Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bullet-Proof Glass Medicine For Christmas

Explanation of photo in response to Whimsy's comment below this text about the original photo I had posted here:

The pharmacy I go to is an all HIV - which means HIV, mental health, and often substance abuse issues - pharmacy, which exists in the neighborhood in San Francisco which needs the most medical outreach, which is also the neighborhood with the most shootings.

I wish I could have taken pictures of the clients ("consumers") there today [now yesterday], on my side of the bullet-proof glass, who are the most eclectic, truly-diverse group of people I have ever seen in one room together anywhere I have been in the world. One man asked me if I was in line to pick up while I was taking these pictures. (Other "consumers" have often been unsure whether I was a client, or worked there, or what.) I responded that yes I was in line, and not to worry - that I wasn't violating confidentiality by taking pictures of any clients - that the Christmas ornaments just interested me. He said, "Hey Baby," shrugged his shoulders and said, "It's your life."

The pharmacists, and staff (on the other side of the very thick glass and locked - just like jail - delivery box (bottom left corner), as far as I have seen, are consistently wonderfully respectful dealing with constantly difficult-to-impossible desperate circumstances and people.

My medications are very complicated to manage, and I live in the relative subsidized comfort of a usually quiet building in a comparably very safe neighborhood. If I were living on the street or in revolving residential hotel situations, or any number of other complicated - maybe abusive - circumstances, or uncontrolled psychotic states or didn't have the support and love of my cat and her sitter and KD and my family - although distant; or wasn't able to coordinate my life together enough to make doctor and therapy appointments, there is no, no, no, way I could deal with keeping up with the HIV meds that have kept me alive for this long. And those people at that pharmacy ("MOM's"+Pharmacy treat every single person they deal with like he or she deserves to be alive, and they try to make what is needed as available as simply as possible.

My pills do not come to me in a million little bottles of medicines with three different brand names that I can't remember even when prescriptions aren't constantly changing from side-effect and viral-resistance problems. My medicines come to me in week-size mediset trays, all sorted for me, for four times a day Sunday through Saturday, with their name charts typed on the back, if I care anymore. And they're delivered to me from the pharmacy upon request for whatever reason no questions asked. And one single pharmacy staff person, Kara, is assigned to handle my particular mediset and knows my specific problems (to the confidentiality extents necessary to keep up) and is in frequent communication with both me and my doctor, and has never expressed impatience with me when I've, more than once come undone her direction.

So yes, I could veer around the Tenderloin district from where I live (without ever having to see its constant, variable, life-threatening problems) to the cheerful, colorful HIV med-savy Castro - gay section to those less SF familiar - Walgreens, but I would not feel as cared about as I do from the other side of this bullet-proof glass window.

So Good Christmas to the front-lines. Both sides. - And whatever kind of Christmas Whimsy would like, and/or would enjoy not liking.

TenderloinHealth - good info and history


whimsicalnbrainpan said...

I think that is one of the strangest things I have ever seen.

I'm guessing that there are narcotics under there.

+PHc said...

Dear Whimsy,

I wasn't up to explaining when I posted the photo. The blog kind of keeps me going, but I can't always keep up with the blog. So I hope the new text below it clarifies un-clarify-able things. The strangest things I have ever seen, I seem to see a lot of days.

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

Thanks for the explination +phc. It is so nice that you can go to a store that isn't a huge chain and actually cares about it's customers.

I used to go to a mom and pop pharmacy unfortunately it closed down and now I have to contend with a national chain and lousy service by people who couldn't give a damn.

M. said...

I hope the pharmacists and staff get to read this, angels that they are.

+PHc said...


Yes I'm "fortunate" in some ways to be multi-diagnosed with problems a lot of other people have, in that I do have more options for care. I would not get the quality of mental health services I do if I didn't "qualify" as a patient at UCSF AIDS Health Project, which offers the best mental I've ever found - on a long arduous, and scary quest.

I hope you get good personal care in other ways.