There come times in our careers when we have go to stop, pause, take ourselves off automatic pharmacist pilot and act like human beings. We have the opportunity to look at our customers and see more than faceless patients, collections of diseases and syndromes. They can be human beings who are in real need and not just a person who takes a drug costing $149.00 a month and is called polycyclodexrisperone. We get a chance, more often than we may notice, to make a real difference in the lives of other human beings. Some of us can see a patient walking down the pain/laxative aisle and know what drugs she takes and not have a clue what her name is.
Yesterday, the tech asks me, “Jim, Mister Zachary wants to know if you can loan him another 3 tablets of his medicines, enough for the weekend.”
I looked at the three work orders. Enalapril, Atenolol and HCTZ. We had already loaned him 6 tablets of each. “Which office? Why haven’t they returned our call? It is been almost a week.”
“They have returned our call.”
“They denied refills.”
“Did they say why?”
“He didn’t make it to his appointment a couple weeks ago.”
I looked out at Mister Zachary. Elias Zachary, to be exact. He was a thin black man, maybe 30 years old. He was sitting on a chair, leaning forward, his butt on the edge of the seat. Classic Type A behavior.
I went out front. “Don’t stand up,” I said, “Gimme a chance to rest my legs.” I sat in the chair beside him. This seems to work much better than standing over someone. Sitting beside them seems to soften the hard Mister Pharmacist edginess that comes with our job.
I shook Mister Zachary’s hand and asked him why he missed his appointment.
“No insurance. I lost my job.”
“Well, your health is important.”
“Groceries for my kids is important. My health is shit compared to that.”
I looked at him and smiled. This could not be a lecture. This had to be a casual conversation. “Man, the number one group in danger of having strokes is young, black and male.”
He looked at me.
“That’s you.” I shrugged.
“So you won’t loan me enough of my medicines for the weekend, huh?”
“What is your plan about seeing a doctor?”
“I’m not paying that guy $95.00 just to get my medicines okayed. I guess I’ll go to the emergency room, if I have to. Either that or go without.”
I did not want either. I did not want to contribute to one more $500.00 rip into the fabric of this country’s practically bankrupt medical system. I also did not want him to go without.
“He’s what I’ll do,” I said, “Forget about this doctor. I don’t get that he is looking out for your health. He’s after something else.”
Mister Zachary nodded vigorously.
“I’m going to fill your three prescriptions for a 30 days supply, just this one time, but you have got to get to some doctor before next month at this time.”
Kissing Cousins trailer
“All right,” He was nodding.
“Not just all right, man. You absolutely must do this. You may not have a job right now, but what are your wife and kids going to do if you have a stroke and they have an invalid on their hands at home? How are you going to feel if you can’t work forever?”
He frowned. “You serious?”
“I am serious, man. If you don’t have the money, there are free clinics in Houston. There are charities. There are churches. You must, absolutely must, see a doctor before next month.”
Will he? I believe so, but then, between the two Plagakis boys, the one named Jim is the eternal optimist.
Do you think that your average medical doctor or osteopath are looking out for this guy’s welfare? Do think he really give a shit. I say “Hell No!” That’s Texas for “You can be reasonably assured that the answer is NO.”
Give yourselves a break, you guys. Nothing feels better than serving a human being in need.
Don’t do what I do. Do what you do. And, make sure you tell us about it.