Thursday, December 18, 2014

"How many pills can a Pillfold hold?", asked the customer to the Pillbag Lady

This is a question I hear quite often when it comes to selling PillbagsCustomers want to know exactly how big the zippered pouches of the Pillfold are, and I understand. If your pills don't fit, the Pillfold won't work. At Pillbag headquarters, we're all about adherence to your daily medication routine. We know you can't just leave one or two pills out in the cold!

But because all pills range in size and shape, it is difficult to definitively answer the question, "How many pills does the Pillfold hold?"  I know you'd like to size up our pillbags, so I'll do my best to give you a few sizing guidelines. 
First attempt:
As many of you know, the Pillfold has eight zippered rows - one for each day of the week, and an extra for additional medication. The rows for the days of the week are broken up into two distinct pouches, one for your morning pills, and the other for your evening pills. (Each side is designated by a sun or moon, respectively.) One side of the pillfold (that is, one half of each row, or, for example, the morning side) holds approximately 11-12 M&M candies, or 9-10 Mike&Ike candies.  (Forgive us. We have a sweet tooth.)

Second attempt: 
One side of the pillfold (for example,the morning side) holds equal to, though usually more pills than a single day of a traditional weekly plastic pillbox. Thus, a full Pillfold holds more than two traditional weekly plastic pillboxes put together. Plus, you have the eighth pouch for even more medication.

Third attempt: A Pillfold in action!
Thanks to a beloved customer in the UK who provided the following images of her own pillfolds, you can see how many pills she's able to fit into each side of her pillfold. The pills she's holding in her hand illustrate the pills she fits into one side (or one half) of the pillfold. You can also see another combination of pills that she fits into one side (or one half) of the pillfold, via the small plate she uses to count out her pills shown here. And below are her two pillfolds chock full. Looks like she's ready to rock!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

'Tis the season for free copies of Despite Lupus it is!

A few weeks ago, the print shop I use for my books made a small mistake. I ordered a new run of Despite Lupus books, so I would have plenty of copies on hand for the holiday season. The books arrive in batches, and the first small batch that arrived looked like this: 

See that yellow block on the front? Ugh!

I called the printer once I opened the box and saw the defective covers, and they fixed the problem immediately. Within hours, a new batch of books was on its way to me, and I haven’t had any trouble since.

But that still leaves me with some yellowed books that are in need of a good home. I’d love to donate them to a lupus organization in need –a support group, a budding LFA chapter, or another lupus organization that brings lupies like us together to answer questions, offer assistance, or swap lupus stories in order to help and heal. 

Which is where I turn to you, my readers, for input. Would the lupus group you’re part of be a good recipient for the books? Do you know of a lupus group that would be? Between now and the end of the year, send me an email at, and let me know why the lupus group you’ve selected should receive the freebies. After the first of the year, we’ll select the winners and the books will be distributed. I look forward to hearing from you, and learning about the active lupus communities across the nation, and maybe even around the world!

Details of the Give-away:

WHAT: Groups of 10 signed copies of Despite Lupus to be given away to a lupus (or other chronic illness) organization in need. The book itself is exactly the same as a copy that you’d buy off of my website, on Amazon, or in bookstores. The yellowed cover just looks, well, a little sun-kissed.

WHEN: Nominations will be accepted between now and December 31st. To nominate an organization, please email me at

Include the following information:

Organization name, mailing address and website (if applicable)
Your name and email address.
In the memo line of the email, please type “FREE BOOKS”

HOW: After the first of the year, the nominations will be collected and reviewed. We’ll select the organizations, confirm contact information, and I’ll sign all copies before shipping. I'll send out the free books by the end of January– and I look forward to spreading a little lupus cheer and kicking off 2015 with a bang! 

Spread the word and I look forward to hearing from you! 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The rules of the lupus game - Coulda done it later, Woulda done it better, Shoulda rested instead!

This time of year always puts my daily afternoon nap to the test. With dozens of things to get done, and just four (make that now three) short weeks to do them in, I always think about how productive I could be if I didn't nap.

