Sunday, May 25, 2008

Am I Too Old?

Am I too old to be hanging out with friends? There are so many pressures and expectations placed on a 26 year old person. I feel like I should be looking for a girl, looking to get married, looking to have kids, etc. However, I still enjoy going for hikes, playing wiffle ball, playing video games, playing cards, or shooting hoops with friends more than anything else.

At work, I have to be this ultra mature, super serious person. I have to be very responsible, and my demanor and performance has to demand the respect of my customers and coworkers. I spend so much time being serious and acting twice my age at work that all I want to do on my days off is goof around and act like a kid. It's funny because if you didn't know me and met me hanging out with my minimally employed friends, you'd think I was some near-30 loser making $10/hr at Walmart, instead of a highly skilled professional making 6-figures.

I'm 26 years old. I probably look closer to 30 with the way my hair is slowly turning grey. I have a well-paying, highly respected job. However, I feel no different than I did when I was 16.

Point in fact: I don't want to be any different than I was 16. I want to go out and shoot 500 jumpshots per day in an attempt to keep improving my shooting. I want to go play homerun derby. I want to shoot pool. I enjoy those things immensely. They make me happy. However those things which make me happy in the short term are keeping me from pursuing longterm happiness. After all, will I still be capable of playing basketball every day when I'm 35? Even so, will I have anyone to play with? Am I still going to be hanging out with the same friends at that age? Will I still be playing video games?

It sounds pathetic, and I suppose it is. I know I won't be doing those things when I'm older though. If I'm not doing that, then what will I do? I guess that's the real reason I want to eventually get married. I just don't want to be alone when I'm older. For me, it's not really about attraction, lust, or even love. It's about companionship.

So the question becomes: What age is too old to be acting like a kid? Am I already too old? Do I have a few more years left? Or, perhaps acting youthful is always a good thing as long as I can incorporate women into my life somehow. I clearly have not mastered this though.

Anyway... Thinking about the future makes me anxious for a number of reasons, so I'm off to occupy myself somehow.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Looking to the future

Well, now that I'm over the past, my thoughts are turning towards just what I want to do with myself in the future. Ignoring all apocalyptic predictions, I want to have some vague outline as to where my life is heading.

I've decided that I want to give dating another shot. I feel that I'm finally in the right mindset to date again. I'm just not sure how I want to go about doing that. After 2 attempts at eHarmony (even despite not being emotionally ready), I'm concluded that it's just not for me. It's too structured, too rigid. Honestly, I would love to not have to go the internet dating route, but it's nearly impossible for me to meet anyone any other way. I spend long days at work. I don't really like bars that much. I DESPISE clubs, and that includes most of the people found in clubs. I don't have a wide group of friends, so the chances of meeting someone through one of my friends are very small. Therefore, online dating seems like the only way to go.

I don't know... Maybe I had to hit my lowest point in order to understand what I really wanted out of life. All I know is that I'm not desperate right now. I'm also not overly concerned with pleasing everyone. I feel like I can finally just go out there and be myself without fearing rejection or ridicule.

Anyway... That's the direction I'm contemplating right now. I'm not really sure I want to dive into online dating right away, but within the next couple of months, I probably will. I think I could have fun this time instead of feeling pressured.

(This was one of the most disjointed blog posts I've ever written... Sorry).

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I think 60 Minutes should do a show about horribly written prescriptions

The general public has absolutely no idea how many prescriptions errors pharmacists prevent. The only publicity pharmacies ever get is if they make a mistake (or hand out $4 prescriptions, but that's another story). However, if you take away pharmacists, medication errors would probably increase 20-fold.

First of all, simply interpreting every prescription that comes in can be an amazingly hard job. Many times the patient's name isn't even completely written on the script. Note to prescribers: "J. Smith" is not adequate to put for a patient's name. Every patient has a first name. Please write it on the script. It's really not that hard. While you're doing that, could you just possibly include the patient's date of birth? I know you're so busy seeing ONE PATIENT AT A TIME and you only get that 1.5 hour lunch break to relax, but I think you just might be able to work in those 2 extra seconds to give me all the information I need to be sure that the prescription is intended for this specific person.

