Posts Tagged ‘illness’


monday morning bullshit alert

December 5, 2011

I’m late to the party here, but I learned something today that has me sputtering with rage:

The reason that my asthma rescue inhaler suddenly wasn’t available in generic form a few years back was that the generic version was (supposedly) damaging the ozone layer.  It contained small amounts of CFC propellant, which the EPA banned in 2008.  Here’s the EPA’s summary of the decision.

Let’s put this in perspective.  CFCs are, without a doubt, bad for the atmosphere.  But how much CFC is contained in an inhaler?  If they’re going to allow exemptions for methyl bromide pesticide use (seriously, I’m not making this shit up), they really have bigger fish to fry.

Interestingly, the wording (emphasis mine) of the methyl bromide critical use exemption policy allows for its use if:

(ii) there are no technically and economically feasible alternatives or substitutes available to the user that are acceptable from the standpoint of environment and public health and are suitable to the crops and circumstances of the nomination.

As a result of the ban on CFC-containing albuterol inhalers, inhalers using a new propellant have been developed.  These apparently are different enough from the original inhalers that they warrant new patents, meaning that until 2016, no company is allowed to produce a generic albuterol inhaler.  What does this mean?  There are no longer economically feasible alternatives to brand-name inhalers.

These things used to cost me ten bucks a pop.  Now?  My copay is upwards of forty.  The higher brand-name cost hits the insurance companies, who are happy to pass it right on to me, through high copays, premium raises, and flat-out denials of coverage.

Oh, and for those who aren’t on corporate insurance, and instead are dependent on Medicaid and Medicare?  That cost gets passed right on to taxpayers.  Congrats, guys!  It’s not like states were spending much to care for Medicaid-eligible asthmatics or anything, right?  Oh, wait.

Worse, when copays go up, patients use their medications less.  I know this anecdotally (it’s definitely true for me), but people have actually researched this, it turns out.

So in the end, we have a decision that raises costs for consumers, raises costs for taxpayers, and damages the health of patients.  Why?  So drug companies can make more money.

Rescue inhalers are the one drug every asthmatic has.  Even if patients don’t take anything else, we all have one of these because it can literally save your life.  Drug companies have a captive market, and they’re wringing it dry for every bullshit penny.



i’m shopping for insurance

September 23, 2011

This is going predictably badly.  My current coverage expires on October 1, so I’m up against a serious deadline here, though I’ve been doing this for a month.  The partner, incidentally, has no coverage whatsoever right now, so I’m shopping for him too (since I’m the resident insurance expert).

So far, one company completely denied me (but not the partner — they actually offered him a significant discount), and the other one has offered a joint policy that costs as much as rent.  Of course, more than 4/5 of that premium is attributable to my part of the policy.

Oddly enough, I think this is all happening because I started getting migraines after the car wreck two years ago.  Even though I’ve only had one doctor’s visit (and no new prescriptions) for migraines in the past year.

Grrr.  Last time I did this whole insurance business, I paid the smoker’s rate (I guess asthma is kind of like smoking, if you’re an insurer).  This rate they want me to pay now is twice that.

Fuck insurance companies.



things that are not okay: histamine edition

July 18, 2011

I had a super fun evening last night (in a manner of speaking), but I’m okay.  But, that said, some things are definitely not okay:

  • Aggressive A/C in the ER.  Brrrrr, turn it down!  Some of us have IV lines in and can’t put sweaters on, you know.
  • Hives on the palms of hands.  I dare you to try to scratch it and make it feel better instead of way, way worse.
  • Ears swelling shut.  What?  What’d you say?  You’re going to give me an IV of what?  Eyes, on the other hand, are kind of okay, since it gives you an excuse to not work to keep them open.  And believe me, that’s a big challenge after getting a syringe full of benadryl straight down the veins.
  • Being on prednisone and having no chocolate, ice cream, or cookies in the house.  This was an intentional, health-protective choice on my part, but boy am I regretting it.
  • Being knocked down again just as I’d re-established momentum at work post-migraine.
  • Having very little idea what caused a seriously terrifying allergy.
  • My phone ringing off the hook just as I was coming out of the drug daze this morning (but I love y’all anyway and was sorry to worry you).

So, yeah.  Late night last night in the ER, but all’s well that ends well, I suppose.  I’m down for the count for at least today, but I imagine I’ll be back up and stumbling (I’m on lots of antihistimines) by tomorrow afternoon.

But I promise I’m okay.  I have two tentative theories about what might have happened, and I’ve already scheduled an appointment to check it out.


on loving — but sometimes not — one’s job

July 13, 2011

I’ve had an interesting experience over the past few days.  First of all, I had a migraine.  This in and of itself isn’t interesting or new.  The degree of severity, new symptoms, incredible duration, and lack of response to my prescription drugs exhibited by this migraine were definitely all interesting and new, if by “interesting” you mean “dear god make it stop.”  Let’s just say for brevity’s sake that I definitely have a doctor’s appointment for next week and I was laid up on and off to one degree or another since last Friday.

