As someone with 10 years of experience as a chronically ill person, I’ve come to learn that phone apps can be amazing. I have seven in particular that have really helped me out.
1) My Pillbox
My Pillbox is available for both Apple and Android users. The thing I love most about My Pillbox is that you can input the amount of pills you’re given for each medication. The number of pills you have left show up next to the name of the medicine, making it really easy to know when it’s time to order a refill. It lets you choose the color and type of application (ie: drops, injection, spray, powder) and a little icon will appear next to your medication to give you a visual cue.
Unlike some other medication apps I’ve tried, My Pillbox allows you to choose the exact time you want to be reminded, down to the minute. I love this feature because I need to take my meds in a specific order, so with this app I can get reminded at 10:45, 10:47, and 10:52, if I so desire. You can also set different “snooze” times, so if you aren’t ready to take a med when it reminds you, you can push “snooze” and it will remind you again in the number of minutes you have preset that button to be.
What’s really nice is that when you check off a medication, you have the option to say if it made you feel worse, the same, or better, and there’s a comment section for you to write the specifics. It also marks down the exact time taken, and you can say “skip” when you choose not to take it.
As someone who gets reminded 47 times a day to take medications, it’s critical for me to have an app that I’m okay with looking at a bunch throughout the day, and is reliable. This app is eye-pleasing and has never crashed on me. If you have a lot of medications that need to be taken at specific times, I recommend getting My Pillbox.
2) My Pain Diary
The next app I use constantly is My Pain Diary, which is available for both Apple and Android. I love this app because it allows you to mark down specific symptoms. You rate your severity from 0-10, you can put the location of the symptom, the type, trigger, and any remedy that you’ve found has helped. It allows you to attach a picture to the entry (ie: if you want to show the exact part of your foot that hurts…or the swelling on your elbow). There’s a notes section where you can write down more details, which I really like. The app also knows your location and embeds the weather with each entry, which can provide useful information.
You can back up your entries via dropbox, or simply email a .pdf to yourself or your doctor. The app can also generate graphs to show your symptom history, which helps track your progress. I have found My Pain Diary to be a very easy to use, helpful symptom tracker app.
You can see a video tutorial I made of the My Pain Diary App here
Available for both Apple and Android. I use this app from time to time when I need it. A symptom that I sometimes get is lack of appetite, and it becomes important for me to track exactly what I’m eating each day. Because I know myself, I know there’s no way I will write down every single thing I have put in my mouth. Every time I attempt to do that, I stop after the first entry.
So I decided to see what types of meal apps were out there. I found MealLogger, and I love it because it allows me to do exactly what I want. I can take a picture of my meal, and then when I’m done eating go back and comment on what parts of the meal I ate and what I didn’t. It can be just a few words, or a whole description—whatever I feel like. The app also helps you track exercise, but that isn’t what I use it for. One day, hopefully.
4) Apple’s “Health” app
This is sort of a one-size-fits-all app. It can help track fitness, nutrition, sleep, vitals, and body measurements. Ever since I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism last year, I’ve used it to track my heart rate and my weight. It’s easy to just input the numbers and then look at the data points in graph format.
Only runs on Apple. Although this app isn’t specifically related to health, it’s a really great app that I get a lot of use out of. It’s a checklist app, and allows you to make as many categories as you want. I use it as a shopping list, and a “traveling list.”
As anyone with a chronic illness knows, it’s never as simple as packing your clothes and getting on a plane to go visit your parents. It requires reminders to take out the medication from the refrigerator door. Put all the liquid medications over 3 oz in TSA-approved travel bottles. Pack your drops that you leave by the computer. Pack the pills on your bedside table that you only take on Tuesday mornings. Bring your travel air purifier. Your arnica cream. Extra face masks. Each time I travel, I usually end up wishing that I’d brought a certain something from home. So I add it to the list for next time. Paperless is a handy little app that I highly recommend!
Available for both Apple and Android. I spend a lot of time lying around not feeling too well, and Overdrive has been a great app for me. According to their website, Overdrive is an app that has “thousands of eBooks, audiobooks, and videos from your local library.” If you go to the Overdrive website, you can click “find a library near you.” Once you get a library card number you’re all set, and you can start downloading eBooks and audiobooks for free! I am often too tired to sit and read a book, so I’ve been sticking to the audiobook section. I’ve been listening to book after book and I haven’t paid a cent! It’s been wonderful. For anyone sitting around, or spending lots of time driving to and from medical appointments, this app could make time pass by a lot quicker. Each book gets downloaded to your phone, tablet, or computer for 21 days at a time, and it works even when your phone is in airplane mode.
7) Tiny Calendar
I absolutely love this Calendar app. It’s compatible with both Apple and Android, and it is a really great way to keep track of my schedule. My favorite feature is that for each event you make, it puts a dot in the space for that day. So when you’re looking at the calendar in month-view you can see how many events you have each day based on the number of dots.
What’s really cool is that you can choose the color for each of your activities. I use red for anything medical related, and that way when I’m looking at the month view, I can get a good idea of what days I have appointments, and how many of them each day. It’s a great visual, and a wonderful way to stay organized. Also, the app easily syncs with your Google calendars, to make life even easier.
For those who prefer audio over text, I’ve recorded myself reading the blog here: