Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Shingles Shot Saga

As best I understand the Health Care bill, I am all for it. It hardly matters to me personally, since I am 90 years old and have medicare and my excellent HMO, Medigold, absolutely faultless since the day we enrolled. But I support the Health Care bill for the people who won't be bumped because of a pre-existing condition, for the people for whom escalating premiums are so prohibitive. And I love the Palin-defined "death panels", because any physician worth his salt has that rational kind of conversation whenever a patient is speeding toward physical disaster.

So let me tell you my shingles shot saga.

Last Saturday, friends came by to say hello, and bring me magnificent tulips from their yard. They told me of another friend who was miserable with shingles for the second time. They said their MD had recommended they have the shot. They immediately did so. I had no idea that such a shot was even available. My mother had shingles in her head, and even the strongest pain meds hardly helped. Another friend got them five minutes ( or five hours) after her husband died and she suffered for months.

So I e-mailed my doctor's office to ask for his advice, and his nurse returned my call twenty minutes later and reported that he thought it was an excellent idea, and there would be an rx for me at the front desk. Their office does not carry a supply because it needs to be administered immediately from a refrigerated mix. They suggested I go to a mini-clinic in a pharmacy. I wanted to go that day, but Tim was coming for the week-end, and I certainly didn't want to be bothered by a sore arm or reaction, or whatever. I knew none of that would happen, but my daughter felt it might.

Thus, last evening at 4:30 when my caregiver arrived, we went down to Walgreens at the corner where there were two signs in the window that said "Shingles shots available." The only time I had been at Walgreens was the drive-through window. It is a gigantic emporium, and the only way for me to get to the pharmacy department was in a wheel chair. So, in we went and the young woman on duty said the person who gave the shot was only there certain hours on Tuesday and Thursday. I suggested to her it might be wise to give that information on the window signs. She allowed as how that might be a good idea.

 Monday night, I called Krogers where there is a mini clinic, who assured me there would be a shot-giver available all day. This morning, Tuesday, I had a hair appointment at 11 a.m., in a strip mall across from Krogers. I bestirred myself a little early and, once more, I had to be wheeled in to the clinic, which was like a mile from the front door. Never having used Krogers for any medication, I filled a lengthy form, the kind that seems endless when you go to a new doctor. We seemed to be second on the sign-in sheet.
After what seemed like an endless wait, we learned we were  not supposed to be at the clinic but at the pharmacy, one window down. I handed my prescription to a pleasant older lady on duty, who said it would be twenty minutes to process it.  The insurance company, ya know, and all that.  The minutes were ticking away. What if I just paid for it, myself, I asked. That would be $300 she said. I'll use my Medigold, I said. I will be back in forty-five minutes. We drove across Broad Street and arrived at JeAni's salon (ha) just in time.

Once washed and blown dry, with an added treatment for my dry scalp, back to Krogers we went. At the pharmacy window, I was greeted with the news that they couldn't read the signature of my physician.
The telephone of the office was there, but not a list of the physicians in the practice. So we waited another ten minutes until they did whatever they were doing.  I was wheeled into the clinic office and got my shot.

And that took less than a minute and cost $25.00.

So what is the point of this whole long saga? It has nothing to do with the parameters of the government involvement with health care.  It's about human competence, logical thinking, good training.

 And the patient's patience.


  1. should have had tim take you--a fun outing for 2 :)

  2. For anyone who ever goes back and reads the comments. First, Stert and Molly thanks. And a Walgreens update: the signs are still in the window and still without the hours available.Don't they realize I have valuable merchandising ability?