Mama Grizzly mode, activated

I wanted to share a picture of Chickadee’s shoes on her first day of the semester, because for those of you who’ve stuck around for a long time, shoe pictures and the first day of school are a tradition ’round here, and this would’ve been a very significant picture, because… it will be the last one (at least for a good long while, anyway). Because—I hope you’re sitting down, people who started reading here when my darling Chickie-pie was 6 years old and sassy beyond her years—my once tiny and chirpy firstborn is graduating from college in just a few months. Graduating. From. College.

It’s okay, take a minute. I know I need to, every single time I say it out loud.

Anyway, that was… a month ago, and it never happened, because first she was all “Why?” and “You’re the worst” and “Fine, LATER” and then eventually when she texted me a picture she also told me I had to edit it before I could use it. You see, she was wearing booties and a pair of cropped pants and you could see a few specks of rash (remember The Rash Chronicles? GOOD TIMES THAT NEVER END) between the two and eventually I just gave up and never posted the picture. But trust me, she’s adorable. Except I have begged her to throw those shoes away multiple times because they’re falling apart, and I even bought her a replacement pair, which is sitting in her room upstairs here instead of in her apartment, so I guess that’s why she’s not wearing them. Whatever. Now it’s mid-September and no one cares about my kid’s shoes, I know. Which is fine, because that’s not even what I want to tell you about.

Does anyone remember how, about two and a half years ago, I finally got an ADHD diagnosis? And then we jumped through a zillion hoops for me to get the appropriate medication, because when you want to start taking stimulants in your 40s all of a sudden, insurance companies get suspicious. Anyhoo. Eventually I was approved, my doc slowly titrated me up, and then, the heavens opened and the angels sang.

I could concentrate. I could remember things. I could get through a day without drinking a pot or two of coffee. I wasn’t walking around constantly convinced I was forgetting something (usually because I was actually forgetting something). The point is: Yes, Virginia, Mir does have severe ADHD, and meds are a freaking GODSEND for people like me who do.

Now let’s back up a second. Part of how I finally got diagnosed was because Chickadee had been diagnosed, years before. And she had started meds and had a similar sort of epiphany about how helpful it was, but then—in all her teenage wisdom, and in the middle of another rocky period—stopped taking all her meds at some point and insisted she was fine, just fine, and even though eventually that all got worked through and resolved, she came out the other side convinced she only “sorta” has ADHD, and also she didn’t want to get “hooked” on meds. (All you assholes out there with diabetes, you’re hooked on insulin, y’know? Slackers.)

[Sidebar: There is still a lot of research being done on the heritability of things like ADHD, though we do know it runs in families. Without my kid holding a diagnosis, I might never have been referred for testing at this relatively late age. But here’s another fascinating thing: we now know that trauma can actually change the brain, causing (among other things) ADHD. The brain is weird and wacky. So maybe she “inherited” it from me, or maybe we both come from a clean line of genetics and both happen have trauma-induced ADHD. It doesn’t matter in terms of treatment, but I think it’s interesting.]

So. Chickie headed off to college, and she had her meds and a doc who was willing to roll with her position of taking them “as needed” (know when I need mine? ALL THE DAMN TIME, thanks), and that became her taking them only when she needed to pull all-nighters, which—as I tried to point out to her many times—was more of a concern in terms of potentially using her meds in an unsafe manner than just taking them every morning would be, but you know, 18-19-20ish-year-olds know everything and I am just dumb and stupid and also dumb and GOD MOM JUST LET ME LIVE MY LIFE.

And then we arrived at senior year, which started last spring because of the aforementioned December graduation date. Somehow it finally occurred to my darling and otherwise very bright child that taking her ADHD meds regularly made her life easier. It’s almost as if… no, really, stay with me here… it’s almost as if you should take your medication in the manner in which it is prescribed! Crazy, right? I embraced this change in her attitude, though I was careful to not be TOO happy about it because that would surely make her change her mind.

