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..."
"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.
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.