Judge Not

Dear Pharmacy Technician,

I wish this was a letter to praise you on great customer service, but it’s not. I have drafted this letter over 5 times, and each time it ends the same way. No matter how nice I start it, the letter quickly goes down hill. Now, before you get all nervous and stop reading, let me say that this is not a grievance letter either. The purpose of this letter is actually make you aware of your insulting and blatantly disrespectful behavior, and give you the opportunity to change it going forward. A sort of “maybe you weren’t aware” type letter, if you will. But, in full disclosure, there will be no niceties. 

I recently visited your pharmacy a few weeks ago, and your assistance left much to be desired. I know, you see hundreds of people each day so it is probably virtually impossible for you to recall who I am. Well, I wish the same could be said for you. You, dear Pharmacy Technician, will be impossible for me to ever forget. See, our interaction just a few short weeks ago has left you forever etched in my brain. I am certain that I will never forget how you teated me during our brief interaction. Initially I thought this was a horrible thing, but I have now found the positive. Once I calmed down and took in the magnitude of your actions, a intense fire was lit inside of me. So, congratulations. 

Approximately two weeks ago, on rainy Friday evening around 11pm, I came into your pharmacy wearing pink polka dot pajama pants, a white tank top, one green flip flop and one pink one, and a pink bath rob. I saw you standing at one of the shelves near the pharmacy checkout counter, and slowly walked up to ask for assistance. Despite horrendous pain, I slowly put one foot in front of the other to make my way over to you…periodically dragging one foot because it hurt too much to completely lift it. Visibly in pain, in fact shaking from horrible stomach and joint pain that rendered me unable to stand up straight, I scraped together my last piece of strength to quietly ask “excuse me, can you tell me where I would find the 1ml insulin syringes?” You acknowledged that I spoke to you, in fact you looked me square in the eyes, but walked off without answering my question. Actually, you walked off without saying anything to me. Fighting back tears, I slowly followed you over to the pharmacy check out counter. Is the interaction coming back now? No? Don’t worry, I’ll continue. 

After we both reached the pharmacy counter, with tears in my eyes at this point, I asked again “excuse me, can you tell me where I would find the 1ml insulin syringes?” Before I could finish my question, you sharply replied “I heard you the first time, that’s why I had you come over here to the counter”. Confused at your agitation, but determined to get what I needed, I disregarded your unprofessional and blatantly disrespectful tone. You then continued, “I need your name, the exact size of the syringe, and the reason for the syringe.” As you requested, I gave you my name, stated I needed a 27 1 1/2 gauge syringe, and that I needed it to administer my weekly methotrexate injection at a dose of 1ml. Despite the fact that I provided you the information you requested, you asked me the same questions 3 additional times. Fully aware of the redundancy, I nonetheless answered your questions. After speaking with me for over 10 minutes about the size syringe I needed and the reason it was needed, along with checking my name in your system to see if I had an outstanding prescription that would warrant needing syringes (even though I told you I normally use the hospital pharmacy rather than a chain), you stated that “we do not sell that kind” and told me I needed to check another pharmacy. 

As you recommended, I traveled across town 20 minutes in the rain to find another pharmacy that carried the syringes I needed. Fortunately, unlike you, the pharmacy technician I encountered saw the medical need for the syringes and did not stereotype me. Yes, Ms. Pharmacy Technician, you read that correctly…you stereotyped me. As I type this today, I am still in disbelief. See, when speaking with you, I didn’t realize that “we do not sell that kind” was actually code for “I am not selling you syringes because I believe you are a drug user”. The nerve of you.

As I type this letter and replay our interaction in my mind, I am physically sick to my stomach. On a rainy night just a few short weeks ago, you stood between me and the supplies I needed to administer critical medication. Rather than use your position as a “go between” for good, you served as interference and a waste of my precious energy. Yes, dear Pharmacy Technician, rather than help or assist, you interfered. While you likely thought you were “protecting” your company from assisting a drug abuser, you actually interfered with a chronically ill woman’s ability to timely administer her much needed medication. Congratulations you arrogant, ignorant, small minded tyrant. Prepare to have your mind blown. 

