Doing the right thing – an update

Last week I shared about how I was trying to decide between sticking with “old endocrinology practice with new doc” and switching to “new (old-old) endocrinology practice with old doc”. Little did I know, the decision was being made for me at the time.

In case you didn’t click the link above, part of the previous story involved trying to be seen before Christmas (I travel across the country), especially to get my expired insulin and test strip prescriptions rewritten. Rewritten, not refilled – I had refills left but a year had passed since the prescription was written so it was no longer valid.

Old endo office could see me in January, and new endo office could see me in February. I actually made appointments with both while I decided. I mentioned to “old office” about the prescriptions and she asked me if I would like to handle it over the phone with her or use the online ordering system. I have always used the online system, so I told her I would just do that. This all took place on December 5th.

My insurance prefers that I use a mail order service, and so I do because I do not want to pay any more than I have to for my third-tier insulin. It usually takes a few days to process get sent out, so I was only slightly worried when I had not heard anything by Friday.

Mid-morning on Friday started a chain of phone calls that lasted the rest of the day. A summary:

  • Call 1: This is your endo office calling. The doctor says we can’t fill your prescription unless you come in for an appointment. Great – you canceled my December appointment when my endo left the practice and you guys didn’t have any appointments until January when I found out. You canceled your January appointment. No I didn’t. Our records say you did. Well, I am leaving on a plane in a week, what am I supposed to do? I don’t know. I am on my last vial of insulin and I am flying across the country, what do you suggest? I’ll talk to the doctor and call you back.

At this point I saw a tweet from my end’s practice and I felt the need to respond.

  • Call 2: This is the Cleveland Clinic, I understand you are upset; how can I help you? (I explain Call 1). Well you need to see a doctor before we can fill your prescription. Okay, how do I do that? I’m not sure, the temporary endo is not even at the (local office) today, she is down in (two hour away) office and her schedule is completely booked. I submitted this prescription request two weeks ago, because I was going out of town. I don’t understand why you waited a week to call me. This is not an optional medication. I need insulin, what am I supposed to do? I’m not sure, I will call you back.
  • Call 3: I talked to the doctor and you can see the nurse practitioner on Thursday at (two hour away office). That will not work for me. I use a mail order system for my prescriptions so that I can pay less and get a three months supply. Thursday will not give me enough time to receive my insulin before I leave for Christmas. Look, I am doing the best I can to help you. I understand that, but it is not my fault that you canceled my original (and second) appointment. We are doing the best we can with the temporary endo, but she is only in (local office) location on Tuesday and Thursday so she is booked very quickly. Do you understand that that is not my fault? Well, a lot of her patient have switched to (two hour away office). How long does it take to get from (local office) to (two hour away) office? About two hours. Do you see why I would not want to drive to (two hour away office) when I can walk to the other one. Yes. Look, I need my insulin. What would you say if I said I will either sit in (local office) or (two hour away) office this afternoon until someone helps me. Well, I don’t even know if there is a nurse practitioner in the (local office) today. Why don’t you look that up and call me back.
  • Call 4: You can see the nurse practitioner in the (local office) today at 4. Thank you.

At this point I tell my boss the story so far and tell her that I will have to miss the company Christmas party that starts at the same time as my appointment.

  • Call 5: (about 1:30 pm) This is S, the nurse practitioner from (local office). I am not going to make you come in just for a prescription refill. Hysterical laughing. Let me tell you a story. I am so sorry about that. I will take care of this for you. Thank you so much. It is difficult around here since the temporary endo is only here two days a week, but she does want to at least meet all the patients that are new to her. For your appointments you will most likely meet with me because she is really busy, but I consult with her when I need to. She might stick her head in to say hi but your appointments will be with me. (thinking this doesn’t sound good but trying to keep my mouth shut so I can get what I want) Are you sure you have right information for the pharmacy? Yes, it’s in your file. Okay, how long should I wait before I contact the pharmacy to make sure it is processing? Well, I am doing it right now, so give it an hour. Thank you so much. Call me the office if there is a problem and ask for me directly.
  • Call 6: Hello pharmacy. I was just calling to make sure that you received the prescriptions my doctor’s office sent over. We have something in the system from August. Nope, it was just sent over today. We don’t have anything in process for you. Okay, thanks.
  • Call 7: Is S there? She is with a patient, can I take a message. Sure, she was supposed to call in a prescription for me and the pharmacy doesn’t have it yet. Okay, I will have her call you back. Thanks.
  • Call 8: Hi, this is S. We had the wrong contact information for the pharmacy. It should be all set now.
  • Call 9: Hello pharmacy. Is my prescription processing now? Yes, it looks like it is. Can you tell me when it will ship out, I am getting on a plane in a little over a week? No, we don’t provide estimates when prescriptions are processing. Any idea if I will get it before I leave the state? Nope.

This weekend I get an e-mail to tell me that my prescription is processing, but there is still no shipping estimate listed. I plan to call Monday to see if I can get more details.

  • Call 10: Hi pharmacy, I am trying to get more information on my prescription. It looks like it is in the last stage of processing and you should receive it by the 16th. Are you sure? I get on a plane that weekend. Well, I can’t guarantee it but it looks like the 16th. On or before the 16th? Yes. Okay, cross your fingers.

Two hours later I get an e-mail that my order has shipped. Because it involves insulin, they usually ship it overnight. I’ll keep you posted.

This all started with my decision about whether to stick with the old practice and try out the new endo or switch to the new (old-old) practice with the old endo. Call me privileged, call me spoiled, but I don’t want a nurse practitioner (not a CDE) to manage my diabetes and my endo to pop her head in every so often. That information/realization is the one good thing came out of this very annoying circumstance.

By the way, I did this all with an undiagnosed/unmedicated throat and sinus infection. Fun times!


  • This kind of thing drives me insane! Hello, it’s not like you are asking for a refill of acne medicine or eye drops! A little common sense would be nice, eh?

    My doc (not an endo) is so overbooked that it’s nearly impossible to get in to see her. I needed to see her this month so I called in October to make an appointment. “Sorry, our system doesn’t let us make appointments that far in advance. Try again in the middle of November.” I called mid-November: “I’m sorry, Dr. B is booked through January.” Really. What’s wrong with that picture!! I’m sorry you had this hassle. I hope you’re finally feeling better and your insulin arrives in plenty of time.

  • Wow that is a really crazy run around and a huge pain in the ass. I haven’t had the same problem as you and have been able to get any doctor to write my diabetes related prescriptions, and this makes my life easier. I still get the ‘annual expiry’ but my GP can write it for me. Glad things worked out for you in the end.

  • good grief, charlie brown! that’s so ridiculous! really?

    glad it all worked out, though i wouldn’t be in a hurry to go back to that office, either. at least you made that discovery…

  • This story made me cringe reading it. I’m so sorry. At least you were finally able to get what you needed and get it in time for Christmas. Things like this are so insanely frustrating. It’s insulin people, not an addictive pain pill, just fill the darn prescription.

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