“I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.”

Grandma With The Pills

When first signed up to try the new PillSuite through my membership with the Chronic Illness Bloggers network, my first thought was “anything that helps me not look like Grandma with the pills.Grandma With The Pills was the nickname for my Gram, my mom’s mom, who lived with my mom and me after my parents divorced. Gram and I had our ups and downs, but by the time I was in high school, we bonded while smoking cigarettes on the back porch together. Gram smoked like a chimney, and drank her Red Rose Tea every.single.day. Gram also had a ton of health issues, and she took a lot of pills; hence, her nickname Grandma With The Pills.

Even though I started smoking towards the end of high school, I’ve been into health and the importance of movement since a young age. I’ve always been determined to fight like hell against whatever “it” was that caused my mom and Gram to lay in bed most of my life. Both Mom and Gram consistently dealt with chronic health issues, and both had little energy to do anything — even take care of me.  Throughout college, my first career job in pharmaceutical sales, and to this day, I’ve remained incredibly health conscious. Not perfect, but mindful of how various things in and out of my control may or may not impact my overall health and well-being. My goal has been to surround myself around the opposite of what I saw around me growing up, hoping to help “Move My DNA.” I workout all the time, opted to major in Public Health/Health Education in college, and have worked in the health, wellness, and medical fields for nearly 20 years — so, I had to quit smoking. My thought process was that when you reach age 30 years old, quitting is either now or never. Or, I would for sure end up like Gram — battling daily chronic and severe pain, physical deformities from permanent muscle contractures, and horrendous osteoporosis and arthritis from smoking. Basically, everything that I was fighting so hard against.

As a kid, I was diagnosed with Shingles (way too early), hives, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Spastic Esophagus, Gastric Ulcers, IBS, dysmenorrhea, and more. To make things more fun, towards the end of my first pregnancy, I developed Brachial Plexitis in both shoulder joints caused by CRPS. After giving birth, I was diagnosed with several more can’t-be-explained-weird-conditions — Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism, Interstitial Cystitis (IC), Pelvic Congestion Syndrome, Gastroparesis, Fibromyalgia, arthritis in most of my joints, and ultimately, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS).

The EDS diagnosis didn’t come as too much of a surprise since dislocations, chronic pain, and fatigue has always been part of my life, and I do not know anything different. I also was more than aware that I was built similar to my Mom and Gram – “very flexible.”  Thankfully, I was different in some ways. I liked to do the “exercise thing” that they never did — Gram and Mom did NOT like to sweat. When I finally quit smoking, I carried more chronic medical diagnosis than most otherwise healthy twenty-nine-year-olds would receive in a lifetime. Despite being as health-conscious as I was and working out all the time, it was sadly clear that I was well on my to inheriting the nickname of Grandma With the Pills.

While I’ve made peace with the idea that I will probably need to take various types of medications for the rest of my life, I aim to keep what I take to a minimum and try to decrease the number that I carry with me. Carting around many medications is not only cumbersome, but dangerous (depending on what you are carrying with you), and it’s also not a personal trait that I want to draw attention. If you take vitamins regularly as well, most are bigger than the average medication and can take up a ton of space in whatever you carry your belongings in. Most of the time, I have several pill boxes and a few small bags to keep what I need (or may need) with me (see image below).

 

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On a daily basis, I only take two-three medications; however, I carry more medications than I usually need for an unexpected flare, other miscellaneous issues, or anaphylaxis. When traveling, I’m always looking for a way to combine what I need to bring, while making sure I have enough for an emergency. So, when I heard of the opportunity to trial the new PillSuite system, I jumped all over it.

Listed below are my pros and cons after using the PillSuite system for several months now — both for daily use and when traveling. I also included pictures to show how to use the PillSuite.

Pros:

  • Space-saving (see picture below — what I recently carried when traveling for five full days, versus what I usually carry, which is in the picture above. For daily use, I carry even less, which still includes my EpiPen for emergencies.)

 

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  • Each bag can fit a decent amount of medications or vitamins in it. Based on my personal measurement, the average is about 14-15 small to medium-sized pills and tablets (medications or vitamins) per bag.
  • Can use for powdered vitamins or supplements. Each bag seems to be able to fit about 1-2 tsp +/-, or about 1 tbsp +/-, which is just about equal to the average powdered dose.
  • Organization – great way to keep track of what you take and when
  • Missed dose – see organization above. If you organize and label your medications properly, you are less likely to miss a dose. This is especially important with critical dose category drugs.
  • Overdose – see organization above. Similarly, if you can keep track of which medications you need to take and when you need to take them, you help reduce the potential for accidental overdose. You have less medication with you because you only carry the exact amount that you need.
  • Savior for Brain Fog – see all reasons above. Brain Fog can be one of the most frustrating and debilitating aspects of living with chronic illness. Many people living with chronic diseases complain that Brain Fog not only impacts the memory of what they did or did not do, but it also can impair the ability to remember what exactly they need to do and when.
  • Ideal for a parent or caregiver who is needing to help check or regulate the dosing and medication schedule for someone else.
  • Has decent sized compartments for putting together seven days worth of pills, or seven doses at a time.
  • Perfect for helping keep track of, organize, and not misplace small objects, parts to toys, or other do-not-want-to-lose non-medication and vitamin related items.
  • The seal works well. None of the seals on the bags that I put together broke open.
  • Harder for kids to open or get into

 

Cons:

  • Not the easiest system to bring with you if you would prefer the option of putting more bags together when traveling. There are three main components to the system — the pill sorter, the bag sealer, and the roll of plastic pill bags. The Pill sorter and the bag sealer are not small and compact enough to easily travel with or to throw in a purse and carry with you.
  • May not be for the person who only takes 1-2 meds a day, unless all are taken at the same time, or if the person doesn’t want to carry pill bottles with him/her.
  • Bags are single use and do not reseal. Separate bags are necessary per dose, even if you only take only a few meds and a multi-vitamin each day. For example, if you take blood pressure medication 2x a day, a multivitamin 1x a day, and another medication in the evening before bed, you will still need 2-3 separate bags per day based on your treatment schedule. You cannot put all pills needed for a single day in one bag even if all fit with room to spare. There’s no way to reseal the bag — unless you carry the bag sealer with you as well.
  • Not very useful for medications or vitamins that you do not take daily, but like to have with you “just in case” – i.e. Ibuprofen, Benadryl, Excedrin, etc.
  • Not for liquid medications
  • May not be best for organizing vitamins, especially if taking a larger number per day. Many vitamins come in large tablet form, and I found that my average dose of vitamins would not fit in one bag.
  • Bags are a bit thin, and *may* be able to rip easily.
  • Children may be able to rip open or bite through the plastic to open the bag.

 

Bottom Line: Great product for various reasons — mainly because it makes something that is often hard to keep track of and manage, quite simple and organized.

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Important side note – When someone is referred to as “very flexible,” it actually means that their joints are hypermobile —  ie. their joints have a larger range of movement than what is considered normal and safe, without causing injury to the joints themselves. Hypermobility and flexibility are also not one in the same. For years, both terms have been used interchangeably, but they are two distinct and different terms. Hypermobility can make someone more “flexible” than most; however, you can be hypermobile without being flexible and vice versa. Furthermore, a person does not have to be “flexible” to have hypermobile joints. Many people with joint hypermobility are quite stiff and present as the complete opposite of flexible — males especially.