Then there's the whole signature thing. If you are signing a prescription blank that has the name of all 10 doctors in the practice on the top of it, please please please sign your name neatly enough so I can tell which doctor wrote it. Every prescriber went through many many years of school. Somewhere along the line, probably in first grade, you were taught how to write neatly. Does it really take that much longer to write legibly? Does it inconvenience you that much?

Since I'm just spewing out random bad prescription thoughts: Why does it seem that very few prescribers have any idea how to dose Vicodin. Regular Vicodin has 500mg of tylenol in it. Vicodin ES has a whopping 750mg of Tylenol. The first thing about drugs we all learned is that the maximum dose of Tylenol is 4,000mg per day. That means that a patient can only take up to 8 regular Vicodins and only 5 Vicodin ES tablets per day. That seems like common sense, right? I would have thought so, but I keep on seeing presctions that read "Vicodin ES, 1-2 tabs q4-6h prn pain." Sure Doc, that patient's liver will be just fine taking over 8,000mg of Tylenol per day. Those kind of prescriptions aren't a rare occurrence mind you. I would saw the majority of Vicodin ES scripts are written for well over the maximum daily dose. You can rest assured though because I never let the prescription leave my pharmacy with directions like that. I always make sure to put "Maximum dose is 5 tablets per day" on the prescription. I actually think the liver is an important organ. - Oh yeah... and it's spelled Vicodin, not Vicodan. And Percocet is not Percocette. Just in case you were wondering...

Back to poor handwriting... I would venture to say that at least 60% of prescriptions brought to a pharmacy could not be read by a member of the general public, yet somehow people seem to think doctors' poor handwriting is something to joke about. You know what often is the first thing I get asked when a non-healthcare professional learns that I'm a pharmacist? Well- Actually it's the second thing behind, "Can you get me some Oxycontin?? ha ha" (by the way, every pharmacist in the entire world is sick of that joke. It wasn't funny the first time we heard it, and it's still not funny now). I often get asked, "How do you read doctors' handwriting?" The public actually thinks that part of a pharmacists job is to decipher those unintelligible scribbles. Some people even think we take classes to learn how to read it.

I might as well mention all the dosage and directions errors that we catch on a daily basis. The mistakes themselves I don't really mind. We're all human. Everyone makes mistakes. However, it's the general attitude that we have to endure when we try to correct those mistakes. First of all, why is it that every receptionist and nurse working in a doctor's office fears the doctor's wrath if they ask them a question? Do prescribers torment and torture their staff? Could you imagine how that would be if it was the same way between pharmacists and technicians?

(Patient comes to the counter)

PT: I think there's an error with my prescription.

Tech: I'll take a look in the computer. Well, the computer says that you should be taking your Coumadin 5 times a day, and that's what it says on the bottle, so it must be right.

PT: Are you sure? I think you should check with the pharmacist.

Tech: The pharmacist is very busy right now, and he'll get really mad if I interrupt him. Let me take a message, and I'll give it to the pharmacist to look at when he's less busy.

PT: How long will that take?

Tech: Well, the pharmacist is very busy. It might take a day or so before I have an answer for you, but I'll be sure to call you right away.

Don't you see how ridiculous this scenario is? How is it any different than when a pharmacist asks a nurse or medical assistant to double check with the doctor because he thinks an error might have been made? Why do I and the customer have to wait up to a day to hear back from the office when we suspect an error in directions or dosage? As a pharmacist, someone can interrupt me every 2 minutes to ask where the bread is, but a doctor can't even be interrupted to make sure that he really didn't want to give one of his patients that massive overdose he accidentally prescribed.

In addition, why, no matter what I'm calling about, does the receptionist put me straight through to the prescription voice mail line the second she hears that I'm a pharmacist? Sometimes all I need is the stupid DEA number, but before I can even get the request out of my mouth I get transferred to a voice mail box. And while I'm on the subject of DEA numbers... Did you know it's supposed to be written on all prescriptions for controlled substances? I would say in reality, it probably gets put on 10% of controlled substance prescriptions.

I can go on all day about this stuff. Pharmacists already have enough to worry about dealing with insurance companies all day long. The fact that they have to make 30 phone calls to doctors' offices every day just to clarify a poorly written prescription is giving us a lot of unnecessary stress.

