‘I’m just calling to refill my prescription for my ANTI-PSYCHOTICS, that’s all’

The havoc wreaked by telephone services:

Side rant on automated attendants. If I key in my phone number, I’m annoyed when I have to key it in again, and then say it to whoever answers. Worse, some attendants won’t LET me key in information. I have to SAY it. Since they’re only available during business hours, I have to call from at work. Since I work at the customer’s site, I have no privacy. And these automated attendants get more and more creative about the stuff they want you to say out loud in a crowded room. I imagine some nut like baronmind works for them, coming up with progressively more bizarre things you have to say out loud to get anything. Reading a credit card number is bad enough. Saying things like “YES … YES … CUSTOMER SERVICE … CUSTOMER SERVICE! … FIVE SEVEN BAKER THREE ALPHA OMEGA ZERO ZERO … YES … NO … CABLE … NEW SERVICE … YES … SEVEN FOUR ZERO DESTRUCT ZERO … PAPA INDIA MLENDY GRACKLE BORGWARD ONE …” tends to garner some interesting stares. What’s next?

“To access customer service, say `I’m a big nancy boy.’; for billing, sing `I’m a little teapot’; for new service, say `I like alligator clips on my NIPPLES’; to speak to an attendant, say `Pauly Shore is my GOD, I must stalk him with Crisco'”?

And I sympathize, man, but live people are no better. I used to work in a crowded office, and I used to work long hours, which meant I’d occasionally have to do things like call the doctor or the pharmacy from my desk. My desk which sat up directly against three other people’s desks and within easy earshot of a dozen more.

I don’t know if the medical establishment is just unaware that quite a few people are in this situation, especially when the doctor’s office is only open from 9 until 5, or if they’re too overworked themselves to be able to care, but the questions. My God.

“What is your appointment in regards to?” Well, it’s an ob-gyn office, do I really need to tell you it’s about my vagina?

“What medications are you taking?” Allow me to list them for the benefits of my co-workers! Yay!


I get that these are questions that need answers, but the nurse AND the doctor are just going to ask them again anyway (never has a doctor started an appointment by saying anything but “What can I do for you today?”) and clearly if I’m sounding reluctant to answer there might be a reason and OH MY GOD can we not talk about this now, basically?

So I’d answer in as low a voice as I could manage, only to have the receptionist tell me to speak up. A number of times in frustration I did just answer “I’m at work, I’m not really comfortable listing the seven things wrong with my insides right now, can you just trust me, I need to see the same guy I’ve been seeing for months, for the same reasons I’ve always been seeing him, and I know you have a record of why because it’s on the bill I just got yesterday” only to get a lecture on the importance of the questions (see above) or be asked if I could call back later (and spend another hour on hold). Later, when I had a cell phone, I’d just go out in the car on my lunch hour like everybody else and talk about my medical problems there.

And don’t get me started on the damn pharmacy. Even my father, who’s a pharmacist, thought this was ridiculous: I’m in line waiting to pick up my chemical coping strategy, and the pharmacist comes up to the counter with it. “Here’s your Zoloft!” he says cheerily, loud enough to be overheard by everyone in line and people within two city blocks. I could only stand there, hoping that the guy behind me was picking up his Viagra scrip, thinking of rejoinders including but not limited to yelling, “OH YEAH WHAT ABOUT MY GONORRHEA MEDICATION?” or starting a small fire to distract the listeners. I changed pharmacies that day, to one where the pharmacists and techs were instructed to just show you the bottle and ask if you if these were the droids you were looking for.

Next time I have to have one of these conversations I’m just going to take the advice of madbodger up there and start talking about Pauly Shore and vegetable shortening.


4 thoughts on “‘I’m just calling to refill my prescription for my ANTI-PSYCHOTICS, that’s all’

  1. I know the feeling. Before cell phones, I had to find a payphone or leave messages over the weekend with my doctor’s answering machine to get refills on my meds. But of course, they always, always called me back at work and started asking questions about what I needed, no matter how thorough a message I tried to leave. Grr. The whole low-voice, artful dodging thing gets old and is hideously embarassing.
    “Gee willikers, Ms. Nurse, I just can’t recall the name of that drug I’m on right now…what? what am I being treated for…? umm…I don’t remember that either…can you just look in my chart and fill whatever meds it lists? I can give you the pharmacy number…” Urg.
    Anyway, thank god for cell phones and parked cars, lol.
    As for that idiot Zoloft pharmacist, he violated HIPAA Privacy Regulations. Good for you for going elsewhere. You can report him though, if you like. I have the address. I used to be the Privacy Officer at the physician practice I work for. I know from HIPAA. 🙂

  2. Slightly, yet barely related medical stories:
    I ran across the street to the grocery store one night for cigrarettes. I couldn’t quite get thru the line, so I offered to let the next person go ahead of me, so I could qeue up behind him. One item: Preparation H. I felt kind of bad for the old guy but I didn’t know when I motioned him ahead. Oy…
    Today, I got my first bill for some hospital visits in October. $490.83 For what, you ask? Good question. All the bill states is $490.83.
    Well, I’ll just whip out the old checkbook and send that money in for those unknown services, and just trust that all the charges were right and the insurance company paid everything they were supposed to.
    I know it’s Smalltown, USA but come on… Healthcare in this country is an abomination. They should send us all a complimentary tube of Prep H.

  3. Yes, it sure was fun sitting in my bullpen office last week, listing, for the benefit of the insurance adjuster on the other end of the phone (whom I’d already FAXED an itemized list to, complete with purchase dates and prices), every item stolen from our house in a recent break in. The guys that I share the bullpen with maintained there composure through the DVD and mp3 players, the watches and the briefcase, even the “(1) 36″ inflatable yoga ball” (which I’m sure they had fun picturing me splayed over).
    But when I’d run through all 4 Harry Potter DVD titles and the rest of the kid movies that were stolen, only to end with Sexy Beast (a great movie, even if you don’t want to say the title out loud in an office full of people who’ve never heard of it) – they both burst out laughing.
    I don’t blame them, but it felt like I’d been giving a guided tour of underwear drawer to strangers.

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