Monday, January 21, 2013

Dealing with a Death in the Family

A recent post by Dr. Grumpy reminded me of a patient last year. She came into the pharmacy literally in tears, handing me a prescription from her doctor for Lorazepam. It was to help her deal with a death in the family.

This situation happens more often than you would think. In fact, sometimes the first person a surviving spouse will call is the pharmacy. I don't know why. Maybe it's because when a patient is ill they see their pharmacist a lot and we're more sympathetic than the other healthcare providers? All I know is that I've entered a "D" for "deceased" in the patient's profile on the computer more than I ever wanted to.

The lady was quite upset and I worked quickly to get her the medication ready. In most cases, if I'm not interrupted I can get a new script typed, printed, counted, labeled, checked, double-checked, and ready to go in about 3.5 minutes. So 3.5 minutes later I'm handing her the prescription at the pick-up window and a box of Kleenex so she can wipe away the tears.

I felt very sorry for her. I did. But I didn't ask questions. Survivors of those who have passed don't want to answer questions. They don't want to hear how you know how they feel, because you don't. But they do like to hear sympathy, and I tried to express that.

She talked about her loved one that passed with great sorrow. But then the way she was wording things didn't make sense. A few more sentences and then it finally came out... she was talking about a HAMSTER.

All I can say is that must have been one special hamster.


Anonymous said...

WHAT!!! A hamster! I didn't see that one coming.

Actually our family does have a closer relationship with our pharmicist, (Doug) than our family doctor. He has been our pharmacist for years, me, my husband, my two children, and my in-laws. He knows each of us, knows what we are taking, and has warned me before about what might react with what and to stay out of the sun with such and such, etc. He's been with us through ear infections, tetnus shots, flu, narcotics for injuries, and Alzheimers in my mother-in-law's case.

When my mother died 18 months ago, I tried my hardest to greive and get over it on my own. After about 6 months of having trouble getting out of bed every day. I finally got a prescription to help me function. I cried when I took the prescription to Doug, and he made me feel a lot better about it, which you would have thought was my doctor's role. I started functioning again shortly thereafter, although I will NEVER be over the loss of my mother!

Crazy RX man, thank you for being there. You make a difference to a lot of people and most of the time you don't even know it!


Ann Onny said...

I was infinitely more upset over losing my cat than a close family member and several friends. Combined.

When the humans in your life have stepped all over you enough, animals are different. They're safe and they accept you unconditionally. The rules are just different. Period.

The first person below to say "just a hamster" is a dickhead, plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

We lost a two year old daughter. Traumatic without saying anything else.

Eight years later we lost our 15 year old dog who had been with us since before our first anniversary.

I was devastated. Unable to function from the grief. And it was all about my dog. Every single tear. Or so it felt. After I began coming out of the dark, I realized I had been thinking of my daughter in conjunction with the dog. That sounds odd. "Wait, you didn't know you were grieving for your daughter?"

Not when you're focused on the front and center.

Maybe a hamster. Maybe not. But judging by the kinds of people that flow in and out of the medical practice, ehhh.