I feel like I'm about to make a heist as I pull up in front of Long's Drugstore to try to get Calmoseptine.
Will it work? Will I walk out the door with two tubes of the stuff, gloating in victory?
Or will I fail?
These days Calmoseptine is practically a controlled substance. It's not out on the shelf of Rite-Aid or CVS. Why, I don't know. It's not like you could manufacture speed out of it.
I walk in optimistically and find the baby products aisle. Desitin, A & D cream with zinc oxide but no Calmoseptine.
I used to buy the A & D, but when Mom was diagnosed with a stage one bedsore, I learned that Calmoseptine is the best treatment (along with a gel mattress and gel seat for her wheelchair).
So I approach the pharmacists, safely behind their counter.
"Can I help you?" one of them asks.
I contemplate my answer, tempted to reply "That's an interesting question. I hope you can, but I've encountered brick walls at so many other drug stores that I doubt it."
Instead I smile sweetly and say, "Yes, ma'am. Do you have any Calmoseptine?"
"Yes, we do--no, actually we may be out," she answers, checking a shelf behind the counter. "Would you like to order it? We can have it by Monday."
Three days from now I will be in Santa Fe for a conference, so I won't be able to pick it up for ten days. Nevertheless, a tube on order is worth two in some warehouse somewhere.
"Yes," I answer wearily. I've placed orders before at the Rite-Aid I visit on a daily basis. How am I going to remember to pick this up at Long's, where I don't usually shop?
So much for the idea of just walking in and out with Calmoseptine.
"Why isn't the Calmoseptine out on the shelf with the Desitin and other products like that?" I then ask.
"Because there's a cost to us of keeping it out on the shelf," she answers.
I don't know whether she means people will shoplift the stuff or whether it just occupies valuable shelf space where more profitable products could be displayed. I don't ask.
It takes another five minutes to place the order. Then I walk over to the Depends, which I need to buy before my trip, hoping to walk out the door with something anyway and avoid another trip to a drugstore this afternoon when I visit Mom.
The price is $15.49 for a package of 18 refastenables, higher than I've ever seen before. "No!" I say to myself and turn to walk out of the store empty-handed.
But then I'm tempted by the thought of not having to enter another big store today, just visiting Mom and not having to take her shopping.
"My time is worth a couple extra dollars," I decide and take two packages to the check-out counter.
"How are you today? Did you find everything you need?" the checker inquires politely.
"No, actually I didn't," I reply. "You don't have Calmoseptine."
She cheerfully expresses her regret, and I walk out the door with my two $15.49 packages of Depends.
Defeated. Getting into my car to drive off, I realize that I'm upset, close to tears.
Is that crazy or what? Crying because I can't get Calmoseptine?
This morning I'd been reading Psalm 73, which says, "Whom have I in heaven but you? And having you, I desire nothing upon earth."
I remember that the Rite-Aid pharmacist said they can't even order Calmoseptine any more; she suggested going to a medical products store.
While driving I call 411 and get the phone number of the store, which is within walking distance of Mom's residence. Maybe I can wheel her there for an outing this afternoon if they have Calmoseptine.
"Yes, we have it," says the clerk after checking the shelf. "Shall I hold it for you?"
"Yes--can I get two tubes?" I ask.
"No, we only have one," she says. "It's $11.95."
"Fine," I answer, my irritation level rising again. This stuff is gold.
I drive on to do other errands: the bank, the dry cleaners, and the small drugstore where I fill my own prescriptions. Why can't these stores keep ten tubes on hand?
Waiting for my prescription of Actonel, I inquire in a low-key way about Calmoseptine. No use getting my hopes up.
"Yes, it's right here," answers the clerk, going to get it off a nearby shelf where the tubes sit with every other skin product, completely accessible to customers.
"There are just two tubes," she says. "We need to reorder. It's $7.50."
"Wonderful!" I say, resisting the impulse to hug her and the pharmacist.
Note to myself: buy Calmoseptine here.
And no need to read the front-page story on Newsweek this week, all about the stress of caregiving.
I think I could write it.