Friday, after Mom’s appointment, I ran a pair of prescriptions to the Rite-Aid pharmacy she usually uses. I was going to wait around for them (why does it take an hour to pull a box and a bottle off the shelf?), but both Mom and her gentleman friend, Bill, assured me that she had enough meds to get through until at least Sunday. “Okay,” I thought. I had to go and tend to Mom on Sunday; I’d just run to the pharmacy before I was scheduled to be at Mom’s and everything would be fine.
You’ve guessed by now that everything was not fine.
I was in the middle of making a batch of bread around 3:00 when I called the store’s phone number to assure myself that I’d be able to get there in time. My assumption was that the place closed at six – most places do on Sunday – and the automated message on the phone line confirmed this. Plenty of time.
I left my house at five (it’s a half hour to the town where the pharmacy is), found a great parking spot, walked in to the store, strolled to the back, and found the pharmacy locked up tight.
The horror in the pit of my stomach defies my ability to adequately describe it.
I found an employee and, not a little frantically, asked what the problem was – WHY, when the message said the store closes at six (and, by the way, made NO mention WHATSOEVER that the store and the pharmacy had different hours) was the pharmacy CLOSED?! I explained that my mother is dying of cancer and that her PAIN MEDS are in there, and I needed her to get a manager or call a pharmacist or SOMETHING.
She was completely useless. “I’m sorry,” she said (though, of course, she wasn’t), “I can’t help you.” She stood there and watched me pace and panic for a moment or two, then turned on her heel and walked away.
I could not think. I’ve rarely been overcome by panic, but I’m pretty sure I know what it feels like now. How could I possibly go back to my mother and tell her that I didn’t have her meds and she’d have to suffer through tonight and wait until the pharmacy opens at God-knows-when tomorrow (because I totally don’t believe a fucking WORD of the automated information now) and… I just couldn’t do it.
I did the only thing that seemed logical; I drove over to the hospital to see if someone there could help me. The oncology office was closed, of course, but the man working the main desk sent me to the emergency room to see if there was anyone over there who could help me figure this out.
The ER folks were kind, at least, but they couldn’t really do much but suggest that I bring Mom in (ain’t gonna happen). I said that SURELY there was an oncology doc on call, and we finally tracked someone down and, God love him, he ordered a carryover supply of her breakthrough meds to the twenty-four hour Walgreen’s up the street from the useless Rite-Aid. HIGHLY uncool, as Mom’s meds are narcotics and, I gather, narcotics don’t get prescribed over the phone, but it happened and I was able to bring Mom her meds and not kill myself over the knowledge that she’d be suffering last night because I wasn’t able to follow through on a promise I’d made.
When I told her the story, she described a scene from Terms of Endearment (a film which, by the way, I’ve never seen). We pulled it up on YouTube and, I’ve gotta tell you, that’s exactly how I felt. I managed to hold it together a little better than our Miss. McLane, but the idea is exactly the same.
I’m going back to the hospital today to deliver some paperwork, and I may just stop in to the Rite-Aid to let them know that I find the experience I had last night to be entirely unacceptable. May that be the last of my drama in this story.