Saturday, June 30, 2012

Here's Your Medicine... Psyche! - Part II

Okay -- it's Saturday, and I'm a day late with my weekly blog. My apologies, but I've been a little busy -- I've been working with the editor of an anthology I'm going to have a story in that's coming out at the end of July. It's a paying market, and this particular book is also featuring a story by Joe Hill.

Joe Hill, for those of you who don't know, is an award-wining well as Stephen King's son. I'm going to have a story in a book alongside Stephen King's son... I know it's silly, but I get all stupid and giddy just thinking about it. Sue me.

I've also been dealing with the subject of today's blog, so I'll just apologize for my tardiness (there's only one person out there who may have actually noticed, really) and step aside so you can read on.

So, read on!

So... it's in the high 80's here, creeping into the 90's occasionally. Last week there were a couple of very sweet days where it was 97 and 99 degrees. For those of us who lack the ability to sweat, and thus thermoregulate like a normal person, these were days to slow down, take a break (and maybe a cool shower or bath) and chill. (For an explaination of that, please see my post titled "No Sweat, No Problem... Not Really!")

Now, a month ago I did start a treatment that's helped me to sweat in the past, although it hasn't had a whole  lot of success this time around. Parts of my face and the side of my neck have begun to sweat slightly, what is usually termed 'emotional sweating', as it does little to regulate the body's temperature. Any progress is encouraging, though, so I'm trying to schedule a second treatment to maybe push this thing over the edge into some sort of remission. The problem is the medicine.

It's a two-part treatment that I'm trying to set up. I go in to the doctor's office for three days in a row, and each day I get what I like to call my 'Big Bag O' Steroids', where each day I get enough steroids pumped into me to last a juice-head weightlifter a month. Three months worth in three days.

Say goodbye to sleep.

Now, after flooding my bloodstream with this massive dose of chemicals it would be cruel of me to just cut off my body's supply of 'roids -- not to mention dangerous. So the second part of the process is a three-week course of oral prednisone, gradually lessening the dose, weaning me back off the steroids.

Now as far as I can tell, it was this or just plugging in an ancient Sweatin' to the Oldies tape I happen to have lying around. Put that baby on a loop and one of  two things is going to happen: Either I'm going to start sweating, or I'll laugh myself to death within three days.

Don't get me wrong, I love Richard Simmons, and I have serious respect for the help he has given people over the years... but if you put him in those little shorts, with that headband holding back his white-man-fro, and set him to dancing about in front of a class filled with women and I can't help but laugh.

Now, the key to all this fun and excitement is to actually have both parts of my treatment in hand when I walk through the door at the doctor's office. I have had a little difficulty in doing that in the past, (for details, please see my post titled "Here's Your Medicine... Psyche!") so now I know to wait until I have everything before I even try to schedule the appointments. It was with all this in mind that I called my doctor's office looking to talk to either her or her officer manager and get a prescription called in to the pharmacy I use. I left a message with their receptionist detailing my request for a new prescription, and why, and waited for a call back from my doctor.

When the call came I was surprised at the rapidity of the response -- it was only about 30 minutes after I left the message. I was even more surprised when it turned out to not be my doctor calling, but a woman from a local CVS (an Eastern pharmacy chain much like a Rite-Aid). She was confirming one of the prescriptions with me, the one for methylprednisolone, my intravenous steroid of choice. It's not something they usually stock on their shelves, so she wanted to let me know it wasn't going to be available for a day or so, special order, etc.

I told her I understood, and that I'd not be looking for it until the next day at the very least, and asked which CVS she was calling from. It was one in the city of Salem, and I usually use one in the town of Danvers. I made mention of this, and she offered to transfer the prescription over to Danvers, no problem. I was impressed by the call, and started thinking that maybe this time getting hold of my meds would go off without a hitch... but then it started.

Me: "Just to make sure -- is there another prescription there for me, one for oral prednisone? If so I'll need that one transferred as well."

Her: "Just a minute... no... no... no, I don't see another prescription for you in the system."

My internal voice: "Great... here we go again. But wait, I only talked to my doc's receptionist like 30 minutes ago. It'll probably show up in a while."

Me: "It'll probably show up. I'll look for it tomorrow when I check on the methylprednisolone. Thank you for all your help!"

And that was that. The next day I stopped by my favorite CVS and went to the pharmacy counter. They had my methylprednisolone... and that was it. No oral prednisone to keep my body from completely freaking out from stopping the steroids cold-turkey. Pharmacy Dude (he was about 22-23, so I'll call him Dude) checked the system.

