Thursday, October 18, 2012

I've come a long way baby

Today I had an encounter with an ignorant person. Or maybe she was just mean. I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt by going with ignorant. At least you can change ignorant - you can't really change mean. That is part of your inner being.

I had to make a run to the hospital for a few different things, one of which was to pick up new prescriptions from my doctors as a result of Tuesday and all its appointments. There was no line to check-in which is usually a good sign. I waited my turn behind the red line to "protect patient privacy" (you'll see the irony in that statement in a minute!) and walked up to the counter when I was called/motioned over - whatever.

Note - I go to a military treatment facility. I pick up my medication at the pharmacy in said military treatment facility. This facility services active duty and retired military personnel and is one of the largest medical centers caring for our Wounded Warriors. Wounded Warriors have their own special pharmacy window in another part of the facility.

The normal procedure would be to hand your ID card to the person working the desk, they scan it, some information pops up on their computer screen (I have no idea what because you can't see it but I assume it tells them whether you are picking up a NEW prescription or a refill, there are two different sets of numbers for that!), they touch a button and out spits your ticket. If you are in uniform you get an "A" ticket, if you have a memo from your physician requesting expedited service you get a "B" ticket, I believe "C" tickets are new prescriptions and "D" tickets are refills. I could have those last two turned around - my bad.

So, I handed over my ID card AND my doctor's memo. She scanned my card, looked at my memo, looked at the screen and then looked at me. Our visit did not go well from that point on. Apparently I did not look sick "enough" to her. Below is a customer service comment I left in regards to my encounter today:

On 18 October I went to the main pharmacy to pick up new prescriptions from several physicians. I arrived to the check-in counter to receive my number and handed the woman (by the name of *****) behind the desk my dependent ID card and the note from my doctor requesting expedited service due to an open wound(s). When the woman scanned my ID card she announced/exclaimed "you aren't picking up any pain medication?!" I responded with "no, I have that medication at home". She then proceeded to tell me (and I paraphrase) that "there are disabled and sick people waiting for medications, why can't you wait 30-45minutes to get yours?" My response to her was "because I have this letter from my doctor". Before leaving the counter I stated "I wasn't aware the information desk at the pharmacy was passing out medical advice".

As I waited for my number to be called I became VERY agitated with the conversation that had happened. The more I thought about it the more I felt compelled to do something. Just because one does not APPEAR sick (to whomever is qualifying "sickness") does NOT mean that a person isn't sick.

There are a myriad of invisible illnesses that may plague any number of people who visit the pharmacy. As someone who lives with an invisible illness it is VERY frustrating to have these kinds of encounters. It is instances like this that force people who are battling these illnesses to stay in the shadows. After 9 years battling my disease I FINALLY found the courage to talk openly and share my story – this woman’s ignorance frustrates me.

I have an avenue to voice my concerns through the ICE system as do all patrons of the pharmacy service. NOT all patrons will use the service; someone else in my shoes may have accepted these remarks and felt like maybe they weren’t sick “enough” and gone on about their day.

It is not the place of anyone working in the pharmacy to judge who does and who does not "deserve" to receive an expedited ticket to the counter; I believe my physicians are the only qualified people to make that decision. END COMMENT

I actually wrote quite a bit more than that but I had to go back in and edit myself. I didn't want to make this about MY disease. I wanted to keep the focus on the inappropriate comments made by this woman. I did get up on my soapbox a couple of times but I got back down quickly.

This is what I was wearing today

Some people like to be in their yoga pants and hoodies when they aren't feeling well. Others like to dress up, put on make up and do their hair to make it not seem SO bad. Then there is me - I like to do both depending on what level of shit I feel like. Today was a "I don't want anything even touching my ostomy site that may cause pressure or rub on it awkward. No zippers, no buttons and no snaps today." The only thing meetings those criteria is A DRESS. I don't know that this individual based her judgement of me from what I was wearing today. I have no idea WHAT her problem was.

WARNING - below this paragraph I'm dropping the F-bomb. WARNED. I do know that the old me would have completely lost it on her. I would have given her a "what for" like you wouldn't believe. I would have demanded a supervisor. It would have gotten ugly. I didn't do that today. I did make a snippy comment at the end and I was kicking myself later for that. What I WANTED to do was educate her. I wanted to tell her that you cannot discern a person's level of sickness based on their clothing choice, amount of make-up applied or style of hair. I wanted to tell her about Crohn's disease and other invisible illnesses. I WANTED to show her pyoderma gangrenosum. I wanted to show her that I AM sick. Not to prove anything to her for my sake, but to instill in her that you cannot judge a book by its cover. Man, how many times have you heard that one. I want her to remember that for the next person she starts to question (she better not because that is NOT her job!) because the next person may not be well enough to stand up for themselves. They may not have the confidence to speak up. They may be embarrassed about their medical condition and rather than share their issues to PROVE their illness, instead they say nothing and wait in pain unnecessarily. I rambled - you get the point. Right?

that is along the lines of what I would have said this time last year.

Do me a favor - when you go to the store next time and you see someone riding on one of those scooter things and they LOOK fine, don't jump to a conclusion on your own. Why do you care first of all? Unless you need the scooter - which is perfectly fine! Only that person knows their pain, condition or battle being fought. When you see someone pull into a handicap spot and they get out and with pep in their step walk to the building - remember they may be on medications that are helping them be that way and by the end of their visit to that building they will be hobbling back to that handicap space.

*mad props to all the "pinners" out there who put all kinds of cool stuff on Pinterest. All the quotes/pictures (except for the one of me) came from there.

1 comment:

  1. I do not know how I missed those post, except for my crazy busy schedule as of late. I look forward to hearing what the outcome of your meeting is.