To all the prescribers out there that actually take the 2 extra seconds to write neatly and include all the necessary information on the prescription, kudos to you. You are part of a great minority.

This Post is for Manu

When talking about sports fans, you normally get 3 types:

1) The casual fan that has a favorite team, but doesn't really follow them during the year. They'll get together with a bunch of people to watch a game because of the opportunity to socialize, but most couldn't even name 3 guys on the team.

2) The fanatic- These are the fans that live and breathe based on how their team is playing. They entirely biased towards their own players, and they often spend as much time rooting against rival teams as they do rooting for their own team.

3) The sensible fan- I'm a sensible fan, and from the sounds of things, Manu, a frequent commenter of my blog, is also. Sensible fans have a favorite team, but can watch and evaluate them with little or no bias.

With that in mind, I'm going to give my sensible fans analysis of the Celtics/Cavs series. I might be a pharmacist, but I was a basketball player LONG before I even knew what a pharmacist was. It's the closest thing I have to a passion in life.

The Celtics' playoff woes I mostly attribute to Doc Rivers completely changing his substitution schemes from the regular season. In the regular season, Eddie House saw a lot of minutes. Leon Powe saw a lot of minutes. James Posey saw a lot of minutes. They all made big contributions to the team, but in the playoffs (with the exception of Posey, who is getting minutes but being used differently), these guys haven't been given an opportunity to help the team.

Game 6 was the first time in the entire playoffs that Eddie House played extended minutes. Doc Rivers has opted for Sam Cassell in his place for the rest of the playoffs. Cassell is great when he's hitting his jumpshots, but he's a very one dimensional player. He cannot guard a lamp post. He is simply incapable of doing anything off the dribble. Moreover, he's constantly looking for his own shot instead of trying to set up his teammates. It's not exactly a quality you're looking for from a point guard with a team that has 3 all-stars on it.

Eddie House gives the Celtics offense in an entirely different look, which makes him a great backup to Rajon Rondo. First of all, House is a very good shooter. The Cavs have to respect his shooting ability, so they can't slack off him on defense. That opens up the post for Kevin Garnett, and it also gives Paul Pierce a little extra space to drive to the basket. Secondly, Eddie House is a pretty decent defender, which is great because the Celtics are a defensive team.

As for the Celtics' all-stars... Kevin Garnett is going to be Kevin Garnett. There's really not a player who can take him out of his game. He's just too tall and too long for other power forwards to guard. He can step out and consistently make that 18-20 foot jumpshot, and his release is so high that there's really nothing anyone can do to even contest that shot. He can shoot it all day if he wants to, and I'm not saying he should. I would love to see Garnett get the ball on the block and make a few more moves towards the basket instead of fading away. However, that is the one weakness in KG's game. He's not really a scorer. He can get you 20 to 30 points on any given night, but he's not a guy that you can depend on to provide your offensive firepower. He's a complete player. He's a great defender and rebounder. He's just not a natural scorer.

This brings me to Paul Pierce. Now Pierce is a scorer. His primary function on the court is to put the ball in the basket as many times as he possibly can. He's very good at it... usually. The problem in this series is that he's being defended by Lebron James. Lebron James isn't a great defender (he's not bad though). He's just a really bad match up for Pierce. Pierce's offensive game is predicated on the fact that he's bigger and stronger than most of the players who are matched up against him. Against most players he can weave and spin his way into the lane and either finish at the rim or shoot his jumpshot over a smaller defender. Lebron James is his worst nightmare though. Lebron is quicker than he is. Lebron is taller that he is, and maybe most importantly, Lebron is much stronger than he is. When Pierce tries to use his body against Lebron, it's like he's hitting a brick wall. Moreover, Pierce isn't really good at curling off screens and moving without the ball. Most of his scoring is done through isolation sets where he tries to take his man one-on-one. Since he can't beat Lebron James consistently, the Celtics' offense kind of stagnates once it gets in Pierce's hands. Everyone waits for him to make an offensive move, but he's just not very succesful.

