The Day I Discovered I Was Addicted To Opiates – Long Read Version Parts 1-3
10 May 2020
Part 1 – Why I’ll Never Use Boots Pharmacy Again
Well I knew I was addicted anyway but Monday really was showtime. Where to start…
I’ll try not to bore you with all the details. Hah! You know I’ll bore you with every single last detail.
Confused? Welcome to my world
I’d been getting meds prescription sent to Boots. Not my local 5 minute walk away Boots because for some reason my surgery are unable to deal with them.
That should’ve been my first clue. Instead I go to a Boots about 2 miles away along the ring road. Its been four months and every single time its been a mare.
One of the items is Tramadol. A controlled drug, has to be signed for. I was taking them pre-accident for the Fibromyalgia and slipped discs. They don’t work for everyone but they do work for me. I take 2 every single morning so that I can walk/move/function. I try and go as long as I can without taking more but usually 5 – 6 hours later I’ll take 2 more. That’s low pain days. High pain days I need 4 – 8 plus ibuprofen (and codeine occasionally but don’t tell anyone).
My other meds are 28 days for renewal, but I can re-order Tramadol every 14 days, depending on my pain levels.
When I collected prescription at Boots 2 months ago, the Tramadol were missing. We don’t have it, they said. But its on the same repeat prescription as the other items? Your doctor hasn’t sent it. What? But you order it? No we don’t have it.
Off I go to the doctors and its start of lockdown. They’ve locked the door. All the tables outside with boxes to put your urine samples in and help yourself to a chlamydia test. Lots of red no entry signs, “ONLY PRESS THE BELL IF YOU HAVE AN APPOINTMENT”.
So I pulled sleeve over my finger and pressed the bell. I’m so sorry, I said, but Boots haven’t got my Tramadol prescription and I really need them! She went back in, came out and said Boots have got it. No, they said they haven’t, they said you have it. Off she goes again. “I’ve got a doctor to sign it but it won’t be there until tomorrow”.
At the slightest hint of stress, my constant headache gets an even worse one. Brain damage drains me and I get flustered and confused. But breathe, its okay, I’ll try again tomorrow. I did and got them. And asked them to re-order.
About a week later I got a text saying your prescription is ready. I presume (wrongly) that its the extra Tramadol. Now when I went the week before there was a huge queue to get into Boots (COVID) and as I’m high risk I thought this time I’d go when the actual store was closed because the pharmacy use a serving hatch until midnight.
There was one man in front of me. Took ages to serve him and when he finally got his meds he walked away – and so did the pharmacist. Sorry, what? Why is she walking to the back of the store when she saw me waiting here? So I rang the bell. No one came. I waited 5 minutes and rang it again. I waited. And waited.
She finally came up and went off to look for my meds. For ages, of course. Now bear in mind I’m in some pain and standing still makes it even worse. Finally she comes back and says there is nothing there. What? But you sent me a text? Sorry, she said.
So no Tramadol. Its fine, I have some, hopefully they’ll last me for 2 more weeks when my normal prescription is due. I cannot be charging all over the place when everything hurts, I want to be safe at home.
On Monday they texted again. Off I went.
Did my previous ringing the bell twice annoy them? Is that why they said “no, we don’t have anything for you”?
Find out in Part 2 when the real meltdown happened.
On Monday 4 May, I got a text to say meds were in. Brilliant, finally Tramadol. She hands them over and I say don’t I need to sign for these? No, she says. So I looked in the bag and sure enough, other meds in there but no Tramadol. I said there’s no Tramadol? No there isn’t, she said. Well there should be, I said. No, that’s all there is, she said.
She calls pharmacist (?) over and the woman said your prescription expired on 3 April. What? But when I came a few weeks ago after you sent me a text I was told there was nothing here? She repeated it again – it expired on 3 April. I said why are you not ordering Tramadol when they’re all on the repeat prescription? I need them! I’m in extreme pain!
“You have to order them”, she said. Sorry? What? “We don’t order prescriptions monthly”.
“What? You told me you order them monthly, you request the script from my doctor, not the other way around? I’ve had a brain injury and get confused, you have this on your notes! You’re supposed to text me every four weeks and then I collect but this hasn’t been happening. Why aren’t you re-ordering the Tramadol? I don’t understand?!”
My head hurt starts hurting even more and my hands are both sides of it rubbing, like, well have you ever seen anyone have a meltdown? Like that. Every time I go in they tell me something different. Now they’re standing there with “computer says no” face on. Muttering to each other and staring at me. Its hard for me to describe to you how much confusion and frustration really affects me – my mind goes blank for a start. All I want is my prescribed meds and not to be stood in Boots begging for them in the middle of a global pandemic.
It starts again.
“Your doctor hasn’t sent it” “No, YOU order it from him! You told me you request it every 4 weeks and then text me. I cannot cope with this, I’m in too much pain!”
I can’t remember the rest but I do remember listing the times I’ve been in and out and ended with “a sorry would be nice!”
Its at this point the sales assistant says “I’m not being spoken to like this! You’re speaking to me abusively!” In a MUCH louder voice than I had.
“I’m abusing YOU?! Are you joking?!”
“Yes, YOU’RE BEING ABUSIVE!”
