Saturday, February 20, 2016

Two Robbie Stories

These stories happened to me last week. My mother would love them.

Robbie and the Blocked Toilet

You know you're going to have a nasty experience when the plumber's advice over the phone begins, "First, put down some towels." On the occasion of a persistently blocked toilet a few nights ago, my local plumber went on to say, "Then ride that plunger like it's a pogo-stick."

As he predicted, the contents of the toilet went everywhere. I mean everywhere. Poop, toilet paper, water, and mostly an indistinguishable melange of the three - everywhere. I didn't put down enough towels. I could not have.

It was a hideous experience. The cleanup took ages. I ended up throwing out the shirt I was wearing and about six of my older bath towels, including the two that have been serving as beds for my cats, after mopping up the gross stuff with them. Then I mopped the floor with Pine Sol. Then I Swiffer Wet mopped it. Then I Swiffer Dry mopped it. I also showered and changed clothes.

Somewhere in this horror, the truly crowning calamity happened. The bath rug, that I had first rolled out of the way during the early stages of my plumbing ordeal and later draped over the side of the tub, had to be transferred to the shower curtain rod to keep it out of the way - and as I did so, something dripped out of it and hit me in the face. In my open mouth and eyes, to boot.

I have no idea what that liquid was. I hope it was just water that splashed out of the mop bucket when I filled it in the tub. Luckily, I'm on antibiotics now (for an unrelated condition).

Robbie and the Inhaler

I've been sick for an entire week now. I came down with symptoms last Saturday night. Church was canceled Sunday due to icy road conditions, so I stayed in bed through most of the day. I had a demanding work week, never making it home earlier than 8:30 p.m. between Monday and Wednesday and an hour later than that at least one night. I wasn't getting well.

In fact, I had a couple really rough nights when, for a while at least, the effort of breathing became so great that I thought I might have pneumonia. I packed my overnight bag one night and was going to the office to use the internet to help me decide which hospital to go to, but the cold air made me feel a little better, so I decided to go to Walmart instead and buy some over-the-counter stuff. You know: Theraflu, Vaporub, that kind of thing.

The Versailles Walmart looked dark and abandoned. I didn't think it was open, so I drove to the somewhat larger village of Eldon, a good 18 miles away - only to learn that its Walmart was definitely closed at that time of night. I tried a convenience store on the way home, but they didn't have what I wanted either. I ended up going home with nothing to show for my trip but a full tank of gas.

I felt really stupid the next day when my boss told me the Versailles Walmart is open 24 hours a day.

I took Thursday off to lie in bed and try to heal - with Theraflu, Vaporub, and the rest this time - but I was still ill on Friday. So my boss and co-workers ganged up on me and sent me to the doctor.

Now, I've never visited a doctor since I moved out to these parts. I had to choose a primary care physician when I signed up for health insurance, but I had never visited her. When I called her office Friday, her receptionist said she was too busy to see new patients. So I had to go to Urgent Care in Eldon.

The doc there tested me for the flu, but the test was negative. She saw some redness in my mouth, though, and heard some congestion in my lungs. So she decided I have bronchitis - it's always bronchitis! - and sent a script for an inhaler (albuterol), a steroid (prednisone), and an antibiotic (azithromicin) to the Walmart pharmacy in Versailles.

When I got there, the pharmacist who helped me noted my insurance wouldn't cover the inhaler I was prescribed. She then said something about how "the one that your insurance does cover, we don't have in stock," before adding that the steroid would be no problem. In a classic case of miscommunication, I thought she was telling me the antibiotic wasn't in stock, so all I would be able to get was the steroid - and that was the one I cared least about. So I said forget it, and went back to work empty-handed.

My co-workers prevailed on me to have the Urgent Care clinic send my antibiotic script to a different pharmacy, where I picked it up and started at least that course of meds. After work I went to Walmart a second time, just to see how much it would cost me to get the other two drugs - but the inhaler was going to cost me $60 out of pocket, so I decided again not to bother.

Then came that time of night when breathing became so difficult that I wasn't sure I was going to survive without the meds the doctor ordered for me. So I went to Walmart a third time and told them I was going for it. This time a different pharmacist dealt with me, and she cleared up the miscommunication that happened earlier. What the other girl meant by that remark about "the one that your insurance does cover," was that an alternate brand of inhaler existed that my insurance would have paid for - but it was on factory back-order. The pharmacist I spoke to later told me it was too late to call the insurance company now, but if they did call to tell them they had this brand of inhaler, the company would cover it; but since they didn't have it, the company would probably say, "Our database shows they have this inhaler in stock in Oshkosh. You should drive there to pick it up." Oshkosh, by the way, is more than 500 miles away.

I told the pharmacist, "It's as if they think breathing is an elective procedure." She laughed. I would have joined her, but at that point I was so out of breath that I had to lean against the counter to stay upright. I was actually light-headed.

So I took that $60 inhaler home (along with a steroid that, I kid you not, cost me $2 and change), pulled it out of the package and gave it a shake. And because no Robbie story is complete without a final twist, the bottle containing this life-saving, $60-out-of-pocket drug flew out of the dispenser and landed on the floor.

Don't look at me like that. I've never done an inhaler before. It was my first time, and I didn't know how to hold it. It took me several light-headed minutes to figure out how to put the bottle back in the holder, remove the lid over the mouthpiece, and give myself the first dose of what I can already tell is worth every penny. I'm so glad that bottle didn't break!

1 comment:

Benedict said...

I can relate to this experience. My toilet has been clogged by many items that my children have put in the water, thinking that they could flush them away without realizing that there is only so much space in the lines. Thank you for the laugh, and I hope that your bathroom is restored.

Benedict @ U.S. HealthWorks - Bridgewater