Finally, this brings me to Ray Allen. Ray Allen is having a HORRIBLE series. He just can't seem to get into any rhythm on the court. Wally Sczerbiak is guarding him, so it's not like he's got some lockdown defender on him. Ray's just not in the flow of the offense at all. I blame Doc Rivers for this. It almost seems like Doc never watched Ray Allen play before this season. What seems to be a little known fact by most fans of the NBA is that Ray Allen is much more than a spot up shooter. Yes, he's one of the greatest shooters to ever touch a basketball, but that ability overshadows just how complete of an offensive player he's been for the last 7 or 8 seasons. The guy has averaged around 24 points per game over that span. You don't average that many points simply by shooting 3's. Ray Allen is a great penetrator. He can shoot a variety of pull up and fade away jumpers in traffic. His best trait though is that he's extremely good at coming off screens. If you go and make it a point to be constantly setting screens for him, he'll really come to life. The guy is constantly moving. He's very good at curling off screens not only for pull up jumpers, but also finding cutters and dishing out for open jumpshots.

I honestly think that if the Celtics want to be successful in these playoffs, Doc Rivers needs to take the handcuffs off Ray Allen. Just let him go out there and do his thing. He's one of the best clutch performers in the league, but you have to give him a chance to show it. Let him create his own shots. Let him pull up for 3's on a fast break. Give him an isolation set where he can freeze his defender with a dribble move, then step back and knock down a jumper. People love to compare him to Reggie Miller, but the fact of the matter is that he's closer to a Kobe Bryant in terms of all-around offensive ability than he is to Reggie Miller. Ray can, and has many times in the past, carry a team. Just make it a point to get the guy at the very least 15 to 20 shots, and you'll see that confidence and that swagger come back. Once he becomes a scorer again, the Cavs all of a sudden don't have any way of guarding the Celtics. Everyone else will start to open up, and the offense will really start to click.

I just want to say one thing about Lebron James now... I love watching Lebron play because in every single game, he'll do something that no other human being on the planet could ever dream of doing. The man is a freak of nature. He's 6'8" and 260 pounds of pure muscle who's as quick as a point guard and can jump out of the gym. He's like a run away freight train when he gets on a fast break or gets a full head of steam driving to the basket. There's nothing you can do but foul him, and you almost have to tackle him to ensure that he still won't finish the play on you. That's why it's scary for any team to play the Cavs, and that's especially why Boston is fearing game 7. At any time, Lebron could get hot from the outside, and there's absolutely nothing anyone on the entire planet can do to stop him. We saw it in the Detroit series last year when Lebron scored 30 of his teams last 32 points. Three's were falling. Pull-up jumpers were falling, and of course, if you decide to take away that jumpshot, he's always going to be able to drive and dunk all over your team. He's a force of nature. Luckily, his outside shot isn't that consistent yet. If that consistency ever comes, he could score 40 per game without breaking a sweat. There'd simply be no way to guard him.

Anyway... that's all for now. I just felt like talking about basketball.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Finally Closing the Door on the Past

I hung out with my ex-girlfriend tonight. It was the first time I saw her since February 2007. Out of the blue, she called me and said she and her roommate (she lives with the same girl she lived with in college) were heading out to a local bar, and she wanted to know if I wanted to hang out. Of course, I said sure and got pretty excited about it. I walked out of the door to my apartment feeling good, and since I got my haircut a few days ago, I was looking pretty good too (if I do say so myself). I didn't know what to expect, but I really wanted to see her and talk to her.

I walked into the bar and spotted her sitting down, and she looked better than ever. She's really grown up and matured (looks-wise) over the last couple of years. I always found her attractive in a cute, innocent sort of way, but now she's pretty damn hot. Unfortunately, her looks are about the only thing about her that have gotten better.

After hanging out and talking to her and her roommate for a couple hours tonight, I can officially say that I'm over her. To put it as simply as possible, she's just not the same person she was when we were together. When we first started going out, she was unique. She didn't do the same things as everyone else. She wasn't concerned with going out and partying. She was one of those dreamers. You know those people that want to go out and change the world? She was like that. She did a ton of volunteer work. She promoted cultural diversity. She got a long with people from all different walks of life. She was so cute and innocent in her aspirations that she inspired me to be a better person.

