(HUDSON, N.Y., March 25, 2020) – Today was the day I had long feared and dreaded – when I would have to break down and walk into a pharmacy to get my prescription for … anxiety.
Here’s a case where the cure exacerbated the symptoms. I’ve known for the last few weeks that sometime this week I would have to refill my script for a medication that allays the baseline symptoms of anxiety I always live with. There’s always a bit of anxiety that comes with refilling the prescription – will it be filled in time, before I run out of my current supply? Will be there enough pills to last until the next refill?
This time around, the added anxiety over the situation was having to go into the pharmacy. I switched over all my other prescriptions to mail-order a week or two ago, so I would not have to set foot in a store whose main purpose is to dole out medicine to sick people. On any good day, I don’t like being inside a pharmacy, any more than you would want to visit the tubercular ward. During these pandemic days, it’s like having to go into the belly of the beast. You just know that every surface has been touched by someone sick, and is therefore infected; you just know that there are droplets of the virus that causes COVID-19 floating around the air; and you just know that you are the only person in the store who isn’t harboring the novel coronavirus, until two seconds ago.
Of course, the one prescription of mine that is not available via mail-order is the one for my anti-anxiety medication. And as anyone who has ever been inside a CVS drugstore knows, they are designed so that the pharmacy counter is always in the rear of the store, so that you have to walk through the entire place (in order to get you to make impulse purchases) all the way to the back to get your prescription filled – and as a result, guaranteeing that you spend the maximum amount of time possible in the store.
Knowing all this ahead of time filled me with dread, especially as I have been taking the rules of social distancing and self-quarantining desperately seriously. I even sent out an email to my neighbors in my apartment building, warning them in advance that if I see them in the hallway I am going to run in the opposite direction, and please don’t take it personally. (They already think of me as the quirky, harmless old Jew who lives on the top floor, so they took the message in stride.)
Nevertheless, there was no other option than for me to run the gauntlet of the pharmacy to get to the counter to get my script refilled so for the whopping price of $1.74 I could buy some calm and peace of mind to get me through the next 30 days, until I have to get up and do it again.
I’m happy to report that if I had to script my visit to the pharmacy myself, I couldn’t have written it better than how it played out. There were surprisingly few other people in the entire store (which I do realize you could read in several different ways, including several particular dark ones, but I’m just going to consider myself lucky in this case). When I got near the counter, there was no one ahead of me in line, and I only had to wait a minute for the customer at the counter to wrap up his transaction. The rest of the time I was in the store, no one came within six feet of me (although, as I’ve said, you could veritably taste the infected air droplets throughout the store, so this was only of minor comfort). The pharmacy clerk did a great job of getting me out of there in the quickest possible fashion, indulging my gloved hands the entire time. Within what seemed like just a few minutes, I was back in my car and on my way back home.
When I arrived home, I stripped off all my clothes as soon as I crossed the threshold, gathered them up in a pile and put them in my bathtub, poured lighter fluid on them, set them afire, and then jumped into the tub along with the clothes to burn away any lingering infection.
Then I took another anti-anxiety pill and within a few minutes, I felt much, much better.