Going on 11 hours and 42 minutes. Over half a cheeseburger and cold fries sit on the back counter untouched. I haven’t used the bathroom since I woke up this morning... that was over 12 hours ago. Eighteen more minutes remain before I’m running out the door. Eighteen more minutes... what could happen in eighteen minutes?
Standing at the counter ringing customers, the line slowly creeps up to nine people. Most of them seem to have a Sudafed card in their hand... the others look like they are going to ask for a box of the 20-count 120’s. But in good faith, I announce to the line that if anyone is picking up a prescription, they may step to the second register. No one moves. I continue to ring one smurf after another. I have stimulating conversations with a colorful collection of people from across the state... all seeming to complain that this is the worst allergy season ever. As I ask each person for their photo ID, I’m amused that people from Muhlenberg County, Daviess County, Edmonson County, and Adair County all drove to my pharmacy to purchase their “allergy” medications (for those of you not versed in Kentucky geography, these counties are at least an hours drive away). I’m even more amused that neighbors on Blue Holler Creek Road in Knob Lick (is there really a town in Kentucky named Knob Lick?) pretend they don’t know each other while in line... just guessing here, but I would bet they rode together. Wanting to be brave, I’m daring myself to ask one of Kentucky’s fine citizens if they would like me to point them in the direction of the lithium batteries... but I need to keep my job, so I refrain.
A distressed lady approaches the drop-off window. I quickly notice that this lady is not wearing any clothing above the waist except a hospital gown that is barely covering her. Even more apparent are the bruises all over her face, her swollen hand, and the bleeding cut from her lip. The patient hands me three prescriptions from the local emergency room. Hesitant and embarrassed, she quietly reveals that she was in a domestic dispute earlier and does not have her insurance information with her. My stomach churns. I count my blessings in my head, and then hope for her that the bastard went to jail. I volunteer to contact the patient’s insurance company to get the information I need (please note, I rarely volunteer to do this). After spending several minutes attempting to get through the insurance’s automated system by saying repeatedly “representative” and “real person,” then pressing zero a thousand times, I finally talk to a real live breathing human, only to be transferred once more until I receive her BIN, PCN, and ID number that the insurance made harder to get than Fort Knox gold.
The phone rings. After hearing the lady ask to speak to the pharmacist, I immediately recognize the voice. This is the same lady who has already called twice to ask me questions about her husband’s genitalia. I thought for a split-second during the first call that this had to be a prank, but there is no prankster in the world that could be this good, not even Ashton Kutcher. During the first call, she graphically described the “four red bumps on the head of my husband’s penis.” She needed to know exactly what the cause was. I tried to explain to this frantic lady that I was not a doctor and could not diagnose her husband, especially over the phone without actually seeing the affected area (and then prayed to God that she would not bring him to the pharmacy to show me). I realized that I was not going to get off the phone with this lady unless I was able to give her a plausible explanation: maybe he touched something with his hands, then used the bathroom and transferred the toxin to his genitals?... maybe he’s using new detergent that he’s allergic to?... maybe, just maybe, he’s getting freaky with someone else in your bedroom? I advised the lady to take her husband, who really didn’t seem to care at all about these bumps, to an urgent care center to be examined. She then called back about three hours later and was quick to tell me that there were now five red bumps. I asked if he’s been seen by a doctor yet, as previously suggested. Of course not. I again advised her to take her husband to an urgent care center or take a Xanax. As I am listening to her an hour later on her third call, she’s proceeded to give me in detail the exact color, size, shape, and distribution of these red bumps that have now grown to a quantity of seven. Sounding like a broken record, I once again advised that the husband be seen at an urgent care center. I know it goes on deaf ears as I hang up, so I take an over/under with the tech on how many times she will call the overnight pharmacist tonight.
I quickly glance to the waiting area and there is an elderly lady seemingly in distress, with another lady trying to cool her down with a fan. I practically jump over the counter to get to her and started praying that she doesn’t pass out... because my CPR skills are due a refresher in two weeks and I can’t remember how many rescue breaths after 30 compressions... or how long I’m supposed to “listen, look, and feel”... or... oh lady, just please don’t pass out. She was sweating profusely and starting to shake. Her friend told me that she had not had any food since early morning. I was pretty sure she was going into hypoglycemic shock and I had a tech run to the cooler to grab some OJ. I am a self-proclaimed expert on low blood sugar due to a recent and embarrassing experience I had at the dentist’s office because I didn't eat before a gross procedure and proceeded to act like Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias. I forced the OJ down the lady's throat, spilling most of it in her lap. Thankfully she quickly started feeling better and I avoided a call to 911. I sat with this sweet old lady and her friend and talked to them for another 10 minutes to make sure she was okay before heading back into the pharmacy.
Those eighteen minutes have now turned into forty-six. As you can see, the pharmacy can go from calm to tornadic in less than 5 minutes. It's the nature of the beast... and I thrive in the controlled chaos. I never know what will happen next... why I'm explaining how controlled substances are not sexually transmitted... why your blood sugar remains high as you are purchasing a case of Cadbury Creme Eggs... or why someone trotted through the drive-thru in an Amish buggy. This is why I now present to you the Rolls-Royce of ideas for a reality television show: The Real Lives of Legal Drug Dealers. Bravo has "The Real Lives" of everything else, so why not a pharmacy? Listening to a man tell you he accidentally dropped his Vicodin down the sink while he was getting ready to go out of town for his grandma's funeral and his suitcase got stolen is much more exciting than Theresa's weave getting yanked out in New Jersey. Trust me on this one... you can thank me later. I can't make this stuff up.