IN THE MEANTIME, Chickadee’s prescribing doctor (who is not my doctor, sadly, as her doc only sees patients up to age 30 and I am old, and I could write a whole ‘nother post about my saga of rotating providers but I will spare you) is here at home, because Tinytown—as its name might suggest—does not have a lot of resources. That’s fine; we’re about 90 minutes away, and she has to check in every 3 months, so it’s not too bad.

Here let us pause while I explain for those not well-versed in the ridiculousness which is obtaining ADHD medication how this process goes. Non-stimulant ADHD meds, in general, tend not to work as well as the stimulant types. The stimulant types are very effective, but they can also be abused and sold on the street as “uppers.” (Yeah, I’m putting it in quotation marks, bringing myself dangerously close to being one of those crotchety old people who puts “everything” in unnecessary “quotation marks.”) My understanding is that the specific rules about how these meds can be dispensed varies a little bit from state to state, but here in Georgia, this is how it is: Your doctor cannot call these meds into the pharmacy for you; you MUST have a paper prescription. Your doctor cannot write that prescription with refills. So: every month you must go to the pharmacy with a paper prescription, and theoretically every month you must see your doctor to obtain said prescription.

Now, no one sees their doctor every month, because there is a shortage of psychiatrists in this country anyway, and the doctors who ARE practicing don’t have time for this, and most people don’t have time for this. So what most docs will do is write three prescriptions at a time, adding “DO NOT FILL UNTIL” dates on the extra two. Nice, right? Good thing that the average bear with ADHD is not at all likely to misplace those two other prescriptions before they need ’em! HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAkillme. Okay. Sorry, that was a digression. And once you have your three prescriptions for the time until your next doctor check-in, you have to do the go-to-the-pharmacy-every-month to drop it off dance, because you ALSO cannot just drop all three months at once and have the pharmacy keep track of them.

The process is onerous, is my point. And I guess that’s THEIR point, too; who would do this except people who really need it? Right.

My daughter, my darling, beautiful, brilliant, rock star of a daughter, is currently trying to make the most of her last semester of college. In true Chickadee style, she has not just overextended herself, but has basically blocked off every time unit in her waking hours with something she MUST be doing. (I’m not even kidding. Full academic schedule, two different research labs, working 15-20 hours/week, girlfriend, about half a dozen organizations in which she’s heavily involved, and probably some stuff I’m forgetting. And that would be insane for a “normal” kid, but remember that thanks to her EDS she’s doing all of this with a chronic illness and never knowing when she might become temporarily incapacitated.) It’s too much, but what do I know if I say that to her? Nothing, obviously.

So when my phone started lighting up with texts from my girlchild on Monday afternoon, it took me a few minutes to piece together what, exactly, had happened, but it turned out to be this: Chickadee took her ADHD med prescription to her pharmacy in Tinytown on Friday, because it was time for a refill (but remember, no refills! drop off the paper, you addicted monster!). On Friday the pharmacy did not have enough of this med on hand to fill her prescription, so the person taking the paper from her told her to call in on Monday afternoon to make sure it had been filled before coming to get it, then. Dutifully doing as she was told, Chickadee called on Monday afternoon and was left on hold for almost half an hour before the rudest woman in the history of customer service (or should I say, “service”) informed her that:
1) If they hadn’t had the meds on hand to fill the prescription, they never would’ve taken the paper from her,
2) the man who had taken her prescription on Friday no longer works there,
3) her prescription wasn’t in the hold basket, anyway, so was she SURE, maybe she was making it up, and
4) this is not our problem, kid, I don’t know what to tell you.

So not only was her prescription not filled, her prescription was GONE. And her doctor is 90 minutes away. And she’s almost out of meds. And due to the nature of these meds, she might not even be able to get a replacement script due to all of these stupid regulations.

It was… not a good time. This was the proverbial straw on the overworked camel’s back and she was… not handling it well. So I offered to help. I called the doc’s office to explain the situation and ask for a replacement script. And I reminded Chickie that because we take the same meds, worst case scenario, I could bring her some of mine. (Ooooooh! Illegal! Abusive! Look at us getting high what with our desire to be able to think and stuff!!) Please don’t worry, I told her. We will figure this out.

