young woman pharmacistI 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 ignores me and asks if I have any allergies.

I do have allergies,

She asks what I’m allergic to and I tell her and she asks what happens when I have an allergic reaction.

This time I think she’s the one who is kidding.

“Are you kidding?” I say.

But she says she isn’t kidding and I don’t tell her that I don’t think what my allergic reactions are is 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 you’re asking for a controlled substance and in the form it says I have to ask.”

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 externally applied estrogen cream 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 cream for.

Tappity, tap, tap.

The clerk 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 asks.

I almost say something sarcastic, but the fact that she asked sounds ominous and I realize immediately that she probably wouldn’t appreciate my sarcasm.

So I say “Why? Is it expensive?” which, turns out, is sarcastic anyway.

“Well, let’s just say it’s over $300.00.”

“Let’s not just say that,” I say, shaking my head and repeating “Over $300.00!” Only I say it louder than she did.

“I know, kinda expensive, huh?” she says

Kinda expensive? .

“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…” (she gives me a blank look) …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.

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,

“Oh, yeah.” Ha ha.

“Okay.” I decide to get serious. “Three hundred dollars for what size tube?” and she tells me and I say how that could end up being very expensive per (gesture) 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.

“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.

She does that tappity tap 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, but I don’t have a clue what she is talking about until she finally points to the hair bands. 

Apparently she leaves hair bands all around and can never find them when she wants them and does that ever happen to me and I stand there wondering just how I got to be her new best friend.

Maybe she was embarrassed to be selling estrogen. Maybe she really didn’t know what estrogen was for or maybe she did and was 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, not even the fact that I use externally applied estrogen. (Thank God I didn’t say anything to her about the applicator—or demonstrate it with gestures.)

I decide not to say anything more to her about estrogen.

Besides, she’s obviously really into hair bands.

I turn to leave and thank her for saving me so much money by using the insurance card.

“Sure, no problem,” she says. “Just step over to the window and the pharmacist will tell you how to use your prescription.”

“Oh, that’s all right,” I say. “I already know how to use it.”

“Are you sure?” she actually says. “Are you sure?”

Once again, I wonder if she’s kidding.

“No. I’m fine,” I say, not adding that yes in face, I really DO know how to use externally applied estrogen.

“Oh, don’t forget these,” she says, handing me the little bag with the hair bands in it, and I walk away.

Estrogen: A Controlled Substance was last modified: by

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