The drug abuser you thought you saw on that rainy Friday evening, is actually a mother of two, wife of a deacon, woman with two degrees, one of which is an advanced degree, but more important an individual that battles with chronic illness and pain. BOOM! See, the night you saw me I had been released from the hospital less than 12 hours before. I was in the middle of a horrible crohn’s flare that had completely deformed a piece of my small intestine and caused a bleeding ulcer, and cut off blood flow to an area of my small bowel. Given your background, you of all people can appreciate the pain associated with what I just described. But, assuming those issues were not enough to explain my visible pain, I was also experiencing a flare of my rheumatoid arthritis which caused my fingers to swell like sausages and burn. In fact, my fingers were so swollen that I drove to your pharmacy in tears because simply holding my steering wheel caused pain worse than childbirth. 

Now, I am sure you are reading this thinking “well, I was justified in my assumption given the time, your outfit, and how you were limping around”. Honestly, that thought is as ridiculous as your actions. But, to destroy the mental safe haven you think you have to justify your actions, allow me to give you the background around my outfit. Prior to arriving at your pharmacy, I had spent 2 hours preparing to give myself my weekly injection. I had applied ice to my fingers to remove the severe swelling so I could give myself my injection, spent 30 minutes getting the energy required to get out of bed to drag myself down 15 stairs to sit on the couch near my meds and supplies, and 45 minutes changing into comfortable clothes…which happened to be the pajama pants you saw and the ones I wore during my 6 day hospital stay just one day before. Once I was finally set up, I attempted to do my injection but my last syringe broke as I struggled to maneuver it with my swollen fingers. As I put on shoes to head to your pharmacy for additional syringes, I realized that my feet were entirely too swollen to successfully fit into any of my closed toes shoes…which left flip flops as the only option. I literally only own two pairs of flip flops and could not find the match to either, so I decided mismatch would have to suffice. On my way out the door in my pajama pants, tank top, and mix matched flip flops, I realized I needed I jacket but was physically unable to climb the stairs in my house a second time, so decided to wear my robe. 

I give you all this backdrop to say that you should never judge a book by its cover. The very nature of your role requires you to cross paths with people NEEDING your help. As a pharmacy technician, it is VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE that you will not come across someone seriously ill and in chronic pain. Given this, it would seem to me that the better approach would be assume the people that approach you genuinely need help or need supplies for medical reasons, rather than a sinister purpose. Listen, I do not live in fairytale land. I know this world is full of evil people and people that are addicted to drugs that will do whatever they can to get the drugs and supplies they seek. But, knowledge of evil and drug addiction, CANNOT make you see the entire world through a jaded lens. If it does, the harm you inflict on those that cross your path, will be no different than the harm you sought to prevent in the first place.

It is my hope that you are reading this with tears in your eyes, but more importantly with remorse in your heart. Ms. Pharmacy Technician, you never know what a person has been through before they reach you. You had no way of knowing the conditions I had, the fact that I had been hospitalized for 6 days less than 12 hours before our interaction, or the horrific pain I endured to get dressed enough to leave my house. But, what you should have known was that I was sick, needed your help, and regardless of what my background was, I was worthy of being treated with dignity and respect. See, EVEN IF you were right about me, you actions were still inappropriate. EVERYONE that crosses your path MUST be treated with dignity and respect. 

Do Better!

27 thoughts

  1. Did you get a response from the pharmacy? I hope so!

    I would also like to reiterate the comment about the font being too light – and also a bit too small, I’d say. Your devoted readers don’t mind the length of your posts, so I’d say bigger and darker!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was getting my prescription filled today and it was 2 days early, because I am going out of town. The pharmacist asked why it was early, so I patiently explained to her my situation. She tells me this is unusuall yet last month I was a day early due to being out of town that weekend as well. I told her she was welcome to call y doctor to confirm I did not change the date and that it was not a mistake if she would like, she replied disgustedly to me that it was not her job to phone doctors!!! Umm pretty sure that falls in her job description but what do i know I am just “an addict” in her opinion. She asked me what time I am leaving tomorrow to which I replied at 9:15 am . She then told me she would have my prescription ready for me tommorrow at 9:10 am!!! The nerve I thought. So I bit my tongue and told her that would be fine, she just needs to give me $25 dollars. She looked confused as all hell and asked what for, to which I replied for my cab fare as my arthritis prevents me from driving. After giving my the dirtiest look in the world she told me my prescription would be ready in 5 minutes…. Tired of feeling like these people are doing me a favor when in fact they are doing their jobs and not very well at that! Hope everyone is having a low pain day xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Grrrrrrrr! Oh it upsets me to hear you went through that…but you handled it so well. NICELY DONE!! More people need to push back and challenge like that. So often we tolerate the rude behavior because they stand between us and our meds…but holding our tongues uses energy we don’t have give. SO, I absolutely applaud you for what you did. NICELY DONE!!!!