Well, her doctor is one of the good ones. There was a replacement script ready the next day (yesterday), and I went and fetched it and filled it at our pharmacy, here. I’d consulted my calendar and realized that it was my freest day, anyway, so after I had the DANGER PILLS in my hot little hand, I pointed my car Tinytown-ward to deliver the goods. Chickadee arrived back from class about 30 seconds after I pulled in to her apartment complex, so it all worked out beautifully. And then… we went to the Tinytown pharmacy.

Now, I don’t want to malign a pharmacy on social media even if they are sloppy, awful, and possibly looking at real malpractice. I mean, I’m nicer than that. So to obscure their identity, I will only use the pharmacy initials, which are CVS. (… what?)

It surprised me not at all to walk into the Tinytown CVS and see a huge line at the pharmacy, because clearly that place is being run like a well-oiled machine, if, say, that machine is one which basically just flails around after you douse it in oil.

We went to the desk and asked for the manager (I don’t have the right haircut to be the I Would Like To Speak To A Manager mom, but somehow I managed), and were directed to stand at the Pharmacist Consultation window until the pharmacist was free to speak with us. We waited about 10 minutes while the people inside the pharmacy buzzed back and forth, ignoring the ringing phone, ignoring the people waiting in line, etc.

Finally the pharmacist came to the window. I introduced myself and my daughter, and then explained what had happened. He explained that sometimes they don’t have the meds on hand to fill a prescription right away and he was terribly sorry about that. This was the point where I realized he was perhaps not understanding what we were telling him. “Not having the meds on the day she comes in is not the problem,” I said. “I am telling you that an employee here misplaced her prescription, and then another employee was rude to her on the phone and accused her of lying after your employee was the one who made the mistake. And then I had to drive three hours round trip because her doctor isn’t in town here and we didn’t trust your pharmacy to handle her prescription.” He nodded, and very earnestly said that if we could give him the prescription he would fill it right then.

I think I did that thing where time stops and I’m just standing there, blinking, wondering if this is real life.

One more time, I explained—SLOWWWWWWWLY—what had happened.

“Well the prescription shouldn’t be lost, we have a basket right here—” he grabbed the basket and brought it to the window “—where we put all the prescriptions which are on hold.”

“Riiiight,” I said, still blinking more frequently than I should’ve been, “but the woman on the phone told her that the prescription was not in the basket. Which means it’s lost. Which means that after we leave here we need to go to the police station and file a theft report against your pharmacy, because that’s a controlled substance with her name on it and we can’t just shrug and go ‘oh well’ and do nothing.” Now it was his turn to blink at me. I sighed. “Let’s do this,” I said. “Would you mind just going through the basket again to make sure it’s not in there?”

He started going through the basket’s contents. About a dozen prescriptions in, he unfolded a paper and although it was pointed away from me, I saw the edge of the border that is the hallmark of printed prescriptions from Chickadee’s doctor. “That’s it,” I said. He looked up at me. “The one you’re holding,” I said. “I think that’s it.”

“No, I…” He squinted at the prescription. He turned to Chickadee. “What was your name, again?”

Oh, CVS. Noooooo, CVS. Do better.

The good news is that it WAS her prescription, which means it was not lost or stolen and we didn’t have to go to the police. The bad news is that the Tinytown CVS definitely SUCKS SUCKS SUCKS and my kid was unnecessarily stressed out and I had to drive three hours because they’re incompetent. The pharmacist really did mean well, though, and five additional apologies later I finally said, “Listen, we didn’t come in here for an apology, although that’s very gracious and I appreciate it. We came in here to tell you what happened, to let you know how your staff is behaving, and to say that this is unacceptable and I doubt this is how you’d like to run your pharmacy. We wanted to let you know she will not be coming back here, but that maybe you can prevent having this happen to someone else.” He thanked us and Chickadee asked him how to transfer her remaining prescriptions to Walgreens.

