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Meet Our Members: Diane and Leonard Chabiel

In this conversation with the Hero team, retired nurse Diane Chabiel and her husband Leonard discuss how Hero has improved her medication adherence and quality of life with Parkinson's Disease.

Hero Team: 

We would love to learn a little bit more about both of you, your background, and your journey with Hero thus far.

Diane Chabiel:

I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2010. 

When I was working the floor as a registered nurse, I noticed that my walking wasn't as fast as it used to be, and I didn't know I was dragging my leg. The doctors and the nurses told me, "You're dragging your leg," and this was about five years before I got diagnosed. 

We later moved and I worked more part-time instead of full-time, so I didn't notice it as much. But I started noticing little things, like a tremor in my hand, not bad, just once in a while. And then just my body would jump or I would just have these movements that would just happen. And then I started having neck pain. They thought I had tendonitis and then they thought ... I started having arm pain in my forearm. They thought I had bursitis. They didn't really know.

It was in 2010 when I noticed, when I was driving, I couldn't pick up my right foot from the gas. And it really scared me. So, thank goodness that everything was okay, but then I knew I had to go in, and I got diagnosed right away. 

And then I was put on the medication and it helped at first, but it got me really, really nauseous, so I had to put up with the nausea. So I had a lot of meds then. I had to take Sinemet, Carbidopa-Levodopa and anti-nausea medication... I mean, it was just a lot of stuff. Then I was on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds, a lot of different things. I mean, it was a lot all of a sudden.

I've always had a hard time keeping track of my medications. I would ask, "Did I take it? Did I not take it?" I tried to journal and it was just a lot of work. 

Leonard Chabiel:

It got to the point where she started having to manage her pills. And at that time we started really small with just a little plastic pill box you buy at the drugstore. It started off slow because it was only once a day or twice a day, so we were able to manage it easier.

Diane Chabiel:

But as time went, it increased.

Leonard Chabiel:

Yeah, the doctor started increasing the dosages and started introducing other medications to help her. And all of a sudden we have a box that was huge.

Diane Chabiel:

It would have the times instead of the days.

Leonard Chabiel:

Yeah. It did work well for maybe six months to a year, and then she was starting to lose some of her short-term memory. And I would find that she would be skipping days or times or taking extra pills.

She would say, "Oh, well, I ran out. I didn't feel good so I took another extra pill." It started becoming more and more frequent, and I was getting very nervous because she wouldn't remember if she took her pill or had taken the pill. For a Parkinson's patient, it's very, very important that they are on time. It is crucial that their medication is on time. If it's not on time, she'll have setbacks and it gets very difficult for her to catch up.

So once that pill box got very difficult to manage, I went online and Googled “medication dispenser." There were a few out there that were on a clock, but nothing like the system that Hero had. So I said, "Okay, I'm going to give it a try." I mean, honestly, I gave it a try and immediately I thought, "Oh my gosh, this thing is amazing." 

Diane Chabiel: 

Yeah. With Hero, everything's done for me. Because I’m currently in between stages with Parkinson's, I have short-term memory loss at times, so that's why Hero is great to stay on top of my medication. Hero really helps remind me when it's time, and it helps my husband keep track and know what meds I'm on.

Leonard Chabiel:

Yeah, I'm at peace because I know that she's taking her medication on time. She'll ask me, "Did I take my medication?" And I say, "Yes, you did take your medication at 9:00."

I also deal with a lot of tech in my work at Amazon, so I'm pretty knowledgeable as far as apps go, and I love that Hero allows me to change her prescriptions if it changes, or even changing the time of her doses. I can do it right there on the phone.

Diane Chabiel:

He can do it at work!

Leonard Chabiel:

Right, when I'm doing a conference, I can get on my phone and change it right there. And that makes it so easy and simple and not really have to worry about it. 

We also have a caregiver that comes when I'm working late sometimes, and Hero’s an ease for her too. Diane will ask, "Hey, did I take my medication?" And I just tell the caregiver, "It's all set up. You don't have to do anything, but press in the code and it'll all dispense for you. You don't have to do anything other than administer the drugs, the prescriptions." That is so easy and less stressful for me, especially when I'm not home to have that experience with the Hero.

Hero Team:

As a family living with Parkinson’s, what are some of the struggles and challenges that you have to face on a daily basis?

Diane Chabiel:

Parkinson’s is a movement disorder problem involving the loss of dopamine neurons. I have a hard time with rigidity and I'll have times where I'm really slow. And it is painful because you're fighting your body to move. You want it to move, but it won't. So I deal with a lot of that every day.

