Bio Moment – Overheard at the pharmacy

I’ve talked about this elsewhere today, so if you’ve already heard this story, feel free to mosey on by.

All day today, I have been thinking about something that happened yesterday. I thought it so important that I’m sharing it twice!

It began when I opened the door to my pharmacy. It’s small, connected to my doctor’s office, not one of those superstore pharmacies that are always crowded and filled to the brim with *cough* sick people.

The moment the door opened, I felt the anger, frustration and nervousness rush past me. It seemed to be coming from the woman at the counter and in fact, she was the only customer.

Note: I’m empathic but seriously, the emotion was so strong a banana would have felt the heat. 

I consider pharmacies to be sacred spaces and try not to eavesdrop but one couldn’t help but hear the goings-on. The woman’s back was to me but I swear, I could see her rolling eyes. One hand was on her hip and the other was on the counter. She and the pharmacist were talking as he looked something up on the computer.

I stayed back and gazed at the baby lotion, eye drops and vitamins. Very interesting stuff, you know. You can picture me, if you’d like, looking at those things but giving the situation up front the side-eye. I couldn’t hear much and wasn’t trying to until the woman’s voice rose to a fever pitch. It was then that she turned and I saw her face, red with fury, and her eyes, rimmed with tears. She looked to be about 30.

“I am not a bad mother and I know when my children need their medication. My son needs his Clonidine,” she yelled. By now, she looked like she might hop over the counter and throttle the guy.

I stayed back and tried to look nonchalant. I thought to myself: Clonidine. Clonidine. I’ve heard of that. I bet her son has special needs… and how well I understand that kind of frustration. I raised a son with special needs and my oldest daughter was a sickly child who needed help in school, too.

Bottom line: I could very easily have been her in my younger years. Heck, I *was* her and I knew it. I lost my cool way more often than I care to admit.

The pharmacist said something quietly. Then, louder, he said, “I’m sorry, we don’t have those refills.”

“Fine,” she yelped. “I’ll just go to the doctor and get it.”

“I can fax them,” the pharmacist called after her.

“Never mind!” she said, slamming the door, as much as you can slam a glass door that can’t actually be slammed.

I walked to the counter. The pharmacy tech, who’d been behind the counter filling prescriptions, walked up to me and said, “Well, that was awkward,” and I nodded.

“One day – probably when she’s old like me – she’ll figure out that acting like that isn’t helping her cause,” I said.

“Nope,” she answered.

And then several things occurred to me at once:

  1. I had just added to the negativity.
  2. I could have (at the very least) caught this frazzled mom’s eye and conveyed my understanding.
  3. I could have SAID that I understood.

I so wanted to find her in the parking lot but she was gone… and if she was truly anything like me, she would be driving like crazy to get to the doctor before they closed. It was, after all, nearing 5pm.

I suddenly saw her entire life flash before me. Oh yes, I understood… only TOO well. 

There are more instances than I can possibly remember… but a few stand out. They all looked a lot like what I’d just witnessed.

Poor mama…

How well I understand the feeling of not being a good enough mother to a special needs child. Being stretched to the limit… short on time and money… and feeling that nobody understands or cares. It is a hill to die on… trying to save your kids. I know.

I should have told her.

I know. I understand. You’ll be okay. Breathe. 

Next time.

I’m promising myself that I’ll remember…


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