Friday, February 28, 2014

Seriously, evolution: tears are not a good communication tool

I'm doing that thing where I'm taking a little thing - the inability to get a prescription refilled in a timely manner - and turning it into a big, huge thing - EVERYTHING IN MY LIFE IS FALLING TO SHIT RIGHT NOW. So, if the pharmacist at Rite Aid wonders why that lady who has called everyday this week just hung up while obviously holding back tears: there's her answer.

Zach's new hospital situation is crummy: I don't especially like the hospital, but that's fine; having to learn all new office and blood and nurse people sucks, but I've done it a million times, and can manage again; the hospital itself is a labyrinth that I traveled during the first days of my illness, and being there brings an odd sense of deja vu added with the feeling of 'holy shit I can't believe I'm still dealing with this mess' (since, when I originally fell ill, they told me it would only last a few months); But the main problem is getting in contact with him is near to impossible.

If there's one thing I've got down at this point, it's how to keep my meds refilled - I know which ones have to be written and mailed (or picked up) and which can be called in, and I USED to know approximately how long it would take from phone call to fax to authorization to filling to pick up for most of my regular meds. This new place?

I might as well be calling him in Hades, leaving messages with Cerberus, or sending them via Charon's freaking ferryboat.

I left a message last Thursday, saying who I was and what I needed, knowing I had about 5 days worth of meds left. I heard back nothing ... Ok. So I called back on Monday, and left another message. Tuesday, I called Rite Aid, and since they still had no new prescription, I called again. I repeated this again on Wednesday and Thursday - when I did finally manage to speak to a nurse who assured me that Zack was in the office that day, and she would make sure he sent the refill to the pharmacy. (I knew he was in that office on Thursdays, hence why I called LAST Thursday, but... moving on.)

This morning: Rite Aid reports, still nothing. I called and talked to the same nurse. She said she would get the message to Zack at his other office and get back to me. (I do not have the phone # for the other office, which is a HUGE problem, I realize now, but how was I supposed to know that then?) Hours pass; No call from Rite Aid or the nurse. Now it's 4:00 on a Friday afternoon, I'm out of pills, and I call again, leave a message.

5 minutes later, she calls me back: She spoke to Zack who said he sent the rx yesterday, but will resend it right now. Thanks and gratitude all around: Have a good weekend! 

No confirming call from Rite Aid.... so, at quarter to five, I call them, and the pharmacist says "nope." WHILE I AM ON THE PHONE WITH THEM, I get the Robo-call from Rite Aid, which I answer: "Your recent prescription requires additional information from your doctor before we can fill it. Please call your local Rite Aid" So I call them back, and a new, very cheery pharmacist puts me on hold. And plays cheesy 80s music in my ear for 10 minutes, and now it's after five on a Friday, and ...

"We don't have any refills left on that prescription."

No, see, the reason the robot called me is because my doctor just called the refill in, otherwise it would have no reason to call me.  More hold time, more cheesy 80s music.

And now - I freely admit - I am beyond frustrated. I am ready to lose my mind because this isn't even one of my complicated drugs: this is a base line drug! This is a "I can barely function, and this drug gets me to barely" drug. This is not some miracle cure I'm chasing: this is a drug I have been on for 9 years, that I refill every single month of those 9 years, and now it's after 5:30 on a freaking Friday, and you're going to tell me...

"You should call your doctor's office and have him resend it. Sometimes this happens."

And I can tell at this point, that I'm not going to be able to continue the conversation. I'm just. Done.  I'm not a person who gets mad and starts screaming (generally): when I get upset the tears gather behind my eyes and my throat gets clumpy and I start to have to swallow and sniff a lot, and take a lot of deep breaths and blink repeatedly and hope that the other person doesn't notice that I'm probably going to start bawling at any minute.

I don't think I hid it very well, because the cheery pharmacist lady started apologizing "Sometimes this just happens, you know, it gets lost between us and them... I'm sorry? Maybe he has the wrong number... call him and try again."

And what I say is "I... just. This is ridiculous. Ah. I.  Ok."


But I don't say any of that.  I hang up and I burst into tears (and then I get mad at myself for bursting into tears because it helps absolutely nothing) and then I take a lot of deep breaths and I sniff and blow my nose and then complain to Twitter about evolution and then I come here and write this. And now it's after six o'clock on a Friday night, and I have no idea what I'm supposed to do next, but I have to go leave some (non-bawling, hopefully) messages on people's voice mails, so that somebody will help me with this before I lose what's left of my marbles.

---- And... I left a message AGAIN, but the office is closed. I won't hear back, and it's technically not an emergency, so I don't want to call the cancer care line (because that's his service: he's an oncologist). PLUS, the pills are 'controlled', so, even though I've been on them for 9 freaking years, AND you're not supposed to 'suddenly stop' them, they can't give me enough to last till Monday morning.