Now, she's become the same as every body else. I sat and listened to her and her roommate talk about all these parties and how drunk everyone was. They talked of wild nights and crazy trips, and the whole time I just kept asking myself, "what the hell happened to her?" I suppose some people would say that she finally came completely out of her shell and started to have fun. I think it's more along the lines of going backwards in maturity. When we were together, she knew what was truly important and didn't get all caught up in the stupid shit that "cool" people did. Now, she's a part of that crowd that I've always hated. She's part of that glitz and glam, Sex In The City lifestyle that I think is pure bullshit.

Three years ago, two people couldn't possibly have been closer than we were. It wasn't that we were very similar. We just complimented each other and got a long so well. Now, I couldn't even come up with things to talk to her about. She sold out on the values that she used to have and is now caught up in drinking, partying, and casual flings. That sincerity and innocence that I loved has been completely replaced by this need to fit into a crowd. I've wasted 2 freaking years pining over the one that got away, but if she came begging at my door, I wouldn't get back together with her now. The girl that I love is nothing more than a memory. She no longer exists.

Say what you want about me and my whiny, complainy ways, but there is no denying that I never tried to change who I am. I've had many opportunities to join the "in-crowd." I've had many opportunities to date a variety of women. Even with eHarmony girl, who turned out to be a lot like my ex is now, I could have, at the very least, had a casual fling with her. That's not me though. I don't have casual relationships (be it friends or women). There's no such thing as meaningless sex to me. In addition, I don't think going to parties and being sloppy drunk is something to brag about.

Know what I value? Honesty. Sincerity. Hard work. Intelligence. Integrity. When I make a promise, I keep it. I value people who don't feel the need to constantly impress others. I value consistency.

I certainly don't value the same things my ex now does, and for that reason, I can say the past is finally behind me. I'll probably never find a woman that matches what I'm looking for. However, I know that I won't settle for anything less. I won't change myself just for the sake of finding a girl.

By the way...

I figured out who's the guy my ex is currently dating. She didn't overtly say it, but I pieced it together from things she said to her roommate. I was right. It is someone I know. I met him before. He lived in the same apartment building as her when we were going out. I knew right from the start that he was trying to move in on my girl. He'd always be stopping over to say hi or walking with her to school. I never liked the kid (and it wasn't only because I thought he was after my girlfriend). I'm quite content in that he's actually a pretty significant downgrade from me. He'll run away the second things get a little bumpy, I guarantee that. That's the life she chose for herself though.

I'm just so glad to be done with her.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Back In Business

Phew... It took me about an hour to republish all those blog entries that I took down. Curse blogger for not having an option to select all posts and publish in one click. When you have 130-something posts, it takes a long time to click on each one individually to publish.


I took a little break for a while. Actually, I suppose it doesn't even qualify as a while in that I posted only a few days ago. I just need a little time to figure out what I wanted to do with myself, and I think I've decided on something I can be happy with.

You see, ever since my end-of-cilvilization-as-we-know-it revelation, I've found my life to be considerably LESS stresfull than before. I've decided to just drop all pretenses and be entirely myself. I've freed myself from the pressure of expectations, and I'm able to live how I always wanted.

As I type this, I can honestly say that I'm quite content. I get pleasure from the simplest things in life. For example, after I finish this post, I'm going to get changed and crawl into bed alone. That first moment when I pull up the covers on my comfortable bed and lay my head down on a couple of old pillows, I feel completely at ease. It's really the best part of my day. It's the most comforting part of my life really, knowing that no matter how bad of a day I've had, I can always come home and have that whole bed to myself at night.

Anyway... I'll start blogging again because chronicaling my life is part of who I am. The blog will probably have an entirely different tone now that I've made peace with myself. There won't be much more complaining. I probably won't talk about my job very often. I think I'll just write about the little things that I enjoy.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Not much left to say

I've just about run out of things to write about. Nothing ever changes in my life, and I'm well aware that it's 99% my fault. I've been writing about the same stuff since day 1, and right now I'm more confused than I was when I started.