Just think of those two precious hours, when I could be crossing dozens of things off my list! Instead, I'm holed up in bed, sawing logs with Darwin the Pug. Of course, I am getting SOMETHING done (and that is a big something), but it's not always what I want to be getting done.

The good news is that these days, I never consider skipping my daily nap. Ever. When I wake up each morning, the one thing I know is that in 7-8 hours, I'll be back in bed for my afternoon siesta. Guaranteed.

So it's not that I resist going to bed. It's that once I'm there, I resent not being somewhere else. Like in the kitchen baking a batch of cookies for the girls' school parties. Or at the computer, ordering gifts online. Or stocking up on party supplies for our upcoming neighborhood shindig. Or picking photos for the Christmas card. Or [insert holiday to-do here]...all of which I could tackle, if I weren't napping.

But as I lay in bed, lamenting the fact that I have to sleep instead of "do", I try to keep in mind the Could/Would/Should principal:

COULD I actually tackle the items on my long list of to-do's at a later time?

Of course I can. None of my tasks are so pressing that they have to be completed during this small two-hour window of time. In fact,  I can always make time to bake cookies while the girls are playing before dinner. I can usually find time before bed to shop online. And I can always plan my days when the girls are in school to run around town as needed. It just takes a little preparedness on my part. And I'm always willing to come up with a type-A approach, especially if I'm rested!

WOULD I actually be more productive/successful/effective if I was rested when I tackled "X"?

Online shopping while I'm tired? Forget about it. Picking photos for the annual Christmas card when I'm bleary-eyed? It would be the worst! I've always been most productive between 4-6 pm, which conveniently coincides with the hours immediately following my afternoon nap. There's no question that recharging my battery mid-day makes for a very efficient late afternoon and evening. When I have a good nap under my belt, it's as if I work twice as fast. My mind is sharp and my decision-making ability is at its peak. Why not capitalize on my time of highest productivity, and put the time when I'm feeling sluggish and drowsy to good use? Lupus or not, I think the time after lunch is a tough one to power through!

SHOULD I actually be recharging, instead of depleting?

I can't deny it. The most important thing during the holidays is to take care of myself. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If I need a nap, I should take it. If I need to fit in an extra run during the week to keep me focused and stress-free, that's what I need to do. The best present I can give to my family is to be healthy and able, come December 31st. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to get through the next few weeks, flare free. I'm currently feeling great and making good choices. So instead of harrumphing when I flop into bed next to Darwin, I should feel vindicated that I'm doing something to help, rather than hinder, my chances for a successful holiday season. Let the lists pile up. Santa Sara's taking a nap!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Despite Lupus nominated for Healthline's 2014 Best Health Blog. Thank you!

Wow! I always feel so lucky to have such loyal readers who nominate Despite Lupus for Healthline's annual Best Health Blog. My sincere thanks to those who think the Despite Lupus blog is a keeper again this year. I always say - If you keep reading, I'll keep writing!

My apologies for the obnoxious badge below, but if you don't mind taking a moment to cast your vote, I'd love to see a lupus blog rise to the top of the heap. The more people who know we're out here, the better!

Click the badge below to vote. Then, type in "Despite Lupus" in the contestant box, and click "VOTE". (You might notice that Despite Lupus appears twice on the honor roll of blogs nominated. Pick either one you'd like. We're not picky!)


And thanks again for your support for what will be almost seven years of blogging. Have we really been making it with lupus for that long? What a testament to lupus patients everywhere! Thanks for voting and I hope we continue to live well, despite lupus for another seven years!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pre-Gobble and Post-Gobble Pillbag Sales. Enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving! 
"Turkey" by Bernadette Gorman

Let's kick off the Holiday season with some Pillbag savings!!

SPECIAL Pre-Thanksgiving savings: 

On Wednesday, November 26th ONLY,  take 20% off any Pillbag purchase. Just type in "GOBBLE" in the discount code during checkout. 

Post-Thanksgiving sale: 

Starting Friday, November 28th, take 15% off any Pillbag purchase. Use "GOBBLEWEEKEND" in the discount code. 

