My love for the Patriots and my mental illness have been with me for about the same length of time. They are not causal, but transitive. They both blossomed at the time of my father’s terminal diagnosis. For better and for worse I have been living with them since my early 20s.
Last night I suffered through the eighth Superbowl of my fandom and my eightieth battle with the pharmacy. I handled neither with grace. As our first ranked offense was held to zero points I looked at Steve and lamented. “There is only one way a season can end well and so many ways that it can end badly.” Some teams and fans can celebrate small successes, the exact philosophy I am trying to embrace in life. But just like real life I struggle with it here. The Patriots only have one possible success, and that involves putting many fingerprints on a shiny silver trophy. It is depressing.
By the time my team was down 25-3 ( the largest Superbowl comeback in history was from 10 points down) I was numb. That is not true. Leo was numb. He was asleep. I was trying to lull my mind into a calm place. I figured distraction was the best tactic and so I turned my head to the computer which was showing a slideshow of family photos. That was pretty good. I watched my small tow headed boys frolic in the waves and climb into cardboard boxes as my team had a another three and out on the field. Before Leo was asleep he was trying to learn the game so I got to teach him about fumble recoveries (Good for Atlanta) and pick sixes (also a falcon feat.) It was easier to watch pictures of Steve teaching the kids to cook. Eventually a picture of our bathroom appeared on the screen and I remembered the worry that had been wiped out by what was happening on the football field.
Yet again I was running out of Viibryd.
It is a boring story. It was supposed to have a dull ending. I was running out of pills. I ordered more pills (a year of refills were still on my script) from Aetna online paid them $750 dollars for three months (this is one way our system is broken) and got the confirmation that my order would be processed in 1-2 days. That was on 1/24. Today was 2/6. Steve suggested I take a walk to the front door to see if I had missed the package of pills.
I hadn’t. I now had to deal with this imminent defeat.
Starting with the website I spent 2 minutes panicking that I couldn’t remember the proper username password combo, but I got in without being locked out and found that my order was on hold. I clicked through for the reason. None given. It instructed me to call the help line. Before I went through that entertainment I figured I would check the payment method (still current) and then the balance on the Health Savings account card that the pharmacy drew fund from. Actually I was getting more worked up than numb so Steve checked the balance. It was fine.
I had no choice left but to call.
I loathe the phone.
I loathe the Aetna help line.
I loathe losing the Superbowl.
I worked my way through their recorded line giving birthdates and last names “I didn’t quite catch that.” The robotic voice said. “Neither did Edelman” I told her as our clutch receiver failed to clutch the ball. “I didn’t quite catch that.” She told me again. Edelman seemed to be on the same page as he dropped another pass. Meanwhile Oliver thinks I am having a conversation with him and he is encouraging me. “It’s OK if we aren’t good in the first half….its the second half that matters.” He is sweet but I am busy working myself up into anger. Football is an emotional game, as is depression.
Now the recording is asking me for a prescription number which is totally reasonable but the info is on the phone. Which is on my face. “She wants a prescription number” I say to Steve, my eyes as wide as Chris Hogan’s the Patriots bug eyed receiver that we got from the Bills. This is impossible. So I resort to plan B. “Representative.” I say. “Do you want to speak to a representative?” She asks. There is hope! “Representative” I repeat with an uplifted tone. “What?” asks Oliver. “I didn’t quite get that. Do you wish to speak to a representative?” “Yes!” I cry out. “What?” Asks Oliver. “Look” says Steve as the Patriots hold the Falcons to a three and out. “I can’t look, it is only because I am not looking that they are doing well.” I explain. “What are you talking about?” asks my reasonable kid. “Excuse me Ma’am can you tell me your date of birth?” Asks my representative. “Look” Steve nudges me again.
I can’t look.
We go through the mumbo jumbo where once again I don’t have the prescription number. This dude is a step better than the robot though and he can access the info without it now that I have promised him my first (sweet and logical) born. “I see. You don’t have prior authorization.” That is IT. I have done this 4 times. I think. “I have done this 4 times” I shout. Six eyes look at me. They don’t know the pressure I am up against. The amount of time and training I have put into this. The Patriots are on their drive for five world championships and I am on my drive for five physician’s authorization. This must be how Brady feels when he is down 28-3 in the Superbowl I think. This must be how Anna feels when she struggles to refill her Viibryd prescription I am sure Brady is thinking.
“I’m sorry ma-am.” The representative who has no culpability for my problems responds. “Look” Steve is once again directing my attention to the screen where I am still averting my eyes. The team needs me not to look. “I’m sorry” I say to my representative. “I am a huge Patriots fan. And they are losing.” “Excuse me,” he says in his well trained voice. He is not so different from the robotic voice earlier I think. The image of the weird tackling robots come to mind. The ones that the Falcons love to practice on as they bob and weave away from them. It has made them good tacklers. But on the screen they are missing the tackles. I imagine my representative on the field. I am not a good tackler. But I will try. The game is not over yet. Then he reveals himself as a human, not a tackling machine. “Would you be willing to tell me the score?” As I allow my eyes to see the screen the score changes. It is 28-20. The Patriots have the ball. “How much time?” He asks me. “3:41” I tell him. “That is plenty of time.” He reassures me.
I begin my bargaining. I will go without my pills for a week. I will go through the shakes and vomiting of detox. I will miss my meetings. I will let my kids fend for themselves. All if the Patriots win the game. I don’t know which higher power is authorized to make this deal. Neither does my representative. He representative is searching my history. He sees that in fact I did have a prior authorization but it has expired. Right now I don’t care that much. “When?” I ask, because he has a job to do. “8/13/16.” He tells me. “So Aetna didn’t notify me then, OR when I paid them money last week.” “You just weren’t going to send the pills and I had to figure it out?” “I can get a senior manager ma’am but she won’t be able to authorize an override without prior authorization.” I am silent. I am watching my team. “What’s the score?” He asks. And there it is. 28-26. All we need is a 2 point conversion to force the first Overtime in Superbowl history.
There it is. Our 91 yard TD drive ends with a two point conversion. On the phone my representative is doing is own conversing. “So you will get the authorization tomorrow and then we will mail out the prescription on Wednesday.” That will leave me several days without pills. But it was the deal that I made so I will deal.
Because of the ridiculously unfair sudden death Overtime rules the coin toss is lucky to determine the superbowl. We call heads. This is a sign. I am dealing with medication for my head. It will obviously be heads.
We are clicking now. We know we have this. I watch through my fingers so I don’t jinx it. In my ear the representative continues. “After you receive the pills you should call back and see when the authorization runs out. You can mark it in your calendar.”
I won’t need to. It will run out right about the time Brady plays in his eighth Superbowl.