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A 30-Day Supply of Parental Agony

Prescription management is basically my part-time job as the father of three kids with ADHD diagnoses. Keeping at-home and at-school medicines current and full, while avoiding panicked voice mails to our pediatrician, is quickly becoming my specialty.

A man dialing a smartphone in front of a medicine cabinet in order to complete his prescription management
Cartoon phone in front of medicine cabinet

Today I got an email from the school nurse telling me one of my kid’s midday medications needs a refill. No problem, I think. I’ll just send in a refill tomorrow from our stash at home.

So I go through the medicine basket in the kitchen, where we keep the kids’ medications. After fumbling around for a few minutes, I find the bottle. Which of course only has three pills left. No problem, I think. I’ll just call the pharmacy. The automated refill system only takes a couple minutes.

So I call the pharmacy and refill the prescription, which should be ready in a few hours. Perfect, I think. I can go get it on my way to pick him up from school.

When I arrive at the pharmacy, the pharmacist informs me the medication is a controlled substance and I’ll have to have the physician call in the refill. Right, I think. I knew that. I’ve only made this same error every flipping month since he’s been on this medication… going on three years now.

This is my life: I have four kids, three of whom have diagnosed ADHD. My cell phone pings every few hours with a reminder that he needs to take this medicine, or she needs to take that medicine. Wait is this Saturday? If so, he doesn’t need to take medicine A, but he does need to take medicine B.

[Free Resource: How Do We Know the Medication Is Working?]

Then it’s keeping up with the inventory. Medicine A is a controlled substance so only the pediatrician can call in a refill. I call the pediatrician about medicine B, but when they call back stating they have no record of this medication I remember that medicine was prescribed by the neurologist. The pharmacy closes at 8pm, so it’s typically around 8:05pm when someone says, “Dad, I’m out of medicine.”

“I’ll have to call in the refill in the morning.”

“Well, I’ve been out for a week.”

“What?!?! When were you going to tell me?!”

“I dunno.”

“C’mon, buddy. You have to pay attention.” Then I realize the paradox of what I’ve just said: He needs the medication to help him pay attention to the medication.

So as I’m leaving the pharmacy, I call the pediatrician and leave a voicemail. Because they’re probably already closed for the day. It might have been the nurse practitioner’s voicemail. It might have been the billing department. I might have just told my life story to the home answering machine of the one physician who’s never seen my kids. I don’t even care at this point.

[How to Manage Meds at School]

I’m about to throw my phone out the window of my Jeep when it rings. Caller ID says “Doc’s office.” I’m about to accept the call and say, “What fresh hell are you calling me about?” But I hear myself politely saying, “Howdy!”

“Yes sir. We got your voicemail and just spoke with the pharmacy. They should have the refill ready in the next half hour.”

“Great!” I say. “That was fast.”

I’m so relieved I completely forget about my pending panic attack. I hang up the phone and think, That was easy. When we get home, I pull up the school nurse’s email to respond when I notice she actually stated he was out of one medicine “and low on another.”

Dang it! I think. Why didn’t I pay better attention?!

[A Parent’s Guide to ADHD Medication]