I'm not sure if you can quantify one particular point in my life that drove me to pharmacy. Rather it is more a collection of experiences spread over the first handful of years working in a pharmacy.
In the past I've written about the steps I have gone to help a patient and what it's like dealing with the death of a patient. But the first time a patient I had known well died is really what sticks out in my mind.
I was seventeen at the time, still young enough to be oblivious to the actualities of the real world. The patient was a captain in a branch of the military, which one though has forever escaped my memory.
He was a rather fun guy to be around. A doting husband and father, he always had a legitimately funny story to tell when he came into the store. One of the few patients who makes your day a little better when you see them walk through the front door.
At this point, I was seriously mulling pharmacy as a career and he kept encouraging me to go that route. His thing was to always challenge yourself and to not become overly lax in your daily life. It's a motto I have since adapted as my own.
One day while preparing to fly out for an assignment he was stricken with a massive headache. He was taken to the hospital on his base and after a serious of tests they determined that had a brain tumor.
A terminal brain tumor.
He was then discharged to begin treatments and to spend time with his family. Over the next several months this kind and gentle man devolved into a bitter and angry one. He would come in, snap at his wife, yell at us and say things that I do not wish to repeat here.
It was difficult at the time to process. I had never dealt with something like that and wasn't sure how to think, yet alone respond to it.
Just a few months after that initial headache he passed. A few weeks after that his wife, came in to pick up something for herself. As she was leaving she put her hand on mine and said that her husband began to revert to himself during his final days. He wanted to apologize for all he said and had done to us during that time.
And that he wanted her to make sure that 'pharmacy kid' stuck with pharmacy as a career as communities need people 'like him' in that sort of position.
I never saw her much after that. I suppose she really didn't have much of a reason to visit us anymore. A year later I went off to college and the rest, as they say, is history.
It's something that's stuck with me over the years though. The fact that even when a patient is near death, their thoughts can turn to us and what we have done for them. Whenever I crawl into my personal pit of despair, that memory usually acts as my ladder to climb out of it.
I guess in some way I'll always be that 'pharmacy kid.' And I'm perfectly okay with that.