Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tough Medicine - The REST of the Story!

When we last saw our fair and quite splotchy heroine, she was clutching a prescription for - Hallelujah! - steroid cream that would stop - Oh, Sweet Heaven! - the chemical reaction that had turned her face into one hot mess. Let's follow her as she wheels the Audi tt to the pharmacy at the closest grocery store!

By now, my face had been naked for some two hours; and my major worry was that I would grin when the pharmacist handed me the salve, and my lips would split in two and my forehead would part like the Red Sea and I would ooze all over the pharmacy counter. I shouldn't have worried. THAT didn't happen. In fact, smiling was not a remote possibility. I waited semi-patiently while the lady in front picked up three prescriptions; two of which she thought should have reflected Senior Discounts, but did not; and one that wasn't hers. Which she did not discover until she had emptied her purse on the counter to find the flyer with the list of pharmaceuticals which SHOULD have been discounted (she didn't find it); and then, in agonizingly slow motion, wrote a check, messed it up, tore it into little pieces; asked for a trash can, wrote another check, signed for the medications and noticed that someone else's first name was on the third one. She decided she only had two things to pick up after all, and wrote another check. And slowly, very slowly, gathered up her purse contents, said "Hey" to some passersby (it was Senior Wednesday) and...LEFT...THE... COUNTER!!!!

I was dancing on the inside at this point...in mere moments I could slather my face with yet another unnatural cream! Suddenly, there was no Pharmacist, there was no Pharmacy Tech, there was no Intern from the local pharmacy college. I was pretty sure it wasn't The Rapture; because there were still a lot of people in the store. Maybe donuts in the break room? Designated potty time?

No, there they were. Over there by the. Drat. Computer. With puzzled frowns. Pushing buttons, checking wires. Hello, my face hurts! Do you want me to ooze all over the counter? I think I drummed my fingernails lightly on the Formica. OK, maybe I pounded it a little bit...they sent Alexis the Intern over.

She tried not to stare. And told me that "Actually, the computers are down." I could leave my prescription, and retrieve it later in the afternoon.

At that point, I believe I channeled Thelma and Louise. I also harbored deep hostility toward people who use the word "actually."

"Alexis, I am in a great deal of pain. I do not intend to leave this store without my steroid cream. I am going to shop a bit, and check back. Hopefully, we can figure out a way for me to leave here with my medication, even if the computers are, actually, down." Not one of my finest speeches, but combined with the fact that my face looked like a Flame Broiled Boca Burger, it appeared to make an impact. Alexis all but bowed, asked me to give them half an hour, and I found myself in the produce section.

Let me just tell you, when your face is cracking like hard-boiled egg shells, salad dressing starts to look sexy. Ooh, just imagine the silky feel of Marie's Blue Cheese against this parched landscape. And, don't ever EVER find yourself with Chemo Face in the Extra Virgin Olive Oil section. Morality goes right out the window. The thought of breaking the seal on that sweet and lush potion...

And then, over the PA system: "Will the lady with the TERRIBLE, DISGUSTING SKIN RASH please report to the pharmacy?" In fairness, I think they used my name. But, judging from the faces of the folks I passed, I'm not entirely sure. Especially since most of them had cataracts.

The pharmacy had only one tube of the medication prescribed. And it was for half the amount my doc recommended. I should come back tomorrow.

I'm not sure if I grabbed Alexis by her lapel. The one that had her Pharmacy School Sorority Pins on it. But I did suggest that I was going to stand in line and look ugly until I got my half-sized tube. And that I would be more than happy to pick up the second half-sized tube another day. And then...Sweet Jesus and All the Archangels...I had it! The Cream! I signed some stuff, and I was free! With The Cream!

I made it as far as my car. Slathered...not expecting...it...to...sting.

Tried not to cry, failed; which also stung.

My Great Expectation was to - today, one week post-chemo - post my pretty new face. But, patience is a virtue. Stinging is history. I still look like a prize fighter; but I am a cancer-free prize fighter. TKO.

Would I do it again? You bet. But I would lay in my supply of steroid cream before I needed it. And I would probably invest in a nice burka.

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