Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Mourning the Corner Drug Store

Picture of Woman with Walker, East River, NYC
Out and About - East River
Have you noticed that the corner drug store is no longer a drug store?

Man with Walker, NYC
Out and About - West Side
OK, I confess, I noticed this a long time ago.  The big "chain drug" stores are my "go to" stores for a lot more than getting a prescription filled, buying band aids, or picking up a bottle of pain relievers.  I just hadn't given much thought to how poorly these emporiums serve the sick and injured until I was injured myself.  If you've read Wiggling My Toes, you know that I had a Cheillectomy on my arthritic big toe joint (aka Hallux Rigidus) just over two weeks ago.  The surgery went well and last Thursday my stitches came out.  More importantly, I could ditch the crutches for a cane.  I started back to work this week which has presented its own challenges -- I'm not elevating and icing my foot as much so my toe is a bit more swollen then I would like it to be at this stage.

Getting my stitches out also meant that I graduated to being allowed to get my foot wet (yay) and changing my own bandages (yech).  Hence the need to re-acquaint myself with pharmacy/first aid section of the chain drug store.  Only this time, I was hobbled by still being in a surgical boot and walking with a cane.  Plus, I had a very specific list of things I needed to buy.  If are having a  Cheillectomy and stumbled upon this blog while doing your research on "what to expect"  -- you might want to check out the supply list at the end of this post OR ask your surgeon the following question BEFORE your surgery and with ample time to shop:
  • Will I need to have any type of dressings or other supplies on hand for post-op wound care?
Actually, that's a pretty good question to ask before any surgery or procedure.

Central Drug Store, Former Home, Coronado Island, CA
Central Drug Store -
Former Home
OK back to the corner drug store issue.  A while back, I took a picture of the Coronado Island version of the corner drug store all shuttered and closed.  Alas, the Central Drug Store had followed on the heels of the Coronado Pharmacy -- closing due to rising rents and the influx of a second chain drug store  as an Orange Avenue neighbor.  In marched convenience and out marched another small business.

By the by, I don't necessarily dislike shopping at the big chain drug stores.  Being able to pick up sundry items in the store that is filling a prescription is efficient.   It cuts down on the time it takes to complete my errands and, when in the 'burbs, it can eliminate the need for a second parking space.  Which is a good thing as I hate parking and parking lots. 

So what's my beef?  Well, there's two actually after shopping at six of these emporiums over the last four days while on the hunt for wound care supplies:

  • #1:   It's a long walk from the front door of most so called drug stores to the actual pharmacy.  That's OK if you are healthy.  It can seem like a mile if you are not feeling well and like two miles if you are mobility challenged.  Particularly if the store has aisles too narrow to safely navigate with a walker or crutches.
Couple, Man with Walker, NYC
Out and About - Upper West Side 2
  • #2:  There is so little shelf space in these stores devoted to first aid supplies that they are all too often will not have what you need.  Case in point, it took three pharmacies to come up with "Kling" (A slightly sticky gauze wrap that goes on over your sterile gauze wrap.  Need something a bit more esoteric -- like, let's just say, Steri-Strips -- might as well go straight to Amazon and pay the shipping fee.  Because even if your local store has them (as one of my six did), they might not be able to sell them to you (seriously, this happened).  Weird, I know.
Frankly, I don't really get why the pharmacies have to be hidden in the back of the store.  Mercifully, one of the major chains (at least here in NYC) is fixing that -- moving the pharmacy to the front of the store and health care related over the counter supplies (OTC) closer to the entrance. They still suffer from an under stocking issue (gotta leave room for the make up and nail polish) but relocating the pharmacy to the front of the store is a step in the right direction.  Adding some more chairs for those of us who want to -- or need to -- wait for prescriptions to be filled would be good as well.  Let's hope others soon follow suit.

In the meantime, I miss the pharmacies of yore.

That promised list of supplies?  sterile gauze (4" wide), Kling (3" wide will do), Steri-Strips (the small ones and you might want to just go ahead and order these from Amazon), triple antibiotic cream.  But, really, you should talk to your surgeon before buying anything -- he or she is the best source of information.  

About the Photos
The photos in this post, are quick snaps of New Yorkers going about their daily business -- all with a little help from canes, walkers, and wheel chairs.  Oh, and a picture of the former home of Central Drug Store on Coronado Island.

Man in Wheel Chair, NYC
Out and About - Upper West Side III
















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