Sunday, January 26, 2014

. . . and a Happy New Year!

It seemed like such a simple thing ~ get a referral, get blood tests, get some hormones. Get a clue.
I had to wait two more weeks before the pharmacist had an opening in her schedule. Sadly, I focused on Christmas. The advent calendar on the wall no longer reminded me of the coming birth of the Christ Child. Instead, it represented T minus seventeen days until the Cavalry arrived with my hormones.
I know this sounds overly dramatic to some of you.

If you’re a man reading this, you’ve probably had it up to here with hormone excuses.  But I’ve done some research on all this stuff and it’s serious business. Think about this—there are more than fifty hormones in the human body, all delicately balanced upon each other like a row of dominos. Take out one of them—something small and insignificant, like estrogen for example—and the whole house of cards comes toppling down. 
Probably on top of you.
Think about that, Jack, the next time you want to drag your menopausal Jill up the hill to fetch a stupid pail of water. Go get it yourself.
Finally, it was the Thursday before Christmas. My doctor’s office faxed the paperwork over to the pharmacist, including every single test ever performed on me—in duplicate.  The only thing missing was the results from the fasting blood draw. Remember? The test that delayed everything three more days?
I have no words.
“I can help you,” the pharmacist said in the voice of an angel sent from God. “We can make you feel better.” I knew I sat in the presence of royalty—or maybe Wonder Woman.
“You need estrogen and progesterone and testosterone and thyroid support and iodine,” she concluded.  “And we can have it all for you tomorrow. All we need is your doctor’s approval.”
It was like somebody sucked all the air out of my happiness balloon. Instantly I began to fast and pray.
“But it’s my body!” I panicked, knowing she had no idea what she was up against.  “Why does my doctor need to approve anything?” I whined.
She was sure there would be no delays. “We just need a little fax.”
She lost a couple of admiration points right then. Maybe I was mistaken about her being Wonder Woman. Maybe she was more like Superman’s Lois Lane—sincere, but terribly na├»ve. Because saying that all I needed was ‘a little fax’ from my doctor was like saying the federal deficit just needs a little loan. She seemed confident, though, and since it finally felt like someone had listened to me, I hung on to her assurance like a tandem skydiver—terrified of falling, but letting her control the ripcord.
That afternoon I called to see if the pharmacist was in possession of my miracle.
“No,” she replied.
I hate it when I’m right.
“Maybe you should contact your doctor to hurry things along,” she suggested.  Sure. “Hurry” wasn’t exactly in their vocabulary, but I called anyway. In a hurry.
“We’re still waiting for the doctor to approve it,” I was told.  “It’ll probably be ready tomorrow,” she fibbed.
The next afternoon I called my pharmacist.
“We have everything waiting here for you except the faxed approval,” she said.  “I called your doctor’s office this morning, but I still haven’t heard anything.  Why don’t you see if you can light a fire under them?”
I was pretty sure they were fireproof.
You know what comes next.  I called, the doctor had left for the day, didn’t sign anything, and wouldn’t be back until the day after Christmas. A week from now. 
Merry Christmas to me.
I no longer believe in Santa Claus. Or medical science. Or even superheroes. And, I decided, that’s the last time I go skydiving.
Thursday morning, December 26th, six weeks since I began asking for the impossible, I told my husband I was tired of being nice. I was tired of making phone calls. I was tired of being patient.  It was time to pull out some battle fatigues, storm the office, and liberate my captive prescription.
I put on lip gloss and climbed into our SUV.
Not a nurse was in sight when I entered the waiting room. I didn’t even take a chair but stood in the corner, waiting to pounce on the first walking stethoscope who came through the door. A pregnant woman in her eighth month of bladder pressure sat across the room. Sizing up my body language, she made it clear she’d been there first and gave me the stink eye. I was courageous, but I wasn’t stupid.

I waited my turn.
“Just a minute,” said the next nurse when I described my mission, and she disappeared around the corner. Soon a cheerful woman in a business suit came through the door and introduced herself to me as the office manager.
“You’re just the person I need to talk to,” I said.
She escorted me to the reception desk and I began to explain why I was there. We were interrupted by the nurse, scanning her computer.
“I was just checking your records,” she began.  “I see you were here last April and we ordered some blood work for you. Did you follow up on that?”
And that’s the moment I lost my salvation. And my patience. And my composure. But mostly my salvation.
“Okay,” I began, knowing my face and throat had suddenly flushed ten shades of mad. “I’ve been at this for over a month with this office.” I started at the beginning, and had just reached the part where they ruined my Christmas when the office manager held up her hand and said,
“I faxed the prescription to your pharmacist this morning.”
“You did? The doctor signed it?” I asked incredulously.  “Well, I could kiss your feet!” And then I skipped out of the building, light as a feather, virtually floating on air! And landed with a thud at the edge of the parking lot.
Call it premonition. Disbelief. Woman’s intuition. Or just plain old experience.  But I dialed the pharmacist right on the spot to make sure she really had the signed prescription on her hot little fax. She didn’t. It was nowhere in sight. She called her other office to see if it had been misdirected, but they’d never even heard of me.
I straightened my shoulders, put on more lip gloss, and went back in the building. Walking into the obscure nurses station—with no invitation and making no eye contact with any more pregnant women—I found the office manager. Who located the elusive, autographed documents and made photocopies so I could hand carry them thirty miles across town to my best friend, the compounding pharmacist.
The door did not hit my behind on the way out.
An hour later, I texted my longsuffering husband that, after six long weeks of negotiations, I was in possession of the liberated bag of hormones and on my way home.
“That was fast,” he joked.  “Were there any survivors at your doctor’s office?” 
It's been a month since I re-introduced my body to the hormones it used to manufacture on its own. I love them so much that if it was them or chocolate, Starbucks would have to close its doors forever. I owe my doctor a debt of gratitude for introducing me to my new best friend, the Compounding Pharmacist even though I think it's time she hired adults to run her office and sent everyone else back to high school.

And I'm voting Wonder Woman for president.
So Christmas came late at our house, but it snuck in a happy new year when it did.  I guess, the lesson here is anything worth having is worth waiting for, right?


  1. blood pressure skyrocketed just reading this!

    Do you use your halo as a nightlight? You'd be visiting me in county jail if the situation would have been mine to handle.

    I'm so glad it has worked out and been worth all the fuss for you.

    1. I'd give up bread and tuna for this stuff, Mendy. Which might be what I have to eat for the rest of my life since the stuff costs more than my wedding ring did. Every month. Since this whole thing finally resolved with my first dose of life altering hormones, I've had two more run-ins with the office staff over adjusted doses and invisible faxes. Maybe I need to change strategies and bring them chocolate chip cookies once a week. Think they'd start calling me the crazy but sweet old cookie lady and pay more attention to those faxes? We may all have to resort to under-the-table blackmail to survive Obamacare. ;)

  2. I know I would do a whole lot for a batch of your cookies...might just try it!