Attention male readers (all three of you): today’s post contains very girlie discussions about girlie issues. I suggest you come back tomorrow to see what I’m up to rather than reading this one.
Attention readers looking for a sunshine and lollipops reflection on something going on in my life: today, most unfortunately, I am only able to provide you with this little rant. Stop back tomorrow if you need something cheerful. If, however, you want to read about my wretched experience, read on.
I hummed and hawed about writing this post, but as my bestie says, “The things that happen to [me] can’t be made up, so I may as well write about them.” To sum things up without getting too graphic or bringing the wrong kind of search results from Google over here to Blue Speckled Pup, it became abundantly clear today that I needed a dose of a miracle drug called Fluconazole. For readers wondering what the heck that tablet is for who are too lazy to Google it: my problem rhymes with “beast deflection.” Aren’t you glad you stopped by to read about what I’m up to? Any male and/or squeamish readers who were here have now departed, kicking up Road Runner-esque clouds of virtual dust.
Anyway, this is a problem I’ve encountered before, although not for a blessedly long time, so I knew exactly what to do. I called my pharmacy to ask that my prescription on file for Fluconazole be filled so I could pick it up later when I was planning to be out of the house. Our conversation (after waiting on hold for several minutes) went like this:
“Hi, this is Kay. Here’s how you spell my last name. Could I please have a dose of Fluconazole filled and I’ll pick it up later today.”
“Uh, Kay, you don’t have any prescriptions of that drug on file.”
“I don’t what?” Mild panic was beginning to set in.
“I see a couple of other things, but no Fluconazole.”
“But I need Fluconazole. I know I have refills left. I promise,” I tried not to whine, but I have not been my most comfortable today.
“Did it maybe get left at your last pharmacy and not moved over with your other prescriptions.”
“I hope so.”
“Here’s their number. Blah-blabibity-blah. If it’s on file, get them to phone it over here, and I’ll fill it for you.”
“Okay, thanks.” A minor hiccup, I thought. I can work around this.
So, I made call number two, to the pharmacy in my old neighbourhood. After waiting on hold for several minutes, this is how it went:
“Hi, this is Kay. Here’s how you spell my last name. Could I please, please have a dose of Fluconazole filled and I’ll pick it up later today.”
“There’s no Fluconazole on file for you, Kay.”
“But, that’s impossible,” I took a deep breath and tried to remain calm. “I know I have at least three or four refills on that prescription.” I heard her typing away at her computer and crossed my eyes in hope.
“Ah, here it is,” I almost leapt from the couch in almost joy, “yeah, there’s five here, but they expired last month.”
“Why would they expire?”
“It’s Alberta law. Eighteen months, and then they’re no good.”
“So I can’t have any Fluconazole?”
“I’m afraid I can’t provide this medication to you until you get a fresh prescription from your doctor.”
“Really? Please? This isn’t a recreational drug. As I’m sure you can understand, I’m very uncomfortable, and I know there’s usually a week or more wait to see my doc–”
“There’s nothing I can do,” she cut me off. I started to feel like I was asking for a big bottle of vicodin or something with street value. “You’ll need to call your physician.”
“But, please, I’ve had it filled there many times, and– ”
“You don’t have sufficient history here for me to provide you that drug. I’m sorry but I can’t help.”
“Thanks, then,” I replied, dejected and starting to feel a little worn out by this whole rigamarole.
“You have a good day now,” she chirped.
“Yeah, that’s becoming less and less likely by the minute, isn’t it?” I finished, not meaning to be rude but feeling thoroughly frustrated by the entire pharmacological profession.
So, the next move was to phone my doctor’s office. I said a little prayer that perhaps she had a late notice cancellation, or that perhaps she was available for evening walk-in clinic, as she often is on Thursdays. Here is the conversation, which, naturally, took place after several minutes on hold:
Hi, this is Kay. Here’s how you spell my last name. Could I please book an appointment to see Dr. Lovely Shoes as soon as possible? I’m a regular patient.”
“Are you a regular patient of Dr. Lovely Shoes?”
“Uh, yes?” I was already short on patience, and the fact that this lady wasn’t listening didn’t help.
“Okay then. I’m sorry to inform you that Dr. Lovely Shoes no longer works at this location.” Oh crap. This was getting better and better, wasn’t it?
“She’s moved her practice to Fancy New Office. Would you like the phone number?”
“Yes, please!” I fumbled around the kitchen for something to write with, finally grabbing a green felt marker and scrawling the digits she provided on the back of the power bill.
Power bill in hand, before I even had a chance to cap the marker, I dialed up Fancy New Office. After waiting on hold for several minutes, during which there was no music, only a woman who informed me, in a voice that should have been advertising ice cream rather than placating people on hold at medical clinics, that my call was important and would be answered in the order in which it was received, I finally got through.
“Fancy New Clinic! How may I assist you?”
“Hi, I’m a regular patient of Dr. Lovely Shoes. I’d like an appointment to see her as soon as possible.”
It took the receptionist a moment to answer, but then she broke my heart, “I have something available on Tuesday, October 18th.” I was standing in my kitchen shaking my head violently. This was not good.
“Here’s my situation,” I began, thinking that perhaps I could appeal to her sense of decency and empathy, one woman to another. “I am currently wrestling with a beast deflection, and I feel wretched. My prescription for Fluconazole has somehow expired, and I cannot use the stuff available in those do-it-yourself suppository kits at the drugstore.” (That’s right: today’s post contains the word suppository!)
“I’d love to help you,” the receptionist continued, “but Dr. Lovely Shoes has just transferred here, and she doesn’t even start until October 17th.”