Abusive. I’m having a meltdown because I’m mentally ill and unable to cope. I’m rubbing my temples and crying now. (I said to Sophie when I got home, bloody hell, if she thinks that was abusive – that was just a warm up!) I try and remember how many Tramadol I have left at home. 4? Do I have any in my dog walking bag?
Then a bloke appears from the back because of the sales assistant giving her YOU’RE ABUSIVE speech. The pharmacist tells the assistant to call my doctor and the bloke asks me to take a seat. So I did. And wept.
And that, THAT was the moment I knew I was seriously addicted. Ibuprofen aren’t going to cut it. I need those opiates. I’ve never cried in a shop before. State of me. The absolute shame.
Few years back I decided not to take them. All I ever heard/read is how addictive they are. And its not mentally, its physically. I lasted 10 hours before giving in and taking some. The pain was like nothing I can even put into words. If you’ve watched Trainspotting and seen someone go through cold turkey, it was just like that. Incredible pain.
The man comes out and says you need to ring your doctor. At this point I’m weak and worn out. Go out to car and ring.
“Hello **** health surgery, Dawn speeeeeaking” in her singsong voice. Dawn, I say, can you help, I don’t know what’s going on, I just want my Tramadol prescription. And then the same old “Boots have it, we don’t have it” and oh my god why ME?!
Eventually she says she’s going to leave a note for the prescription clerk and to ring after 2pm the next day if I haven’t heard anything.
I drive home feeling deflated. Invisible disabilities. Learning disabilities. Brain damage. It makes everything harder. I get that its hard to understand but its also hard for me to describe my difficulties.
A huge search at home turned up half a strip that had fallen down the back of my bedside cabinet and a strip of 6 in my dog walking bag. I often set off on a walk to the woods without a single thought about how far and how long and then have difficulty walking home, so take them with me.
Tuesday at 2.30pm I’ve had no phone call. I ring the surgery. “Oh there’s nothing on your file, no notes” FOR THE LOVE OF FUCK.
“I spoke to Dawn last night, she said she would pass a message to the prescription clerk”
“Oh let me have a look. Oh yes, its been sent to Boots”
Give me all the strength you have.
I do wonder if my bell ringing twice a few weeks ago was the reason she came back and said she didn’t have them then. What happened to that expired script?
Its now Friday morning and I really don’t want to go in there again. Which will be the very last time. Stressed thinking about it. But I have to, only 4 left. Please let them be there, please?! I really don’t want to write a Part 3. Pray for me?! Thank you!
Part 3 – The One When The Woman At Boots Called Me A Liar to My Face
After Monday’s drama I was dreading going back to Boots. Would definitely be the last time I ever step foot in there. To turn their incompetence, mistakes and miscommunication into me being abusive is next level. I was stressed, in pain, worn out.
I go the text. Your meds are here. So off I went on Friday afternoon.
A gentleman served me and then a woman appeared, holding up my very much needed Tramadol in front of her. I can’t remember precisely word for word because stressed again, and that’s when brain damage really makes itself known. It scrambles. I can hear words but don’t always understand what they mean. Its hard to describe.
“You came into the store on Monday and abused a member of staff. You’ve been reported to our head office for abuse” she said. I was dumbfounded. “What? Are you actually joking? I was not abusive!”
“Yes you were and…” I didn’t let her finish. My bad
“How dare you! When I said “an apology would be nice” that’s when your sales assistant yelled I was being abusive and she wouldn’t be spoken to like that!”
“We had our Tramadol here but you never came to collect them, they expired”
“YES I DID! You texted me, I came on a Saturday evening out of hours to your pharmacy service hatch because I’m high risk and didn’t want to walk through the store. You told me there was nothing here for me!”
“You did not come come to collect them. They expired. We’ve reported you to our head office for being abusive and you’re now banned from our store.”
“ARE YOU CALLING ME A LIAR?! I came and was told there’s nothing here. NOW I’m being bloody abusive! I wasn’t going to step foot in here ever again anyway!”
I stood there shaking. Trying to get my head around the fact I’m being scolded like a child by a person whose company had messed me about for 4 months. Everyone knows you do not stop taking Tramadol abruptly. You have to be weaned off correctly.
“Can I have my prescription please so I can get out of here”
She then went into a speech about it being my doctor’s fault and STILL continued telling me about being reported to their head office.
Again, through gritted teeth I said “Can I have my prescription please”
And finally, when she’d finished telling me I was abusive a few more times she handed it over.
I got outside, sat in my car and cried. There is nothing in the world that will make me lose my head more than someone calling me a liar. See my childhood blogs. Or injustice.
And then I went to Sainsburys and raged bought two pairs of flipflops. And then I went home and cried some more.
You’re Shit And You Know You Are
Yesterday morning Hannah rang and I told her the saga. There is a closer Boots store to my home, only a 5 minute walk but my doctor’s surgery won’t send prescriptions there because they’ve had too many problems with them. Hannah said she’d had problems getting correct prescriptions from the Boots near me and every time she goes in there’s someone complaining about problems their prescription being wrong or not there. Not just me then.
Anyway, thanks Boots for your absolute zero compassion and understanding of invisible disabilities, even though I explain to you every single time that I’ve had a brain injury and get confused.
Absolutely no fear that I’ll ever step in one of their stores again.
The End. I hope.
Right, got to take one of those pairs of flipflops back. Flippin rage buying. Who does that?! Yeah you do, tell me in the comments!