During our recent vacation/decade-late honeymoon to Puerto Rico, something I’ve always worried and wondered about happened: I forgot to bring my meds. To be fair, by “I forgot,” I mean they were packed but got lost in the shuffle of a repack.
I hate to be in the position of being able to apply the term “off my meds” to myself, but here I am. On top of the thyroid meds which I will be taking every day for the rest of my life, I take an anti-depressant and assorted “mood stabilizers,” which pretty much do what the name suggests, and all of which I will probably also be taking for the rest of my life. There’s a whole big back story to all of these, and if you don’t know them, well, count yourself fortunate.
The point is, these are all daily medications that work in congress to keep me on the beam with regards to everything from mood to sleep to appetite to overriding my constant urge to twerk while informing onlookers that I am all about that bass, but am fairly indifferent to – if not filled with abhorrence for – treble.
In the chaos of leaving for our trip, my week’s supply of medicine was overlooked, and I didn’t notice it until too late because I forgot to take them the night we left Herndon, the next morning when we left Maryland, and the first night in Puerto Rico.
No biggie. Missing a dose or two happens, and isn’t the end of the world. Our first morning in PR we discovered that we’d left my personal pharmacy at home, where I can only assume it spent its days fending off burglars with improvised booby-traps in a series of wacky shenanigans and catch phrases.
Okay, so this has to happen, right? People forget to take their meds, they lose them, they spill them on the ground. There has to be an emergency system to hook someone up with the pills they require daily to lead a normal life, right? Right?
Yes! Yes there is! Thank the patron saint of meds!
We contacted our insurance provider, Kaiser Permanente – the Lloyd Christmas of health care systems – to see what could be done. To our relief, there are protocols for exactly this scenario. Granted, it took us a good chunk of the morning and several transfers and new phone calls before we got someone who knew this (including one person who thought PR was another country), but still, protocols are a good thing.
There was a Walgreen’s right down the road from where we were staying, and after wading through the quagmire of shit that is an insurance company’s patient service system, a nurse told us a few days of each prescription would be available for pickup there that very day. I would receive a phone call from Kaiser if there was any problem.
I got a phone call a short while later, but it was from the local Walgreen’s, and rather than letting me know that I could swing in whenever I wanted for my scripts, they informed me that they couldn’t honor the prescriptions because of reasons.
Another phone call to Kaiser (including another few transfers) got me to a nurse who said she would call Walgreen’s directly and get things squared. Awesome.
She called me back to tell me that I was completely and painfully screwed. The healthcare system in Puerto Rico requires prescriptions to be transferred through a specific database, and Kaiser wasn’t able to use it. The only way I could get my medications would be for me to find a doctor, schedule an appointment, go in, get a new script, take it to a pharmacy, pay up front for the appointment and meds, and file a claim to get compensated for the out-of-pocket expenditures.
A few things you should know: Due to the financial ruin that Puerto Rico is in, doctors are leaving at the rate of one a day. Getting an appointment with someone would be challenging. Have you ever tried to schedule a doctor’s appointment in the actual United States? Do they ever cheerfully invite you in the next day at a time when you’re available? Probably not.
We talked about getting the stuff express-shipped to us, but since I have trust issues with parcel delivery companies, I wasn’t willing to gamble on the things getting to us on time, not to mention how expensive it would be to try and overnight a package from Virginia to Puerto Rico.
On top of the logistical issues of getting an appointment, we had one day completely spoken for during which I wouldn’t be able to go to a doctor. Finally, would it be worth taking that much time out of our trip (assuming I could get an appointment anyway) to get one or two day’s worth of meds? Would it be worth dealing with the paperwork to get compensated for our out-of-pocket expenses? Should we trust two medical systems who couldn’t manage to get me a handful of some extremely benign pills to work out payments in a way that didn’t screw us? According to one Kaiser rep, Puerto Rico is a foreign nation, so who knows if their king would allow their minister of medical skullduggery to approve the tariffs on trans-national currency transfers? (Citation of all preceding terms needed.)
I figured, what’s the worst that could come from skipping meds for a couple more days, or about a week total? So, I decided the only logical thing was to roll the dice and go without any meds for a couple more days.
We did survive our vacation, free of medical or psychological issues. That said, it would all catch up to me when we got back. I went through a few days of misery while my body and brain readjusted to not being completely neglected.
I know I said it already, but I really can’t over emphasize the point that I hate – HATE – being in a position to say that I’m “off my meds” when I miss some doses. It carries a connotation that doesn’t sit well with society, regardless of how ignorant those stigmas might be.
I know this post ended abruptly, but I couldn’t think of anything else to say for a change, so here’s a picture of C from a year+ ago looking unimpressed.