Buying medicine, American Style

Ok, ok, I know sometimes I bitch about the trouble of having to adapt to a new country and stuff about a different culture that I don’t really get (like dudes wearing baseball caps at night. At a bar. My best theory so far: bad hair day cover up). Anyhow, that’s like not cool at all because life in the US is actually pretty nice and I’m being super welcomed here and it’s just not right to talk only about the crazy, weird stuff.

So let’s change this, TO-DAY! Hurray…

So there is some not so cool stuff about the US. Like there is some not so cool stuff about any country in the planet (except maybe Australia. That country is pretty cool). Like in Brazil: we have hot people in bikinis wrestling on a hot tub as part of our Sunday family entertainment. And people whose job is to go around on the streets, screaming if you want to get your knife sharpened (God, this sounds even weirder when written in English… we DO actually have that!).

Stuff like that.

But in the US you also have some really freaking amazing stuff. And you discover them kind of by accident, and it makes you ignore -most of- the weird stuff and think, “goddammit, this country really is something”.

One of the most impressive experiences I’ve lived so far involves the American system for buying medicine. Come on, let’s do a little bit o a role playing here:

How would you buy medicine in Brazil:

(Warning: The following description might be shocking, traumatizing and disturbing to some Americans)

You set an appointment at the doctor, get there, and wait. Wait. Wait. Read the equivalent of a 2010 US Weekly. Wait. See the doctor, get an exam done. Set another appointment to come back for the results. Come back. Wait. Pick up a magazine; realize it’s the same US Weekly from last time. Read it again anyway. See the doctor for 5 minutes, just to hear the results of the exam, get a prescription. Get into the car. Find a drugstore on the way home. No parking spot. Park kind of in the middle of the street not really caring about messing up with other people’s business (yep! Another not so cool Brazilian habit…). Handle the prescription to the guy over the counter. He can’t read the Doctor’s writing. He calls up another guy. Then a lady. Then a random person from the street. Together they figure it most likely says “Ibuprofen”. You think ‘Jezz…” but ask for the drug anyway. You need 12 capsules, but the guy over the counter informs you he would have to order it, it would take 5 days, but he does have the pack with 34 capsules. “Just give me the 34 capsules one”. You get back to the car, get home. Forget how often you’re supposed to take the pills. Call the doctor. Talk to the secretary. He calls back. “Ok, one capsule every 12 hours, got it”. You start to take the medicine.

Yep, that’s it. That’s just plain, standard procedure to buy medicine in Brazil. It doesn’t even occur to you that any other way of getting medicine could even exist anywhere else.

And then you get to the US.

How would you buy medicine in the US:

(For all the Brazilians reading this, I share your pain)

You set an appointment at the doctor and are reminded about it by a call and a letter a week previous to the appointment. Get there. Almost immediately see the doctor (?!!??!). Make an exam. After 3 days, the doctor CALLS YOU saying: “I have the results, what’s the most convenient drugstore for you to pick up the medicine?” Half speechless, you say “the CVS kind of close to Central Square, Cambridge?”. The doctor accesses a freaking-kick-ass database and says “Sure, the one on Mass ave. 567”.You have divided thoughts about the doctor, half thinking “I want to make sweet love to this person this very second” and ”this guy has got to be on some kind of cult or high up on the Scientology hierarchy to know this and I’m scared”. Your thoughts are interrupted by your doctor saying your medicine will be ready to pick up in 30min. Trembling with emotion, you walk into the pharmacy, still not knowing what’s the deal and randomly say, with a “Me Jane – You Tarzan” tone of voice: “Camila here. You got my medicine?”HELL YEAH!! They do. They give you a small container with the exact amount of capsules you need for your treatment (tears of joy dropping off your eyes at this point) and with a label with your name, your doctor’s name and instructions on how to take the medicine. You start to take the medicine.

Now exactly what just happened here?

I honestly don’t know, till this day, how this happens. How does my doctor manages to tell my pharmacy exactly what to do, in such an incredibly smooth, efficient, fluid and perfect way?

It’s the absolute culmination of human evolution. We made it. We could just rest now.

Now, talking about accepting that some countries just do some stuff better then others: World, let’s adopt the American system of getting medicine. Like, right now.

Goddammit… is this country something or what?!

 

 

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