Pharmacy Dude: "I'm sorry, but I don't see anything else for you in the system anywhere."

My Internal Voice: "Of course you don't. Why would you? You're just Pharmacy Dude.  I'll have to call the doctor's office again and get this straightened out."

Me: "No worries, I'll just call my doctor in the morning and see about that other part. Thank you for your help!"

So the next day, which turned out to be yesterday, I called the doctor's office again. I was on hold for fifteen minutes, and then told the receptionist that I needed to talk to my doctor about getting a prescription. 

Receptionist: "I'll transfer you right away."

Me: "Thank you."

The transfer was made to their automated "Refill" line, for people simply looking to get a prescription refilled. I, however, am looking to get a completely new prescription issued, so I hung up and called back again. And was put on hold for fifteen minutes. Again. And got through to the receptionist. Again. This time, however, I explained the problem more fully, and was promised a call back from the doctor or her office manager.

Office Manager: "I'm sorry, I didn't know you needed both of those filled. I'll send that out to the CVS in... Danvers, right?"

My Internal Voice: "Seriously? This is more than a half-dozen times I've had this procedure now, and every other time I've had to have both parts of the medication. So why, in the name of God, would I suddenly only need half of the medication for the procedure? Hello? Is there anybody in there?"

Me: "Yes, Danvers. I'll pick it up after work then. Thank you for your help."

That night I stopped by the CVS in Danvers. I stood in line for a while as a man who was apparently not carrying enough cash to pay for the twelve different prescriptions he was trying to pick up went through them again and again, and again, as he tried to figure out which ones he actually needed to get through the night. After watching him twitch and fidget and move the same two bags back and forth between the 'can't do without' pile and the 'this crap can wait' pile, a half dozen times, each time saying he "definitely, definitely needed", or "definitely, definitely didn't need" each one, I zoned out in the line with the movie Rainman playing through my head.

It's still there. Dustin Hoffman saying he's definitely not wearing any underwear.

Thank you, thank you so much, crazy stranger in line.

Finally it was my turn. I gave my name, and the nice lady (Pharmacy Dude must have had the night off) rummaged through the trays of prescriptions awaiting pick-up.

Then she rummaged again.

When she began rummaging a third time, I sighed. Then I figured I might as well kill two birds with one stone and turned the sigh in to the beginning of a deep-breathing exercise. When she checked the computer before coming back to the counter empty-handed, my Internal Voice was said the line right along with her.

Pharmacist: "I'm sorry sir, but we don't have anything for you here, and there's no orders for you showing in the system."

I closed my eyes and continued breathing. I was calm and serene.

On the outside.

My Internal Voice: "Mother ******!! Are you ****ing kidding me? It's a God-**** good thing I'm not looking for something that's keeping me alive or anything here, or I'd be sprawled out on your counter with you saying 'Sir? Sir? Are you alright?' in that stupid ****ing cow voice coming out of your stupid ****ing cow face! Or something to keep me stable, like Twitchy Mc-Pill-Popper over there! You could be the one sprawled out on the counter! You know what? That might not be a bad id --"

Pharmacist: "Sir? Are you alright?"

I took one more breath, opened my eyes and smiled.

Me: "Yes. I'm fine. Just telling my internal voice that violence is not the answer."

She got a little wild-eyed at that.

Pharmacist: "Excuse me?"

Me: "Already done. So, there's nothing in the system?"

She moved cautiously away from me to check the computer once more. She took her time about it, was a little more in-depth about it, possibly due to the smile I was wearing on my face. My teeth felt a size too big, while my lips felt a size too small, and it felt a little odd. I'm sure it didn't look right, though I meant it to be reassuring.

Pharmacist: "I found it! It wasn't in the system as 'live' because it's already been filled and is waiting for pick-up... but it's in Salem, not here. Would you like me to have it sent over here? It'll be here by tomorrow..."

My Internal Voice:  - nothing that can be printed here, honestly.

Me: "No. Thank you. I'll pick it up there tomorrow. Please, don't even let it know I'm coming -- I don't want it to spook and run."

Pharmacist: "Excuse me?"

Me: "Already done. Okay, we're done here, right? Okay... Thank you for your help."

So today I picked up the second half of the medication required for me to get the treatment I'm going for. I'll call on Monday and schedule the appointments for the infusion. And on Monday, when I get to work and Boss asks me what's taking so long for me to start these treatments that will let him get back to working me to death in the heat, I'll slap a printout of this blog down on his desk and walk away.

But not far.

I want to watch him read it.

Especially this part.

Hi Boss!

Talk to you later!

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