Wednesday, April 17, 2013

snafu


I have the worst luck with pharmacies. The worst. In the last four years, I have spent way too many hours at that wretched counter, reading through the list of medication flavorings (chocolate banana pie? seriously?) while the pharmacist and the techs try to figure out who I am and where my medication went.

One pharmacy in particular has been especially troublesome. It's one of those big grocery store pharmacies, and while I like the fact that I can grab some Noosa and a few avocados while they fill my prescription, I do not appreciate the fact that they give me the wrong medication in the wrong doses...all the time. I'm not kidding. If I had to take a guess, I'd say that 15 out of 100 visits to this pharmacy have gone off without a hitch.

About a year ago, I stopped by the pharmacy to pick up a prescription for Harriet. She was only three months old, so the medication was obviously supposed to be liquid. But when I loosened the staple on that crisp white bag, I found a bottle of white powder inside. At first, I was a little nervous that I had unknowingly become part of something illegal, but then I remembered which pharmacy I was dealing with, so I gave them a call.

"Oh," the pharmacist said. "Looks like we just forgot to mix it. Take 42.57 milliliters of distilled water..."

I was pretty sure that wasn't my job. Plus, I didn't have distilled water or anything to measure 42.57 milliliters with, so I put Harriet back in her car seat and hoped our second visit that day would result in some medication we could actually use. That time, we were successful. Except that they flavored her medication with peppermint. They could have chosen strawberry or bubblegum or grape but they chose peppermint…for a baby.

I had my baseline ultrasound last week (the first step in cycle #2, just to make sure my body was at a good starting point). We were pushing naptime on the way home from the appointment, so I decided not to brave that awful pharmacy. I called a new pharmacy and asked if how long he thought it would take to fill a femara prescription. Fifteen minutes. Perfect.

Twenty-five minutes and six screaming, lying-on-the-floor temper tantrums later (by Harriet, not me), the very kind pharmacist had my femara ready on the counter. Only one problem - they work with every insurance company but ours. It was going to cost $120, so I apologized like crazy and headed home without the medication. While Harriet was napping, I contacted my fertility clinic to see if they could call the prescription in to a third pharmacy. That way, when Harriet woke up, I could just breeze in and grab it rather than having to hang out at the pharmacy forever.

I thought I'd make it especially convenient for the nurse, so I had the phone number ready. Not good enough. She wanted the fax number.

"Okay, I'll look it up," I said while scouring the website. "I don’t think it’s on here..."

Silence.

"Do you want me to find it and call you back?" I asked, assuming she'd say she could call it in or look up the fax number herself.

"Sure," she said, "Give me a call when you have it."

So I called pharmacy #3 and was promptly told that they don't give their fax number out to regular people, just doctors and nurses. I wanted to be like, "My husband is a nurse. Can you tell him?" But I hung up and called the clinic back.

"Can you please put me through to the nurse line?" I asked the receptionist.

"Nope, the nurse line is closed," she said.

"Well, I was just talking to somebody and she's expecting my call," I answered.

"Who were you talking to?" she quizzed.

"I don't remember her name."

An annoyed little sigh and then, "I'll go figure out who you're looking for."

Eventually, the nurse agreed to call it in and we were ready to go.

A couple hours later, I drove to pharmacy #3, naively expecting that this shiny new pharmacy was the Promised Land where prescriptions are actually filled.

But when the pharmacy technician with the sparkliest, dangliest earring I've ever seen asked if I had ever filled a prescription with them before (I hadn't), I knew I was in trouble. 

She asked for my name, address, date of birth and my insurance card. Then she pecked at her keyboard for more than ten minutes without a word. I was baffled. I hadn't possibly told her enough information to keep her busy for that long! Was she filling out a detailed physical description of me? Was she checking Facebook? Was she writing some fan fiction? 

Another customer and her twenty-something daughter walked up behind me. They stood there for about two minutes before they started sighing loudly and asking no one and everyone what was going on and why this was taking so long. I started to get a little bit nervous because this woman sounded seriously drunk. She kept talking in slurred half sentences about her diabetes medication and I was just hoping like crazy that she really was drunk and not about to head into a diabetic coma or something.