We were about to leave when she remembered she had one more script ready to pick up, so she got in the (long) line which wasn’t moving at all. In the five minutes before we decided to just leave and go to dinner, a fellow Tinytown College student standing there turned to Chickie and said, “You’re Chickadee, right? You tutored me last year!” and as my kid cracked the first smile I’d seen since arriving, this student then turned to me and continued, “Your daughter is a ROCK STAR, she is the only reason I passed that class. You did good with her.” We chatted for a minute and considered whether or not to keep waiting, and a woman sitting in one of the chairs offered, “My prescription was called in at 10:30 this morning and it’s still not ready,” and that was enough for us. We left and got food, quickly, then headed back to the apartment. I hugged Chickie outside the door as we were heading back to our respective cars, and she said, “Thank you. And I don’t know when I’m going to have time to come home next.” And then she looked about eight again and hugged me again, longer and harder, and I kissed her cheek and inhaled her hair and wondered when on earth being a parent gets easier.

But hey, allow me to do a little brightsiding, here: Thanks, CVS, for giving me a rare opportunity to save the day! You’re swell. (You are not swell. You suck.)

27 Responses to “Mama Grizzly mode, activated”

  1. 1
    ccr in MA September 11, 2019 at 10:17 am #

    A horrifying and not at all surprising story, sad as that is in this country in 2019. I’m glad Chickie got her meds in the end.

    You did make me laugh with “I will only use the pharmacy initials, which are CVS”; I was reminded of Dave Barry once doing something similar with a hotel where he stayed, which he referred to as “the total lack of quality inn.”

  2. 2
    Nelson’s Mama September 11, 2019 at 10:47 am #

    Haven’t commented in forever! My mother insists on using not CVS and it’s one of the circles of hell – I use a locally owned pharmacy and they are amazing!

    My chickadee graduated in May and is now getting her PhD in molecular genetics. WTF. So glad your girl is doing well.

  3. 3
    Lori Rastatter September 11, 2019 at 10:48 am #

    I also will use only the initials, CVS, thought it was a good idea to get all my auto fill prescriptions to refill on the same date. Sounds helpful right. Wellll, their method was to
    actually skip days of meds to get me there. Walgreens has been wonderful!

  4. 4
    Tamara K Lang September 11, 2019 at 10:51 am #

    Thank you for letting me peek in and see that life with my same aged chickadee isn’t all that odd. :) I’m sorry for the struggle, but at least you got some time with your girl!

  5. 5
    Chris September 11, 2019 at 10:56 am #

    The one and only reason I use CVS is because it is inside my SuperTarget and has all the same employees that it did when it was Target Pharmacy. I love them and will only leave when those employees do. Illinois has the same restrictions with regards to controlled substance refills and it makes me crazy to have to drive to the pediatrician’s office monthly to get my own ADHD snowflakes’ prescriptions to have them filled.

  6. 6
    Jenny September 11, 2019 at 11:53 am #

    Thank you for sharing about your awesome Chickadee! My daughter is 13 and really struggling with anxiety and depression. It’s very encouraging for me to see Chickadee doing so well, having come through so much in her younger days. I hope she has a great last semester of college!

  7. 7
    Diane September 11, 2019 at 11:54 am #

    Sadly, this is not a Tiny Town issue. I live in Chicago and had to transfer my prescriptions to a smaller, local chain after their continuing condescension over THEIR errors. Small local chain makes the occasional confusing mistake, as all pharmacies seem to, but at least they are nice about it.
    Also, yay Chickie and yay Mama at the end of it all!!

  8. 8
    Karen September 11, 2019 at 12:00 pm #

    So glad it all worked out. My anxiety meds have similar hurdles. Complicated also by living across the NYC border in NJ but wanting to keep my NYC therapist from when I was living there. So now anxiety meds and state lines and then the anxiety about NOT being able to get anxiety meds when I need them refilled is one heck of a circle to be in.

  9. 9
    Andrea September 11, 2019 at 1:51 pm #

    CVS sucks in Oklahoma as well. After MULTIPLE times of them not having my son’s ADHD med, I transferred when the pharmacy tech said, “Looks like we don’ t have that.” And handed the prescription back to me with a blank stare. No hint as to when it should arrive, no offer to call when they get it, nothing. Well oiled machine, fer sure.

