“Ow, it stings!” my son, Zack, said as he blinked in the first round of what we assumed were eye drops. We’d just come home from the urgent care center, where he had hit the adjective jackpot with a diagnosis of strep throat and pink eye.
“At least we’re getting our money’s worth out of this visit,” I’d thought to myself an hour earlier, as the doctor told us the test results. When you’re paying 100% of the cost for an office visit because you haven’t hit your deductible for the year, it’s not that you necessarily WANT your kid to be sick, but you’d feel foolish if he wasn’t. Otherwise, you could have made good money by staying at home, just like you’d gotten a job by calling the number on one of those flyers stapled to a phone pole.
Incidentally, where did all these urgent care centers come from? We didn’t have them when I was a kid. Maybe that’s because back then, we had the common courtesy to get sick during regular business hours. In my experience, kids these days prefer to come down with acute illnesses at 5:05pm on a Friday.
On that Friday evening, we stopped at the pharmacy on the way home to pick up two prescriptions, one for Zack’s throat, one for his eyes. We were keen to get the medicine in him as quickly as possible, to keep the plague from burning through the rest of the house.
“But I don’t like bubble gum flavor!” he cried when he saw that the throat medicine was the color of his eyes.
“Zack, antibiotics aren’t meant to be a broad spectrum of deliciousness. They’re meant to make you better,” I replied.
By comparison, the (ostensible) eye drops took much less cajoling, because you can’t taste with your eyes. He complained about the stinging for a moment, then got up to walk around the house, touching absolutely everything.
The excitement began when I decided to give Zack one more dose of eyedrops right before he went to sleep. I turned the little bottle around in my fingers. One snippet on the label jumped out: FOR USE IN EARS ONLY.
My brain, still fuzzy from the fact that it’s always that way, took a moment to catch on.
“That’s funny. I wonder why they’d say ‘FOR USE IN EARS ONLY’ on eye drops. That must confuse people,” I thought.
Slowly, the realization crept up, getting ready to pounce.
“They gave us the wrong medicine!” I said, handing the bottle to my wife, Kara, who almost spontaneously combusted.
Two seconds later, on the phone with the pharmacist, I explained that we’d accidentally been given ear drops.
“Don’t put those in his eyes!” she helpfully replied.
“I ALREADY DID,” I said.
“Oh. It should be okay, but we need to call the doctor to make sure,” she said.
The doctor confirmed what we’d hoped to hear: the random ear medication we’d poured into our son’s eyes wouldn’t have any adverse medical effects, except on his parents’ blood pressure.
When I walked back into the pharmacy to get the correct medication a few minutes later, I wanted to let loose righteous indignation at somebody. Whenever I’ve dabbled in treating other people badly, though, even when they deserved it, I’ve walked away from the encounter feeling worse. Except when I honked at that pedestrian who littered right in front of me. That felt pretty good.
They apologized and got me the correct stuff quickly. The manager also called the next day to apologize. Zack got better in about twenty-four hours. Everything turned out fine, so there’s no point in even mentioning the name of the pharmacy. (It rhymes with “BVS.”)
You can try some random medicine with Mike Todd at email@example.com.