Finding Humor in Pharmacy Work


The antidote to stress is finding humor and counting our blessings.

Sometimes the workload and expectations of pharmacists can be enormous. Add to that unexpected obstacles and frustrations. It’s easy to become irritable and grumpy at work. However, I would like to offer an antidote to that path. I’d like to suggest instead focus on the positives. Count your blessings. See the workload as job security and comfortable wages.

Then realize co-workers and patients can offer a source of camaraderie and humor if we only focus on finding it.

A customer told me a story of her nephew who was driving his car. His window was rolled down. A pedestrian threw a beer bottle in the window as he drove by. The lady went on to say that the glass bottle struck her nephew in the side of his head. It cut his face and detached his rectum.

I giggled and responded, “Did you mean his retina? It detached the retina in the eye?”

He responded, “Oh, honey, I don’t speak medical terminology. I’m not sure.”

A young guy told me he injured his knee playing sports and needed to get a mammogram on it. I asked, “You mean MRI?”

A well-dressed, articulate gentleman once told me his son was getting the fallopian tubes removed from his ears.

I also like the ways some people pronounce their drugs. They say iba.buferin instead of ibuprofen or urethra-mycin instead of erythromycin.

As a retail pharmacist of a small store (a division of the mail order pharmacy I worked for) we had a very loyal group of patients. When one of my favorite ladies asked for some personal advice I said "of course." I knew she was battling breast cancer and was going through some serious struggles. I always tried to encourage and comfort her.

She explained that she was getting radiation for the cancer and had developed a rash that was so painful she couldn’t wear a bra. She asked me to recommend something. I was concerned about moisture control and a possible yeast infection of the skin. No one was in the lobby so she lifted her shirt over her head and exposed the very red, burnt, and blistered skin. My mind raced with recommendations. Should I order a topical anesthetic spray, NO menthol because a lot of people perceive the cooling sensation of menthol as a burning sensation? I wanted something with aloe and lidocaine. If it got worse I would recommend a topical nystatin power or a triple antibiotic ointment because the skin was broken open with blisters.

But before I could voice my recommendations, by boss, also a lady, walked around the corner and yelled, “OMG! What are you doing looking at that ladies breasts?”

Needless to say we had some explaining to do. Just for the record, men never asked me for person advice. I suspect they sought out the advice of male pharmacists. It was only the ladies that knew me and trusted me that confided in me.

I do believe laughter is the best medicine. Scientists are now finding that are emotions are neuro-peptides chemicals that are secreted from our brain and can have physical impact on our health.

I challenge all my fellows pharmacists to make a habit of finding the humor in their work to mitigate the stress and fatigue of our jobs.

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