Thursday, July 31, 2008

Putting to rest another part of my past

I've decided to put away my basketball sneakers for good.

Every summer, me and a bunch of guys I played high school basketball with play in a men's league. When we first started playing in this league right after high school, we were one of the best teams in it, and the overall competition level of this league is pretty high. We were the young guys. We ran teams out of the gym with our quickness and athleticism. This last season, we finished 1-9. The other teams aren't any better. We're just not as good as we used to be. Basically, we're getting old.

My play has deteriorated so much over the last couple of years that its amazing. I've lost half my quickness, most of my leaping ability, my ability to finish at the hoop in traffic, and finally I've lost my jumpshot. In 3 years time, I went from being one of the top guards in the entire league to being a guy you can leave wide open from the 3-point line all game. It's pathetic.

At 26 years old, all my past injuries and time spent standing on my feet at work has finally taken its toll on my legs. I can't be the player that I used to be. I can't even be a shadow of my former self. Basketball stopped being fun for me because I dissappoint myself every time I walk on the court. Therefore, I'm done playing.

It's OK. I had to grow up some time. I'm not a college kid anymore. I know I should be focusing on different things, such as becoming a better pharmacist and possibly starting a new relationship. However, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little sad by this. Basketball was such a huge part of my life ever since I was 7 years old. I feel like I'm walking away from a great friend.

I look at myself now, and I realize that there's almost nothing left of my former self. There's nothing left from those good college days. No girlfriend. No basketball. No more innocent idealism. My ties to my past are almost completely severed. I think I can finally say that I'm officially an adult. It kind of sucks, but I accept it.

Anyway... I was just thinking about how much things have changed in such a short time. I'm not saying change is a bad thing. It's just different (that's the point). I feel strangely optimistic about my future. Things haven't gone close to plan up until this point, but I have a feeling that a few years from now, I'll be looking back at all of this and saying it was all for a reason.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sometimes I Wonder...

I get asked this question more than should be possible...

A tech and I will be standing around in the pharmacy on a slow afternoon (usually a weekend), and a customer will cautiously approach the counter. "Hi... Are you open?" they ask with a puzzled expression.

Honestly, what can be going through these people's minds? I'm standing behind the pharmacy counter. The lights are on. The gate is up. Why would I be standing in the pharmacy like that if we were closed? Do these people think I live at the pharmacy? Why would I be there if I didn't have to?

I often wonder what they'd say if I told them we were closed. I bet it wouldn't stop them from asking if they could get a prescription filled. Therefore, if the answer to the question, "are you open?" doesn't make any difference to them, why did they bother asking in the first place?

This completely puzzles me.

The other question that irritates me comes about in the following situation:

(Phone Rings)

Me: Hi, this is the pharmacist. Can I help you?

Customer: Are you the pharmacist???

This occurs at least 5 times per day. Someday, I'll cease being amazed by this stupidity, but I don't think it will be any time soon.

A Poorly Thought Out Argument

An Anonymous Commenter posted this about my last post:

"The argument: "well if you think they are so well off why not join them?"

Flatout, poor argument. Come'on Mike you are smarter than that."

You're right... That is a poorly thought out argument because it excludes a lot of different situations.

Of course, I wouldn't trade my life for someone on Medicaid. I make over 100 grand per year and live quite comfortably. I've had the opportunities and the ability to get to this point, and while my personal life isn't exactly great, I know that I have plenty of opportunities in that department as well.

I guess my overall argument is that there are far greater things to worry about than a few people mooching off the system. Moochers are a minor expense to our government in the grand scheme of things.

In addition, if these people feel goo about themselves for not working and trying to milk the system, then fine. I wouldn't feel the same way. I like being useful to society.

I guess I just can't explain it. These people just do not bother me that much. They're no worse than rich fuckers who think we should wait on them on our hands and knees.

Bottom line: Some people are just assholes regardless of their income level.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I don't quite understand all this Medicaid hate

I don't know why so many in my profession hold some sort of grudge against Medicaid patients. No, some of them don't work, and yes, our tax money does support their lives. However, I have never met anyone on Medicaid who has a lifestyle even remotely close to the quality of mine. I've never met one person on Medicaid who drives a nicer car than me, has nicer clothes, has nicer things in their homes, etc.

