Yesterday was my last day here. A job that has become a part of me for the past 8 years. One in which I was challenged again and again, through and through. In every aspect of my role, I was met with discomfort, but growth awaited me on the other side.
For the first year I was bright-eyed and enthusiastic about working in the pharmacy. Being a part of a crucial aspect of patient health was important to me and it gave me glimpse of a life I could one day maybe pursue. But it quickly became a hostile environment. One in which my awaited my impending failure and tried to break me from the top down. Sick people angry at the responses you’d give or the lack of answers you had available. Pharmacy personnel so numb to the chaos that they couldn’t recognize snuffing the light out of an innocent soul.
But what they didn’t know was my heart was not without it’s steel gates.
This year would not break me, but rather give me a taste of numbness and cruelty I would never inflict on another. I would bring others up in every capacity and opportunity not given to me. I would do better. And so I did.
For years I put in my all. And as soon as I could I made a leap to transfer to a store closer to my home at the time. I felt a sort of peace there. One in which I had been kept from in my previous store. But even here there were nuances. Silent levels that would not yet show face. As I became more involved in the pharmacy, I started to see the transparent hierarchies of the women that surrounded me. The ones that were so knowledgable and sure of themselves. The ones I wanted have a friendship with. The ones I wanted to impress. And remind them I could be where they were.
A few years later I was promoted to inventory specialist. In this position, I felt a new sense of pride. This role gave me the space and flexibility to find a new found purpose in myself and my new abilities. I could strengthen weaker ones and have something to show my efforts during our annual inventory audit. Those few weeks were always extra chaotic. You and you alone were responsible for the balance, organization, and maintenance of hundreds and hundreds of medications. This lasted for a few years. Going through this I felt a lack of value in my efforts.
This lasted for years. Arriving early, staying late, making coffee runs, etc. And it worked. As my time progressed so did my skills. My typing reached speeds of over 78wpm with keen accuracy. My ability to resolves insurance claims, speak to other staff within the medical field, give recommendations and suggestions on medications and symptoms –under pharmacist supervision– and calm down patient issues became more and more like second nature to me. By year 5, I could double count control medications, put through a delivery, and answer medication information in Spanish while also supervising 7 other technicians around me to ensure steady workflow. My mind could be processing things on the screen in front of me while my hands prepared medications below me. It became easy.
Too easy. So easy in fact I started to lose a sense of pride in it.
Not so much in my skillset but in myself. My ability to accept discomfort and grow forward through it. I needed more. I was ready for more. Yet my mind made me believe otherwise. Or rather my fear. My fear of failure.
I left at one point.
To venture and seek a different position. I found myself at a dermatology call center for a few months only to learn I would never find myself permanently glued to the phone from 8-5pm. It wasn’t for me. And I took that lesson as a force for my next movement. Next step.
I came back to.a place I once called home. It might’ve been the safety net drawing me back or the familiarity of the nuances within the pharmacy. The ones I became so accustomed to for such a long time. But this time things were different than when I had left. My efforts and talents had been met with full appreciation. It was wholesome. It was what I had looked for the first round. I became lead technician and this was met with a flexibility, benefits, and understanding of the value I brought to the team. It let me shine through and continue my efforts. Throughout some more years, pharmacist came and go, technicians were came and went, some as quickly as they arrived. This revolving door continued for years. It was hard keeping good company as the negativity we dealt with customers, patients, higher-ups, etc, became unbearable. Weeks would go by without lunch breaks, bathroom breaks, metrics and profit margins carrying more weight than the actual patients.
Then COVID-19 happened. The worst was yet to come. We were met with a lack of personnel, lack of hours, lack or resources, lack of help of any kind. Incentives came through as “golden tickets” to hide their empty promise. But in that darkness, our team preserved. The environment sheltered us and forced us to be even more humane with one another. In spite of what we received from our clientele. Then the need for testing and vaccinations came up and allowed the technicians to hold that weight on our shoulders. We learned to immunize patients, discuss pertinent information regarding common side effects and vaccine information, asses a patient if they have allergic reactions and how to counteract them, draw up vaccine doses, provide PCR/NAAT nasal testing supplies to patients, and maintain workflow. The ability to sit down and connect to a patient, telling stories, answering their concerns, and ultimately providing them comfort before an uncomfortable experience such as needles was a profound experience. Hearing patients acknowledge my delicacy in immunizing them, grace in distracting them, or pleasantness in addressing any issues was music to my ears. I continued this for over a year. I had to privilege to even immunize some of my family and friends that trusted me to do so. It brought me so much joy.
Walking from something regardless of how stressful, uncomfortable, or painful it at times was, is still very bittersweet. This experience through and through challenged me in all the ways I believe I needed pressure in. It allowed me to become involved in the lives of some of the most amazing people. It showed me the uglier sides of humanity as well. A lesson learned overall.
And now I can say farewell and set my sights on the next chapter. The next target I was always so afraid to pursue. But not anymore. I truly gained all that I could from this experience and I carry each and every story with me.
To my next step, no longer afraid.