Pharmacy and Phone

30 May 2002

Go on and read this. What I have to say is: preach it, Brother Thomas. I'm a member of the choir, sitting here going "Amen" and "Yes, Lord."

Yesterday I finished the Boswell I was reading and went to the library, talked to Timprov, talked to Mark, read some more Bujold, worked on the Not The Moose Book, and had two phone calls, more on which later. That was the pleasant part. The not-so-pleasant part was...The Pharmacy.

Mark's company finally got an HR person, so now they've got an insurance plan that involves health insurance for spouses. Yay! So we'll stop having to pay out of pocket for mine as of this coming Saturday, June 1. Yay! And I'll stop having to use Kaiser Permanente. Yay!

But it seemed to be less than optimal to have a week and a half between starting with a new doctor and needing a prescription filled, so I went to get my old prescription one last time from Kaiser. Being experienced in the ways of Kaiser, I called ahead to make sure that my called-in prescription had been filled. It had. I sallied forth.

It took me an hour to get a prescription that was already filled. The first twenty minutes consisted of the pharmacy clerk running around the back room looking for my prescription, coming out to ask me if I'd just brought it in that day, and wandering back to see if maybe it was somewhere else. Which, twenty minutes later, we determined that it was, and she came back with it. Told me that it would be the full $36.90, because "this prescription isn't covered on our system." I said, "I've been taking it since September of 2000, and it's always been covered before." "Did you get any refills since the first of the year?" "Yes." (Because you people won't prescribe a sensible number at a time!) "Okay, will you sit down and wait?" So I waited another twenty minutes. Got called back up to stand at the counter and listen to the pharmacy clerk and the pharmacist discuss my situation. In the first two minutes of their conversation, I could tell that there was no way I was going to get out of there for $10. I resigned myself to this fact. Turns out I would need not just a prescription but two specific override codes in order to get this stuff on the Kaiser system for the copay amount. It is not enough that my doctor (who is a Kaiser employee) has prescribed it. It is not enough that my doctor and I both know that the kind of birth control I was on before gave me 12-day periods. (And wasn't that a laugh riot, but not nearly as much fun as the kind I was on before that, which gave me no periods. Try being female and newly married, and not menstruating for several months straight. See what kind of a jolly happy mood you're in at the end of that.) No. We needed "special override codes."

I know the Kaiser system. I know that there is literally no way that I could have gotten override codes and gotten back to the pharmacy by tomorrow, and if I had, they would have sent my prescription back to another office, because it's not a "standard" prescription, so you only have six days to pick it up, supposedly (although sometimes it ends up being more like four or five). So I said, "Okay, fine," and the pharmacist said, "Do you still want this?" I said, "Are you not women of child-bearing years? Do you think that 'my insurance can't get its act together' is a decent reason to have a baby?"

The woman behind me in line thought I was quite funny. But really. "I was going to use a reliable form of birth control, but then they were going to charge me almost $27 extra, so what the hey, we like kids." That's a worse reason than "I forgot!" for having a baby, by far.

Ahem. So. I went to the library, where I found books I want to read at the agreed upon price (that is, taxes I already paid). Came home and did happy things. And then Marylyn called. Marylyn, for those of you who don't have a scorecard in mind, was my seventh grade English teacher and is now my friend. She had knee-replacement surgery and called me to talk while she recuperates. Evidently I'm not the only person who considers homebound illness an excuse to catch up on contacting friends. And, as usual, I had much more to tell her than we had time to talk. But that was all right.

One of the interesting things was that we were talking about other teachers in the district, and I brought up the other two teachers who influenced me most as a writer, Ms. Kinkle and Honest Gabe. (The Gabester. Mr. Gabriel. I'm supposed to call him Ron now. So mostly I avoid calling him anything, because, well, Ron. It's hard. I have no problem calling Mme. Lund "Jan." But "Ron" is a hard one for me.) I've stayed in touch with, er, Ron, but Ms. Kinkle was my first and second grade gifted teacher. She's not Ms. Kinkle any more. But now, thanks to Marylyn, I know what her last name is: Hayes. Or Hays. This is one step closer to actually knowing where this woman is, I hope, and I told Marylyn that if she ran into her, she should thank her on my behalf. I tried a google search, but it was inconclusive at best.

So, pleasant stuff all around, and then C.J. called last night. Good conversation with him, and, oh, he makes me laugh sometimes, just by being such a C.J. For example, he said, "It seems that everyone [on his new project at work] is above average, but so what?" Classic C.J.: everyone is above average? Who cares? Where are the outstanding people, and what can I learn from/with them? We talked for over an hour, good and relaxing conversation.

That's often the case, that talking on the phone to people relaxes me. It's a bit of connection that I'm otherwise missing, and some people just aren't e-mail people. It's especially nice now that Ceej and I talk more regularly, because I don't have to feel like I have to get everything in the world mentioned in one brief conversation. We can talk about little things with confidence that if we forget something, we'll talk again soon. I have this comfort with people who are regular e-mailers, too: if I forget, I have some leeway built in, I have some assurances that not everything depends on one phone call every few months. It's a less tenuous bridge. I do appreciate that.

I'm heading up to Oakland to have lunch with David today, and otherwise the same stuff as usual, reading, drafting the novel, editing "Small Talk," doing laundry, running errands or (more likely) adding to the seemingly endless errand list. Enjoying the people around me. Enjoying the arrival of summer as much as I can. You do that, too, okay? And don't use Kaiser insurance if you can avoid it. Talk to the people you love often, and don't use Kaiser insurance, that's the "take-home message" for today. If you want something deeper than that, go read Thomas' entry.

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