March 13, 2012

Small Town Allergies

So yeah.  I'm apparently allergic to one of the three tress that are putting our little valley on high allergy alert.  I never dealt with allergies before moving to Utah, and I'm really bummed to start.  The worst part is assuming that you have a cold for the first few days and not realizing that there's something you could have done to feel better three days ago!

But today ended up being a quirky little glimpse of our town's weird, no regard for rules ways.  The kids and I watched this episode of Andy Griffith a few weeks ago and cracked up about how the little old woman was used to the pharmacist giving her what she wanted without a prescription.  Before the story line got to the part *spoiler alert* where you realize it was just sugar pills all along, I had to answer a steady stream of questions from the kids about whether or not you really can get prescription meds without a prescription anywhere and what the laws are that Ellie, the new pharmacist, was so intent on keeping.  Is Sheriff Taylor on the wrong side, Mom?  I assured them that no town is actually like Mayberry and that there's a really good reason that Ellie wanted to follow the law.  Blah, blah, blah...we talked about it all until the kids understood how serious prescription pills are and all of that stuff responsible parents point out in times like these.  This episode is hilarious, but in case you want to skip to the relevant portion of this show, it starts around the 7 minute mark. 

Flash forward to today.  I was up all night with a dripping nose and itchy eyes.  I dragged (or drug, if you're from my home town) myself out of bed to iron Joe's work clothes for him.  I did one pant leg and then squatted down to rest.  Another pant leg and then a squat.  A sleeve...a get the point.  It took me forever to iron this way, but I was so congested that I felt off balance and needed to take a break between every little step.  I went back to bed and slept until 8 or so when the kids got up.  It was unusually late for them as well, but we've been working hard on them all sleeping in their own beds finally (happy dance!) and have noticed that when they do, they sleep more and we all have a happier day.

The kids, little angels that they are, cleaned up the entire kitchen, unloaded the dishwasher and reloaded with last night's interfaith dinner dishes that were still loitering in the sink.  They made themselves breakfast, got themselves dressed, and stayed nice and quiet while mommy googled which over the counter allergy medicine would actually work.  I absolutely HAD to teach choir today, and I absolutely couldn't do it in the state I was in.  This was no time for my usual herbs and teas approach.  It was time to call in the big dogs.  The real, knock it out and get on with your life pills!  I found Allegra-D, looked at their website, and decided that it was going to be my best bet.  I thought it was a prescription med, so I googled that as well and found a site with FAQ's on Allegra products.  One of the questions was "Will my insurance pay for Allegra?"  The answer was, "No.  Allegra is now an over the counter medicine and insurance providers do not typically cover otc medication."  I was happy with that and loaded up the kids for a trip up the hill to our small town pharmacy that I had seen but never actually been in to.

I go in, and see all of the Allegra products except for the D, which was the most important part of the product, in my opinion.  So I head over to the pharmacist and ask if they have it behind the counter.  They do.  Yay!  Then the pharmacist asks, "Do you have health insurance that will cover this?"  I'm confused.  "I thought this was over the counter medicine.  My insurance won't cover that will it?"  The guy says, "Maybe!  Stephanie, run her insurance and see if we can get her a deal."  Stephanie does this and then says, "Fantastic!  Your insurance will cover all but the $5 copay.  Without insurance, you'll pay $15 for 10 pills.  With it you'll pay $5 for 90 pills!"   I had no intention of ever taking 90 allergy pills, but the $5 sounded better than the $15, so I nodded as emphatically as my stuffed up head would allow.  

"Who's your doctor?  We just need to call and get you a prescription for this so insurance will cover it!"  Oh...that sounded a little sketchy to me, but I told him my doc's name and Stephanie called him up.  I hear Stephanie saying into the phone, "Oh, I'm sure she's talked to Dr. ___ about allergies before.  It should be there in her charts."  I'm shaking my head, no, but Stephanie waves me off like this is standard procedure.  Stephanie tells me that the doc was out for the day, but the nurse was happy to go along with the pharmacist and fax in a 30 day prescription, assuring the pharmacist that when the doc returned, she'd fax over a 90 day one.  Weird.  I'm not sure how legal any of this was.  I've never seen the doc for allergies before because last year they were tolerable and before that I had never had any.  Still, it is an otc med, so I'm not sure why the doc would care if I took it.  I'm still confused by all of this.

I left with 30 days of once daily allergy medicine for $5 and about 5 hours later my phone rang.  "This is Dr. ____'s office.  I'm just calling to let you know that we've faxed over the Allegra prescription so you can go on and pick that up now.  Sorry about the wait!"  What?!?!  The wait?  I'm already happily medicated and just energetically sang in Swahili with 25 little kids!  "Oh, um...they filled it for me when they called you this morning.  Has there been some misunderstanding?"  She sounded a little awkward.  After a pregnant pause, she said,"Oh, no...that's great.  Have a nice day and feel better!"  Maybe it wasn't worth splitting hairs over since it IS an otc med, after all.  But still, this has been a weird experience.

At the end of the day, I have to confess that maybe Mayberry does exist, and maybe we live there.  I hope I'm nothing like Miss Emma, and our pharmacist is certainly no Ellie Walker.

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