Enjoy the savings and have a great holiday! 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Let Sleeping Pugs Lie: lupus naps and how to take one

Now that you've had a chance to digest the sleep article from Monday's post, I thought I'd give you a little more motivation to get that extra shut eye you know you need. Way back when, I needed all the motivation I could get. And then some.

When I started my daily naps back in 2003, I was not happy about it. I knew I felt better after taking a rest in the middle of the day, and I could tell that my health was improving because of that break. But it wasn't a welcomed break from my day. After all, I had stuff to do. And it wasn't going to get done while I was napping.

But somehow, I managed to discipline myself in order to take that nap. And very quickly, the benefits of napping outweighed my resistance to stopping down for a nap.

In the beginning, a lot of people helped me stay on task with my nap. My husband for one was always encouraging and enabling me to nap. My family and in-laws came to the rescue many times - either via phone calls, emails, or if we were visiting, a nudge to go in the other room and rest.

But above all the rest, I had one all-star sleeping coach. A guy who never missed a nap. A guy who napped like his life depended on it. The original napping pug, Henry H. Gorman.

And when Henry went on to greener pastures, his brother, Darwin, the wonder-napper, took over for him. Darwin is, to date, the best, most considerate napper ever. (Henry insisted on taking the best spot in the bed. Dar? He just goes with it.)

Darwin, better known as Baby Dar, looks forward to our nap every single day. He doesn't wear a watch, but somehow he knows when it's time to go up to bed. If I'm late, I hear about it. If I'm trying to finish up "one last thing", he follows me around and paws at my leg until I head upstairs. He holds me accountable for our napping hour, to the point where I feel I never want to let him down. He makes it feel "normal" to nap everyday. He makes our nap something that I look forward to doing together. Thus, we nap side by side every single day, and he and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Now, I realize not everyone has a pug with whom you can share your afternoon nap. Not everyone
has a furry little companion who looks up at you with those big brown eyes, begging and pleading for you to please stop whatever it is you're doing so that you can nap. Not everyone has a pug-nosed motivational coach who snores within seconds of falling into bed, letting you know it's cool to do the same.

In the event that you don't have a sleep coach around (Henry would probably call what he did "life coaching", actually), here are some other ideas to get you to excited, motivated, and enthused about napping when you need it:

1) Carve out a space:  A friend of mine (with lupus) found that if she created a special place dedicated to her weekend (and occasional weekday) naps, she was more likely to take them. She allocated a small inlet on the top landing of her stairs where she permanently set up an arrangement of cushy pillows, blankets, and linens. It looked like a little room of its own, and she said that having that space ready at all times gave her the encouragement she needed to catch those extra ZZZ's.

2) Select a special blanket: Another strategy is to dedicate a blanket (or pillow) as your official "napping supply." Pick one of your softest, most inviting blankets (or splurge on one from a home store - the kind that you can't help but touch every time you see it), and use it only for napping. Keep it draped over the end of your bed, or on the back of the couch, or tucked away in a closet where only you can use it. And let the luxuriousness of that blanket actually lure you to sleep.

3) Use a sleep mask/white noise machine just for the occasion:  You can also set the stage so that the environment in which you're napping is conducive to sleeping. I LOVE using my sleep mask now and then, and I've just started turning on the fan in our master bathroom, which provides just the right amount of white noise to lull me to sleep.

4) Find a reason to rest: Maybe it's not an actual nap you need, as much as some forced down time. If that's the case, consider a magazine subscription, or a trip to the library to stock up on some good books. Winter is around the corner (or if you're in D.C., it's practically here!), and there's no better time to cozy up to a good book for an hour in the afternoon or early evening.  I know, I know. I used to think I didn't have an hour to spare, either. But if that hour of down time allows you to be a more mobile, happier, healthier human being, I say find the time and make the effort.

In their busy, busy schedule, somehow Henry and Darwin managed to make the effort and find the time. See below for some of their most valiant napping moments:

See??? I told you Henry ALWAYS wanted the best spot in the bed!