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Let's Give Three Cheers for the Pharmacy, Where Everybody Knows My Name

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“Norm!” If you’re an 80s kid like me, you know exactly what I’m referring to — the TV show “Cheers,” a place where everybody knows your name. Sometimes I feel like that when I walk into my local pharmacy. As I walk up to the counter the pharmacist looks at me and simply says “Mr. Mickles.” No matter who the pharmacist behind the counter is, every single one of them knows my name, and thankfully that’s a good thing. Without them, I am not sure where I would be.

Just how many pills you have to take to be on a first-name basis with your pharmacist, I’m not sure. Apparently, though, I and my family have crossed that line. When I approach the counter, it’s not even a question of who I am anymore. As they call my name and greet me with warm smiles, they look at me and simply ask, “Are you just picking up for you or for the rest of the family?” Many times, they know exactly how many prescriptions I have ready without even looking.

Most months, I see and talk to them more than my doctors. We discuss life and family as they gather my many pills, and they genuinely care about how our family is doing. I’m not sure when we got to be on a first-name basis exactly, but I noticed it a number of years ago, and when one caught a potentially very harmful oversight of some medicine combinations, I was especially thankful.

Sometimes I have taken for granted the role that they play in my health and my care, as I am sure many do. Often, they are more involved or at least as involved in my care as the doctors I see every few months. Honestly, I do not know what I would do without them.

A few years ago, I was in the process of seeing multiple specialists for a number of problems and conditions we were trying to diagnose and treat. Things seem to be changing constantly, as I was diagnosed with new conditions or adjustments were made to current treatment plans. As a man with many chronic illnesses and one who was (and still is) taking over 20 pills a day, I can only imagine how hard it has been for all of my doctors to keep straight everything I’m taking and dealing with (I know many days I can barely keep up).

This is where my pharmacist comes in. It’s more than just the database they have in front of them, it’s the personal time and care they take in getting to know me and what I’m dealing with. Many times, it’s the extra effort they go through to make sure I have the medicines and treatments I need to continue to do what I want to do and live the life that I currently live.

On more than one occasion now they have caught mistakes that could’ve had very harmful and caused costly side effects for me had they not been caught and had the medication not been changed and adjusted before I began taking them. Thankfully, each time I am given a new prescription, they check it against what I am currently taking, and make sure to double-check that there are no issues I need to worry about. Both times a situation like this has occurred, they were able to catch it, and contact the doctor and get it changed before anything happened. I’m not sure what I would do without them, but needless to say, my medical care would’ve had more challenges had not been for their watchful eye and caring hearts.

I’ve also watched them this year on the front lines of the COVID fight. They have provided vaccinations, testing, and support to the medical community in a time when it was greatly needed. In a climate that is so politically and emotionally charged, they often take the brunt of unhappy customers. They often deal with tired and frustrated people, who are sometimes having to pay huge amounts for the medicine they need. I’m sure many times it is a thankless job, and one in which they are quick to hear complaints, but rarely commendations.

Rarely do they get the congratulations and the glory for all they do, but I can honestly say, were it not for them, my life will be very different, as would my treatment. Not only have they averted disaster for me on a number of occasions, but I’ve seen them go the extra mile so many times to not only ensure that I got the medicine I needed, but also find a way to make it affordable. The care they show goes beyond merely completing a job, and they truly are an indispensable part of my care.

Some people might look at them as simply middlemen, or vendors, but for me, they have become valued and trusted partners in my care and in the care of my family. Today is a national day that we salute and honor them, and I can think of no better group to honor, especially in these times. They are on the front lines of many of our fights, and without them, our quality of life would be much different.

For my part, I would simply like to say thank you to the pharmacists and technicians at the Publix Pharmacy at the Market at Victory Village in Murfreesboro, TN who work so hard to take such good care of me. You do not know how much I appreciate you, and the effort you make to care for those, like me, who quite literally trust you with our lives.

You may not realize the difference that you are making each day, but you are, and it is noticed. For me at least, there has been no one more crucial and critical to my care than you. Incidentally, as I write this, my daughter just got her first job as a pharmacy technician. I don’t know if she realizes the importance that she will have in people’s care, but I can only pray that she shows the same love and care for them that others have shown for me.

To all the pharmacists and technicians out there, we thank you. Thank you for caring for us, for watching over our health, and for making sure that it’s possible for us to get the treatment we need to better live and enjoy the life that we are currently living. Without you it would not be possible, so I simply say thank you, thank you for, in many ways, helping me to get my life back. You have made more of a difference than you will ever know.

Getty image by Tom Werner.

Originally published: January 11, 2022
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