Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Prescription - I should have asked

I don't know why this stuff only happens to me. Why me, Lord? I've asked that question at one time or another my entire life. But, there you go, it happened again, this time by means of an unsightly growth, a nice word for a wart, in a most inconvenient place. If it had been in any other out-of-sight place, I wouldn't have bothered with it at all. But, it wasn't and that is my lot in life. I'm different. Things happen to me that are just barely slightly different than the same thing happening to other people. If another person had acquired an unsightly growth similar to mine, it would have been in a place just slightly off of center, perhaps only an eighth of an inch, so as not to be an irritant or noticeable at all.

Take splinters, for example. Other people get splinters just like I do, but I firmly believe that their splinters are different than mine. Mine always happen in the most inconvenient places. If I get a splinter in my thumb, I get it at the very exact spot that I continue to irritate until I take the time to dig it out, and even when I gather up the tools, the tweezers and magnifying glass to dig it out, I need help holding the glass, the tweezers and my thumb, all at the same time, at the right angle to perform the operation. And you would be surprised at how those people who happen to be available to help suddenly become so uncoordinated that they can't hold a magnifying glass at the angle needed! These things don't happen to other people. I'm convinced of that.

I went to the doctor several years ago to have the unsightly growth, okay - wart, removed. I was referred to a dermatologist who said, "Oh no! We can't remove that! That will bleed!" First off, I have to ask who in hell "we" are? Maybe he had a mouse in his pocket. It was only him and I in the room. In hindsight, I now believe that he was an overly excitable kind of person who couldn't stand the sight of blood, but I didn't insist on it being removed at the time. Also in hindsight, I have to ask myself why a person who can't stand the sight of blood became a dermatologist? But, you see? That's my lot. Out of all of the dermatologist in the world, I get the only one who faints at the sight of blood! That's what I'm talking about. If any other person had been there, they would have walked out of the hospital that day minus one unsightly growth! Whatever. So, after several years of sitting on it, I finally irritated the spot enough to inflame the area to the point of slight bleeding, and to bother the hell out of me, that I once again made an appointment to have it removed. This time, I was going to insist that I be treated just like all other patients. I was not going to be discriminated against!

I went to the appointment in somewhat of a grumpy mood, already prepared in my mind to be obstinate. My doctor said, "oh yeah. That's inflamed. Let me call a dermatologist." Five minutes later a very good looking dermatologist entered the room with her very good looking medical assistant. What? I thought. This too can only happen to me. Not only do I have to remove my drawers for a doctor, I have to remove them for a crowd! Two of which are good looking women! "Bend over," my doctor said, "they've seen behinds before."

"Oh yeah," the good looking dermatologist said, "I'll biopsy that." Notice that she didn't say "remove" it? That's just one more example of discrimination as far as I'm concerned, using a language or terminology that is vague or not understood by normal people. Just what did she mean by "biopsy?" So, I dressed and made my way to her clinic and then to an exam room where I once again removed my pants. According to her assistant, who came in to prepare me, a biopsy would remove "just a small slice" of the growth. "No," I told her, "I want the whole thing removed." "Well," she said, "we'll have to wait to see what the doctor says." Well, that statement, and all of my past discriminatory experience, sort of welled up inside of me to the point that I decided that I was going to be downright rude about the whole thing if I needed to be. At that point, I didn't give a damn what the doctor would say and I was going to say so.

But, I needn't have worried. The doctor said, after I asked her specifically what she meant, that the whole thing, the entire growth, was the biopsy. She was slicing it off at the skin level. And she did. I guess I was mollified by that fact that things, something, was finally going my way, the way I imagined that other people experienced; a happy ending. I really didn't notice or question the prescription she wrote out. "It's for a rash," she said, "around the area of the wound." "Okay," I said, a docile sheep following instructions from the most trusted profession in the world. Who do we trust the most? A doctor, of course.

It really didn't dawn on me what I felt about rashes. Frankly, I don't give them much thought. If I do anything at all, I'll get some over-the-counter cream or ointment and try to take care of it myself, such as Hydrocortisone 0.05% for dry skin. I've used that stuff frequently in the winter. So, I'll take care of it much like I take care of other ailments; if it gets to the point where it seems serious, I'll go to the doctor. Otherwise, I'll handle it. But, I trust doctors, so I accepted the prescription for Desonide Ointment 0.05% without question. I should have been alerted to a problem when this particular ointment required me to get advice from a pharmacist. How many ointments require a pharmacist's advice? "Don't put it on your eyelids," she said, "or your mouth or nose. It's intended to be used on other areas of your face." "Well," I said, "this is intended for the opposite end," in a smart-ass, joking sort of way. I should have noticed the shocked look on her face, but I didn't. Her look should have been a clue that I didn't need this particular ointment. My self-medicating history with minor ailments such as rashes should have come to mind, but it didn't. "Oh," she said, and she didn't say anything else, seemingly cutting her normal advice short.

So, I paid my share, $15 as I recall, and walked away with the tube of ointment. I put it on the counter when I got home and it's lain there since, unopened and unused. What really got me, though, was that I noticed on the receipt that I had only $232 balance left, after this prescription, on my Medicare Part D plan. What!? That lead me to ask myself just how much did this stuff cost, anyway? Well, if I paid 20%, then the whole thing cost $75. That's outrageous! That shock lead me to researching it further. The next thing I noticed was where it was made. We in the U. S. make a big deal, in fact it is illegal thanks to the Republican Congress and the Bush Administration, about getting cheap drugs from Canadian pharmacies. So, where is it made? Brampton, Ontario, Canada! And, it is distributed by the same company from Hawthorne, NY. I found a Canadian pharmacy that charges $8.79 for it! Well, sensing a conspiracy of some magnitude, and further evidence of the outright discrimination directed entirely at me, I set out to find what it is used for, and an even a bigger shock! It's used for DANDRUFF! DRY SKIN! The exact same thing that I use Hydrocortisone 0.05% at one-twentieth the cost. For crying out loud! By that time I had figured out that I had been scammed. I needed this stuff like I needed another hole in the head! Nevertheless, I had accepted it in total faith. I immediately went into a depression of that "I never learn" kind.

You know? I already use a dandruff shampoo, and it works pretty good. I don't have a single flake of dandruff on my shoulders. In fact, my barber, who I'm beginning to think knows more than my doctor, has told me that my shampoo is pretty strong and that I shouldn't use it more than once every two days. That statement meant to me that something that strong should be as good as Desonide Ointment 0.05%. And, so two weeks have passed and I've concluded that, had I been a touch more quick witted, I would have deduced relatively quickly that all you need to treat an inconvenient area of dandruff rash after a growth is removed is Selsun Blue shampoo. And, applying shampoo is a hell of a lot easier than the contortions needed to apply an ointment in that particular location, especially when trying to judge left from right through a mirror from a bent-over position that makes everything upside down. In fact, my contortionist days are long past. I can no longer turn myself into a pretzel. I'm taking the ointment back. I have other more important prescriptions to charge against my Medicare Part D plan.


1 comment:

tclandis said...

I really don't know whether to laugh or cry with you.
Made my day - thanks for sharing your pain in the butt.
love, T