This is￼￼ how I look like when I haven’t even eaten brunch, not showered even in the rain and the geniuses at ACME Pharmacies (Jetty Rd, Glenelg) screwed up your anxiety meds. You could say I’m a well socialised introvert but in my normally sleep deprived glory￼, people are lucky not to see me create a circus with lions, flaming hoops and back up dancers to This Is Me. Right now I’m listening to a cover of ‘Seven Nation Army‘ by SKÁLD. And also the Ramin Djawadi version because that composer can do no wrong.
Heck the three times a day pill dispensary visitation can more that effectively causes me losing an hour and a half a day of my day sitting in a chemist when I have a terrible immune system in exam season. The only way I won that was not backing down with both the medical centre & ACME Pharmacy. I wouldn’t back down and went to my GP practice manager and she went to the GP but it’s exhausting just to get something that’s meant to help my anxiety. My accessibility to a prescription medication to help anxiety is causing me more stress and anxiety from the individual disabled POV is lost to them and doesn’t include the consumer in the process at all. It isn’t healthy for us to deal with the stress of making us up jump through hoops to access medication to get not better, just manage our conditions when they flare up. Why does it have to be so hard for consumers?
My GP, Dr Nick Riviera, is excellent and works extremely hard for their chronic illness patients and advocates for us in a way I’ve never seen a doctor so and also I don’t have a leg for an arm and arm for a leg so we’re good. The staff at ACME Pharmacy who are not in the dispensary are actually excellent and extremely kind individuals that I like and find mostly helpful & compassionate (especially every medication screw up/battle ever). But the current medical system at present make it seems like I’m not just a junkie, I get to do a daily walk of shame (oh how I could talk about this for hours in the ableist meta narrative that people with chronic illnesses are making it up).
Due to a traumatic past and new triggering events, I really need those meds to function. So I do the daily walk of shame but it makes me paranoid like the time they labelled diazepam as methadone and a woman I’d interviewed for some casual work saw it, I did not get the job again. I wish I could say this was ACME Pharmacy fucking up due to demand during lockdown but this has been going on for ages even under new management. I can’t change pharmacies because certain medications I need access to require a history with that pharmacy like my asthma puffer.
I do respect the ability of my pharmacists at peak times to juggle the multiple drugs that manage multiple conditions with a large client base (I like to imagine the wait time for getting a script filled is that they are swing from trapezes singing Rewrite the Stars ) but effective and simple dispensary of my necessary medications without stigma just might be my expectations of what medicine delivery should be. It’s not.
But in all seriousness but I dread going to ACME, one pharmacist there has repeatedly treated me no better than a drug seeking addict and forgotten I was waiting, just sitting there for 45 minutes. It wasn’t Hug-me Jackman, Zendaya or Zac Effron so we can all breathe a sigh of relief. I think we are all relieved it wasn’t Wolverine though maybe he could make short work of the childproof tamper seals!
So in full confidence, dear readers, I don’t choose to spend my time medicating on what work be called recreational and highly illegal pharmacology past times. I spend my time self destructing by drinking Veuve Clicquot [pronounced Verve Klee Koh as I had to google so I don’t sound like the champers novice I am] and watching ice-dancing and old Glee videos on YouTube. And making obscure musical references. I’ll find a way to get Funny Girl in somehow!
As to non-regulated, non prescription drugs I say no and all that because it isn’t a good idea with my mental health history. I’ll leave the debate around legalisation to experts better educated on the issue to me debate the benefits and cons of medical THC for example but it highlights a huge problem as us, regular users of any kind of pharmaceutical, aren’t given a voice in how it’s used and distributed beyond test subjects that tend to be healthy young-ish men during the testing and development stages. It’s how now it’s only coming to light men and women pain process pain differently because the test and control groups were young healthy men…
It seems pretty surprising to me that the big pharma/health industry schilling conspiracy that people with chronic health issues don’t have a choice and a voice to negotiate as experts in their own right to treatment and aren’t taken as seriously as university graduates. We the consumers might have lives if we push for stronger consumer representation and education but I find the notion we aren’t experts in our own health conditions offensive and ignorant.
