In Defiance of the Night

Chapter 2
A Trip to the Pharmacy

My frustration turned into anger. I knew it wasn’t right, but my indignation burst into flame all the same.

Cancer has a way of clogging the arteries with blood clots. Don’t ask me how or why—that’s just the way it is. In 2007, chemists released a drug called Eliquis that does an amazing thing. It impedes blood clots from growing after which the body breaks down what remains. At least, that’s my layman’s understanding of the process.

But here’s the rub. The first month of Eliquis cost me $487. That can’t be right, I thought. I thought wrong.

So, after shelling out the dollars and taking the tiny pills for two weeks, I returned to my pharmacist to find out what the price would be for the second month.

I placed the man in the white lab coat in his late thirties. Although his hair was wavy, his cheekbones high, and his countenance boyish, his lips were thin and unsmiling. His nametag read MANAGING PHARMACIST. Just the person I needed.

“I’d like to know what the bill for Eliquis will be next month?” I asked.

“I can’t tell you that,” the pharmacist said flatly.

I paused for leverage. “I’m trying to find out if I can afford to live next month.” Yes, I knew the statement was melodramatic but not by much.

His eyes narrowed. “Okay, I’ll call your insurance company and see what I can find out. I’ll call you when I have something.”

“What number will you call?”

“Your number on file.”

“That’s a landline,” I said.

“What’s your cell number?”

There was something about him that wriggled under my skin. “I don’t use a cellphone,” I said. “ I’m a human being.”

His gaze hardened. “Come back in twenty minutes.

“Could you just call my name on the store intercom?” I asked.

“Just come back in twenty minutes.”

“You said that.”

“Yes, I did. Would you like me to say it again?”

My blood was churning. I should have left it at that. But sometimes the theater in my brain has a line waiting in the wings. “I was hoping for a little more empathy,” I said, pretending to smile.

The corner of his mouth twitched. It wasn’t a big tell, but I caught it. He was steamed. “You want me to make the call or what?”

There were two voices caterwauling in my head. While the first warrior shouted, “Turn and walk away,” the second advised, “Eat crow, you dope.”

I listened to the second voice. “Make the call…please.”

I followed the switchbacks from one aisle to the next for twenty minutes, pausing for a moment in the snack section in search of my favorite dark chocolate Petit Ecolier cookies. No luck. Even the French cookie makers seemed pitted against me.

When I returned, the pharmacist hunched his shoulders. “It’s exactly as I told you. Your insurance company wouldn’t tell me nothing.”

I was tempted to offer a teaching moment—“wouldn’t tell me nothing” was a double negative—but I let it pass.

I left in a bad mood. Aggravated with the insurance company but, more importantly, disappointed in my descent into rudeness. When I arrived home, I called the insurance company myself. After waiting on hold for twenty minutes, I got the straight scoop: the $480 bill for the month was high because I had not yet paid my annual deductible. Future monthly bills would be around $85 a month. Okay, that was still high, but I could live with it.

What I couldn’t abide was my childish behavior. As I’m forced to remind myself these days, now is the season to test the depth of my character. Let’s be honest; I flunked the pop quiz. But I am not ready to abandon the quest to be a better version of myself. With my eye on the next exam, I’m determined to be less shallow and more gallant. Well…one can always hope.

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