Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

A Minor Miracle

A couple years ago, when I was at the dermatologist (and if you have lived under the hot strong sun in the Middle East, you might want to have an annual skin-scan, too) she asked “anything else?” and I wailed “What is happening to my skin??”




I’ve always had good skin. All of a sudden, I felt like the Portrait of Dorian Grey, like all my secret sins were catching up with me and manifesting on my skin. You could see my pores! I was getting little brown spots. I am not an abnormally vain woman, but I will admit that the sight of my skin going bad overnight was a staggering blow.


She laughed. “I have a magic potion that will keep your skin looking pretty good,” she said, and wrote me my first prescription for Retin-A.


It’s not a fountain of youth. It’s not like it gives me the face I had in my twenties and thirties, even into my forties. But it holds those brown spots at bay, gives my skin light and sparkle again, and tightens up those pores. I don’t know how it does it, I don’t care. It’s a little bit of magic and helps me handle the inevitability of the aging process.


She also gave me a coupon that made it less expensive. Still, I gasped the first time I went to buy it, and neither of my health insurances covered it. A little goes a long way, so I’ve only had to renew the prescription twice.


This last time, when I walked in to the pharmacist, I asked the cost first. He told me that for the name brand it would be eight hundred something and for the generic it would be five hundred something.


You could feed an African village for a year with five hundred dollars. I couldn’t do it. I walked away. I spent a week in stunned disbelief, then went online and found a coupon that promised a sizable discount.


When I went back to the pharmacy yesterday, they said the coupon wouldn’t discount much, but this time the girl took the initiative to check my insurance and said “the coupon doesn’t help, but did you know that your insurance will pay for all but $5. if you take the generic?”


“There must be some mistake,” I thought to myself. My insurance has never covered this before.


“Are you sure?” I asked her, not really wanting to, wanting to hand her five dollars and run out the door, but also knowing that if it were a mistake, that the pharmacy would be stuck holding the bag.


“Yes, ” she responded, “I’m sure. Only thing is, you’ll have to come back tomorrow to pick it up, we don’t have it in stock.”


Oh ye of little faith . . .


This morning, still thinking they have made a mistake, I called to ask if it had arrived, not wanting to make a trip in vain. The pharmacist left me on hold a long time and I just knew something was not right. I knew it couldn’t be this good. You don’t get a $500.+ medication for $5.


Then he came back on the line. “It’s in,” he said, “Come and get it!”


I feel so blessed. I’m aging, my skin is aging, and the Lord is merciful on me, a sinner. He allows me a small vanity, caring for my skin, and for only $5. I still can’t figure out if this is the new Obamacare or some Medicare benefit, or a prescription benefit change. I don’t even want to investigate, I am so grateful for this mercy.


And no. I would not have been able to justify it at $800. Or even justify it at $500. There is just so much need in the world for the basics, for food and shelter and clothing for the poor. But $5? For me, it is a minor miracle.


(In a study published in the UK Telegraph, researchers found women think negative thoughts about their appearance an average of 36 times EVERY DAY.)

November 5, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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