"OK this is important" I told my friend. "Make sure the doctor knows she's in pain, and that the problem isn't itching"
The person in pain was my dear friend's mother. She suffers from Alzheimer's disease you see. I've seen her ask for her daughter, my dear friend, while her daughter was three feet in front of her. She's called me a dentist, a lawyer, the name of a family friend, and tonight asked me four times in an hour when I would be moving. I have no plans to move.
Mom is also a wonderful woman with a smile that will melt your heart and a heart of gold.
This night though, mom was battling a painful bout of hemorrhoids, suffering and making a hard job a little harder for her daughter.
Her daughter, you see, has put her life on hold to be her full time caregiver. If you've never known love you probably won't understand why.
The problem with an Alzheimer's patient in pain is that it's more than pain. The stress leads to more confusion, more anxiety, more feelings of fright. Imagine being in pain and not being quite sure why.
I was sure that once the pain part was made clear, a prescription for hydrocortisone and lidocaine would be on the way. Or at least pramoxine. Nope. When the prescription was picked up it was for 2.5% hydrocortisone only. For those of you playing along at home, hydrocortisone treats itching, and lidocaine and pramoxine are the pain relievers. To top it off, there wasn't even a rectal applicator. Holy fuckup Batman.
I swung into action. "OK, until we can get this straightened out, what you need is the green label Preparation H. Everyone knows the blue label, but the green is the one with the pain reliever"
Later that night I got a report that the green label had done the trick and things had stabilized. I did a little dance and chanted "who's the drugmaster/who's the drugmaster/who's the drugmaster/ me me me." Because that, my friends, is practicing pharmacy. You spend your time using the drug facts that are in your head to help a person. Simple concept really, but one that seems to have been lost somewhere along the way. An actual pharmacy these days can be the worst place to get some pharmacy practice in. I relished my little triumph, all the more so because the Drugmonkey doesn't mind playing on team love.
By the way, there's really no reason anymore not to let you know my real name's David. Not after today.
The next morning I braced myself for a day of business, not practice. Labels that were not to be printed more than five at a time. That's the priority in a pharmacy. And those labels better not take more than 15 minutes to get to the filled bin, people with drug problems or questions be dammed. Flu shot quotas and no such pressure that you perform legally mandated prescription counselling. No money in counselling you see, just fewer prescription mistakes and misunderstandings. I took a deep breath and resigned myself that there would be little professional practicing going on within these walls this day. The modern chain pharmacy long ago stopped being about professional practice.
What happened was that I was met shortly after arrival by two corporate suits. Those of you who've read my little blog garden over the last few years won't be totally surprised what happened.
What amazes me is that it wasn't this post that got me fired. Broadcast to the world that Rite Aid ordered a pharmacist to feed an old woman's drug addiction and they're OK with that evidently. Write something mean about the fact they're recruiting scabs to help break a Southern California strike though, and you are history.
It's probably not normal to feel pity for the people that are firing you, but I gotta tell you, that's the first thing that went through my mind. I looked at the short little fat man in the suit and saw a life wasted. I saw a mother that would be packed away into a nursing home. I saw someone past the halfway point in his life and wondered if there was anything he's done that he's proud of. I wondered if he's ever done anything that made him feel good inside.
I'm proud of my writing, and I feel good when I practice pharmacy and score for team knowledge while helping people. He introduced himself as the corporate head of loss prevention by the way. I think I should be flattered by that.
After the pity for the suit though, came emotions more normal. Relief, yes. But also a "holy shit" moment. Thoughts of lost fat paychecks....and...while staring out the window...
....the creeping in of the storm. My brothers in Wellbutrin know exactly what I mean. The storm is no fun and I shouldn't admit that because it will give the short suit man something to be proud of.
Later the phone rang.
"David, it's Mom. What a day I've had dealing with these moron doctors." The moron doctors, you see, never did correct their fuckup. Green label Preparation H and some Desitin cream were the only things that had done anything to help. "I wonder if you could come over, we'd love to see you."
Mom's voice was IV Prozac my friends. No storm for me this night. I bought some groceries for dinner and got a hug from my dear friend and felt appreciated in a way I never did when all I was doing was making money for the man. I cried happy tears because team love values me.
I don't know everything the future holds for me, but I do know this. From now on I will practice pharmacy. Perhaps I will even be paid for it. For the rest of my life though, I will be a pharmacist.
You should too. Because hugs from team love are fucking awesome.