Sunday, April 01, 2012

Complaining and complaining and complaining

Have I mentioned how much I hate having depression, how much I hate having to deal with doctors to get pills to treat my depression, how I hate having insurance companies control the amount and type of pills for treating the depression, and how I hate having to deal with pharmacies, especially in busy areas, in getting those prescriptions filled?

After the fiasco of getting the damn prescription filled back in December, when I was essentially drug free for nearly a month and weeping through every minute of it, I am back in nearly the same position. The December fill was for three months. As the three months neared their end, I went on line and ordered them to be refilled.  I did this in a timely manner so as to account for the time required to get the prescription filled and sent overseas while also allowing them to be covered by insurance. Insurance companies will not cover the prescription if you fill it too early.

Since, the pharmacy will not ship overseas, I arranged for one of the Gentleman Caller's kids -- the ones who served as my mules back in December -- to pick up the prescriptions and mail them to us. Seemed like a simple plan: I order online, she picks up in her city, she mails from her city, I pick up here. Shouldn't take much more than a week to a week an a half. I ordered on a Sunday evening here for a Monday noon pickup there. If she mailed on Tuesday, then the pills would reach me by the end of the week or early the next week. I had enough left to last me about a little over a week, longer if I stretched. By "stretched," I mean that, of the two pills that I take every day, I alternate them to last longer. (I used to do this because I couldn't afford to pay for the pills every month, even with insurance, because I was so poor. Turns out the quack prescribing them over-prescribed, so I was probably doing myself a favor at the time.) In any case, I figured that all would be well.

Aren't I cute and naive?

You see, despite also having an allegedly convenient online ordering service, the pharmacy chain in question doesn't always get the orders.  So, it should not have been a surprise when my connection got to the location in her city and they, of course, did not have my prescription ready. They didn't even have the order. She got on Skype to the Gentleman Caller, and we got her the order number. Nope, no record on their end. Understand, this was 24 hours after I had said that someone would be picking up the prescription. Do you think they said, "oh, we are so sorry. These things happen, let's fill these two very very common prescriptions right now"? If you did, you gave them more credit for competence than they actually had. Instead, they told her to come back in two days and they would have the prescription ready.

This is not the first time I've dealt with this sort of online reservation snafu. You order something online, then arrive at the scheduled location for pick up, and the location does not have what you ordered or even a record that you ordered, and stare at your printed confirmation as if you hold a rare miniature unicorn in your hand. Oh, and could you please wait a moment while they deal with these other customers?

In fact, that once happened in the middle of a full-blown, please-shoot-me-right-here-in-the-head, throwing up migraine. I sat curled up on the floor, and people in line kept asking what was wrong. "I'm waiting for my prescriptions," I said. The pharmacists kept casting concerned glances in my direction. I'm not sure if it was because they were worried about my health -- in which case, fill my fucking prescription! -- or because they were worried that I was giving them bad publicity.

It also happened regularly in That Place, where, on one occasion, I had to return to the pharmacy (the same chain in question here) four times because they first did not have the very common prescription in stock, and the second two times had not unpacked it from the shipment. The last time, I refused to leave until they filled it. I waited for three hours, to no avail, then I went home and wrote a letter of complaint. They were ready on the fourth visit.

But, I digress.

"Fuck," I thought. "Now I have to stretch." Throw in some perimenopausal PMS and you have yourself a big chemical party in my body!

Two days later, my connection returned to the pharmacy and the prescriptions were actually ready. Next stop, the post office.

You know that didn't go well.

Understanding that time was of the essence, my connection attempted to send them the fastest way possible. Guess what? You can't send pharmaceuticals that way. Contrary to what our students would have us believe, you can get send books within 24 hours. DVDs you can get quickly, too. Medication? Yeah, that will take a week, at least. I had ordered the pills online on a Sunday, my connection couldn't get them until Thursday, and now they would take up to 14 days to get to me.

As of Friday, they were still not here in the Emerald Isle. Two weeks after I ordered the prescriptions, I'm still without them, and with one pill left. At least the PMS has passed.

Damn good thing I just have the garden variety, low serotonin depression. Can you imagine if I needed anti-psychotics?

This so annoys me because I always have this crisis whenever I am not in the same place from month to month. That is, when I go away for the summer or, now, for nine months, getting my prescriptions filled becomes a logistical frustration. If I stay in the same place all year long, or don't leave for longer than a month, no problem. Need to get my prescription filled in a place different from where I live? Then we encounter difficulties -- even using the same damn pharmacy chain. If I was willing to pay full price, I could probably get all the refills that I need at one time, but the insurance company won't let me get more than three months at a time. That can work for the summer, but for a longer duration. Well, this is what happens.

I know I'm lucky. I have both insurance (and am paying dearly for it without official employment) and the medical care to get the prescriptions. I can also afford the co-pay. Oh, and you can throw in the whole getting to spend the year overseas and work on my book. There have been times when none of that was true. So, really, I should just shut up. Just, sometimes, you gotta bitch to get it off your chest.

Let's just hope that the mail doesn't lose the package. That has happened, too. If it does again, then I'll have an exciting post about a temporary ex-patriate who swore she would not use the national health system going to the clinic to leach off of the Irish tax dollars.


Janice said...


I am sorry. That really, really sucks.

Clio Bluestocking said...

Thank you, Janice. This should -- SHOULD -- be the last time. Maybe. One can hope.

JaneB said...

Also hugs and sympathy. I am a Brit and use the national health service... but I still have to go to my Doctor and beg to be allowed more than one month's worth of anti-depressants in one go. At least they will give me more than a month's worth of PRESCRIPTIONS but that's very little use to me if I'm going to be outside the UK for more than a month.

On the one hand, apparently I'm so unwell I can't be trusted with more pills in case I take them all. On the other hand, am I sure I'm actually ill at all if I manage to do 'strenuous' work involving travelling? Trying to convey, even to a Dr at a practice which has treated me for depression and anxiety for over ten years now, that if I am properly medicated I can function (within certain 'safe' parameters) perfectly well but without it I just hide under my desk crying for no reason, and isn't that WHY they give me medication, and I've never been suicidal or taken an overdose of anything in my life... well, it's No Fun.

I imagine insurance companies are worse, since they aren't even medical professionals. I so hope for your sake that this is the last time!!

Clio Bluestocking said...

JaneB, you have described exactly the complete frustration and indignity of being a depressive and facing people who think that because you need the pills you are unstable and therefore cannot be trusted with the pills -- as if, by being medicated, you are somehow worse than if you are medicated. Would they do that to an asthmatic or a diabetic?

I always want to reflexively smack insurance companies and ask them where they got their M.D. When it comes to mental health, they demand answers to intrusive questions that ask the doctors to violate doctor/patient privlege. I'm grateful that I have the coverage, but resent their attitude of dangling medical treatment above people's heads like a shiny cat game. Grrrr!

Still waiting for the pills to arrive.


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