Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Important Relationships

When you're diagnosed with a chronic illness, a couple of relationships become far more important than they ever have been.

One of those is with the doctor. I mean the GP - the doctor you see every three or four weeks just to check your blood pressure, write out prescriptions, check that everything's going OK. Don't get me wrong, the specialist is important, too. But I only see my specialist once or twice a year. My GP, I see constantly. She's the person who goes through all the ups and downs with me - fills in forms for Centrelink about pension matters, encourages me to stick to my exercise program, laughs with me when it's all going well, and offers sympathy when it isn't. If I didn't have a good GP, having lupus would be much, much harder. I need to know that I can trust Trish, my GP, to know what's best for me and my health from day to day. My specialist might oversee the big picture, but Trish walks the journey with me.

The other relationship is with the pharmacist. I used to go to a chemist right next to the doctor's surgery. But, I  didn't feel very safe with them after a couple of little incidents. The first was that they had a naturopath on staff, who always wanted to sell me stuff to strengthen my immune system. (This worried me, because pretty much the definition of lupus is that my immune system's trying to kill me - and I don't want to help it do so!) After that came the mistakes with the prescriptions. The first couple of times, it was the kids and my prescriptions would have the wrong names on them. I figured that when we had half a dozen or more prescriptions for me and one each for the kids, it was fairly complicated, and since we knew which drug was for which family member, it didn't really matter. Then came the time they got the dosage on one prescription wrong. And that's when I changed chemist shops.

Now I go to Chemist Warehouse at Ashgrove. (I'm hoping they won't mind me using their name, since they're the good guys in the story.)  It's a bit further to travel to pick up my medicines, but it's worth it, because they don't make mistakes, no matter how complicated my shopping list.  They're always really nice to me, and they remember me. They keep my prescriptions on file there, and let me know when I'm running short of repeats, which is one less thing for me to remember. They also keep track of the prescriptions dispensed, and know when I've reached my safety net, so I can have free medication for the rest of the year. I do still look at all my medicines when I pick them up to be sure - but there's never been anything wrong, and I'm confident I can trust Andrea and the other pharmacists there.

My daughter once said it was sad that all the staff at the chemist's know me - and in a way is sad. I never really wanted to be sick enough to be a regular customer there. But, since I am a regular customer, I'm glad to have people there I can trust, who are looking out for my best interests.

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