Crap on a sandwich, with extra pickles.
“If you like,” she offered, “you can come to our open walk-in clinic. There will be a wait, but we should be able to get you in with a physician this afternoon.”
“I’ll be there!” I cried, sounding more like a woman who won a radio contest for a lifetime supply of chocolate than a woman heading out to discuss the affliction of her bits with a total stranger.
I changed from my jammies and house cleaning gear into jeans and a sweater, and headed to Fancy New Clinic. Every light turned red on me. Sometimes people say that to exaggerate how long it took them to get somewhere: I counted, and there was not a single green light that let me pass through. It was all part and parcel of my difficult afternoon, so I expected it to go that way. To the lucky women out there who’ve never dealt with this very common health concern, time is of the essence; letting the beast go unchecked any longer than absolutely necessary creates a tragic situation in a lady’s undercarriage. Waiting even one day for that treatment is highly unadvisable –take this from someone who knows. You’re welcome.
At Fancy New Clinic, I was informed that there would be
1. a $25 charge to import my chart to the new clinic, because the new place is fancy and paperless, so my chart would need to be entered into their system, and
2. at least an hour wait to see a doctor.
“No problem,” I smiled, choosing not to think about the idiotic charge for transferring my history, but to focus instead on the hour between me and a prescription for relief. “I brought a book to read.”
About eighty minutes later, I was out the door with a shiny new prescription for Fluconazole. Wahoo! Well, sort of wahoo; I would have been much happier without the whole situation, but I was trying to look on the bright side. I was one step closer to relief.
It’s about a three minute drive from Fancy New Clinic to the Safeway pharmacy where I buy my prescriptions. The drive took almost twenty-five minutes, but I was just so relieved to have the necessary document in hand that I didn’t much care.
I strode up to the counter after only a brief wait, and said, “Hi, I’m Kay. Here’s how you spell my last name. Could I please fill this as soon as possible.”
The pharmacist didn’t look at me but just grabbed my prescription, “For this one,” she said, “I can have it ready in an hour.”
“An hour!” I thumped my fist on the counter, and simultaneously stomped my flip-flop clad foot. “A bloody hour! I know for a fact, since I have had this prescription before and worked in a drugstore in high school, that Fluconazole is supplied in little white boxes, one tablet per box.” Her eyebrows went up, but she didn’t say anything. “It should take you no more than five minutes to fill this prescription, which I desperately need. You don’t have to measure it. You don’t have to count it out. All you have to do is drop two little white boxes in a little white Safeway Pharmacy bag. I’ll be back here in fifteen minutes, lady!”
That, of course, was the reaction I had in my head. What I actually said was:
“Uh, okay? I guess I’ll be back in a hour.”
I trudged off into the mall to find a way to spend an hour without spending any money, which is sort of counter-intuitive, particularly since there’s a new Crate and Barrel, which I’ve never shopped in before, and they had enough lovely little dealies to distract me. I could get myself into a lot of trouble very quickly in Crate and Barrel.
When I returned to the Safeway pharmacy, right on time to pick up my long-awaited Fluconazole, I waited for ten minutes behind a line of very old and very sick people. While I would normally have taken that opportunity to be grateful for my relative good health, I was just bitter that I had to stand in line with bits that felt severely sunburned. Finally, finally, finally, it was my turn.
“Hi, I’m Kay. Here’s how you spell my last name.”
“Here’s your prescription, Kay,” she said, stapling the bag closed and sliding it across the counter. “Your total today is $30.45.”
I shook my head at her. “My drug plan covers this stuff. That can’t be my total.” I had slipped two dollars in my purse specifically to pay the $1.50 dispensing charge that had always been my share of this drug in the past. “Look.” I held out my palm with the sweaty loonies I’d been holding through my long wait in line.
“Uh, sorry, but your total is $30.45.” She glanced at the line that had grown even longer behind me.
“Can you check again, please.” By that point, I had no patience left. I chewed on the corner of my mouth.
“Here it is,” she pulled a piece of paper of a stack by the computer. “Your benefits company refused to cover the prescription.”
“But they’ve covered it many times before,” I complained. “There must be a mistake.”
“Nope,” she smiled, “it says that since this drug is now available over the counter, they don’t cover it.”
“Wait,” I stopped, fury washing over me, “over the who now?”
“Over the counter,” she explained, “that means you don’t need a prescription for it. It’s right over there, in the family planning aisle. Little pink box. Canesten.”
“But–” I continued.
“So, if you’re ever desperate, you can just pop down here and buy it off the shelf.” When I didn’t respond, she added, “that’s $30.45, please.”
Shaking my head, I paid her and stomped out of the store, clutching my little white bag containing two wee boxes of incredibly expensive miracle drug.
To recap: I made four separate, increasingly desperate phone calls, including a significant accumulation of time spent on hold (but that’s okay because my call was “important!”) trying to arrange for that prescription. I waited in a doctor’s office for over an hour, discussed a highly personal concern with a guy I don’t know, and then promptly got stuck in rush hour traffic. I ambled around the mall for an hour, waited in line another ten minutes behind someone I’m sure had bubonic plague, and then paid fifteen bucks a pill for a prescription that used to be covered by my drug plan, to which my contributions have increased this year.
Apparently, I could have bought that medication from the shelf next to the condoms and gone home. The entire procedure cost me almost four hours of my life, but I really only needed to invest a ten minute trip to the drugstore. Why, at some point during all those phone calls, and all that time spent in the doctor’s office, didn’t someone fill me in?
Today has not been my day. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go have a cold bath.
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