Valley of the Dolls: Pt. l


Some days it seems my whole life is pills, pills, pills…or “dolls” as Neely refers to them in the film “Vally of the Dolls”

Miss Neely O’Hara is played by a woefully miscast but brilliantly over the top Patty Duke, trying to earn some adult film role cred after years of playing a dual role as teenaged (get this) “twin” cousins on the popular television show “The Patty Duke Show”

“Gimme my dolls!” she screams at one point to obliterate her pain (or the pain of screaming lines like those).

But, I digress; the pills that rule my life are not ones that I’m screaming for (although Neely may have been onto something).

No, the colorful little pellets I refer to are the prescription medications for Miss Cathy’s daily consumption.

In the mornings she takes:

1) Vitamin D3 1000iu (1 per day) For Bone Health
2) Vitamin B-12 (1 per day) Keep the body’s nerve and
blood cells healthy
3) Losartan Potassium 25mg (1 per day) For High Blood Pressure
4) Folic Acid 1mg (1 per day) For Memory
5) Amlodipine Besylate 10mg (1 per day) For High Blood Pressure
6) Metformin 500 mg (2 per day) For Type 2 Diabetes
7) Escitaopram 5 mg (1 per day) For Anxiety

In the evening she takes:

1) Aspirin 81mg (1 per at nite) Prevention of Blood Clots
2) Donepezil 5mg (1 per at nite) For Alzheimer’s
3) Namenda XR 28mg (1 per at nite) For Alzheimer’s
4) Metformin 500 mg (1 per at nite) For Type 2 Diabetes

As you can see, it’s quite the list and now her neurologists want to add to it!

Time to step back and see if Miss Cathy can fit another ‘doll’ on her shelve.

Before I present the best possible options to mom for her consideration, I (along with her doctor(s) need to access the benefits, effectiveness, side effects, costs and toll of all these medications on her system.

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Dr NO (show)


I’m usually loath to speak ill of doctors or Miss Cathy (lately) but recently the two-separately and together have made for a prescription too toxic not to tell.

I’ve gone on and on about Miss Cathy’s visit to the neurologist where (in her mind) he set her free, like Lincoln with the slaves. No, this isn’t about “that” but it did (start) during that infamous visit.

One of the things she had scribbled down on her neatly folded piece paper of “things she wanted to discuss” with the doctor was having help getting her Aricept through mail order. She said that Blue Cross/Blue Shield had quoted her a price of $30.00 for a 90-day supply in lieu of the $86.00 she just started paying (for the same quantity) of the generic because until recently Aricept was not available in a cheaper generic form because of it’s exclusivity on the marketplace (making it was more than $280.00 for a 90 day supply).

Ah yes, the real “pill” here is the Pharmaceutical companies in my book. HIV/Aids and the elderly are there cash cows these days. I have friends with HIV /Aids and their medications can start at $6,000.00 a year (even if one has insurance) and most people have to take more than one pill so you can imagine the astronomical yearly costs!

The same is true with the elderly, patients with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s can spend hundreds of dollars a years for their degenerative disease medications alone, not to mention the other medications that accompany old age; high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, insomnia, depression…..the list goes on.

Anyway, her neurologist happily agreed to “take care” of changing the prescription to come through the cheaper mail order form-that was on March 27th. By early April she hadn’t received anything through the mail so I started calling the doctor’s office to see what was going on. I was told it would be “taken care of” (and at that time I had no reason to doubt the veracity of that statement) so we waited patiently.

We waited and waited until her daily supply of Donepezil HCL (generic Aricept) was dangerously low so I called the office (again) to check on the status of the medication and I also asked to be given some samples of Aricept to “tide” Miss Cathy over until the meds arrived in the mail.

Later that day while I was at the office picking up the samples the doctor was “in” so I got a chance to talk to him and remind him of how long this has been going on. I made a point of telling him that the delay was making Miss Cathy very agitated (and he’s the one who said that wasn’t good for her).

He listened patiently and told me that he would take care of “mom” (which I guess may be a custom from his country as a way of addressing the elderly or it’s just a “catch all” way of talking to and about elderly black ladies who’s names he can’t be bothered to remember). I didn’t like his dismissive approach-I didn’t see him write anything down or ask me for any pertinent information but, I left with a fist full of samples and his assurance not to worry.

