The other day, I had something unsettling happen. For the last seven years, I’ve been dependent on a pharmaceutical to provide my body with a synthetic thyroid hormone replacement. With a sip of water, I take a little yellow pill every morning at 6:20 am that’s supposed to provide my body with the same hormones a working thyroid gland would produce. Then, for the next hour, I wait patiently until I can finally consume my breakfast. So, what happens when you miss a dose? That’s something I never hoped to experience and have always been good about remembering.
Last week, I went to see my endocrinologist for my six-month follow-up and neck ultrasound. During the appointment, I was asked if I needed a refill on my medication. I said ‘yes,’ which is what I always say since I’m only prescribed my medicine in six-month increments anyway.
But the script never got called in. I waited and watched as I fished my last pill out of the now-empty bottle. Panic ensued. I frantically called my endocrinologist’s office first thing in the morning, disappointed that I had to pester them to do what they should have done days ago. I thought leaving a message with a reminder for the nurse would be the end of it and I would be able to head over to my local pharmacy later that day and be all set.
I eventually received a text from my pharmacy saying that my prescription had been refilled. Success…or so I thought. I hopped in the car and drove the few blocks to my neighborhood pharmacy where I stood not-so-patiently in line for my medication. When it was finally my turn, I gave the pharmacist my name and date of birth. She returned with my filled prescription…but it wasn’t the right medication. I quickly spotted that it said Levothyroxine and not Synthroid, which is the brand name that I’m usually prescribed. In seven years, I have never taken Levothyroxine and remember being advised after my diagnosis to stick strictly with the brand name medication. Would it have killed me if I had taken it? No. But that isn’t the point. Now even more frustrated, I once again called my endocrinologist’s office and explained the situation only to be told that I once again needed to leave a message with my request for the nurse. So, I did, while frenetically pacing an aisle in my drugstore.
I left the pharmacy, feeling defeated, and without my medication. It was 2 pm at that point. Would I have my meds for the next day? What would happen if I missed my next dose? I might soon find out. All of those what-if scenarios played over in my head.
A couple of hours later and still no word…from my endocrinologist or the pharmacist. I called the pharmacist to see if perhaps the correct script had been called in and maybe they were in the process of filling it. Sure enough, they were and apologized profusely for the mix-up and the delay. But it wasn’t their fault.
In the end, I got my Synthroid. The point of the story isn’t that I was irritated or inconvenienced. It lends itself to a larger issue. What if I didn’t check my meds at the pharmacy and just trusted they were the correct pills? What if, heaven forbid, I had a more serious condition and was prescribed something that could have adverse effects? The whole situation made me think about all of the millions of Americans who are on some kind of daily prescription medication. A simple careless mistake could have serious ramifications. It reminded me of the importance of always remaining vigilant when it comes to my health. And whether I’ve been dealing with a condition for seven days or seven years, people make mistakes and there isn’t always the necessary oversight in place to catch them for you.
The moral of the story: you are your own advocate and you will always be your own advocate. Oh, and remember to check your meds, too!