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CR Packaging

“Child-resistant packaging or CR packaging is special packaging used to reduce the risk of children ingesting hazardous materials. This is often accomplished by the use of a special safety cap. It is required by regulation for prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications…” This is Wikipedia’s introduction to CR packaging.

They provide a bit of history. "The child-resistant locking closure for containers was invented in 1967 by Dr. Henri Breault", a Canadian physician seeking to end the excessive numbers of children treated for poisoning from ingestion of substances found in the home. This problem of poisoning had reached crisis proportions and the invention was welcome.

As you continue to read, Wikipedia adds something of a disclaimer: “Child-resistant packaging can be a problem for some aged individuals or people with disabilities. Regulations require designs to be tested to verify that most adults can access the package...” “Most”, not all. This little side journey into Wikipedia provides context for this blog. I am not part of the designated “most”. Consistently, in part due to a muscle and tendon syndrome in my right hand, I cannot “access the package”. Aging has made this worse.

Much to my dismay, last week I tested positive for Covid, and started my quarantine, my return to the Covid Cave, the place where I lived when I started this blog. It was my second experience of having Covid, and proved to be quite different from the first. I was angry and frustrated that I had Covid again, and disoriented by the new symptoms. I was also on alert. Due to a rogue mystery gene I am harboring, exposure to Covid sets in motion auto-immune responses in me that can be as troublesome as the disease.

And like household pests, they showed up. Now while each responds well to medication, I of course no longer had this medication because I had convinced myself that I now had gone through the Covid cycle and of course was now done with it. But the medications were needed. So yesterday, I spent a few hours at my new (and quite excellent) urgent care center in search of medications. And I was happily successful. My provider subscribed the medications and I scurried over to CVS to pick them up.

One medication recommended starting it in the morning, so I waited until early this morning to take my first dose…UNTIL…I encountered the CR Packaging lid. I tried the obvious: just press down and open it. Nothing. That was my right hand, so I tried my left hand. Nothing. Then I got out my secret weapon, a new bottle and jar opener that has really worked wonders and become a valued part of my kitchen supplies. Nothing. I tried several variants on all of these approaches for about 20 minutes…then paused.

I support the interventions necessary to ensure that children are not able to poison themselves. I also think we could alter the lids for people over, say, 75 or 80. I do know we grow cautious immediately, worried about potential careless grandparents, and it is a good point. The alternative is to continue to put lids on medications that older people cannot remove. This is especially crazy since older people are probably the majority of the consumers of medications due to chronic diseases that worsen in the later years of life.

Back in my kitchen, in hand-to-hand combat with a CR Packaging lid, my frustration level was escalating. My tolerance for pain and the requirements of pain management were eroding rapidly, and while I watched myself doing the varied gymnastics directed at the lid that would not open, I did a review of the number of times I had engaged in this struggle. I recalled all the times I wanted someone to change the "inaccessible lid for drugs" policy. I reviewed all the outcomes that I had achieved, and realized that this time didn’t look hopeful. This lid was impressive.

I paused, walked to the back of my apartment where I stored my tool drawer, and pulled out a hammer. I took it in the kitchen and starting pounding on the side of the lid. (I am trying to be detailed here for those who elect to copy my maneuver). As I pounded on my CR packaging lid, I realized that even hard pounding on the side made the lid bend, but not break. Happily, the “bottle” gave, and a piece cracked out of the side. I have provided this useful photo to demonstrate my outcomes. Now I could access the medication. I did, and took my dosage, content, maybe even pride of my problem-solving.

Summary: If nothing else works when challenged by unyielding CR packaging lids, just start pounding on them with a household hammer until the bottle breaks (most are plastic) and you are able to access the medication. I recommend identifying a substitute storage option for the medication, e.g., a small plastic bag or small Tupperware container. If you are concerned about children, store it in that odd cupboard above your stove; kids do not visit there.

The smashed bottle, and the act of smashing the bottle, in retrospect, seemed an apt example of how we humans are responding to our experiences of Covid. We are not necessarily content to go back to the way we have always done “it”, whatever “it” was. I never ever imagined the hammer solution, and I really liked it. Clean, clear, successful. I again recalled the numerous times where I wished someone would fix this problem of medications inaccessible to older persons. And I found it: Use a hammer! Not only do you get the medication: it is deeply satisfying to pound the “hell” out of the infuriating CR Packaging lid.

We are making stuff up as we go along whenever we decide we are not going to keep doing stuff the way we used to do stuff. We may be clear about what we are leaving behind: we are far more challenged by the invention of what we want for the now and the future. It is not enough to quit doing what we used to do; we have to figure out a different way of being, and make it happen.

Now I am not suggesting that we need to use brute force…just that in this case the hammer was a great resource and I am grateful. It did have me pondering though. When I listen to Gen Z telling me what is amiss in the world we are bequeathing to them, I have a vague sense that they are nodding at me politely and cheerfully, but behind their backs they have a large hammer. Increasingly, I think they may be on to something.

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

- Jalaluddin Mevlana Rumi -

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