But once I get the dopamine, which is my medication, it'll help me move a little bit easier than before. So I always can tell when I have it in my system.

Leonard Chabiel:

And she does take some antidepressants also.

Diane Chabiel:

Yeah. We just recently split up the dosage with Hero, which has helped. I was taking all of it at 6:00 in the morning, so we split it up to mid day, 6:00 and then 3:00, I think it is. And it's helped. So little things like that, the Hero will help out. It’s something that I think people with Parkinson's, MS, anybody with a disorder, it would really help.

Leonard Chabiel:

Yeah, anybody taking multiple medications, I would definitely recommend it. I spoke to one of my coworkers where his mother has Parkinson’s and I recommended it to him. I gave him my referral code. I said, "This is a no brainer. It's very easy. You set up the medications and let it go. And it takes care of itself."

Hero is definitely worth the 30 bucks a month subscription. I throw away 30 bucks in just going out to eat or doing something dumb. But this has just been just a time saver. I love knowing she's going to take her medication on time and it's going to be okay when I'm at work.

Hero Team:

From both a patient and caregiver standpoint, how has Hero relieved some of the stress of making sure that you're taking your medication?

Diane Chabiel:

It helps that the Hero app is on his phone, so he can see if I've taken it or if I haven't taken my medication. And when I hear Hero here at home, I go, "Oh, it's time." Even though I look at the clock and know, it just feels good to know that it's working and I don't have to always remember.

Leonard Chabiel:

Yeah, as far as my stress level, Hero has taken it down from an 8 to a 1. I’m no longer wondering if she took her medication, and I don’t have to come home to check her pill box. Now, I can look on the phone at work and see if she's taken, and what time it was dispensed.

The other thing that's great is knowing the count, how many pills she's got left. That is really, really helpful too.

Diane Chabiel:

What's helped too, with the stress, is me not having to worry about organization. Before, I was always very organized and with Parkinson’s, I just had to let go because there's things I can't do anymore. So now Leonard is so organized when he didn't used to be. Hero helps him with his organization and time management and stuff like that, where I used to have to remind him before. Now the roles have reversed, but the Hero's helped with it. A lot.

Hero Team:

That's really great to hear. How has your medication adherence changed since using Hero?

Leonard Chabiel:

As far as compliance, Diane is probably at 98% compliance now, versus where she was maybe at 60% compliance before. I used to find missing pills, or she would say, "I didn't feel like taking it." 

We don't lose any medication anymore, there's no pills on the floor, there’s no pills in the restroom or pills in the bedroom. They're all there. So even for me, Hero gives me cost savings, because I'm not saying, "Why did we run out of this so quick?" And I might be vacuuming some medication up that costs me a dollar a pill.

Hero Team:

Has higher medication adherence helped improve your physical and mental health?

Diane Chabiel:

Yes. Just knowing that I don't have to stress out about the dosage and the time has helped a lot.

Leonard Chabiel:

Yeah. It definitely has improved her movement. Her disorders aren't as frequent. By taking that medication on time, and being on time, it has really helped her attain  the best quality of life that she can have right now. 

She also has a deep brain stimulator also to help her movement disorder, but I actually turned it off accidentally back in January of last year, and she didn't have it on for about three months until we went and saw the doctor and he goes, "Do you know she's had it off for three months?" And I didn't know that. "Did you see any symptoms?" I said, "No," and he contributed it to the medication being on time.

She also has physical therapists, occupational therapists and a visiting nurse -- a lot of them are just amazed by this machine. We recommend it to them all the time.

Hero Team:

That’s great, thank you! One final question: which of Hero's features are your favorite and why?

Diane Chabiel:

I like knowing I have about a half hour or so before it's going to dispense when I hear Hero and see the light. I'll see that light and I'm like, "Oh good. It's going to be dispensing and then I'll be able to take it. And within another 15 or 20 minutes, I'll be feeling better.”

Leonard Chabiel:

The best thing for me is the phone application. I can go on there anytime, anywhere, and see where she's at. I can also know how many pills are left in the dispenser, so it's easy for me to reorder the medication.

The most I have to do now is just counting the pills and putting them in the dispenser, and that's only once a month or so. Before, in that pill box, that was every seven days. It was very cumbersome and very frustrating. It was like, "Man, I got to do this again?" With Hero, it's a whole month that I don't have to do anything. It’s a time saver.

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The contents of the above article are for informational and educational purposes only. The article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified clinician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or its treatment and do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of information published by us.