Which I didn’t, I didn’t worry a week later when I’d check the mail and “no pills”, or the week after that. I didn’t worry-I got pissed off, I was pissed off that I had to start calling his office “again”. On May 13th I called to see what the hold up was and left message after message with Lydia, the receptionist (and gatekeeper) who said she would ask the doctor what was going on and call me back-she never did.

So, I called “her back” on the May 17th and was told that the doctor “phoned in” the prescription to CVS Pharmacy on April 15th and it’s been sitting there waiting for me to pick it up. I told her that was not what the doctor had agreed to do and that I wanted to speak to him, she said, “he’s busy now with patients and will have to call you back when he has some time.”

Again, I left a message for him to call me back that day-he never did.

A couple days later after I got home from a cater/waiter job I did see two missed calls from the doctor’s office so I called the next day. Lydia proudly and accusingly told me that, “the doctor tried to call you” to which I replied, “Yes, I see that, but when he called “I” wasn’t available, he’s not the only one who’s busy.”

I asked Lydia to call CVS to verify that a prescription exists for Miss Cathy because I told her that I never got a call to pick up the meds (which is there standard method of operation). “Why do I have to do that? I’m not going to do that”, she said.

“Well”, I said as calmly as I could, “because it’s your job, and not mine, and quite frankly I have spent more than enough time with you on the telephone trying to get what my mother should have had months ago.” (What I wanted to say was “B*tch, I’m not here to do your job!”).

She put me on hold, after a moment I was talking to Danielle (not the doctor) another receptionist. At least Danielle was co-operative (even if she did talk to me like I was a mental patient-apparently “Danielle” must be the re-enforcements they bring in when Lydia’s had enough)-whatever!

At least Danielle called CVS then me to say that the prescription was $86.00 for the generic and it was not at our local pharmacy but at a CVS that was 10 miles away which was probably the reason I was never called but who knows).

I asked her to have the prescription moved to our local pharmacy and left another message for the doctor to call me. So, almost two months after the initial request to have the medication sent through mail order, it hadn’t happened and I had no explanation from the doctor as to why.

I picked up the meds from CVS and explained all of this to Miss Cathy a few days ago. At first she was a little aggravated (a lot actually) so we talked about it and we agreed that the doctor had messed up and never did what she asked. She even offered to call Blue Cross/Blue Shield again to verify that the medication is available through mail order (and I thought this was a great idea, she was more than capable of handling this matter and it would give her a “project” to do).

I know that I should have been the one to follow up with the insurance company and doctor (after all, that is what I’m here for) but frankly I was burned out and couldn’t handle another conversation about Aricept-generic, mail order, or pharmacy pick up. Later that night Miss Cathy and I talked about it again (by this time she was pretty worked up about the confusion and the cost).

I couldn’t blame her really, but I didn’t want her to be as upset as she was about the situation (especially at bedtime) so my focus was to calm her down (which then gets me worked up). I told her it was okay to be upset and to wait until the morning when she could make phone calls, that way she could channel her energy where it would some good.

By the time I “put her down” she’d calmed her down enough for sleep. The next morning she called me in to talk and I thought she was going to tell me her paln of ‘action” ask me for the doctor’s phone number again so she could call his office (the night before she said she wanted to call to give them “a piece of her mind”) instead she told me that she’d been thinking and although she appreciated all that I’d done for her she’d come to the conclusion that the doctor did “what she asked him to do” and she would wait until her current supply of Donepezil HCL was gone to call the insurance company herself to get the meds through mail order-“WTF”!

I started to say that the doctor didn’t do what she asked him to do as evidenced by the fact that she didn’t have the $30.00-90 day supply but the $86.00 bottle of generic pills that she already had in place “before” she ever talked to the doctor.

I almost said that but I didn’t, what I did say was, “I just can’t talk about this anymore, if you’re happy with the way things turned out then that’s all that matters to me.”

The doctor is still a “no-show” by phone but at this point it doesn’t matter, Miss Cathy “seems” to be at peace and I just have to make my “peace” with the fact that I’ll never get back all that time that I spent on the telephone.