Early Monday morning – five AM early – and with Russ at the wheel, we set out for the Emory Clinic in Atlanta. The primary purpose of this visit was the pre-admission testing for my Friday visit during which the battery and a few other parts of my baclofen pump will be replaced. If that is all that needs done, I’ll be back in Columbus Friday afternoon. Should they discover that the catheters that carry the baclofen from the pump to the spine need attention, I’ll have to spend the night there. The secondary purpose of Monday’s visit was to connect with a neurologist who will track my multiple sclerosis. In order to do both in a single day, it was necessary to be there shortly after seven. The appointment with the neurologist was at 7:30, and I was to do the pre-admission testing at ten.
Mostly, the medical professionals asked questions and typed my answers into a computer. Mostly, all of the medical professionals asked the same question, which led Russ to wonder what happened when the information was typed in. Are the patient notes of one medical professional off limits to other medical professionals? My vital signs were taken twice in an hour. But other than Russ’ patience, the only thing that was tested was my urine.
I was made aware of the results Tuesday, when my phone rang as I sat in the dining room, waiting for dinner to be served.
“Mr. Harris,” the medical professional said. “You have a urinary tract infection, and I need to know your pharmacy’s phone number so I can call in a prescription.”
I told her about my pharmacy benefits manager.
“Is that one of those places where you send in for a three-month supply?” she asked.
“Yes, but they fill smaller prescriptions, too.” I know this because, back in Ashtabula when I had the same problem, the doctor said his office would phone the prescription into the local drug store. But whoever did the calling called my pharmacy benefits manager, and when I went to the drug store, the druggist said he hadn’t received the prescription. I called the doctor, and the doctor said, “Ooops.” Then someone in his office called the prescription to the drug store, and I picked it up later that day. A few days later, two weeks’ worth of antibiotics arrived in a package from my pharmacy benefits manager.
Back in the dining room: “If we go through your pharmacy benefits manager, when will you get the prescription?” the medical professional asked.
“Four or five days.”
“OK,” she said, “go ahead and give me your group number.”
My prescription card was in my wallet, my wallet was in my apartment and I was in the dining room. I asked the medical professional if I could call her back in five minutes. She said she would call me in fifteen minutes. A half hour later she called, and all seemed to be in order.
Just after eight the next morning, my phone rang. It was another medical professional, an irate medical professional. She needed the number of my local pharmacy, and she needed it now. Well, now was too soon for me. In my year-and-a-half in Columbus I had never required the services of a local pharmacy. I told the medical professional I’d find a number and call her back. Which I did, and I also reported that the pharmacy did not open until nine.
At ten, I called the drug store, and yes, the prescription was ready. Then I called Russ to ask if he had time to take me to the drug store. He had the time, but he and Karen were down to one car that day, and he didn’t have it. Fortunately, Dennis, the bus driver, had the time and the means to get me to the drug store.
As all good stories must, this one has a happy ending. The antibiotic prescribed is one Publix is currently not charging for. The prescription was free. The druggist didn’t even glance at the card issued by my pharmacy benefits manager. And there is an air of mystery. The instruction on the bottle reads: “Take one tablet by mouth twice a day.” Nowhere on the bottle, nor in the literature that accompanied it, is there any mention of how one is supposed to retrieve that day’s pill after it has been taken by mouth the first time.