There has to be a better way to help consumers than this, it all feels like the industry is more tends to important than the individual. So much of the medical industry (outside vaccines) is driven on making money and creating a product that the users must keep taking to stay well. Watch the end of True Blood the TV show about the cure for vampire AIDS and how there is a cure, but the marketing team are trying to make a less effective version so the infected vamp market has to keep coming back to buy the new True Blood (a synthetic blood substitute). It’s called “New Blood”.
Or if you want a less fun, real life version, look at the ACCC fined $6 Million over Nurofen over misrepresenting what their products were said to do and actually can do. University of Google Doctorate time…
In the consumer-advocate space in more progressive fields like social work, nursing and psychology under the social model of disability, it’s been noted that individuals are recognised as the experts on their own disability or health condition through their lived experiences. Yet when it comes to medications as consumers we are test subjects of the medical model that blames our illnesses and failures to get better on ourselves.￼
An example of this is me getting my fibromyalgia diagnosis, after years of pain and fatigue, I finally got the scans and after paying the rheumatologist nearly $400, I was dismissed not even with a pretty doctor’s certificate saying I had fibro and what’s worse with no treatment plan and then Dr. Nick Riveria had to figure out how to treat me. Part of me remembers that I had to sit there mouth open wide and have a handful of pills tossed in the air and whatever landed in my mouth was my new medication regimen.
Not really, my Dr Riveria is a fantastic and patient GP but even my multiple chronic issues test him at times. And this is the guy who goes an extra mile for his patients, I really do salute Dr. Nick. He is a rare breed of GP who wants to help patients and not call us consumers, see as for little time as possible (probably less than the time you can say “Soylint Green”) and call us consumers where we are the product made and consumed. I don’t like feeling like a chicken about to become KFC nuggets.
Back to my lived experience, it worries me that with my commitments to University and hopefully when the museum allows volunteers back, I’m not going to be really available to go down to ACME Pharmacy near home while at Bedford Park or the City then wait 20 minutes easily every-time I need medication for an anxiety issue as I don’t have a car. There has to be a better way to help consumers than this, I’ll say it again but it all feels like the industry is more important than the individual. Regulations and legislation are necessary to protect every single one of us in the Australian medical system, especially when you consider the reasons we have tamper proof seals on everything now (google:https://www.label-aire.com/2017/01/31/tamper-evident-product-packaging-origins/). But really the barriers to getting simple daily treatment take away energy from things we could be doing to benefit society as volunteers or casual workers or students is wasteful. We contribute unpaid labour to the economy!
I’m really pretty messed up because of how ACME Pharmacy & my Dr Nick Riviera had arranged for me to pick up my meds three times a day for a single pill, effectively losing an hour and a half a day of my days until I wouldn’t back down. It’s like the accessibility to prescription medication from the individual POV is lost to doctors who don’t see us as whole people with lives but as patients and making us up jump through hoops to get better. I’m not just a junkee in the ableist meta narrative sitting on my arse stoned out on pain meds, we are more than patients or consumers, we are people with chronic illnesses who need meds to juggle their conditions and trying to live not just a basic existence but fulfilling lives. I mean Elsa’s magic at one stage was considered a disability (“Conceal, don’t feel” anybody?
It seems to surprising to the health industry that people with chronic health issues might have entire lives when they see us as a cluster of medical symptoms of a disorder or a diagnosis. I feel like it’s time to drop the disorder and at least acknowledge the consumer-survivor as partner model in the most rudimentary ways. A patients as partners model (similar to the tertiary education students as partners model)￼, free of the NDIA, Medicare, the private health insurers and pharmaceutical companies could be an interesting thought experiment.
Clara Rose Santilli, for The Lonely Archaeologist, first published 05/07/2020