After about ten minutes, the fancy-pants tech had to take her lunch break, so a darling, red-headed tech took over. 

"Name?" she asked. I told her.

"Birthdate?" I told her that too.

"Address?"

I politely shared that the previous worker had already asked all of that stuff. 

"Well, she didn't put it in the computer."

Then what was she doing that whole time?!?!

The drunk/diabetic woman’s patience was running low, and now there was an older man in line behind her, dropping the f-bomb and wondering very loudly what on earth the problem was.

The red-head only typed for about five minutes without a word before telling me that I'm not covered by my insurance plan.

"Yes I am," I assured her.

She called the insurance company. They hung up on her twice. She was on hold for eight more minutes before she was able to talk to someone who insisted that I was an impostor.

She cupped her hand over the receiver, tilted her head slightly and asked, "Were you born in 1958?"

She was totally serious.

Up until that moment, I was sure that the experience couldn’t get any weirder, but now she was asking me if I was fifty-five years old.

“No. I was born in ’85,” I said, trying not to sound too deadpan.

“That’s the problem,” she said.

She filled the guy on the phone in on the little typo and just like that, I had insurance coverage.

Four more minutes of silent typing.

“I’m going to have to call the insurance company back,” she said. “Your doctor wants you to take two pills per day but your insurance company only allows one pill per day.”

The drunk/diabetic lady and her daughter went to look at makeup. Thank Jesus. The swearing man sat down in a huff.

The tech eventually convinced the insurance company that my doctor not only knew how many pills I was going to be taking, but he had actually suggested I take two at a time. (Yes, I really am that infertile that I have to take double the recommended dose.) The insurance company conceded.

“Okay,” the tech said with a triumphant deep breath. “It’ll take about forty-five minutes for us to fill your prescription.”

I went home. 

38 comments:

  1. *banging head on wall*

    How incredibly frustrating.

    I admit to getting annoyed when people don't have the fax # of the pharmacy they want us to send a Rx to, but it's really not THAT hard for us to look it up. Beyond that, the pharmacies you have been using sound like total pieces of crap! I did have to giggle at your "was she on Facebook?" comment. :)

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    1. I laughed so hard at your response - banging head on wall. (-:

      And good to know about the fax number. That makes a lot of sense. But in that case, why the heck didn't the pharmacy give me the fax number?!?

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  2. Oh my gosh! That's TERRIBLE!!! Girl, I'm impressed that you hung in there. I have NO IDEA if this might help, but my doctors informed me that Target and Costco charge less without insurance than most places charge after a copay for Femara. I'm not a member of Costco, so I used Target. I think it was $9.40 or something. My insurance paid the change, so my total was $9. You might check at either of those places to see if its the same thing in your state.

    But hopefully, this is it, and those 10 pills will do the job!

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    1. We ended up getting femara for like $2, so that was at least a nice ending to the story. We've tried Target...bad luck there. But Costco is a great option. We'll have to do that sometime.

      Also, very generous of your insurance to cover the forty cents. (-:

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  3. Wow, i was just shaking my head reading this. 1958? Really lady?? Glad you at least got it figured out and hopefully when you go back to pick it up it will be a quick and painless stop.

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    1. Yeah, isn't that unbelievable!?! That was the part that really got to me.

      And yes, picking it up went just fine. My husband did it. I was done. (-:

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  4. Goodness girl! You are much more patient than me! Hope you can get it all worked out! Praying for you!

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    1. Yep, everything definitely worked out just fine. And I like femara WAY better than clomid so it was worth it.

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  5. wow. thank goodness for placenta pills to regulate my hormones...because right now i have a barrage of emotions going on. i want to laugh (and this complete ludicrosity!), cry, and scream. i also want to laugh because how funny you wrote this.
    and again, wow.

