Highlighter Sniffer

If you were like me, you started your pharmacy journey long before you got into pharmacy school. I started working at an Independent Pharmacy when I was still in high school. It was actually the reason that I decided to go into pharmacy. So realistically I had around 3 years of pharmacy experience before I even started my first day in pharmacy school. During my 4 years of doctorate school I gained more experience and was working as an intern at a retail pharmacy when I graduated.

If you aren’t familiar with the hierarchy in most retail pharmacies, interns are basically right under that pharmacist. We can do more things than technicians can, but we still cannot do all of the pharmacist functions. The pharmacists at my store were very good and very into teaching. They allowed me to counsel patients, deal with doctor’s offices and many other things to prepare me for life as the pharmacist once I graduated. I felt very prepared and I was very excited. Little did I know, that nothing could prepare you for things that patients did, said or implied.

My very first day on the job as a pharmacist proved the fact of how you cannot truly prepare for people by way of a seemingly nice middle aged lady. She had some questions regarding her nasal spray and I was all to eager to assist and counsel her. She explained that the nasal spray was not working, it was making her light headed and dizzy, and it was turning her nose yellow. I could not find her in our system and she then informed me it was a sample from the doctor’s office. When I asked her to see it, she proceeded to hand me a highlighter. You know, an actual highlighter that you use to highlight things in pages. The highlighter had Nasonex printed on it. This was back in the good ole days when drug reps could actually give out the nice pens and highlighters. My assumption was that the doctor gave this lady a prescription for Nasonex and then just threw in the Nasonex highlighter for her to use. I tried to get myself together and convince myself that she was not honestly sniffing a highlighter everyday thinking it was a nasal spray. Welp, she was. She was convinced this was the nasal spray and was sniffing this thing religiously and was very shocked that it was not working.

This is where we need more training in how to deal with the public. My technician, which had worked at my store for over 10 years at this point, dropped behind the counter and I could hear muted giggles. I was trying my best to remain professional and not laugh. Keeping my expression completely professional and trying like heck to hide the utter shock I was feeling, I explained to her that it was a highlighter and not a nasal spray. It still wasn’t clicking so I took a sheet of paper and highlighted a streak on the paper. There it was. It finally clicked, and you could see the range of emotion on her face. She wasn’t nearly as good at disguising her emotions as I was. It started with shocked realization, went back to confusion, then to embarrassment and finally landed on sheer anger. At me. I didn’t give her this highlighter mind you, I just pointed out what it was. She grabbed her purse, called me a string of names I won’t list out here and stormed out of the pharmacy. I was left with a look of confusion at what the heck just happened and had to take a moment to compose myself.

Well, I did it. I made it through my first absolutely insane patient encounter as a pharmacist. No way it could get any worse, I thought to myself, and boy was I wrong. So very wrong.

~ Drug Pimp