  10. 10
    Wendy September 11, 2019 at 6:03 pm #

    CVS sucks here I’m North Dakota also. Our locally owned pharmacy is so much better.

    • 10.1
      Jessica September 11, 2019 at 7:49 pm #

      Definitely. I used to use Target Pharmacy until they were purchased by CVS, and now I use a small, local one in my ND town. Looks like CVS is driving lots of business to locally-owned pharmacies all over the country!

  11. 11
    Wendy September 11, 2019 at 6:03 pm #

    CVS sucks here in North Dakota also. Our locally owned pharmacy is so much better.

  12. 12
    murgatr September 11, 2019 at 8:18 pm #

    CVS sucked when I lived in Texas, hated going there but it was closest until I could get back to Canada to fill my meds. Now working back in pharmacy, we usually fill rxs & owe for next day if we are short of stock. Find a pharmacy you are happy with – good luck Mir & Chickie!

    murgatr
    Pharm. Tech. RDC’08

  13. 13
    Carrie On September 11, 2019 at 8:47 pm #

    Mir, thanks for sharing your ADHD struggles. Reading about your diagnosis made me realize, oh shit, I think I have ADHD at the ripe old age of nearly 40. In retrospect, I don’t know how I didn’t realize sooner, because I’m ADHDAF, but I just compensated really well for a long time. (by compensated I mean struggled in college and in the workforce and was basically an idiot in all social situations). My diagnosis meant I realized my daughter – whom I’ve always said was a mini-me – is also ADHDAF. But she got diagnosed 28 years younger than I did, and she’s going to have a whole different life. Meds are such a godsend, both for me and her, and the fact that I have to remember every month to get a new prescription is absurd. I forget to take my pills half the time, there is no way I’m gonna remember to get a refill.

    TLDR: Thank you, thank you, thank you for being so open about your dx of ADHD, it literally changed my life. And also, fuck the people who make it harder to get the meds we need to remember everything, including the meds we need.

  14. 14
    Sarah September 11, 2019 at 9:22 pm #

    It’s like all my online worlds are colliding today.

    I’ve been following your blog since Chickadee was about 6, and we had a comment conversation about 10 years ago where I recommended some math resources for Monkey.

    Anyway, you might really like a podcast / secret Facebook group / online ADHD coaching group called ADHD ReWired.
    I got my ADHD diagnosis about 6 or 7 years ago, (turning 40 next week), suspect I live somewhere on the autism spectrum, and am eternally grateful that ADHD meds come with up to a year’s worth of refills in Canada. 🇨🇦

    Congratulations to your soon to be graduate and her forgetful mom.

    Honestly, realizing you’ve forgotten something is at least halfway to finding the piece of paper you wrote the reminder on.

  15. 15
    Karen Scott September 12, 2019 at 5:55 am #

    We have had remarkably similar experiences, with a pharmacy with the same initials, in Georgia. In Central NY, where my parents live, the same chain has been lovely and helpful and I could kiss them.

    In other news while your baby is going to graduate my oldest is 29 and my younger is living in Japan for 5 years now and where did the time go? I remember how much I loved reading about your kids when they were little. Even though my kids are older it still made me feel not so alone. She must have inherited her rockstarness (is too a word) from her mom. You’ve done a great job parenting, and no it never does get easier, but only because they are your whole heart walking around somewhere else on the planet.

    Also, for the record? I always loved first day of school shoe pictures.

  16. 16
    Anna September 12, 2019 at 6:52 am #

    My daughter has Lyme, requiring long-term prescriptions of antibiotics, and CVS has been terrible both in Maryland where we used to live and when we moved to PA. It’s like, You’re a pharmacy, filling a prescription shouldn’t exactly be a curve ball. But it’s a headache every single time.

  17. 17
    Mary K. in Rockport September 12, 2019 at 7:23 am #

    Now we know where you got the resolve to declutter your house!

