but not air-tight, box. Anybody with info on that, please advise.
posted by LonnieK at 5:59 PM on January 12, 2015

The more pragmatic solution is to get your odd prescription filled a day or two in advance, assuming it's non-controlled and your insurance isn't an asshole.

Just ignore that something extra you've gotten, since it's individually wrapped there will be an expiration date on it. This is probably a couple of years from now, so if you get where it's a month from the expiration date, use it and put aside the four from that week where you had the others stored.

And if you put it in the back of your medicine cabinet, you'll have extra in case you run out of refills when your doctor is out of reach.
posted by Trifling at 6:24 PM on January 12, 2015

I was about to suggest Trifling's solution. Try to get your prescription refilled a week ahead of time -- it'll be too early but your pharmacy should be able to tell you when it can be refilled. If the difference is less than your discrepancy, just do it again next month. Insurance companies allow a "slop" period of typically 2-4 days, which lets you accumulate a bit of a pill surplus if you do this every month.

I *think* the time period for this goes by last pickup instead of last fill, so you should pick it up on that day too.
posted by neckro23 at 6:35 PM on January 12, 2015

You could also explain to your pharmacist that you'd like to get synced up to starting on Sundays. It obviously helps with patient compliance, and pharmacists are pretty willing to help you get to your best compliance place. The pharmacist may be able to get an extra three? four? pills from your doctor to get you on the "right" schedule, or may even be able to simply DO this if it's a routine prescription, or will know how to get your insurance company to allow it, or how to let you pay for just the few pills retail, or whatever. Mine sorted it with my doctor and insurer to get me on ONE monthly refill schedule for three prescriptions that were all out of whack, we were so tired of seeing each other every week. :P

In the alternative, your doctor may have samples to bridge your gap.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:07 PM on January 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

if it's not important to take your foil packed medication in a specific order (like birth control): Ask for a empty bottle the next time you fill your prescription.

Walmart does this with my zoloft. Gives me those evil blister packs. I eventually just asked for a bottle. She printed off a complete label for me and now I just pop out all the zolofts out of the blister pack and put them all in the bottle.
posted by royalsong at 7:21 PM on January 12, 2015

Either pop them all out of the foil into a bottle and dispense as necessary or change the day you refill the weekly box.
posted by 724A at 7:28 PM on January 12, 2015

How about going ahead and just putting them in the empty slots - you will see the pills and know what they are when you are filling them with your other pills.
posted by just asking at 8:56 PM on January 12, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks all.
posted by Tin Man at 8:29 AM on January 13, 2015

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