"Crazy, I'm in pain! Here's a new script from the doctor," she said, handing me a new prescription.
I look at the prescription: Demerol.
"Mrs. Rintor, you're allergic to codeine. You've also told me you're allergic to fentanyl. It's highly likely you would have a reaction."
Mrs. Rintor, age 75, has the largest list of allergies out of all my patients. I think at some point she thought it was in vogue to be allergic to certain medications or somewhere along the way she interpreted any side effect as an allergy. Nevertheless, the computer says she has these allergies, so caution is warranted.
"Do you remember your reaction to codeine?" I ask.
"I had a rash and itching."
"Do you remember your reaction to fentanyl?" I ask.
"I had trouble breathing."
Ok, well, that's good enough for me. I tell her she needs to go back to the doctor and see if there are any medications left she can take for her pain that is not on her allergy list.
Instead of leaving, she pulls out her cell phone. A 75 year old with a cell phone -- not something you see every day. She proceeds to call the doctor's office right from the drop off window.
Oh my heavens, how long am I going to be stuck here... I think to myself.
Ten minutes later she's still on hold waiting to talk to someone. Finally she gets through. Instead of talking to them to explain the situation, she tries to hand me the phone.
"No, you need to talk to them. Tell them you're allergic to Demerol."
She talks to them for a minute or two and hangs up. She says to me, "They said to come back."
If she had just listened to me, almost 15 minutes of my life would not have just been wasted.
An hour later she returns. She said she waited in the office for almost an hour when the doctor came out and told her:
"Just take the prescription to a new pharmacy where they don't have a listing of your allergies."
Now I'd like to think that she had it all wrong and the doctor really didn't say that to her, but I think she's telling the truth. She said she's going to take my advice and not get the prescription filled.
I'm still in shock, though. If the doctor really told her that, isn't that taking a big chance on her not having a reaction, especially since she's had a history of trouble in two different chemical classes?
Well, at least I know who NOT to see if I end up with Ebola.