Shame on you, Tom Cruise

I’ve spent a lot of time at the pharmacy over the past 14 years. I’ve dropped off prescriptions, asked questions in person and by phone (I know the number by heart), and picked up my medications. I consider the place my Cheers, where everyone knows my name. My favourite pharmacy technician–let’s call her Alicia–seems to be working whenever I need her. She always greets me with a huge smile, and she has a wonderful way with grumpy clients. (Never me, of course.)

But last week, for the first time, I felt embarrassed as I approached Alicia at the window. I had to ask her whether my Ativan was there. Yes, you heard me right: Ativan. Ativan is in a class of highly addictive drugs used to manage anxiety. Although I’ve used Ativan on only a few occasions during hospital stays, I’ve never received the drug as an outpatient because I’ve never felt I needed it.

When I learned I would be undergoing a bone marrow procedure a few weeks ago, I decided I might need a little pharmaceutical assistance. I wish I were able to just tough it out, as I usually do, but I decided to make my day easier by taking this pill. I’ve had my bone marrow assessed once before a few years ago, and I coped just fine. The procedure is not something to fear and it’s not overly painful; it’s just a bit uncomfortable at points.

I realized my fear was less about actual procedure than about what the doctors would find. I knew I’d cope better if I used medication to help me through. So I asked my hematologist for one and only one Ativan. Her instructions on the bottle were: “Take this pill prior to bone marrow procedure.” I like her succinctness.

When I went to the pharmacy to pick up my pill, dear Alicia was there. She handed over my pill with a smile. And I told her, although I needn’t have justified anything, that I was a bit embarrassed by this prescription. She smiled warmly in response and said: “You never need to be embarrassed.” Sometimes people say something because it’s the right thing to say. Well, Alicia said this because she meant it. I could tell. I’m an excellent judge of character.

So I say to you, dear readers, if ever you are on a medication that you are ashamed to be taking, for whatever reason, don’t be. Tom Cruise didn’t know what he was talking about when he went on his anti-antidepressant rant. You and your doctor have determined that you would benefit from whatever drug awaits you at the pharmacy. The pharmacist’s job is not to judge you. But first you need to stop judging yourself.

By the way, I’m glad I let myself take my pill. But I’m still a little hung over today, so I’m going to beg off ironing or signing legal documents. Speak to you tomorrow, okay?

Woman in lab coat (pharmacist) standing in front of pharmacy

Does this woman look judgemental?

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