    • 17.1
      Mir September 12, 2019 at 7:32 am #

      From my meds? That’s where I get my will to live…. ;)

  18. 18
    Tenessa September 12, 2019 at 9:31 am #

    My son as ADD and our insurance only covers NAME BRAND meds. Impossible to find. The first time I went to get the script filled after our insurance change, CVS told me they don’t stock that but would I like for them to tell me of a nearby CVS that does? Sure, says I. They give me a CVS that they purportedly look up on their computer that stocked Name Brand ADD med. Off I go to this CVS Ive never been to and the lady at the counter looked at me, looked at the script, asked me who it was for, looked at me, looked at the script, asked for my ID, looked at my ID, looked at me, looked at the script, “Have you ever been here before?” To which I answered that no I had not and explained why I had come to them. She tells me to wait while she talks to her manager. After some long period of time the lady and her manager come over and look and the script, look at me, look at my ID, look at the script, etc. until the manager says to me, “We don’t stock name brands. Would you like me to tell you of a CVS that does?” I took the list which was THE SAME as the one my own CVS gave me. Third CVS was a similar experience. So I went back to mine and just said fill it. They said they don’t stock it. This time I asked them if they could order it. They said they could but it would be a few days… This after all the hullaballoo about getting the doctor to write the script, going to pick it up, and stuff. Our pediatrician does not fill out scripts three months in advance, unfortunately, so we drive across town to his office once a month. It’s super.

  19. 19
    Chuck September 12, 2019 at 7:24 pm #

    That pharmacy’s new motto is now “Fear the Mir.” :) Glad you got everything worked out and hope the rest of Chickadee’s semester is prescription-stress free.

  20. 20
    Roseanne September 13, 2019 at 10:24 am #

    I agree CVS is awful. I have stories to tell about the one we use and it would sound almost like your story here.

    Congrats on having a wonderful daughter!

  21. 21
    Janice September 13, 2019 at 11:58 am #

    My daughter went to her Tinytown CVS a while back, to refill birth control RX, and they said ‘we have you on file as a male patient’ and basically challenged her, right there, while she was in line for a REFILL. *eye roll here* RX has since been transferred to Walgreens. Understandably.

  22. 22
    Pharmgirl September 14, 2019 at 4:04 pm #

    Potentially drawing fire here (see screen name), but chances are pretty good that the issues go higher up than the store level. The corporate staffing model is often inadequate for volume. Sadly, the folks behind the counter become jaded. I don’t know the requirements for techs in GA, but many states will allow for little more than a pulse and a background check. (File under “you get what you pay for”). Walgreens encourages accredidation for its support staff which raises the bar somewhat. However, they have similar issues with the staffing model. I’ve never been happier to be at the end of my career.

  23. 23
    Karen Milano September 15, 2019 at 8:26 am #

    CVS is an Orange Scream supporter. I dumped them when I found out they were trumped.

  24. 24
    chrissie September 16, 2019 at 4:25 pm #

    speaking as someone who works in retail pharmacy (Canada though not the US) I hate to see people have bad experiences with snotty workers or things go wrong in any way. what I do know is that pharmacies are dangerously understaffed, moreso in the US and with all the regulations around ADHD meds and the ‘opioid crisis’ and having flu shot season coming and trying to work 15-20 shots into your already staggering workflow (with QUOTAS in the US) and here in Canada they now want pharmacists to prescribe for minor ailments and potentially UTI’s which takes TIME that we DON’T HAVE because we are UNDERSTAFFED.

    anyway, I’m sorry you had such a runaround, it sucks and I apologize on behalf of my profession :)

    follow Pharmacy Follies on the facebook if you want a profanity laced peek into our world

  25. 25
    jwgmom September 16, 2019 at 5:01 pm #

    Sounds like a nightmare. I really wonder how the world works. I’m in NY where you can’t get your prescriptions on paper. They have to be electronically sent from doctor to pharmacy. That used to work reasonably well but all but my eye doctor and my pain management doc have now been gobbled up by large health care conglomerates and somehow renewals have become a mess. Ironically, my controlled substances go through the fastest. Weird.

Design by LEAP