  3. This is why I don’t use my local Walgreens anymore and am devistated that they are buying out Rite Aid. Now I have to find another pharmacy who remembers my name and treats me as if they care. I am so sorry this has happened to you, thank you for sharing though, it means a lot to know I am not alone. So much sadness in this world, at the very least we should ALL be trying to lift each other up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for reading, commenting and sharing your story. Every time I reflect on that situation, I get angry than sad. Knowing that I am not alone makes me happy too, but also disgusts me. I hate knowing that others have been or will continue to be subject to what I experienced. Something has to be done.


  4. There is one Tech where I get my prescriptions at acts like this every time she sees me. If I had something closer I would go there. It hurts my heart every time. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Such disgusting behaviour needs to be addressed and I’m so glad you have written this eloquent testimony of what took place. A person like this does not belong in such a position as they have no right to judge others the way you obviously were judged. I hope that you get some kind of closure with this incident but I m a big believer in Karma and you probably have some kind of satisfaction after writing this. I wish that you never have to go through anything like this again but knowing the human race I doubt that will happen. After many years of nursing and being a chronic pain sufferer myself I have learnt that everybody feels pain in different ways and people deal with their pain in different ways. Your pain has made you a warrior keep fighting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! Yes, pain has made me a fighter. I will say, this was a learning experience for me and I will never forget it. But, it has made my fight even more intense because it showed me that the fight for chronically ill people or people in constant pain to be recognized as just that, rather than addicts, is a real one. After writing this blog entry I now see that this story plays out every day across the world…and that is the piece of all this that hurts the most. I found out I was one among thousands.


  6. I have also been turned away many times by my pharmacist with the claim that they must speak to the Dr. Claiming that that medication isn’t used for chronic pain and my pain can’t be that bad because I’m still standing. Even though I’ve got a driver, came from ER…. So, so upsetting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • See it is stories like this that make me physically sick. Something has to be done…I just have to figure out what. This issue is too wide spread to just keep taking it and talking amongst ourselves. Stay tuned…recommendations on how to fight this coming soon.


  7. I’d rather one drug-user got access to drugs they didn’t need than one person in chronic pain be denied access to drugs they desperately *do* need. What an abyssmal person to not treat you with human dignity. Even addiction is a medical condition whose sufferers should be granted some level of compassion.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. – Begin Rant –
    Ugh. I too suffer from Crohn’s and autoimmune arthritis, and do MTX injections to keep myself going. I’m also a 22 year old college student, and have therefore had to convince an ER doctor or two that I have a legitimate medical problem and didn’t just end up in my condition (whatever that may be on a given day) by drinking or doing (recreational) drugs. I live in fear of interactions like this, because due to my age, I get stereotyped into a “you’re too young to be seriously ill, you must be lying” or “you must have brought this on yourself” category, even by people who really should know better. Just last week I had a pharmacist who refused to give me my preferred type of syringes because she didn’t think that I was intelligent enough to inject 1 ml instead of 3 ml, so I’m now stuck with syringes that are a lot less comfortable for me to use. *sigh* At least I know that there are others who understand!
    – End Rant –

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow. It feels good to know I am not alone…but is also very upsetting to know that others are being subjected to this. I wouldn’t wish this treatment on my worst enemy. This is the reason I will continue to be a voice for those with chronic illness and pain. We shouldn’t have to convince others we are in pain or seriously ill…our energy should be directed towards doing what is necessary to feel better. Good grief, the more I type the more this pisses me off!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve read your words over 40 times now…and still get pissed. I called myself taking time to calm down before I wrote back…no such luck. It makes me angry that others experience what I have…and I see no end in sight. All we can do is encourage each other to keep pushing forward, and call people out on the BS. Hopefully, in time, there will be some change. I hate you have to go through it and COMPLETELY understand the stereotype.


  9. OMG! Let’s hope she breaks down on the side of the road on a rainy night, accidently slams her hand in the door, drops her phone into a puddle leaving it useless, and has no coat. Somehow she managed to lock her purse in the car. No one helps her and it takes her three hours to walk home, arriving there shoeless with blistered feet to discover she doesn’t have her keys. No neighbor answers the door when she knocks because its the middle of the night and she looks like a drug abuser.

    You’re welcome. Hope you didn’t hurt yourself laughing.

    Liked by 1 person

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