Some would make you believe that Medicaid recipients live this comfy, sheltered, laid back lifestyle, while the rest of us are out slaving away for them. Maybe some of them are lazy and don't bother looking for jobs. However, it's not like they're being rewarded for this laziness. To put it another way: I'd never trade my life with one of theirs.

See, I excelled in school and work hard to enable myself to live the life I do. Sure, I could stop working and sit on my ass all day long while the government hands out food stamps to me. Is that a life I want though? Yes, I work hard 40 hour weeks. Yes, I'm often drained by the end of my work day. Yes, I really wish I had more than 2 weeks vacation per year. However, because I put that time in, I can afford a $2,000 computer. I can afford a $30,000 car. I can afford to buy frivolous things like the $600 Playstation 3 along with whatever games or Bluray movies I want. I can afford to go to expensive restaurants. I can afford nice new clothes. No, I'm not incredibly wealthy, but I live a very comfortable life.

No medicaid patient can say the same. Those that want to be lazy and feed off the state get the life they choose. Does the tax money we pay to support them really bother us that much? I hand over more than 35% of my income to the government. I'm still quite comfortable in the money department.

This is why the notion that my hard earned dollars are paying for these people to sit around and do nothing never really bothered me. They do nothing... because there's nothing they can do. If their lives were so great, you'd think we'd all be itching to leave our jobs and join them. Of course, that's not the case, so I can't understand what all the hate is about.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Just a Little Thank You

I'd just like to take a moment to thank the old asshole who made me look like a complete moron to his doctor today.

He brought in a prescription for Motrin. However, he's also on Coumadin. It's not a very good idea to be on those two medications together. Adverse effects of the combination may include... DEATH. I called up the doctor that prescribed the Motrin, and he basically told me that this patient demanded the RX from him and said he's been taking the combination of Coumadin and Motrin for 20 years. The doctor didn't feel like arguing or inquiring further, so he wrote him the prescription. However, the doctor agreed with me that the patient probably shouldn't be taking both together. Therefore, he told me to find out which doctor was giving him these Motrin prescriptions and where he was getting them filled (we had never filled a prescription for Motrin for him).

I went and talked to the old guy, and he basically laughed in my face, told me to stop giving him such a hard time, and offered no other useful information.

"What doctor gave you the prescriptions for Motrin?" I asked.

"He's dead now," responded the elderly asshole.

"Well, where have you been getting these prescriptions filled?" I inquired.

"How the hell should I remember?" exclaimed the cocksucker.

I tried to tell him that Motrin and Coumadin are two medications that interact and shouldn't be taken together.

"Interaction?? I ain't never had no 'action.' Been taking them for 20 years."

I reported his answers back to the doctor, who suddenly had a change of heart and decided he didn't want to authorize the prescription. I asked him what I should tell the patient because I knew he wouldn't like it. The doctor then asked if he could speak to him.

I gave the phone over to the elderly bastard, and he proceeded to calmly and rationally answer all the doctors questions. He told the doctor what other doctors had prescribed the Motrin for him (and these doctors weren't dead). He then was able to tell him exactly which pharmacy he last got it from. When I finally got back on the phone with the doctor, he was annoyed that I didn't get that information from the start. He asked me just to double check with the other pharmacy to make sure it was filled there, and at this time, the old fuck produced an old prescription bottle for Motrin from that other pharmacy.

I bet that I didn't even have to mention exactly who was the last doctor that prescribed the Motrin for him. You guessed it... It was the same one I was talking to the entire time.

You know what... fuck both of them. I hope the old fuck gets a GI ulcer and bleeds to death and his family sues the numbnuts doctor for everything he's worth.

