Come to Jesus

I’ve been busy transitioning to Florida starting in early August. Apart from buying a new car, finding a family doctor, camping with a cooler in my own home because the fridge died, setting up new accounts everywhere, I’ve also had my first experience in the United States with buying prescription drugs (in this case Abilify) and trying to find an “open-minded” psychiatrist, meaning one who is willing to respect the current low dose of medication my son is on and to collaborate with Chris in an eventual tapering program.

I can’t say I was shocked at the price that the pharmacies here bill the insurance company because I knew that prescription drug prices in the United States are astronomically high compared to most other countries, but when you come face to face with it, that’s another story. Ouch. The first time Chris attempted to pick up his Abilify prescription, he realized that the doctor had ordered the tablet form of Abilify. $1800! I heard the pharmacy clerk whisper to her co-worker.

What? $1800 for presumably a 30 day supply that costs the equivalent of  $120.00 in Switzerland?

Once Chris clarified his need for liquid Abilify with the doctor, we went back to the pharmacy and I heard the pharmacist whisper “$500.” Well, that’s not so bad, I thought, although it seemed a bit strange that the liquid was cheaper than the tablet form.

Then I saw the bottle. The measly 30 ml supply of liquid Abilify cost $30. A 150 ml bottle costs the equivalent of $200 in Switzerland. Doing the math, 1 ml of liquid Abilify costs $16.66 in the US and $1.33 in Switzerland.

“Do you want us to put you on automatic monthly refill?” the clerk asked Chris.

“No, no, no!” I frantically signaled to him from where I was sitting, lest he cave, which he has a habit of doing. Obviously, the clerk isn’t clued into the fact that Chris doesn’t take it as it’s prescribed. That’s the same challenge he’s going to have to put to a psychiatrist. He doesn’t take it as prescribed, which is the beauty of liquid Abilify, the flexibility inherent in an easily titratrable form. We left CVS with the prescription filled and no money forked over.

The psychiatrist recommended by the family doctor isn’t taking on new patients, I found out. Now I was on my own, with no recommendation at all, so I started calling around. I was told that my best bet was at a behavioral health center. I found one near our home and phoned for an appointment. Had to leave a message on the answering machine. No one called back. I thought about just driving over and asking for an appointment, but that would be too simple, and was obviously the wrong approach to take in these matters. A human to human interaction when booking an appointment  is so passé. I was learning. I went to the company’s website, filled out a  message form involving no more than 220 characters, and hit “send”.

A few hours later came this reply from a sender in a different time zone.

Hello,

 We received your request for an appointment and want to ensure that we can offer the resources you need. In order to provide the best service and protect your privacy, we need to gather this information over the phone. This will assist us in providing the best fit for appointments. Please contact our Customer Engagement Center at XXXX during our business hours of Monday-Friday from 8:00am to 5:00 pm, (Central Time Zone).

 Kindest Regards,

XXXX Customer Engagement Center

So I called the number given in the message and spoke with a Customer Engagement Officer who first of all wanted to know who my insurance provider was. Once she was satisfied with the answer she put me through to a call center located near my town. A long wait on hold while the insurance number was being checked. The young man finally came on the line. The earliest appointment with a psychiatrist who accepts our insurance plan is at the end of October. He spelled out the doctor’s surname not bothering to spell the first name as it was  “Jesus.” “You’re not serious!” I blurted out.

Why would anyone who deals with patients with religious preoccupations call himself “Jesus”?

Now I know that the name Jesus is as ubiquitous in Florida as the name Santa at Christmas, but in  all seriousness, what’s a guy named Jesus doing treating people with already active and often confused inner thoughts centering on religious themes? The name “Chris” comes to mind as an example of someone who reads his Bible daily and has an deeply spiritual side. I wasn’t for nothing that I chose a pseudonym for my son that omitted a “t”.

It seemed that no harm was done when Jesus at Best Buy sold Chris a phone, but shouldn’t Jesus the psychiatrist come with a trigger warning?

 

 

13 thoughts on “Come to Jesus”

  1. Hi Rossa. I have to admit this made me laugh! I am sure if, when I was unwell, I had dealings with a psychiatrist called Jesus I would have thought he was the ‘real’ Jesus… I can laugh with the benefit of hindsight.

    Don’t worry about Chris. He’s a lot better now. It’s only an opportunity for you to tell him about co-incidence and talk about how many people with that name you’ve met in Florida already. Interesting point though – since the professionals know that the seriously mentally ill often have religious fixations they should open this sort of conversation, make people realise they’re not alone. ‘My last patient thought I really was Jesus; quite often patients confuse their experiences of illness, such as delusions and hallucinations, with religious phenomena.’

    Wishing you all the best in your new home!
    Louise 😀

    1. Hello, Louise, nice to hear from you. Your comments are always intelligent and caring. I read about one young woman who thought she was the Virgin Mary, and was obviously carrying the son of God. Well, golly, if people don’t have these experiences, they can’t possibly be a true standard bearer for the condition. Glad you got a laugh.

      For readers who don’t know Louise, she has been running a beautifully written blog for several years, called Schizophrenia at the Schoolgate. She’s a mother of four, highly articulate, and recovered from “schizophrenia” (a label she and lots of people object to.)

  2. Dear Rossa,
    How delightful to start my day with a laugh! When I saw the title of today’s blog, I wondered what branch of Southern US fundamentalism you had come across, but this is a bird of a different color! Has it occurred to you that the message of the universe might be that Chris is no longer in need of a psychiatrist and that it will be a waste of everyone’s time and money to come to this particular Jesus?

    Hardly a day passes that I do not learn some new and horrific fact about the harm done by pharmaceuticals to the brain. Yesterday’s gem was a misdiagnosis of “seizures requiring psychiatric drugs” that turns out to be Lyme disease. I don’t know if Focused Listening music therapy can boost the patient’s immune system enough to fight off Lyme disease, but I am confident that therapy can address her brain inflammation left by an old surgery and by the psychiatric drugs applied to it. Our youngest son is recovering rapidly using Focused Listening for a recent grand mal seizure and the small focal seizures that are the “aftershocks” of that trauma. Thus, do we move forward day by day.

    1. You’re right, Laurna, Chris is no longer in need of a psychiatrist …. except to write the scrip. I don’t want to be without an emergency supply of liquid Abilify and the family doctor that we found wrote the initial prescription but doesn’t want the responsibility of being Chris’s doc in matters mental. He prescribes pych meds to old folk in nursing homes and obvously has no problem writing their prescriptions. The other interesting thing is that for once in my life I read the product literature on a drug. According to the literature, Abilify is an antidepressant (yeah, right). All the product info refers to suicide risk presumably because this is a much bigger market than psychosis.

      That’s wondereful news about your son.

  3. Hey Rossa.

    Was the doctor Hispanic? Jesus–pronounced Hay-soos–is common among Latinos.

    Glad Chris is doing better. (I hope you are too.)

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