This is a heavy difficult triggering post. I considered not including it on this site that is supposed to be positive and encouraging. However, it illustrates the need of a community while trying to get healthy, so I decided to add it.
My husband had cancer. It was diagnosed the week before Thanksgiving 2017. Our winter and spring is a big blur. I spent Christmas in NYC visiting the hospital. I don’t even remember New Year’s or pretty much anything before my birthday in March. He almost starved to death the week before my birthday. So, yeah, I had a happy birthday considering the months before that.
He had an easy treatable cancer. He went into a trial that gave him half the treatment of a typical treatment plan for his type. He worked almost every day during his treatment. We had great insurance. We had support… and it was still so incredibly difficult.
In case you are wondering, 6 months after, he’s doing great. No side effects, lost 30 lbs that he needed to lose, he works, exercises, does things he loves.
I was in the pharmacy, sitting down, waiting for the courage and energy to finish the task at hand: getting my husband the Fentanyl that would ease his pain.
We had been in the hospital since noon. Usually, we were happy to go in the afternoon so we could both get in a couple of hours of work in the morning. They hooked him up to the chemo and the hydration I made sure he gets. Still, he hadn’t eaten in a couple of weeks and was in pain. We were worried and asked for a consult for giving him more than saline. A nurse practitioner came and ordered another infusion and gave us a prescription for Fentanyl for his pain. We were ready by 6. It was already dark outside.
I had to call my 12 yo to tell him we will be late. He was a trouper about it. Just like he was a trouper about everything that happened to him this whole year. He kept it together with schoolwork and badminton and his own pain and suffering and I don’t remember him once acting like a tween.
I dropped my husband home with a yogurt and an energy drink begging him to try to have any of them and then I headed for the Pharmacy to get the “controlled substance”.
The late night techs and pharmacists all knew me by now. I was the wife of the cancer patient that always needed some other formulation of whatever they gave me before. They were great about it all the time. They called doctors, read prospects with me, gave me advice, were kind and gentle.
They did not have the Fentanyl I needed in stock… I already knew the drill: Can you please check if any neighboring pharmacy has it? They did! A pharmacy that was even closer to my home. Great news! Best news of the day!
But wait, that pharmacy closes in 30 minutes. And they can’t transfer the prescription because it’s for a controlled substance. I had to call the doctor to get another prescription. It was 8:30 PM and no doctor was available. I had to talk to the doctor on call and get a new prescription called in that had to be filled in 5 or 10 minutes.
That’s when I collapsed in the chair to get a breath. The pharmacist wondered why I was still there. Didn’t I understand I needed to go to that other pharmacy? The tech just got it: “Yes, she gets it, she just needs a minute.”
My phone wasn’t working in the pharmacy, so I got in the car and drove over to the other pharmacy. I went in and begged them to please not close the pharmacy until I get my prescription. They did not promise anything. Again, my phone did not work in the pharmacy and was almost dead anyway.
Back into the car, I plugged my phone, put on some quiet music and called the on call number. I got to the answering service and left the information. Thankfully, a doctor called me right away. I explained the situation. She wasn’t sure, she asked me to call the doctor in the morning. I got desperate and found a good argument, I think along the line that “my husband with cancer is in pain, he was ordered Fentanyl a few hours ago and the pharmacy we first went to didn’t have it in stock. This can’t wait until tomorrow!”
She got it. She needed the pharmacy address. I had to go inside and find it. My phone was cutting on and off and finally dropped the call. However, the pharmacy told me they got the prescription somehow. It was 5 minutes to 9. They were closing the shutters. They reassured me that they’ll have it ready soon.
I went home victorious. Surprisingly, my husband was OK. He took a Tylenol and was feeling better. He ate the yogurt.
As I was getting him ready for sleep, I put the patches on him so they would help the next time the pain becomes unbearable. A few days later we found out that the dose we had was so small it probably couldn’t have helped anyway. The prospect on the Fentanyl told us to not use it if you are not used to any opioids, that this is just for people resistant to other opioids.
It had been a long day, just one in many in this caregiver’s life.