A phone call:Dad: can you tell me the number of the chemist. My tablets haven't come.
Me: I had a text two days ago to say they would be delivered yesterday. (I check texts on mobile phone.) Are you sure they didn't arrive? Have you looked outside the door?
Dad: they're not there. I've run out of my heart tablets (he means his anti-angina pills)
Me: leave it with me.
Phone call to his nominated pharmacy delivery service:
Them: they were undelivered.
Me: well that's odd, he never goes out. How can I get them?
Them: you can collect them from here.
Me: where's that?
Them: …..they give directions to the "pharmacy hub" on the other side of town, twenty minutes away.
At the "pharmacy hub" twenty minutes later:
Me: I’ve come to collect my father's meds. His name is……
The assistant looks efficient and goes to get them.
Her: they're not here. They don't arrive back here until after 4pm on the day after they should have been delivered.
Me: I wasn't told that. Does that mean I have to come back here again later?
Assistant looks sympathetic and makes a suggestion.
Her: should I ask the driver to deliver them to his nearest pharmacy instead?
Me: oh yes, thank you, that would be much easier.
Her: I’ll phone the driver now.
She goes away. Muffled voices heard from the back of the shop.
Her: the driver says they were delivered yesterday.
Me: but I was told they were undelivered and Dad says he hasn't got them.
Her: the driver says he asked her to put the box in his airing cupboard.
She has a look of pity on her face.
Back at his flat:
Me: they say you asked the driver to put the box in the airing cupboard.
I inspect the airing cupboard. No boxes, just a jumble of sheets and towels
(I make a mental note to try to remember to sort that lot later)
Dad: a box came the other day. I don’t know why.
Me: what was in it? Did you look? Where is it?
Him: I don't know.
I go into his spare room, thinking this is odd, his meds come in a paper bag, not a box.
The spare room is a jumble of boxes piled around his mobility scooter which hasn't turned a wheel since he moved in. Unpacked boxes since he moved last year and several boxes of catheters. (When he had shingles a few years ago he lost bladder function and ever since has been self catheterising.)
All the catheters come from a company called Charter. There are at least four huge boxes with "Charter" labels. And one without. I open it. Inside are another ten boxes of catheters and a small paper bag containing his meds.
Counting up the boxes I reckon he has enough catheters for at least a year.
Mental note to self: must phone Charter and suspend the order.
I hand the bag of meds to Dad who immediately opens it and begins to sort them out.
Day two, one month later:
A text from the pharmacy delivery service: Your (Dad's) medication will be delivered tomorrow. If you're not going to be in phone this number….
Me: (to self) rats! That’s the day I'm taking him for his booster. Better phone them.
Them: would you like us to deliver them to his nearest pharmacy instead?
Me: yes please , that's much easier for me.
The next day, on the way to the vaccination centre:
Me: your tablets were supposed to arrive today but because you're out they're sending them to the chemist round the corner and I'll go and fetch them.
Booster done and back at his flat:
Me: are you feeling ok? Your tablets were supposed to come today but they're taking them to the chemist round the corner instead. I'll go and fetch them.
Dad: yes, is it time to go down for lunch?
At the pharmacy round the corner:
I've come to collect my dad's meds, his name is.......
An unsmiling young assistant avoids eye contact and goes in the back, returns empty handed. I get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. She taps on a computer.
Her: we don't dispense your dad's meds any more.
Me: yes, I know but............I explain the situation
Her: they won't be here until after 4pm today.
The next day, at the pharmacy, 1.05pm.
Another unsmiling young female assistant: I can't give them to you while the pharmacist is out. He's having his lunch.
Me: (thinks to self: he's probably within earshot at the back of the shop.) Does that mean I have to come back again?
Another man in the shop: I've come for my tablets
Her: I can't give them to you..........
I exit the shop as they argue about it.
Later that afternoon, after 4pm
I think I'll just phone and check where these blessed tablets are before I go out in the pouring rain again.
Me: can you tell me if my dad's meds have arrived? His name is......
Assistant (I recognise her voice. She's the Polish woman who's always very friendly and helpful): we don't dispense his medication any more.
Me: I know but.............I explain the situation again.
Her: I'll go and check for you.
I'm on hold for two minutes
Her: they're not here.
Me: I was told they would be here after 4pm yesterday.
Her: would you like me to phone the delivery driver and find out where they are?
Me: yes please, that would be very helpful.
I'm on hold for five minutes.
Her: the driver said she delivered them two days ago.
Phone call to Dad:
Me: have your tablets come?
Him: what tablets?
Me: the ones that were supposed to come the day I took you for your booster. I told you they would be sent to the chemist instead and I would fetch them.
Him: yes, they brought them two days ago after I came back from lunch. I was asleep and they woke me up!
Five minutes later, the cork out of a bottle of whatever is nearest, I begin arrangements to change his "nominated pharmacy" to Tesco. They have a pharmacist on duty all hours that the shop is open, 7am to 10pm, plus 10am to 4pm on Sundays. That means any of us, me, Nick, my brother or "that woman" (how he refers to his cleaning lady who also does his shopping) can pick them up at any time and take them round to his flat. It's a two minute drive from home, two minutes more to his flat, and you can park outside. Fetching his meds every four weeks is going to cause me a lot less trouble than having them delivered.
I add this story to my repertoire of anecdotes of disastrous deliveries. The Amazon parcel that I ordered for him while we were in France, that I had told him when it was coming and where to put it, that he said hadn't come and searched for for days, that I opened a missing parcel case with Amazon for, and that my brother found in his flat, unopened, exactly where I had told him to put it, after the delivery driver had "handed it to resident" just as the email said.
Then there was the talking clock incident, the little grey box with the big yellow button on, that sat on his chairside table and that he had no idea what it was or how it got there. Turns out it was a gift from his lady friend who, tired of him phoning her at night to find out what time it was, ordered it from the RNIB. We found out later that "that woman" had luckily been at his flat when the parcel arrived, helpfully fitted the batteries that were supplied with the clock and set it up for him. When his lady friend asked how he was getting on with it he said it hadn't come so she complained to the RNIB and they sent another one, which was still there in its box, unopened.
Life has turned into a sort of never ending comedy of errors. As soon as one problem is solved, another one follows and we have to find a way of making life easier for us as well as trying to make it comfortable for him.