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    1. I'm so glad you got the humor in it. I told the story not to make people feel sorry for me but to make people laugh. Glad it worked on you...but sorry about the crying and screaming. (-:

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  6. Ahhhhh... so frustrating!!! This would have just made me go crazy! I am so sorry you had to deal with all of this crap. Hope you manage to get the pills in the end without anymore pain and drama!!! :/

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    1. Yes, thankfully this was the end of the crazy story...for the femara at least. Getting the ovidrel was a whole different dilemma. ARGH!

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  7. Sheesh. This is ridiculous! I hate incompetent people but even more I think I hate people who don't TELL YOU what is going on. Communication is key, people, and not just to you but also to the people behind you in line! Wow. Those pharmacies suck.

    I hope you went home WITH the prescription!!

    (Also, we've gotten powder antibiotics for Sofia a couple times and you just fill the bottle with water up to a marked line, but I did find it odd.)

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    1. Good to know about the powdered antibiotics. I totally could have handled a fill line but our bottle had no such thing.

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  8. The things we'll put ourselves through to have a baby! I would have lost it- I'm impressed with your patience! I hope you managed to get your Femara (at long last!), and got home without any further incident...

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    1. I DID get the femara...finally.

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  9. Absolutely ridiculous! So sorry you have to deal with all of this on top of everything else! Hopefully you got the meds and will not need them again!

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    1. I'm really hoping the same thing. Thanks so much.

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  10. You must have the worst pharmacy luck in history, or you are in a town where they give pharmacy licenses out to complete idiots. Either way, I'm so sorry. It sounds so very stressful and I've filled enough prescriptions of Femara (even 2 pills a day) that it should not be that difficult. Ugh. I hope you went home and enjoyed a nice long bubble bath or something equally relaxing. You certainly earned it.

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  11. Oh, Em. I am so sorry that this has happened. You'd think that with all this technology that it wouldn't be so difficult to just get some pills. Sorry :(

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    1. It was actually more funny than anything, but thanks so much for your sympathy. I'll take it!

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  12. Em, I'm so sorry that you've had to deal with this. I hope that everything got sorted out!

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    1. I'm glad to report that everything ended up just fine. Phew!

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  13. You wrote this so well you had me giggling over my keyboard, although I know it must have been incredibly frustrating for you to live through. I hope it's all be sorted out now. Extra bonus points if you didn't cry- I find I'm usually a mess at the start of the cycle, so I would have lost it probably around the time the first tech went to have lunch.
    T.

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    1. So glad this post made you giggle. That was exactly the point. And I didn't even cry! Shocking, I know! (Thanks for the bonus points.) (-:

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  14. Oh my God, how frustrating!!! Hope you have better luck next time, especially now they have your correct date of birth!

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  15. Wow I think I'm totally exhausted from just reading the story let alone actually going through it like you did! You have loads of patience lady :)

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    1. Yes, tired. That's exactly how I felt after that day.

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  16. Oh dear God. You need to share this post with your doctor's office because 1) really?!?!?! and 2) why is it so difficult to pick up medications? Yes, I get that having insurance involved makes it all the more difficult (going on month 3 of mine trying to figure out that PIO is necessary for maintaining a pregnancy), but if they are going to suggest you go through certain pharmacies, then they need to have their act together about getting you the medication.

    Hope you can get the Femara very soon.

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    1. I agree. I wish there was more cooperation between clinics and pharmacies. I think that if a clinic had their own on-site pharmacy, they'd make a MINT.

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  17. Replies
    1. I know it. I still can't believe it and I LIVED it.

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  18. WOW. I want to bang my head against the wall after reading this. Ridiculous!!!!

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    1. Ridiculous is the perfect word.

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  19. First I have to say how much I enjoyed this post, not because of your bad pharmacy experiences but because you wrote it so well and with such humor! I'm so impressed how you could write with so much humor over something that had to be beyond frustrating. If I were you, I would have been joining Harriet in her temper tantrums. Seriously. I cannot believe the lack of customer service you were given, and it sounds like this happens all the time! Yikes! I hope that you are able to eventually find a pharmacy that actually has good customer service. I also hope you never have need for these meds again, because it will be a successful cycle :)

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    1. So glad you saw the humor in it. I have to admit that as I was living through the day, I kept thinking, "This is going to make a great blog post." (-:

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