I walk up to the Drop Off window at the drug store and hand the girl my prescription.
She asks me for my date of birth, my address, my phone number, my Social Security Number, my driver’s license number and my mother’s maiden name.
I tell her everything she wants to know and ask her if she wants a blood sample too and without batting an eye she says they don’t take blood. I tell her I’m kidding and she asks if I have any allergies, by the way. I do have allergies, I tell her. She asks what I’m allergic to and I tell her. Then she asks what happens when I have an allergic reaction.
This time I think she is the one who is kidding.
“Are you kidding?” I say.
But she says she wasn’t kidding and I don’t tell her that I don’t think it’s any of her business. Instead, I tell her that I’m there for an externally applied estrogen cream and that I didn’t think it mattered what my allergies to other drugs were.
She says, “Oh, but they have to know because it says so in the form.”
So I tell her that I get hives when I have an allergic reaction, at least I did the last time I took that particular drug, which was 20 years ago, and since I’m allergic to it I don’t take it so I can’t be sure if I get hives anymore.
By this time I’m wondering how in the world estrogen ever got to be a controlled substance, but I’m sure glad it did because I feel so much safer than if I could just walk in and buy it off the shelf.
Who knows what terrible things people could use externally applied estrogen for.
Tappity, tap, tap—she enters everything into the computer, including my mother’s maiden name and my hives.
“Would you like to know how much the prescription costs?” she finally says. I almost say something sarcastic, but the fact that she’s asking sounds ominous and I realize immediately that she probably wouldn’t appreciate my sarcasm.
So I change it to “Why? Is it expensive?” which is sarcastic anyway.
And she says, “Well, let’s just say it’s over $300.00.”
“Let’s not just say that!” I say.
“Over $300.00?” I say again. Only louder this time.
“I know, kinda expensive, huh?”
Kinda. I mean, it’s not like it’s some kind of life saving drug.
“Well, let me put it this way,” I say, “Do you know what this particular kind of estrogen is for?”
“For women?” she says.
“Well, yes, for women to use as a lubricant when they want to, you know…”
And I think I better not say the F word, it being a corporate pharmacy and all, so I use gestures, which are probably more graphic than the F word would have been in the first place and I’m still not sure she knows what I’m talking about when I start to say something about how much $300.00 would be per (gesture) and all she says is,
“For what size tube?” I finally ask her and she tells me and I say how that could end up being very expensive and that maybe I should charge my husband back for it.
I thought that was really funny but all she says is “Yeah, huh,” and I realize that she thought I meant it.
So I stand there a minute. Thinking.
“Here,” I say, “try this.” I hand her my insurance card even though the doctor had told me that my insurance wouldn’t cover it.
Tappity, tap, tap—she does that thing on her computer.
“One hundred and ten dollars,” she says.
“I’ll take it,” I say, and hand her the hair bands I also want to buy.
“Do you ever lose those things?” she says, pointing to the hair bands, and goes on to tell me how she leaves them all around and can never find them when she wants them. Does that ever happen to me? Now she’s actually engaging with me over hair bands and I stand there and think to myself that maybe she was embarrassed to be selling estrogen, and maybe she did know what it was for. Maybe she was just too embarrassed to talk to me about it.
Then I realize that one of the great things about being my age is that nothing embarrasses me anymore.
So I don’t say anything to her about estrogen, but thank her for saving me so much money by using the insurance card and she says, “Sure, no problem.”
And I leave.
As I head out to the car, I’m thinking that she was a nice, helpful young woman—one who, I am sure, doesn’t need topically applied estrogen.
Author: Carmelene Melanie Siani
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Image: Evil Erin/ Flickr