My husband and I have an ongoing problem with doctors' new way of dispensing prescriptions. At our primary care providers' office, the nurse sends prescriptions over the computer to the drugstore of your choice. No sloppy handwriting to decifer. No chance of stolen or altered prescription pads. No problem. Right?
But what if the drugstore never recieves the computer generated fax? This happens to us more often than hot days in August. I kid you not.
At my pre-op physical for the removal of a cyst embedded in one of my saliva glands, the surgeon went over every step of the proceedure. We discussed the type of anesthesia they'd use. He went over possible complications. You know the drill. He also said his nurse would fax prescriptions to Walmart, our pharmacy of choice, for pain pills and antibiotics.
Two days later I went to Walmart to pickup the prescriptions. Walmart never recieved the fax. "Maybe the nurse called the other store." (We have two Walmarts in Lynchburg.) Nothing. "Let me check Wal-Greens," the girl at the pharmacy counter said. "Sometimes the patient says 'Walmart' and the nurse hears 'Wal-Greens' and faxes it to the wrong place." No luck.
Since this is now the day before my surgery, I'm more than a little antsy. If I'm going to be cut from behind my ear and over the top of the ear down the side of my cheek and down into the neck, I know without a doubt, I'm going to have some pain. I want my prescriptions. When I called the doctor's office, I was put on hold. After 20 minutes, Calvin said he was driving to the doctor's office to speak to a person, face to face.
Evidently the nurse wore her grumpy face that day. She told Calvin she'd give him a prescription for the antibiotic, but not the pain pill. That the doctor had already taken me off pain medicine. Really? Before the surgery? When Calvin told her he wanted the prescription written and in his hand rather than sent via the computer, her grumpy face deepened.
The day of the surgery, Calvin told the doctor about our problems with the prescriptions and the nurse's attidude. The doctor's eyes narrowed. "Why would I take your wife off pain medicine before I cut her open? Why would my nurse say that? I'll write you new prescriptions, and you'll have them before your wife leaves the hospital." He has a very commanding voice, one that inspires confidence. I think they train pre-med students in that very technique. No doubt the title of the course is "Buffaloing Your Patients 101."
When they wheeled me into the OR, the doctor introduced me to the anesthesiologist. "Vonnie is a romance writer and she's going to put me in her next book. I've asked her to make me tall. For once I want to know what it feels like to be over five-foot-eight." He looked at me and winked. The anesthesiologist laughed.
I took it from there. "Oh, I'm thinking six-foot-four, ripped abs, broad shoulders. When the ladies read about you, they'll think one word: Big." The whole operating room erupted into laughter. Ah, but I digress. I was telling you about our prescription woes.
After surgery, when I was somewhat in my right mind, the nurse taking care of me said she'd phoned in the prescriptions the doctor ordered. "Are you sure?" Calvin asked. He then told her our long ordeal. She assured him she had. She even gave him one of her business cards and told him to call her if there was a problem with the prescriptions. Calvin brought me home and put me to bed before going to Walmart to pick up the medicine.
Two hours later he came into the bedroom and collapsed beside me on the bed, slinging his arm over his eyes. "Angel, you won't believe what happened."
"They never got the prescriptions."
"Exactly. And that nurse assured me she'd sent it in. I called her number on her card. She said she spoke to Della. Problem was Walmart doesn't have a Della working in their pharmacy, so Lord knows which store she called. But I've got them for you now. Why is this process so hard? Why is getting a prescription like looking for the Hope Diamond in a pile of crap?" His frustration levels were evident.
Two days after surgery, my face swelled so bad I had no ear hole and my cheek hung down to my collar bone. We went back to the surgeon so he could lance it in two places and drain off most of the fluid.
As he was doing this fun chore, he said, "I know you'll get a kick out of hearing this. The anesthesiologist was so charmed by you, that after she had you under, she Googled your name. While we operated on you, she read your reviews from Amazon to the OR staff. She ordered your book while I had your facial nerves lying exposed on your cheek. Hell, I enjoyed the reviews so much, even I ordered it."
I told him I was having problems handling the pain medicine he prescribed (I'd never make a druggie). Could he prescribe something less potent? (What was I thinking?) "Sure," he replied.
Once again, Calvin told him our tale of prescription woe. "Unreal," the doctor said. "I'll write one out the old way." He scribbled something on a pad and tore off the prescription. "Here you are, Vonnie."
We checked out and went to the car. I looked down at the prescription the doctor had handed me. The name he'd written on it was Nancy Edwards...