Before we headed south to celebrate Christmas with my family, I created a mental checklist. Most of the items I had on that list had something to do with Ronan and the things he’d need for our week away. The top priority was to make sure his seizure medication was filled. We had a disastrous experience getting his meds filled a year ago right before we took a road trip north. I did everything right for that other trip – making sure the script was correct, calling and ordering his meds on time, and clearing an entire day to pick them up when the pharmacist said they’d be ready. Despite that, the medication was not ordered, not ready, and not available. The thought of having to repeat every awful moment of tracking down what happened and figuring out who didn’t do their job correctly like I had to last January but me on edge. So, for our Christmas trip, I prepped a bit earlier.
It didn’t help.
Pharmacist: Mrs. Jameson, there’s a problem with the order.
Me: Problem? It’s the same prescription. Same strength, same dosage, same everything just like every single month that we order this.
Pharmacist: Yeah. Sorry.
Me: Sooooo, are you going to do anything about it or do I have to?
Pharmacist: Oh, we can work on it for you if you’d like.
IF I’D LIKE?!
I was fuming. I’m not the pharmacist, I’m not the doctor, and I’m not the insurance company. That means I’m not the one who, with one quick click of a button, can make things go through. Of course I wanted them to work on it!
Me: Well, since he is still having seizures and since he still needs that medicine, yes, please do something about it.
Pharmacist: Oh, okay.
Me: How soon can you work on it? We have a trip planned and that medicine was promised to us before we’d leave town.
Pharmacist: Well, I guess I can work on it now?
More fuming. I could’ve ripped her a new one right there on phone. But I needed that medication sooner than later and for everything to be correct, so I kept my emotions in check. I’d save a tongue lashing for later once the order was done and in my hands. Before I replied, I attempted to compose myself.
Me: You guess? Or, you will?
Pharmacist: I can do it right now, Mrs. Jameson. I just need to push it through. We’ll send a text when the meds are ready.
Me: Good. I’ll be waiting.
Over the course of the next two days, three different texts came through. Each one revealed a new problem, a new issue, and a new promised time. What should’ve been over and done with within hours took far too long. I cannot tell you how many tears I cried waiting in vain for Ronan’s order to go through.
Each phone call I made to get more information caused more stress and more frustration. Even though I’d planned well ahead, the problems to get this order filled continued. The young pharmacy techs, whom I’d spoken with early on, were at least sympathetic about how time sensitive the order was. My beef was not with them though. It was with the lead pharmacist. She’s the one who’s ultimately in charge. She’s the one who can cut through the red tape and who can override the system. But she’s also the one who guessed she could’ve pushed things through for Ronan instead of actually pushing things through. Since it wasn’t the first time this gal had caused delays, I decided enough was finally enough. This would be the last order she’d be allowed to manage for my son.
And it was.
We’ve since switched to a new pharmacy and just like that *snap fingers*, the new team has jumped through several hoops for us. A different medication Ronan uses was about to run out right after we brought our business to them. Where it would take days for the other group to figure everything out, the new folks had the script authorized, ordered, and available 24 hours later. The best part? I didn’t need to cry or yell at anyone! I’ll pray that future pharmacy orders are handled as professionally as this most recent one was. That’s because Ronan’s medication is vital. He pointed that out to us just a few weeks ago one night at bedtime.
After a rather tough day where he wanted to only be in the dark and away from everything and everybody, Ronan pointed to his prescription. I had it sitting next to me with his pajamas and diapering items as we got settled to say family prayers. Every day for years, I’ve loathed his meds. I’ve loathed why we have to give them to him. I’ve loathed the process, the people, and the problems that have stemmed from those seizures he has. I’d love for other things – therapies, protocols, miracles – to replace the meds. Believe me when we’ve said we’ve tried other things. We have. But, for now, we continue to rely on the medication. Especially because that night before we prayed, and on subsequent other nights after other tough days, Ronan pointed to them and signed “yes help yes” while pointing to his head.
If you know our story, you know that we aren’t quitters. We try. We try so hard to do everything we possibly can for Ronan. That means reading, asking, and sometimes demanding. I shouldn’t have to demand someone do their job, but that’s exactly what I’ve had to do with certain people, like that former pharmacist of ours. It shouldn’t have taken 7 phone calls for her to fill a long-standing prescription that’s been exactly the same each month for over a year. But that’s what it took to get Ronan’s meds to us last month. Throughout the painful process of getting them, she didn’t seem to care to do her job well or right or at all. It’s too bad. Just like Ronan’s life depends on some of the medication he’s taking, her livelihood depends on returning customers like me. She lost a major account when we left. But I’d rather surround myself with people who want to help me and who put my child at the top of their list as I do. Ronan’s worth it. He’s worth every effort of mine. He’s worth every tear I might need to shed while caring for him, too.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.