Can you start to appreciate why pharmacists bitch so much about their jobs? Pharmacy is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the world. There are a million rules to follow from a ton of different sources (state law, federal law, insurance companies make up their own rules). However, our clientele consists of elderly patients who half the time couldn't tell you what day of the week it is never mind following all the rules and directions given to them by doctors and pharmacists. We deal with doctors with god complexes. They don't care what the studies say or what the insurance will or will not cover, they want the patient to take that new $20 per tablet blood pressure medication no matter how much it costs. We deal with medical assistants and secretaries that are given prescriptions to call into pharmacies without having a fucking clue of what they're calling in.

You put all of these things together in a semi-busy pharmacy (or simply an understaffed pharmacy), and you start to realize that most of our day is spent trying to clarify prescriptions and correct mistakes.

Let me put it this way... I might make 2 or 3 prescription errors (usually small, benign ones) in a year. However, I catch and correct at least 10 errors on written, faxed, e-prescribed, and phoned-in scripts per day. That's a conservative estimate! And they want to replace pharmacists with robots and unskilled workers(and by unskilled, I mean didn't go to 5, 6, or more years of school dedicated to the profession). What a disaster that would be. They'll be so many prescription errors that people will start to avoid pharmacies like the plague.

I feel obligated to note that not all doctors have god complexes, nor do all medical assistants and secretaries not know how to call in a script. In fact, the majority do a great job. It's just the few asshole doctors and incompetent doctors' agents in the bunch tend to be the ones we remember the most. Sadly, they're usually the ones that take up the majority of our time.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

You can't make this stuff up

A man walks up to the pharmacy counter:

Man: Did someone just call me?

Me: (Looking around to see if someone knew something about it) I don't think so.

Man: Yes, someone just called me a few minutes ago about a prescription.

Me: We were all here a few minutes ago, and no one called you.

Man: (getting a little irritated) It was just a few minutes ago.

Me: Are you sure it was THIS pharmacy?

Man: I got a call from Big Chain Drug Store just a couple minutes ago about my prescription.

Me: Sir... We're not Big Chain Drug Store. We're Grocery Store Pharmacy.

Man: Oh, OK.... (and he walks away)


Just after Xenical appeared over the counter as Alli, we received a lot of questions regarding it's effectiveness and side effects. The following one had to be the funniest of all of the customer interactions I came across.

We were just getting ready to close for the night when a mid-30's, just slightly overweight woman came to the counter inquiring about Alli. She asked the typical questions about its effectiveness and side effects, and I responded as honestly as I could. I told her that it's only recommended for people over a certain weight related to their height. I also warned her about how the drug can cause loose, oily stools and sometimes even explosive diarrhea depending on how poor the person's diet is.

She had a job that wasn't conducive to her running to the bathroom at a moment's notice, so she was concerned over the possibility of soiling heself. However, instead of opting against taking the drug, she asked if I thought it would be a good idea for her to wear adult diapers while taking it.

Honestly, I don't remember if I said it was a good idea or not. I think I chuckled at the idea of her having to wear diapers just to lose a couple pounds. Then, I'm pretty sure I told her that if she was dead set on taking it and didn't have easy access to a bathroom, the diapers might not be a bad idea, at least until she learned how her body would react to the drug. I remind you that we were just about to close, but she really wanted Alli that night, but she wasn't going to get it without getting diapers. Therefore, she made me stay open for a few extra minutes as she literally ran down the aisle to get herself some diapers.

Sadly, the woman never reported back to me to let me know if she shit herself or not, but it makes me a little happier to think that she did...


A few weeks ago, an elderly woman approached the pharmacy counter holding 2 different bottles of KY jelly. You knew right away that this was not going to be a comfortable customer encounter.

The woman spoke softly to one of our clerks (who happens to be close to 70 herself). A moment later, the clerk came back to the pharmacy bench holding both bottles of KY Jelly and relayed the woman's question to myself and the other pharmacist on duty.

"She said that her dog's penis gets too big and it won't go back in, so she took him to the vet, and the vet told her to put some KY Jelly on it to help it go back in. She wants to know which one of these would be better."

The first thing I did was loudly exclaim, "How the hell should I know????" Then, I just completely lost it bursting out laughing. The other pharmacist, actually did her best to answer the woman's question professionally, but I just couldn't help myself. I had to duck out of view behind the pharmacy bench to get the laughter out of me.