There are no certainties in my life anymore. I have no idea what the world will be like 10 years from now. I have a strong feeling that most of our lives will be fundamentally different than they are today. I'm not planning on being a pharmacist that far down the road. I have doubts about the long term success of the profession. If I could quit my job today, I would, but there's nothing else I can do. Actually, there's nothing else that I can do that will have any more of a certain future than pharmacy does. I feel like I'm sitting here counting down the final days until the end of the world. Nothing I do matters anymore.

I feel like I've been living in a dream world for 26 years, and I'm just now starting to wake up and see things for how they really are. Everything I've done and accomplished up to this point is meaningless. All I can do is sit back and watch to see how things play out.

And I know the kind of responses I'll get to this post:

"You could benefit from counseling."

"You need to find an activity or hobby to occupy yourself and meet new people."

"Mike, you're a whiny bitch. Grow some balls."

See... The problem is that I think you are all the crazy ones. I feel enlightened. I feel like I've figured out the meaning of life, and the meaning is that there is no fucking meaning. It's all one big evolutionary accident. We all think humans are so special, but a million years from now, we'll be long gone from this planet, and life will still be here. This human intelligence that supposedly makes us better and more advanced than every other living organism on this planet will eventually just end up being a misstep on the road of evolution. What started out looking like a survival advantage will instead bring about our demise, and life will favor simpler minded creatures who can live in harmony with the rest of the planet.

Then 4 billion years down the road when the sun begins to die out and becomes a red giant swallowing up our planet in the process, there will be no life on earth left. Then what did it all mean? What purpose did we serve? The universe is 15 billion years old and unimaginably large. Do you think our puny planet will even be missed?

You see, I whine about how I wish I could get back together with my ex. I talk about how I still love her and would do anything for her. That's only half true. I love what she represents. Our relationship represented a time in my life of youth, innocence, and hope. It was a time when I was blissfully ignorant about the real problems of the world. I was happy with her, and it wasn't necessarily because of her (although I did love her very much). It was mostly because the world still seemed OK to me. I was still living in that dream. I would love to be able to get back to that mindset I had 8 years ago, but it's not possible. Awareness can only be raised, never lowered. Once I woke up from that dream, there was no going back.

Now every day, I walk among people who are still stuck in that dream world. They're happy. They're hopeful. And their completely oblivious. I envy them. It's really the only thing I feel envious of in the world. I don't want 10 billion dollars. I don't care about fancy cars or nice things. I just want to be hopefully and innocent again.

This might be my last post. I make no guarantees of that. It'll depend on if I feel I have something else to say. This blog started out as a pharmacy blog, but it really never was about pharmacy. It was about me trying to work through my fucked up mind. Other bloggers write about pharmacy stuff much more effectively than I do, so I'll leave that to them.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I Really Don't Want to Lose My Mind

Why do we have to lose our minds when we get old?

When you work in a pharmacy, you're naturally interacting with a lot of elderly customers. Sometimes, I actually have to remind myself that at one point in their lives, they were like me. At one point, they actually could keep track of what happened 5 minutes ago. They could grasp simple concepts like "your insurance will only allow a 30 day supply on your medication." They were lively. They weren't afraid to leave their houses.

It seems unbelievable that they were young once, and it scares me because I really really really hope that some day I don't turn out to be like them. I don't want to be that old guy that comes to the pharmacy every month and asks why they're charging him more for his prescription even though his copay has been the exact same for 2 years. I don't want to be the old guy that can't remember which pills he's there to pick up, but he's certain he called in something even though the pharmacist cannot find any trace of whatever he might be looking for.

I want to stay sharp. I want to be quick witted my entire life. I don't want to lose my mind. It's scary because I can see signs of that same thing happening to my mother, and she's not even 60 yet. Every once in a while, she'll completely forget about a 2 hours conversation we had the day before, or she'll ask me the same question for the 10,000th time. My mom has always been very intelligent. If she can start to become forgetful and intellectually duller, then anyone can... including myself.

I know it's all part of aging. I just can't ever imagine being that old man who needs his meds delivered to him because he's physically incapable of leaving the house. I don't want to need someone to look after me. My mind, as fucked up as it is sometimes, is my strongest assett. If I lose that, what will I be?