It was right there… All I had to do was to reach over the counter and take it…
To begin with, I was not at my best. We had been in the hospital all week and sleep was not really a thing anymore. They had finally released us and sent us home with a prescription for a new medicine, the only one of the nine we’d tried so far that had been able to get things under control. We were terrified that, if things didn’t go well, we’d be back in the hospital for another week to reset things again. Everyone else sat at home resting while I headed to the pharmacy to get the meds before he needed them at bedtime. I had about 90 minutes to complete this task and get the stuff into his body. The pharmacy is three minutes away. No problem.
I should also point out that we love our pharmacists. The two women who run the place know us very well at this point, and they always have what we need before we even get to the counter. If there were frequent flyer miles for prescription drugs, we would be platinum members with a first class upgrade. Our pharmacists are caring, competent, and personable. They were also not there that evening.
I thought I had seen everyone who worked behind the pharmacy counter by this time, but there was someone new in front of me, and she was just literally the worst. Literally. And I know what that word means. To start with, she told me that she had already spoken to the residents on the pediatric ward and she had our stuff ready. This was a lie. I mean, she had spoken to them, yes, but our stuff was not at all ready. This was not the problem, since I was not expecting it to be ready. No, the first issue was, as she explained to me, we were only getting a ten day supply instead of the month’s supply that we needed. The woman told me that she had informed the resident that there was only a ten day supply here, so the prescription could only be for that amount. Apparently she has never heard of a partial fill before. This was infuriating, because it meant hours of extra work for me. These meds are all controlled substances and cannot be filled online. I need a hand-signed paper, picked up in person. But as long as I got at least some of the prescription, I would deal with the rest later.
She got the pills out from the back and counted them several times, as slowly as possible. Then she typed the information from my hand-signed paper into her computer, as slowly as possible. That was when she began mumbling to herself about the DEA number. For ten minutes she grumbled and frizzled and futzed around behind the screen before informing me that the DEA number wasn’t working, so I could not have the medicine.
What do you mean the DEA number isn’t working? How is this my problem? I don’t even know what a DEA number is. I have the prescription, I have my ID, I have the money, I have a child at home who must have this medicine in less than an hour, so give me the drugs!
I was not letting this woman off the hook. I informed her that, whatever she needed to fill this prescription, she had better find it, and find it fast. She typed the number in several more times, but somehow it continued not to work. She asked me a lot of stupid questions, like if I had ever met his doctor in person. (Yes, several times that day in fact, and every day) Did the doctor know about the prescription? (Yeah, cause he wrote it and signed it in person, as you can see from the paper in your hand) Did I know any other DEA numbers that might be in her system? (Was she just stalling until the store closed?) So finally, we called the hospital.
She managed to get the resident on the phone with whom she had spoken earlier, but this did not seem to help anything. So she decided to try a new tactic. She wrote out a new prescription on a piece of paper and then walked to the back of her area and put my precious, hand-signed prescription through the shredder. This is when I started to really freak out. Don’t get arrested, my wife texted me, as I tried to keep her appraised of the ongoing situation. And yet, the woman was wandering around in the back doing something useless. The medicine was sitting right in front of me. I had 30 minutes to get it home to my son. What would you do?
I wondered what the penalties were for stealing a controlled substance. Probably severe. But could I get home to my son before the police found me? Could I get him what he needed, even if I had to go into hiding, or to jail? Would it be worth it? Sometimes the wilderness sounds like a much better place to live than “civilization.” Also, what if I accidentally murdered this pharmacist? Is that a worse crime than stealing drugs? I know some murderers who are walking around free after serving their time, while some pot smokers are in jail forever, so if I was going to become a professional criminal I might as well play the… Oh! She’s coming back! Okay, daydream over.
Somehow this person who had shredded my important document was able to forge her own or something, because now it was in the system and she said I could have the medicine. Good! Not a moment too soon. And if anyone was breaking any laws, it was her. It was at this point that she went into some sort of “obnoxious mode,” designed to delay the process as long as possible.
She wandered off to the back computer and tried to look up if the drug was still available to order, or if I might need a different dose or manufacturer in the future.
“NOT IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW!” I shouted to her, losing any semblance of politeness.
“Well, I’m just trying to save you time in the future, and give you the information that you need to…”
“DON’T NEED INFORMATION! NEED MEDICINE! NOW!” I mentioned.
“Okay, and do you need to order a refill of (medicine #1)?”
“No, we don’t take that anymore.”
“Oh, okay, what about a refill of (medicine #2)?”
“We don’t take that anymore either.”
“I DO NOT NEED ANY REFILLS OF ANYTHING! I NEED THIS MEDICINE! GIVE ME THE MEDICINE!”
“I’m sorry sir, I have to ask you about all of these, because…”
“NO YOU DON’T! NO ONE EVER ASKS ME THIS! GIVE ME THE PILLS!”
I finally walked out of there with minutes to spare. And honestly, if my son had his medicine a few minutes late, it would not be the end of the world, but I was afraid we would not get the medicine at all that night. And if she had, in the final evaluation, informed me that I could not have the medicine, well, I don’t know what I would have done. I am a rule follower by nature, but sometimes the rules suck. As I spend today trying to get the prescription fixed so that we have more than just enough for the week, I only pray that I never see that woman again, or else I am switching pharmacies. At least I am not in jail.