So, I'm betting I'm going to have the Best Weekend Ever.

I'm already taking a half dose, and it's reminding me that these pills do actually help a little. I am not looking forward to no dose at all. Off to scour all my backups - the travel pills, the purse pills, the bug out kit, - where I know there will be at least one or two hiding, and that'll bring me to Monday without having to no dose at all, hopefully.

But I think you can see why I'm hating the whole world right now. this should be so easy! it is not that hard! all it requires is four or five people to be doing their jobs at the same time ~ but, still -  Here I am. Hitting publish, eating a homemade english muffin pizza, and pretending I didn't just spend an hour crying about people being unhelpful.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

My Inner Elsa

Part of the reason that I like winter are the reasons that everyone else dislikes it: it's cold and inhospitable outside, so you're stuck in the house.

See, for me, that's actually mostly an improvement: I'm generally inside, usually stuck, and the rest of you are out there buzzing around being... productive or something. Ick.

The idea that other people are just as confined as I am, that there's some universality of feeling stuck is somehow comforting to me. I like to picture all of you huddled behind your screens, cozy under blankets, as I'm huddled behind mine, tippy-typing away.

A bit of misery loves company, perhaps, but I find winter (for the most part - there are limits*) to be a cozy, comfortable type of time.  Of course, everyone else in my vicinity is Fed Up (capital F, capital U) with winter, and has taken to Facebook and Twitter to rage about yet another snow day or how spring is bound to show up sometime, right????

But I'm pretty much all set ~ winter allows me the comfort of my heating pad without worrying too much about overheating; nobody else is tan (and therefore can't endlessly comment on how pale I look); indoor activities trump outdoor, with little debate; and - since there are no longer any preschool age children in my care - as long as I don't venture too far outside of my own particular bubble, I'm not a battling a constant barrage of germs. (Knock wood, having said that, because I was with kids this week. And at a doctor's office, so that's twice the wood knocking required.)

And - as I don't have to do the shoveling, and don't mind paying neighborhood boys a little bit extra to clean the ramp, if necessary - I prefer snow to rain, 100%. Rain makes me feel gloomy and Eeyore-ish, sometimes to the point of headaches; Snow makes me feel like curling up with a good book and a cup of Fluff-topped hot chocolate is the only reasonable option in life. Who could argue with that?

So, while everyone around me clamors for winter's end, and moans about yet another storm heading our way, I'm just going to smile slyly, load up my kindle and make sure we're well supplied with hot chocolate.

How about you - Are you begging for spring (open windows, I do miss you), or enjoying the last gasps of our ferocious winter?


*These limits are mostly health related - cold is a foe to both my aches and pains and my asthma, the latter of which is worse than it's been in years, because just breathing the nearly frozen air outside is a true struggle. But the heat doesn't help my health either, so it's usually a case of '6 of one...'

Sunday, February 16, 2014

In which the world thinks I hate animals (again)

Aside from one anonymous angry e-mail I got about the fact that I didn't like a certain drug, the only truly negative feedback I've ever received on this site was the time that I had the gall to suggest that the act of acquiring a pet was basically saying to me that I was unwelcome in your home*. The pro-pet contingent was up in arms over my suggestion that pet ownership precluded us (meaning me and whomever the pet owner might be) from having a certain kind of relationship; the "you can't tell me what to do in my own home" response was also quite vociferous; and the worst response - a well written, but sharply pointed "if your friendship comes with those sorts of conditions attached, I'm better off not knowing you" - was something that I had been completely unprepared for (especially considering I thought the person who had written it and I were, at the very least, friendly) and stung quite a bit.

    It was surprising to me then, and continues to confound me now, that the limitations placed on relationships by my illnesses are seen as unreasonable, extreme and beyond understanding, while the limitations that people voluntarily impose on relationships - say, you don't date smokers because you don't like kissing someone who tastes like tobacco, or you're not really friendly with people who go to bars all the time because you've outgrown your barhopping stage - are seen as completely normal, routine, and worthy of respect.

Let me break it down for you a little bit more - Take my example of pets. If you own a pet, it is an actual impediment to me being able to spend time in your physical space. I know that your cat's litter box doesn't smell to you, and that your dogs would never dare to shed, but for someone like me (who is allergic to all sorts of dander and fur, and hypersensitive to smells), your animals are indeed as much of a physical barrier in our relationship as the stairs going up to your apartment, or the perfume you can't seem to remember not to spritz before meeting me.  I have had to leave more than one family occasion because of a reaction to an animal (or the detritus that the animal has left behind, no matter how well you think you've vacuumed), and more than once, I have been either hospitalized or required additional medical attention (or a new drug regimen) for the same reason. [Trust me: there is nothing like a course of steroids to convince me to send my regrets next time.]

