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.)