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To the Pharmacist Who Works Hard to Keep My Family Alive and Safe

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To the pharmacist and techs who strive to keep us alive and safe,

I took you for granted. I never even thought about how pivotal your jobs can be. An antibiotic here, some cough medicine there. No biggie.

Then my kids came along. First allergy-induced hives. OK. So I notice you now.  Some steroids. Then nebulizer medicines. Then prescription antihistamines. Then EpiPens. 

You are the ones who understand I need EpiPens that are good for a year. You don’t give me a problem when I ask for them. You don’t give me an attitude and tell me to just come back in a few months and order them again. You understand insurance companies aren’t so forgiving or easy to get along with. You understand my children are helpless victims in a bureaucratic mess. You have my attention now.

I start to prefer our pharmacy. I start to monitor your work hours to deal with you specifically. We smile when we see each other. But I still don’t know your names.

You see, I’m the strong one. I’m the glue of the family. I manage all the chronic illnesses, the stress of it, the life-saving techniques. Yep, I’m your go-to girl in an emergency, or “the keeper” for maintenance medications and routines. I deal with the panic attacks, surgeries and the hospital stays, the Heimlich for my autistic son who stuffs his face with chicken nuggets and the anaphylaxis of my oldest. 

I’m the one. I do it. I manage it. I eat the stress like it’s my last meal.

I never knew how important you would become to me. You have been a member of the team, but you would become the coaches when I got sidelined. It was bound to happen. And it did in a big way.

You listen to me when I tell you about all my allergies. You stop working on other orders and search for leaflets so we can check the ingredient list. You manually put into the computer my allergies, and remember them in your own personal “computer” mind that I am a red flag — my medicines constantly need to be checked. You call the doctor to have her order something different, because the generic contains an allergen but the name brand doesn’t. 

When I need a new medication, we have a game plan. You come up with names and we research the ingredients. Just one pill with lactose/whey/etc. could kill me. Who knew the majority of the medications on the market use milk proteins as a binder? Who knew many medicines use shellac as an ingredient. Yes, shellac. Are we painting or treating anxiety? 

I fell off the horse and it hurts. It hurts every day. The number of health issues and allergies is astounding, but you are there to help me back up. What’s amazing is that I trust you, and you care. You want me back up on the horse. I may just get there because of you.

I can’t begin to thank you enough for believing me, and taking the time out of your overwhelmed schedule to help me stay alive. One wrong medication and I could die. But you would never knowingly allow it. We have a relationship. You ask how the family is. You love when I imitate my husband. We laugh when we can and get serious when I need you. You promise your guidance in any way and deliver it.

Not only do I know your names now, I cherish them. Thank you.

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Originally published: September 30, 2015
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