Hopefully, this clears up the idea that just locking the animal in another room while I am there means that everything will be fine.  That is far from the most likely outcome.  The most likely outcome is that my allergies or asthma will start up the minute I walk through your door - even though I've already taken prophylactic meds, just to be there - and that it will go downhill - to varying degrees - from there.

I am not saying that you can not HAVE pets: Although I have somewhat of a reputation now as an anti-animal person - I do not, in fact, dislike them.  I think puppies are adorable and little kitten feet are so scrumptious and padded and purrfect that I can't even.  The truth is that I have had to harden my heart to these snuggly little guys out of necessity: so that it just isn't one more thing that I can't have. Trust me, though -> I binge watch cute animal shows, and am definitely not immune to the allure of a waggely tail.

BUT, let's just be clear about the facts here - your pet-friendly house is significantly less (and sometimes completely un-) NTE-friendly. Those are just the truths of the matter, and me saying so doesn't make me some sort of barbarian animal hater: it just means that I'm pointing out the limitations that your choices are creating in our relationship.

It means that I don't get to drop everything and sack out on SisterCh's couch for a week to help after Baby D is born, because an hour in her four room, four cat apartment, and my skin is raw and red and raised, and my nebulizer ain't cutting it anymore.  That is not to say that sometimes I don't bite the bullet and choose the nebulizer and the hives and the steroids and the ER, because I value the people I love and want to spend time with them - the same way I hoard spoons until I have enough to visit my 3-steps-up sister or UJ and his 'your wheelchair won't fit through the entryway' house - these are just the kinds of sacrifices spoonies like me make all the time.

Pointing them out does not make me the Wicked Witch of Whereever Petless People Live.   It literally is just me asking for the acknowledgement that maybe your having animals or steps or a husband who bathes in Axe body spray are all things that I have to accommodate: And that sometimes? I am just not capable of doing so.

It would be a nice change of pace if everything stopped being my fault. 

If people could recognize that that I might love to just be able to drop in for a few minutes and a cup of tea, but with those steps, it'd cost me a week's worth of energy, and I can't do that right now.  If someone would acknowledge that part of living with a brood of cats, dogs - or even toddlers who bring home every germ from day care - is that sometimes your friend/sister/cousin with the wackjob immune system can't come to birthday parties, or girls' nights, or potlucks.

Something I often feel that gets overlooked is that part of the ease of a relationship - the familiarity and flexibility and fluidity of it - is hampered not JUST by my illnesses (which are not choices, btw) but also by your life decisions - having animals, living in a 3rd floor walk-up, only having late night parties, etc.  It's not that there is anything wrong about any of those choices, but let's just stop making this all MY issue, all MY fault -

YOU have made decision that work out great for you 98% of the time: Happy puppy smiles! so many great neighbors! Living in the suburbs! Drinking till the bars close!-  but I happen to fit into the 2% that's leftover and kind of sucks.  The inconveniences and unfair factors related to your choices - like having to lug your groceries/stroller up those three flights of stairs, or having to walk your dog during a blizzard , or having to wake up the morning after you've closed down the bars- the stuff about your choices that hinders rather than helps. All the stuff that is just part of the deal, and goes along with the decisions you've made.

And me not being able to hang with you or babysit your kids fits into that 2%. It's not about fault - because I'm not trying to BLAME anybody for having animals or stairs or whatever - but it is about getting the fact that I am NOT at fault, if you can see the difference. 

It's all in the perspective, and if I can just get people to see that I'm not saying you have to make different choices, or you have to only do things in a way that means I can participate (Because, truth? That is boring. I can participate in very few things, and would not like everybody to have to scale back to my level), but I am saying that you need to realize that your choices have consequences for our relationship, and that sometimes they will really suck.

It's seeing things more from a "well, I've got cats, so you can't come here, it seems reasonable to me that I should go there instead" kind of perspective instead of "well, I've got cats, so I guess you don't want to ever come here, the end."  It's about having a relationship with others where it's not all about me asking for things that people see as accommodations and impositions, and more about acknowledging and framing it as "hey this is OUR issue; how do we go about getting around it?"

Unfortunately, too often, the procedure in my life has normally been
  • Barrier = Can't Do/Go = People Eventually Stop Asking Me To Do Things or 
  • Barrier = Go Anyways = Get Much Sicker = That Was Really Unwise instead of 
  • Barrier = Can't Do/Go = People Help Me Figure Out A New Plan. 

Because sitting out on things is really starting to chafe, and having people assume that just asking me - knowing I can't go because of X or Y - is good enough is really getting old.

 No: it's not good enough. If you're really interested in maintaining a relationship with me, asking me to do things you know I can't do (like drive or show up at your inaccessible apartment) and saying "Sorry you can't make it!" is no longer good enough for me.

Let's figure out how to do better.

*I tried to find that post, but haven't managed it yet. If I do, I'll update with the link.