January 22nd, 2012


Snow and pharmacy

It is on days with ugly weather that I wonder why the heck do I keep working the pharmacy. When you wake up on a Saturday morning, and it is snowing, do you want to get out and drive more than 50 miles so you can go to work? Neither did I. But actually the roads were not too bad. I considered taking a train to work if it got too ugly, but because I would have had to change twice, I did not want to. It would have meant not getting home until 12:30am at best. So I walked around the building to get a feel for how wet, deep and slippery the snow was, and decided it was OK to drive on. Our streets were not plowed at all, just a mess of snow and a little bit of sand or dirt. A limo in front of me was swerving far too badly for such an expensive car... I drove no faster than 15 mph, mostly closer to 10mph, and I was OK. I did hope that the roads would be much better once I get to the highways, otherwise it would have taken me 4 or 5 hours to get to work. In the Bronx the roads were OK-ish, and once I made it to the New Jersey Turnpike, it was almost perfect, I was driving only 10 mph below the usual speed I go... So it only took me 25 minutes longer than usual to get there, and since I left an hour earlier, that meant I had time for a nice, comfortable lunch. I usually eat at Qdoba before Walgreens, because that definitely keeps me full for the entire time until I get home some 10 hours later.

Work was busy when I first got there, but at least I missed the worst of it. The other pharmacist told me that just about everything that could go wrong, did go wrong this morning. From computer system being knocked out, turning our computers into, essentially, typewriters, to crowds of people. And that there were 68 new prescriptions sent over electronically waiting for her when she opened the door at 8am. Ouch. And she had to make a suppository compound while all that was going on.

I made sure I left the store nice and clean with nothing in the work queue or on the counter... though there were a couple compounds I could not do because I was missing one of the necessary ingredients. Left work on time, too, miraculously. There was one guy who was asking if I would wait for him - but I told him that the pharmacy closes in 3 minutes and asked where he was. He was still at home two towns over! Even on perfect roads it would be at least 25 minutes for him... so I told him to wait until tomorrow. He talked my ear off when he called earlier today and I knew he had what he needed for tonight.

Interesting character, though. Very seriously ill (to the point of going on disability a year ago) and requiring a special diet. His food stamp benefit, though? The very generous $16 per month. Somehow, those who actually worked are being punished for having some assets they earned and screwed, while those who have never worked a day in their life have far more generous benefits.

It got strangely quiet after 7pm today, though. Normally there is a lull between 1pm and 4pm or so and then it goes nuts after 6:30 or so until closing time, but not today. Either the morning snow is responsible, or people are starting to catch up to the fact we are no longer 24 hour and are planning ahead. This is the only pharmacy I have ever worked at, though, which is utterly unaffected by any major holidays, sporting or cultural events, religious evens, or anything else except severe rain. People just always keep coming, and coming, and coming...

On a related note, at my real job, someone proposed this week that we train patients to time their timed 25-foot walk (a kind of neurological function exam) themselves at home. I told them out loud that my 10 years of working in community pharmacy setting tell me there are very few patients capable or willing of doing something like that. Most require incredible amount of babying and hand-holding, utterly refusing to do even the simplest things. And it is the same whether it is a wealthy suburb, inner city, immigrant ghetto, or any other place I have ever worked. When I told my pharmacy colleagues of the idea, they all just laughed. Come on, these are the people who refuse to get things off the shelf for themselves, call their insurance or their doctor themselves, or make any decision themselves. Sure, there are exceptions, but majority of patients I can barely trust to give their kids a teaspoonful dose of the antibiotic... and there have been studies that as much as a third of kids meds are measured out incorrectly by their parents! I believe it...