A Cheat Sheet: You Blow Your Top in the Pharmacy Line

800px-Hospital_Pharmacy(Editor’s Note: Recently, we began a new series called “Cheat Sheets.” We’ll share easy-to-remember tips to help you through caregiving’s most hair-raising and patience-testing moments.)

Everyone in your house is sick. So, you are the one in line at the pharmacy. You may not be sick but you’re not well. You’re sleep deprived, crabby, overwhelmed. And, this line at the pharmacy is really pushing your  button.

You do your best. You smile at the person in front of you. You smile at the pharmacist behind the counter. You tell yourself that standing in line here means you’re not at home cleaning up vomit. And, yet….

The customer currently talking to the pharmacist has been talking to the pharmacist since 1973. And, you are in 2014 and need to get back to your house before the dawn of 2015.

You hear someone in line scream: “Call back and ask your questions! Some of us need to get our prescriptions in this century.”

Then you notice that the person in front of you now moves way in front of you. The pharmacists stares at you with an open mouth. And, the customer speaking with the pharmacist turns to look at you. The customer who also happens to be your son’s high school history teacher. Who just gave your son a D on a paper.

They stare at you because you are that screaming person in line.

You’ve blown your top.

Now what?

A Family Caregiver’s Cheat Sheet
You Blow Your Top in the Pharmacy Line

1. Apologize. “I’m so sorry. I haven’t slept in a few days because everyone in my house is sick, including my mom who has dementia.”

2. Nod with a smile toward the history teacher. “Hello, Mrs. Smith. My apologies to you. I understand how important it is to get all the information you need before you go home.”

3. Take out your phone and send a text to yourself so it looks like you have important business to attend to on your phone.

4. Say, “I think I’ll do a little more shopping before I get the prescriptions.”

5. Head to the candy section, looking for your son’s favorite bag because when he feels better he’s going to need it.

6. Head out to your car to hide.

7. Decide the drive-through will be the better option to get the prescriptions.

8. As you drive home, remind yourself, “This too shall pass.”

9. When you get home, ask your son how you can help with his History homework.

10. At the end of the evening, you look back on the day with gratitude for the opportunity to spend time with your son. You realize you tell yourself too often, “He’s a teenager–he’d rather do this on his own.” Today, you realized that he always needs your time and attention.

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About Denise Brown

I began working with family caregivers in 1990 and launched CareGiving.com in 1996 to help and support them. Through my blog, I share words of comfort and offer coping strategies and tips. I also write opinion pieces about recent research, community programs and media coverage of caregiving issues. I've written several caregiving books, including "The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey," "Take Comfort, Reflections of Hope for Caregivers" and "After Caregiving Ends, A Guide to Beginning Again." You can purchase my books and schedule a coaching call with me in our store.

4 thoughts on “A Cheat Sheet: You Blow Your Top in the Pharmacy Line

  1. Avatar of Gail KrollGail Kroll

    I always forget there is a drive thru pharmacy and don’t go there. I will have to remember that more often! Thanks for that tip, @denise!

  2. Avatar of CathyCathy

    I really like this. I have tried to befriend the pharmacy workers at Kaiser. I ask how they are. One woman has been my go-to person and we counted the months off until her retirement. Alas, that day came. Now I am back to very long lines in the main pharmacy – they do not have drive through. You can have medications mailed but because I am not with my aunt everyday (she lives about 70 miles away), and because she has to have pain meds, and because I am afraid that she might confuse it or other pills with the dog’s meds or hide it, I always pick it up. Before Thanksgiving, it was so hot and crowded with sick people I ended up with a yucky virus and then proceeded to pass it on to my husband. We got well just in time for Thanksgiving at our house. My new game plan is to try to go early on Sundays. Nelson tell myself many times on this journey that, “this,too, shall pass”.

  3. Avatar of PegiPegi

    I’ve been very fortunate. I used @Cathy‘s approach. Know the Pharmacist and a few of the techs my name. I always call them by name and tell them what a great job they’re doing. And they do, too many times I’ve had my husband in the car on our way home from the hospital waiting. I tell them, look a little pathetic and they push our RX’s right through.


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