Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur
jducoeur

How do you get rid of pills?

I am, very slowly, beginning the process of putting my life and the house back together. Step one is simply cleaning up after two months of purest neglect -- while the live-in aides have been doing "cleaning" in the sense of dishes and Jane's wash and such, they haven't been able to straighten anything, and the house is in a fair disarray. That's a job that really only I can do, because now I'm the only one who knows where anything goes. So as I walk through the house, there is a lot of picking something up and putting it back where it belongs -- less as a sudden whirlwind, and more as a gradual job of picking up the house and slowly shaking it until everything falls into the right slot.

One of the things in some disarray is the damned pill bottles. If you haven't cared for someone with metastatic cancer, you probably cannot imagine how many drugs are involved. (Worsened by all the ills caused by her being bedridden, which caused all sorts of knock-on ailments.) For those last two months, I had to maintain a document (a full page in Word, of 11-point type) that simply laid out the daily schedule of what needed to be given when. (Every time we needed to readmit her to the hospital, I would give the nurses a ten-minute rundown of all the meds and why they were necessary; they were generally pretty bemused.) Plus the dosages of some varied over time, resulting in more scrips, plus things that were tried and didn't work, plus the meds she *had* been on which we stopped during those final months. (Lisinopril, Metformin, Simvastatin -- she had been on lots of meds before things went bad in November and we stopped all of them, and it took a pointless refill or two of each before I realized that I needed to stop the auto-fills.)

So now the house is covered in pill bottles. There are bottles in the bedroom, the master bathroom and the main bathroom from all of her long-term prescriptions. There are bottles in her purses. There are a truly astounding number of bottles in both the family room and living room, where she spent most of her final month. (The piano downstairs was literally covered in medicines.) The hospice took away the Comfort Kit (with the morphine and haldol), but all of the more routine meds, from laxatives to steroids, are left over. All of it is now essentially junk: anything that wasn't cheap and over-the-counter is prescription, and not supposed to be reused.

So I ask my friends in the medical professions: what the heck do I *do* with all this? The hospice nurse said to simply throw it out or flush it down the toilet. The latter squicks me from an environmental perspective -- flushing random medications into the commonweal water supply seems like a bad idea on the face of it. The former seems slightly more plausible, but still leaves me wondering if there's a better approach.

Opinions? Are there correct answers here?
Tags: jane
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