Sunday, November 30, 2008

Plan B

Some people who know me may know that I have not shopped at Target for about the last three years. That's right! No Target. At some point I became aware that Target had a policy that if any of its pharmacists had "moral problems" with dispensing the so-called "morning after pill," Plan B, that pharmacy could refuse to fill the scrip. Turn your intercoursing ass away and send you to someone who can put up with you and your medical needs.

For all I knew, any pharmacy company in the U.S. could have exactly the same policy. But Target likes to brand itself as hip, urban, tasteful, and forward-thinking. (This is in contrast to Wal Mart, whose brand is traditional, family-values, and no nonsense.) Good design is for everyone at Target, but good medicine is not. It is important to note that Plan B is birth control. It's not an abortifacient. Birth control is still legal in this country.

This really pissed me off. Then I read about it again in the always-profane column "Savage Love," by Dan Savage. I contacted Target and told them that this policy amounted to discrimination and that anyone, anytime, anywhere, who had a prescription that was lawful was entitled under the law to have it filled. Here's what they said in reply:

Dear Target Guest

In our ongoing effort to provide great service to our guests, Target consistently ensures that prescriptions for the emergency contraceptive Plan B are filled. As an Equal Opportunity Employer, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also requires us to accommodate our team members’ sincerely held religious beliefs.

In the rare event that a pharmacist’s beliefs conflict with filling a guest’s prescription for the emergency contraceptive Plan B, our policy requires our pharmacists to take responsibility for ensuring that the guest’s prescription is filled in a timely and respectful manner, either by another Target pharmacist or a different pharmacy.

The emergency contraceptive Plan B is the only medication for which this policy applies.
Under no circumstances can the pharmacist prevent the prescription from being filled, make discourteous or judgmental remarks, or discuss his or her religious beliefs with the guest.

Target abides by all state and local laws and, in the event that other laws conflict with our policy, we follow the law.

We're surprised and disappointed by Planned Parenthood’s negative campaign. We’ve been talking with Planned Parenthood to clarify our policy and reinforce our commitment to ensuring that our guests’ prescriptions for the emergency contraceptive Plan B are filled. Our policy is similar to that of many other retailers and follows the recommendations of the American Pharmacists Association. That’s why it’s unclear why Target is being singled out.

We’re committed to meeting the needs of our female guests and will continue to deliver upon that commitment.


So the only barrier between you and a filled scrip for Plan B at Target was if you were unfortunate to encounter a pharmacist who possessed "sincerely held" religious beliefs against the drug. What if those beliefs were insincere? Would you just give me the damn pills then, you meddling jerk-off?

It was remarkably easy to turn away from Target after this exchange, and it's a habit I'm not prepared to change, in spite of the fact that Plan B is now available without a prescription for women over 18. (I suppose they can still refuse to give it you, even if you have bruises to show them.)

But do I need a "plan B," in light of this new development? I know I don't need new ways to spend money. But I do wonder if there are old habits that I'm hanging onto and can't remember why anymore. Yes, this is the sort of thing having cancer makes you think about.

No More Radiation

I am done with radiation treatments. It was an emotional moment, when my kid and the radiation crew threw confetti on me. My doctor presented me with a plaque has has a quote attributed to John Wayne: "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Two More Treatments Left

It is very busy in the radiation center because all patients are getting five days' worth of treatment in three days. You have to let at least five hours elapse in between treatments.

Things People Have Done For Me During All This

1. Brought my family meals, including incredible homemade chicken parmesan. Packed a lunch for my child once a week and brought it to school.

2. Called me immediately after one of my little handmade purses sold at Parts and Labour, then called me again about 45 minutes later after another one sold.

3. Taken me to chemo and brought me crunchy tacos from Hillbert's (getting chemo made me hungry).

4. Checked in on me to see how I was feeling (crappy! thanks!).

5. Knitted me a hat to cover my bald head.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Five More Treatments Left

I now have five radiation treatments left. I'm going in this morning for a treatment, then coming back five hours later for another one.

The skin on my clavicle and shoulder is all brown-red and starting to slough off, like when you get a bad sunburn. But last week's break from the regimen was really helpful. I feel a lot better. This week will be no picnic, but at least it will be over soon.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Want My Party Early

Yesterday I made a decision — I am doubling up on my treatments for Monday and Tuesday, and I am going to finish radiation on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. I want my confetti party early, and I want to drink champagne after. I am probably going to cry.

I try to keep thinking how bad off you have to be to arrive at the radiation clinic in a private ambulance, how bad off you have to be to be in chemo and radiation simultaneously, and that's not me. I can walk in there and leave on my own two feet, and in my own car. And the people who work at the radiation clinic are the most professional and nicest human beings I have ever encountered. But I just don't want to be there anymore and I am going to get this over with.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Rad Rads

How do people blog all the time, every day? Their hip flexor muscles must be frozen at 90 degree angles!

This week in radiation: I have taken a "break" from my 28-day regimen to do a five-day "boost." This means they are now radiating only the tumor bed, from three angles. My clavicle has gotten very red and a bit painful from the other regimen and Dr. Trip decided to let me have a break and allow my skin to heal a little bit before we resume.

Here's what all I have tried to get some relief from the pain and itching:

Domoboro soaks (it's a powdered astringent you mix in water)
Gene's Vitamin E cream (you can only buy this online)
Cetaphil cream
Aquaphor ointment
Aveeno cream
hydrocortisone cream
an OTC steroid cream
RadX cream
Lily of the Desert aloe vera gel

Domoboro is good for skin irritations like poison ivy. RadX seems to be the best at relieving pain. The aloe vera is good for immediate relief but it flakes off or sheds in little rolls, because of its gel texture. Ibuprophen helps keep down the inflammation. Aquaphor is greasy but it's great to apply it before a shower so your skin doesn't get dried out from warm water.

Just one more boost treatment today. Then, it's three regular treatments next week, Thanksgiving break, then the final two. They throw confetti on you on your last day.