Back to the Pharmacy

Reader note: I’ve started using my name, ‘s.e. smith,’ rather than my pseudonym, ‘meloukhia’ to identify myself on FWD. I apologise in advance if that causes any confusion!

Readers may recall that way back in October, I wrote a post about the prolonged and irritating interaction I have every time I pick up my birth control prescription in ‘So, There’s This Conversation With My Pharmacist…‘ in which the pharmacist doesn’t refill the prescription properly, hassles me about how I am paying for it, and eats about 40 minutes of my time as I try to get it straightened out and fight to control the considerable rage which bubbles up inside me. Curiously enough this is the only prescription which I’ve ever encountered these kinds of problems with, except that the times, they appear to be changing! So I thought I would write an update about my most recent adventure at the pharmacy.

It goes like this: I navigated the byzantine phone system to call in my refill1 and I cruised into the pharmacy the next day to pick it up. The pharmacist who helped me was, I believe, new, because I’ve never seen her before.

I told her I was there to pick up my prescription and she went to the back to get it and lo and behold, it was the right size package. Aha, I thought, my pharmacy luck is changing! And when she rang it up, she said ‘how would you like to pay for this,’ and I said ‘in cash,’ and she said ‘just so you know, the cost of this medication has increased a bit since the last time you filled this prescription2‘ and then she gave me the total and I gave her my money and she handed me the prescription and I signed for it and then I left.

This is how that pharmacy interaction should have been going all along. It’s what happens every single time I pick up any other prescription, after all, including very costly and potentially dangerous prescriptions. I don’t know why getting this prescription was such a hassle before, although I strongly suspect that it had something to do with the fact that I was picking up birth control and birth control is, of course, evil. I don’t know if they have changed their protocol for how this medication is handled, or if I just lucked out and a new person happened to get my refill order and thought ‘oh, this person is requesting a three month refill, I should probably prepare a three month pack,’ or what the deal was, but it made me deliriously happy.

The best part was that I had budgeted all this energy for dealing with the pharmacy rigamarole, and instead I was in and out in three minutes, and had surplus energy with which to do much more fun and exciting things.

Of course, now that I have written this, I bet that the next time I go in will be rife with problems, because that is how the world seems to work.

How about you, gentle readers? Have you had any experiences lately which defied expectations?

  1. Seriously it requires pushing an absurd number of buttons and the phone system will not ever tell you ‘ok, we’re done, you can hang up now’ so you are left wondering if your refill request even went through.
  2. As indeed it had, it is now 33% more expensive.

About s.e. smith

s.e. smith is a recalcitrant, grumpy person with disabilities who enjoys riling people up, talking about language, tearing apart poor science reporting, and chasing cats around the house with squeaky mice in hand. Ou personal website can be found at this ain't livin'.

4 thoughts on “Back to the Pharmacy

  1. I’m glad it’s going better and um hope the pharmacy gods don’t strike you down with hassles next time.

    I hate using touch tone systems on cell phones – I loved calling in my refills on the old wall phone, I didn’t have to take my ear away from the phone, I know, petty. But I also don’t like talking to business type people (um my name is Kaitlyn and I need prescription 11111 filled um um um um er er) so it’s still good. Plus, call them in when you notice you’re out (or will be out – set it up a week at a time!) at midnight on Monday.

    One branch of the pharmacy I primarily use blamed another branch like half a mile away for the screw up last week, so that was fun. Not. I mean, I never ran out, but what if I did? So I spent the day a wreck and in pain. Not fun.

    Also, I think clinics and doctors or nurses (who would love extra work!) should give you some pharmacy names when they prescribe something odd. Avinza – I got filled at a non-chain hometown pharmacy and a chain I don’t usually use. But the true stress test came from fentanyl patches. The same branch of the chain I use normally never had it month to month, so I had to call around and hope we wouldn’t have to drive a million miles and wait (and this was Dr Ego, so we got out after 5, so it was already night time) and bah, and sometimes they didn’t have it in that dosage but never bothered calling, so we’d waste an hour only to be told sorry. Why ask for my cell number if you’re never going to use it?

    I thought of paying for my pain meds without insurance… except it’s about 347 US$ more than I paid once insurance was settled. Ouch.

  2. Yay! That is wonderful!

    I have had endless problems with my pain medications – the pharmacist at the place I used to go to was always imposing her values on my medications, and was rude, unhelpful, and judgemental, so I switched pharmacies to a great place where I never wait more than ten minutes to have my scrip filled, and they’re always cool.

    I have anxiety attacks whenever I have to deal with medical stuff now because of the number of times a doctor or a pharmacy has abandoned me or made my life really difficult. The old pharmacy wouldn’t even let me fill the scrip if I paid cash, and would not return it when I asked for it. The medical system in the US is pretty screwed up when it comes to moral judgementalism.

  3. Yay, that’s wonderful indeed. I hope it continues to go well.

    In my own case, birth control is the only medication I have not had trouble accessing properly. My pharmacy however has neve rimposed its values on my medications, or at least, not that I’m aware (my staff pick up the prescriptions).

  4. Yes, that defied my expectations, but no, not in a good way. I’ve spent part of the past 3 days talking with my doctor’s office to get my Percocet scrip changed to something Schedule III, so that I didn’t have to repeat this process every 2 months. It was confusing and frustrating, but I at least believe everyone was acting in good faith.

    Until I got to the pharmacy.

    Me (handing a scrip for Tylenol 4 to the pharmacy tech): I actually need to cancel my prescription for Percocet and fill this instead.

    Pharmacy Tech: We can’t give you Tylenol 4 and Percocet.

    Me: Which is why I want to cancel the Percocet. We can call my doctor’s office to confirm this if you want.

    PT: It’s just that we can’t fill this for you if you’re also getting the Percocet.

    Me: I’m not getting the Percocet. There’s been a change in my medication, and I need the Tylenol 4 filled instead.

    PT: You can’t have that and the Percocet.

    Me: I don’t want the Percocet! (Pause.) Can I speak with the pharmacist on duty?

    PT: Ma’am, he’s going to say the same thing I am, that we can’t give you two different narcotics at once.

    Me: Still, I’d like to speak with a pharmacist.

    (Pharmacy tech brings over the pharmacist, then stays to listen.)

    Me: I have a scrip for Percocet sitting on the shelf back there. I also have this scrip for Tylenol 4. It’s to manage dysmenorrhea, which means I end up taking it only a couple of days a month, but every month. The Tylenol scrip is written so it has 3 fills for 6 months; my doctor and I agreed it made more sense to use this medication instead. You can call his office if you want, but I need to cancel the Percocet and fill this.

    Pharmacist: You don’t want the Percocet at all ever?

    Me: Correct.

    Pharmacist: Sure, we can have this ready in about 45 minutes.

    How effing hard was that? Also, since when is saying you *don’t want* a drug considered basically “drug-seeking behavior”?

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