I felt bad because I'm sure the woman was embarrassed to even ask that question, and I'm sure my outburst didn't put her at ease. It was just so fucking funny though. Really... Why on earth would she think I'd have the answer to that??? Maybe I just missed the class, but to my knowledge, pharmacy school never taught me about lubing up dog penis.

I've been working in a retail pharmacy for over 4 years now (which granted isn't an incredibly long time), and that has to be the weirdest question I've ever heard.


Amazingly (at least pharmacy schools would have you think so), no one has ever asked me how to properly inject themselves with insuiin, but I have been asked what's the best way to lube up a dog's dick.

No amount of pharmacy schooling will ever prepare you to answer questions like that.... and those are closer to the norm than anything you ever learned in patient counseling class.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I can't complain

At least that's what I tell myself...

The truth is I'm in such a weird and frustrating position in life. I know how fortuante I am. I was born in a comfortable, middle class family. My parents were able to provide me with everything I could ever want and more. I had the opportunity to go to school, get a great education, and my ability in school allowed me to get a good, well-paying job. I think I do my job reasonably well, and for the most part, people generally like me. I work in a nice town. I drive a nice car. I live in a decent apartment. I can afford to buy pretty much whatever I want whenever I want.

I can't express how grateful I am for all those things because I know that many others never had the opportunities that I did.

However, I can't help but complain that everything, other than the things I just listed, tends to go wrong for me. There are so many things wrong with me that I can't even say them. I don't even want to list them. Many of them are just due to unfortunate rolls of the genetic dice. They're not things I can change, and they make my life so much more diificult than it has to be. They affect my personality. They keep me guarded. They cause me to hesitate to do things when others just dive right in.

From the outside, I can be hard to understand, but if you were me for a day, everything would become much clearer. Put it this way... With all the things I have going for me (my education, my respectability, my job, my money), not many would trade placees.

At least that's how I feel... My faults far outweigh whatever strengths I have. My mom recently called me a "sad waste of a life," but she doesn't know. Only one person does know... and that person is no longer a part of my life anymore. That tells you something...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Customer interaction scenario

Here's the scenario:

A customer comes to the counter to pick up a prescription and has a question about the medication. However, not knowing enough to ask for a pharmacist, this customer simply asks the technician or clerk ringing up the sale. The question could be as simple as "Do I take this with food?" or it could be something as complex as "What herbal supplements should I avoid while taking this medication?"

The technician comes back and repeats the customer's question to the pharmacist. Now, here's the question I pose:

As a pharmacist, do you:

A) Finish what you are immediately doing, and then step up to the counter face to face with the customer to answer the question,


B) Give the answer to the technician for them to relay to the customer for you.

For all of you who chose A, pat yourself on the back for having a shred of common sense. Of course A is the correct answer. However, you'd be amazed at how many pharmacists choose option B when actually presented with this situation.

I believe that under no circumstances is it ever OK to have a technician relay your answer to a patient's question. For one, it makes it seem like you are too busy to answer the question yourself and discourages patients from asking questions in the future. Secondly, the technician may not repeat your answer 100% correctly because he or she does not have the same medication knowledge base as you. Thirdly, even if the technician does relay the answer correctly, and the patient understands that answer, the technician is not capable (nor legally allowed) of answering any follow-up questions. Therefore, the whole cycle of the technician running back and forth to relay questions and answers from patient and pharmacist starts all over again.

I know we're all really busy. I know that we're stressed out and feel like the slightest interruption will set us back another dozen prescriptions. However, I think it's imperative to go up and answer any questions face to face with the customer. It shows you care. It shows that you don't think of them as just a customer. Moreover, it causes them to respect you more as a pharmacist and view you as a health care professional instead of a pill counter. Once you have their respect, they'll be less likely to get angry at you if it takes a little longer than 20 minutes to fill their prescription. They'll be less likely to blame you when their doctor hasn't OK'd their refill request yet. In short, the patients' respect makes your job just a little less stressful and maybe a bit more rewarding.

Isn't that what we all hope for?