Longtime readers may recall I have a skin condition called Lichen Sclerosus.  It involves my labia.  From the first time I discussed the condition, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND NOT GOOGLING IMAGES.

For newer readers, HELLO.  Now we are a little more intimately associated, yes?  Did you want to be up in my vulva this morning?  GOOD.

Anyway, this week I had the topical steroid prescription used to treat my lichen sclerosus refilled.  I don’t remember how much it cost to do this last time, which means it was likely under fifty bucks.  GUESS HOW MUCH IT WAS THIS TIME,  In the post epi-pen-pocalypse?

Over nine hundred dollars.

Exact price not recalled because I might have fainted.  But definitely remember the first part that went, “Nine hundred and….” as the world went WHAT THE FUCK and I lost my balance.  Know this sort of price gouging hardly stacks up to the crisis of being unable to afford a life saving device like an epi-pen, but it’s worth pointing out this medicine prevents my lady bits from scarring.  So.

(PS: My husband just died of embarrassment as you read that last bit.  Pour one to the curb, please: RIP, Anne’s Man. We hardly knew ya.  Which was how he liked it.)

If you follow me on twitter, you may have seen my dying duck fit trying to figure out a medical alternative.  And I got one!  Turns out, different pharmacies charge different amounts for the same medicine.  DID YOU KNOW THIS?  HOLY SHIT!  After spending 10 minutes on hold, the very wonderful, fabulous somebody at my OBGYN looked it all up for me and said, “There’s a couple options that make this not great, but better.”  Target had the meds for around $300 and Wal-Mart had it for $111.

I haven’t shopped at our local Wal-Mart in about ten years.  Aside from all the bad press the chain’s had, our Wal-Mart (with McDonald’s in-store as well as one in the parking-lot) smells overwhelmingly of cheap plastic grease and stale french fries.  Also, stuff is usually piled so high on the aisle shelves that it blocks out the flickering florescent overhead lights and gives me avalanche fantasies.  Also, I got tired of leaving with 100 bucks worth of shit that broke in two weeks.

It was a real moral dilemma.  Target’s my go-to.  Except… $200.

So this morning, I darkened the electronic doors of Wal-Mart.   I was PLEASANTLY SURPRISED.  While waiting 20 minutes for my insurance info to get processed and prescription filled (Wide Eyed Guy who took my info: “You… know this is gonna cost a hundred dollars?”) I noticed:

A substantial decrease in the smell of both cheap plastic and french fries.
The aisles were reasonable.
Sub-areas like The Photoshop and Electronics were staffed, so you didn’t have to flag an employee down (lookin’ at you, Target).
Staff seemed to recognize shoppers and appeared genuinely nice.  I know realistically they are probably paid by the smile or something, but it was still pleasant.

THEN, though.  THEN I got in line to pick up my prescription.  There was a bit of a wait, so I stood in line, enjoying the laughing smart-assery of one of the pharmacists as she helped other shoppers.  I was working on my compliment if I ended up with her (How not to sound like a total snob, yet still convey being impressed Wal-Mart is not a pit) when, sure enough, she called, “NEXT!” and it was my turn.

I gave her my deets.  My prescription was ready!  She typed in my info, and her eyes got huge.  “You know this is $111.00?”

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I nodded. “Well, it was nine hundred at the other place, so.”

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She studied the name of the medicine on the box, and kind of childlike, whispered, “…What’s this for?”

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I laughed, cause she was funny and energetic and inquisitive, and joked, “I could tell you, but you’re better off not knowing.”

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“No, you’re probably right.  You’re right.”  She laughed too, started to bag up the medicine, then gave me a conspiratorial smile.  “… I’m going to have to look this medicine up when I get home!”

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At this point, I felt the tiniest bit a freak.  I mean, this lady sees medicine all diddly-dong day, so whatever I’m using makes me a rare beast.  Also at this point I remember the blog comments from the first time I posted about Lichen Sclerosus, and feel obligated to warn this chick her curiosity may end in a bleach bath for her eyeballs.  So I say, “Well, make sure you don’t google images.”

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Now we’re both laughing, but I’m noticing in my peripheral vision how the other pharmacists are checking us out,
and my face is getting pretty hot,
and I’m wondering how many people in the line behind me are listening to this pharmacist’s laughing remarks the way I listened while I stood in line.

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Egged on by my google comment, she says, “OK, you gotta tell me.”

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I’m dying of embarrassment, and I can’t say anything, but she’s so nice and I did totally egg her on.  Trying not to let on that I’m HUGELY REGRETTING my earlier smart-assery, I give her a shrug.

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She waits, face set to laugh at whatever joke is coming.  Nope, this isn’t going to get dropped.

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Finally, I point in the general area of my lower half and said, “It’s so my woman parts….”  I can’t quite say out loud so they don’t melt, but that’s what I think.

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And it’s SOOOOOOO NOT FUNNY.  The pharmacist sets back, realizing it’s not funny, and looks embarrassed.  And then I laugh, trying to make it OK even though it’s the most awkward thing this year so far.

AND THEN, Omigodyouguise, Full of heartfelt sympathy, she leans in and says, “I’m sorry that happened to you.”

For real, she gave me condolences on the state of my female parts!!! And it was legit conveyed emotion, not the brush off embarrassed kind of thing you say to end an awkward conversation.  CONDOLENCES.  FOR MY LABIA, ETC.

!!!!!

In the haze of mortification, I remember thinking, Do I say ‘thank you’ in this situation?  Do I brush it off like, ‘No big deal! My vag doesn’t need pity, it still works!’  Is there a funny quip to make this right again?  Because it’s totally weird.

Honestly, I think I just gave her an overly casual hand brushoff, like, “It’s nothing, just expensive mid-life lady problems!” But all I could think of was how it seemed very clear in the moment that EVERYONE IN WAL-MART was thinking (WITH HORROR AND PITY) about my crotch.

In sum, I can’t ever go back to Wal-Mart (or the town it’s in) again.  Whee!

PS:  This all just happened this morning.