TW: ableism, discrimination


Today was meant to be simple. Go to the post office, go to bed, get ready, go to chemist, go to concert. I am expected at the concert, even though I have a migraine and for the last few days an invisible, intangible knife has been lodged in my groin. (It’s one of those heat-crafted plastic ones, poorly sharpened. It’s black. I haven’t named it yet.)


First thing, I passed out in front of the tv, so didn’t go to the post office before bed. Rather, I was woken up by my neighbour parking in the no-parking zone by my house (no parking because, you know, it wakes me up, and I’m meant to be sleeping a lot, except I haven’t slept longer than three hours for a few weeks now, because that’s how long it takes for the meds to wear off), and was like, right, okay, doing this now. I went to the chemist, because the timing screw up with being asleep then awake rather than awake then asleep meant I would need pain meds before leaving for the concert.


I meant to come home and go back to bed, get a few more hours sleep before the hell that is a metal concert with a migraine, but I’m honestly still in shock about how this went down, and even destroying digital monsters didn’t help.

See, I went to the chemist next to the post office, because it was there and like, that meant I could be home within twenty minutes. Easy, right? But no.

Today I have a migraine. It’s a hemiplegic one, the worst kind, that feels like a big round object in behind the front right of my forehead. It started as stabbing pains from the back of my head on Monday. It won’t go away for at least a few weeks – I’ve had this one last for three months, before, so I don’t really have any hope that it will stop. But! Because it is hemiplegic, not only do triptans make it worse instead of better (experience, believe me, walking around with an aura for two weeks is not fun), it’s really obvious that I have it. My right leg won’t work – my knee buckles, my hands are numb and tingly, but my right hand won’t even straighten. The right side of my face doesn’t work. And, any hope I had with language is gone. That’s how it went in the first place – right side head pain, no talking.

So I, like the musical nerd I am, am always prepared. I have notes stashed in each wallet, in my handbag, in my music bag – they all say ‘may I please have meds’, there’s a ‘may I please have a glass of Coke’, a ‘may I please have medium chips’, and so on. Today I placed a $20 note and the ‘may I please have meds’ note  on the counter and waited. It was fine, right? The assistant got the all-clear from the pharmacist, so it was fine, right?

The pharmacist was talking to me from behind the back counter. You know how they keep the prescription meds behind another counter, so you can’t see them all? Yeah. Way back there. The assistant shoved a pen and paper at me. I kept signing. He didn’t come out, so it’s not like I could type to him, if I understood his questions. The meds were right there. He said I could have them. I literally had no clue what the holdup was. Surely, if he needed to talk to me, he wouldn’t have given her the meds to give to me. Surely, if he needed to talk to me, he would come out to where I could, you know, see him. But no, he didn’t, so I had no way of answering whatever the question was, and the words I could catch were troubling me. ‘Ambulance’ was one of them. I mean, clearly not talking is a thing, because I have a note, right? And I’m signing. I would have hoped most reasonable people would realise that’s a sign of a long-term thing and not a short-term emergency sign. I know I don’t look so great today, what with you know having a migraine, hence needing the medication.

I gave up, took my note and my money, and I started to walk out, and my knee buckled. Because, you know, migraine. And, since I wasn’t allowed to talk to him, no meds for it.


Except, you know, until I went down the road, and purchased it without a pharmacist even being involved.


The other thing I heard that was disturbing to me was that he thought it was actually a law that my meds can only be dispensed after recording ID. Which, is, you know, somewhat fabricated.


I actually used to teach in a nursing school, and I was instructed to mark things correct that weren’t. For example, the common law exception to negligence that allows for a person with medical knowledge to provide first aid within their experience to use that as a defence in a tort claim? I was instructed to mark ‘The Good Samaritan Act’ as a correct answer to questions about it, even though there’s no such thing, and it’s barely codified beyond case law. So it really, really irks me, knowing that not only are these people not understanding things when they’re informed of them, but that they are then encouraged to go around repeating it because they’re told it’s right. It’s like the nurse at the hospital telling me my ACD only applied if I was dying, but she didn’t think I was mentally fit to decide to leave. The hospital responded by promising that she would be given communication training. Apparently, communication = legal knowledge.


So, I went down the road, got my meds, and came home, and I sent a complaint. Nothing will come of it, of course, since he was the pharmacist in charge and, naturally, was told he was right, when he was not.


But I can’t comprehend how these things go together:

  • My condition on presenting at the pharmacy, asking for medication which I need and am under medical instructions to keep taking because there is nothing else I can take as safely, justified calling an ambulance
  • Refusing to dispense medication being requested by a person clearly in need of it
  • Refusing to allow someone with a communication impairment to communicate

To me, it looks like he decided to call an ambulance after not letting me type to him. which, as evidenced by my ability to prepare in advance and ability to sign (still only six signs, but still), is not an acute symptom. If he had come out from behind the counter and spoken to my face, I could have typed to let him know that. But, he didn’t. Instead, he called an ambulance basically because I have a brain disorder that makes talking impossible.


Yeah, that’s discrimination.


“So why don’t you just talk again?” some smartarse will say, eventually. I don’t want to. It’s too hard, and I need my spoons for actually functioning, like say, cooking and cleaning and purchasing meds. “But you have speech therapy?” Yes, but it doesn’t help. I only still go because my teacher would probably kill himself if I left. It’s not exactly a helpful thing.

But equitable access to medication shouldn’t depend on me passing as abled. That should be obvious.


Anyway, if I do hear back from corporate, expect another rant. I don’t know if this is a rant. I don’t know if it makes sense, either; I’m just stuck on what the hell even happened.