Monday, April 6, 2015

Pharmaceutical Phanaticism

In December, after a frustrating few years dealing with my local pharmacy (who kept getting my prescriptions wrong), I went to a mail order service for my prescriptions.  The entire process was very easy, and my doctor even mentioned I would probably save some money.  I received all of my prescriptions within about a week after everything was set up.  At the beginning of March, I received an email reminder from the service to refill my prescriptions.  About a week later, with a little over 2 weeks worth of pills remaining, I went to the mail order website and refilled each pill.  That was the beginning of my nightmare adventure.

On March 15, I received a message from the service telling me that my order was processed and my prescriptions were being shipped.  I figured, much like the first time, that I would receive them in about a week.  After two weeks, I still hadn't received my meds, and I was running out of my reserves.  I called the service on March 30 and explained my problem, that I almost out of meds, that I had received a message saying they had shipped over two weeks ago, and, on top of all this, I was about to go out of town for a few days.  The customer service rep told me that it looked like there was a problem with my payment method, which was set up through a direct deposit, and which I had no problem with in December.  With me on the phone, the lady processed it without any issues.  She did not know why there was a problem with my payment, but everything worked fine this time. She did not have an explanation for why I received a message saying my meds had shipped, but she assured me they had not. She said they would ship them immediately.  I was already several days without any meds.  I did not receive them before our trip.

My daughter and I had a wonderful few days in Williamsburg, VA, and a great time at Busch Gardens.  Something I noticed while we were there, however, was that I was having trouble sleeping.  I use a CPAP machine to regulate my breathing while I sleep, and I awoke several times both Thursday and Friday nights gasping for air.  I didn't think much about it, though, attributing it to the poor hotel room mattress.  But I also had a bit of an issue breathing during our hikes around the amusement park.  I know I'm out of shape, but this was ridiculous.

By Saturday morning, I was feeling really bad.  I had tightness in my chest, I hadn't been sleeping well, I had a pain in my jaw, I was feeling stressed out, and I had a killer headache.  It was then that I put two and two together and connected my symptoms with the fact I had been off of my meds for over a week.  My biggest worry was my high blood pressure.  I could tell that this was what was causing a majority of my problems.

Let me also mention that I know better than to stop taking my meds.  I really had no clue that this was going to be a problem, though, and I also assumed that my meds were waiting for me at home.  Or so I thought...

We came home on Saturday, and it was an exhausting drive.  I didn't feel well, and the sooner I could get restarted on my meds, the better.  We arrived at around 6:30 p.m.  No meds.  I checked with our neighbors to make sure they hadn't picked up the package.  They hadn't.  I was starting to panic just a bit.  Which made me anxious and stressed.  I immediately called the mail order company to check on the status of my order.  And they told me that they didn't know.  What they did know is that my order had NOT shipped, even though I had received an email saying they did.  They couldn't explain why.  I got a little angry and took my frustration out on them.  I even asked them if they would be liable should I die from a heart attack over night.  The operator got a supervisor involved and they could not figure it out.  They said I should have received the meds by now, but they could see in their records that they had not shipped.  Apparently not realizing it was the Saturday night before Easter Sunday, they suggested I just call my doctor and have him get me a short-term prescription order at a local pharmacy.  When I protested and explained that my doctor would not be available until Monday morning, they said they would contact him on my behalf, and they placed me on hold.  When the operator came back on, she said that the answering service told them that they would not be able to reach my doctor, but she said they insisted and that I should rest assured that my doctor would call the local CVS pharmacy for me to pick up a short-term prescription on Sunday morning.  I wasn't convinced, but she insisted that it was already taken care of.  They were also not going to charge me for the shipping of my meds, which she said would be sent priority mail and I should get them by Monday evening.  Doubtful, I said okay, and ended the call.  My daughter and I prayed about the situation.  I was hopeful that God would keep me calm.  I had a fitful sleep.

On Sunday morning, I called the CVS pharmacy, which was a 24-hour pharmacy.  They had no record of anything under my name.  Nothing from my doctor, nothing from the mail order company....Nothing.  So I called the mail order company again.  The male operator, after hearing my explanation, said that none of what transpired the previous evening with the other operator could have happened since it was against their policy to do any of what they said they did.  When I suggested that this meant the operator from last night lied to me, he said, "Probably."  He then said that I was pretty much on my own.  He didn't know why I hadn't received my shipment of meds, but he said, according to what he could see, they were sent out. I asked if there was any record of my call from the previous evening, or my call from last Tuesday, and he put me on hold to check.  When he came back, he said there were notes on my file explaining the whole thing.  So HE lied to me.  Anyway, he still said that what they told me on Saturday night was against their policy.  He said my only recourse was to call my doctor myself and have him place a short-term prescription at the pharmacy.  He said the absolute earliest I would receive my shipment of meds would be on Tuesday.  I told him I was completely unsatisfied with his explanation, and I wanted to talk to a supervisor.  After some hemming and hawing, he finally transferred me.

The supervisor was not helpful at all.  She told me that they had done all they could.  She said she had never seen a situation like mine, though, where their records indicated that my order had shipped but hadn't really, and that it was now three weeks after I had placed my order and not received it.  She offered no solution other than I would have to wait until Monday to find out anything, since it was Easter Sunday and they didn't have anyone working on the pharmacy side of the company.  I was furious, which was the worst thing for someone with high blood pressure and no meds for over a week.  All she could say is that they were sorry, but they would do everything they could to help me.  I replied, "But not today...tomorrow."  And she could only agree.  After the phone call, my blood pressure was 167/101!

This morning, I still felt horrible, and I decided work stress was not in my best interest.  I called my boss and she agreed, told me to relax, and said not to worry about work.  I called my doctor and asked about short-term prescriptions.  They receptionist said this would not be a problem, but my doctor wanted to see me and do blood work before giving me my meds.  I said I could come in right away, but since I have to fast, the earliest appointment that would work is tomorrow morning.  I asked if he could go ahead and call in the prescriptions, since that would begin the process of relieving my symptoms, and she said they would try to do that.

In the meantime, I received a message from the mail order company telling me that my prescriptions had shipped, and that I should receive them in about five business days.  They only reason I didn't call to protest is because it might kill me.  Seriously.

There's a lesson in this somewhere.  I don't know where, but I know, somehow, it's my fault.  This was supposed to be easier...

Have a nice evening, everyone.  I hope I make it through the night...

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