Question: Who would want an enduring and meaningful friendship with their pharmacist? Answer: I do. Welcome to another interesting survival aspect of a life battling cystic fibrosis (CF)*Jeet Patel, my pharmacist for the last twenty years retired recently. I’ve been royally supported by Jeet, his wife Chrishna and their staff Sally and Joyce. Before Jeet, I was looked after by his brother Raj for around five years. All-in-all, it equates to over 26 years.
It was September 1989. ‘Ride on time’ by Black Box was playing everywhere. My mum and I went looking for a chemist in Wimbledon Village to cater for my heavy medical needs in order to be ready for the start of my life as a college student at Roehampton College. When Raj first met me, I was a thin, young and naïve chap weeks before the start of my 1st year.
Up until then, my mum and dad had diligently acted as the conduit for me to receive my swathes of medication on time each month. From that September, as with everything when you flee the nest, the buck stopped with me. I had to get the bus from my campus to the chemist before carrying big bags of meds back on a return bus.
Raj, Jeet and co. have dispensed over 13,000 types of medication per year for me which roughly equates to a mind-boggling 350,000 over the 26 years we’ve known each other. I reckon they’ve had to see me over 650 times during this duration – lucky them!
More than a number
It’s one of the oddities of a life battling my relentless CF and CF-related diabetes, where there’s no remission or a single day off, that in most cases, we get to know our pharmacist very well. We need to be in touch every month. It’s a continuous process and an ongoing conveyor belt of medication. Imagine a ‘Lazy Susan’ with all sorts of different coloured pills instead of sumptuous Chinese food!?
We’ve shared many happy and fun memories over this time through what most people would perceive to be such a mundane and practical endeavour as picking up one’s drugs. It’s a crucial part of my survival strategy. After all, if I don’t have the meds, I cannot take them! If I don’t take them, I won’t survive for too long.
They’ve witnessed me grow up in every sense of the word (except in physical height). They know my wife Katie and son Felix and we know their family and exchange Christmas cards and gifts. I and my family combine a visit to the chemist when we go for lunch in Wimbledon Village or a pleasant walk on the near-by Common. This makes it not feel such an onerous task but makes it feel like a small part of a memorable day out.
Jeet would always come to the front counter to engage with me and make sure I had all the correct drugs – no mean feat when my prescription listed upwards of 15 different types of medication. We’ve got to know each other pretty well over snatched conversations and there’s a genuine interest in my family and a mutual love of cricket. He’s a hard-working, under-stated, humble, diligent and caring man with a supreme array of patterned ties.
Nothing was ever too much for him and he always gave me the right treatment – both the correct medicines and in the kind considerate way that he looked after me.
Having being expected by doctors to not live beyond 17 back in 1971, it amuses me that I have now outlasted both my primary physician (Dr Ron Knight) and now my pharmacist. What’s next for me?
Happy retirement and thank you Raj, Jeet and Chrishna. Never forget that you made a big difference in my life and my ongoing survival…
I will keep you posted on my life-affirming moments, trials and tribulations as and when they happen. Please keep reading and sharing my blog and sign-up (on the right hand side tab) if you have not already done so.
Yours cup half full.
* Cystic Fibrosis is one of the UK’s most common life threatening inherited diseases, affecting over 10,000 people. The condition affects the internal organs, especially the lungs and digestive system, by clogging them with thick sticky mucus. This makes it hard to breathe and digest food. Each week, five babies are born with the condition, however, each week, three young lives are also lost to it. There is currently no cure for CF. However, existing gene therapy trials in the UK are bringing people with the illness closer to a form of cure but CF is not that well known and would benefit from more public donations. For more information and to find out more view the CF Trust Website.