What was most interesting, though, was how much my opinion of my job turned around once I started feeling better.  Towards the end of last week when the headache was impending and finally hit, I was feeling overworked, overwhelmed, and undersupported, and a few times I felt like I was right back in grad school.  Monday and Tuesday of this week, I felt even worse, and hated myself for failing to get things done well, and taking so long (in newsroom time) to get them done at all.

But today, I felt like I was queen of the newsroom.  My editor and I talked about a story I’d been struggling with, and he wants me to expand it into a big piece that will totally indulge my nerdiness.  Better, when I fessed up to him that I had no idea what I was doing and was really afraid of stories like this one where there are lots of pieces to stitch together, he told me, “this is your chance to get some experience and get better — use it!”  Yay supportive mentors!  And finally, when I picked up a story for tomorrow at 1 p.m., I did all the reporting and had it to my editor by 6:30 p.m (reality check: this is slow for experienced journalists, but a record for me, at least for a story more complex than “the smoke blew in from the east today, and meteorologists say it will be gone tomorrow”).  Plus, it was a really cool story.

Basically, today I was able to communicate effectively with my editor, do my job efficiently, and I enjoyed the crap out of it the whole time.  I couldn’t do any of that when I was feeling shitty.

It really makes me wonder if I would have felt better about grad school if, well, I’d felt better.


who’s a candidate?

February 17, 2011

I’m a candidate!  BOO-YEAH.

This bad boy was in my mailbox when I got home from lab just now. Please ignore the photography and photo-editing fail.

Now, back to our regularly-scheduled programming of a nap while waiting for the pain meds and decongestants to kick in (day five of some kind of sinus-exploding death cold).


in which several recent events are discussed, illness edition

December 11, 2010

Being sick sucks.  I can peg a semi-exact cause now, though: the only other lab person who was on my flight back from Boston last week is also sick since Monday, with very similar symptoms.  Grrr.  Stupid air travel plague.  It’s what I suspected anyway.

My roommate often suffers from roommate-itis in the same way that I suffer from Lady-Quantum-itis, and is just about as susceptible to catching air travel plague as I am.  She has a plan to front-load the vitamin C before departing for lands east for the holidays, and I think I am going to follow her example.  It would be miserable to get over one case of air travel plague only to catch another.

I like pseudoephedrine a lot less today.  I couldn’t sleep last night, and ended up chasing a benadryl with valerian tincture at 2:30am before I could.  This is probably not the best approach to sleeping.  Also, the damn stuff isn’t even keeping me from wanting to stab ventilation holes in my face anymore.

Sometimes student health clinics are a disaster, and sometimes they amaze me with their awesomeness.  It’s a strong function of who treats you.  Yesterday, I saw the same guy who sent me for a CT scan after my head injury a year and a half ago, and I had forgotten how fabulous he was (in my defense, I saw him through a blinding headache last time).  Our appointment went like this:

  1. I describe my symptoms and present my theory that I caught a virus that may have spawned a secondary sinus infection when I took too long to get well (Lady-Quantum-itis, as it is).
  2. He asks me, “if you were the doctor, what would you do to fix you?”
  3. I tell him I need to start azithromyacin if I don’t start to improve the next day, but it’s a day or so too early still, and I’m only in there because it’s Friday afternoon and I really don’t want to be defenseless in the event of worsening over the weekend.
  4. He examines me.
  5. He says, “I concur.”
  6. He writes me a script for azithromyacin, and tells me that my thought that I should wait another day before starting it (in case I don’t actually need antibiotics) isn’t a bad one at all.

He is now a favorite, up there with the woman who gave me steroids when I was completely healthy, just so I’d have them on hand when I got sick enough to need them.  I love it when doctors listen to me.

I think I may be getting better without antibiotics, which is thoroughly shocking for me.  If I can make it through the day without running a fever or wanting to stab holes in my face, I won’t start them.  At least, if I don’t want to stab holes in my face for very much of the day (I want to right now).  Yes!  Here’s hoping.



December 9, 2010

I never take it, because it makes me feel weird and stops me from sleeping, but after a day of trying to do work and wishing I could stab a ventilation hole in my face to stop the pain from the pressure (somehow I don’t think this would help my pain that much, but it is so appealing), I broke down and bought some of that glorious pseudoephidrine/guaifenesin* mixture they sell.  I was already downing the guaifenesin anyway to keep the green stuff from solidifying in my lungs.

Oh man.  This stuff is awesome.  I can now touch my face without wanting to cry.  I’ll have to revisit this assessment in a few hours when I try to sleep, though.

And yes, my throw-up-on-the-bus episode turned into the standard Lady-Quantum-itis, where I spew forth massive quantities of strange colored mucus from my upper respiratory tract.  It’s been a fun week around here.

*for those of you playing along at home who aren’t at the point yet where you’re figuring out what to give your pharmacists for Christmas, pseudoephidrine is the active ingredient in Sudafed, and guaifenesin is what they put in the plain Robitussin.  And yes, yes I am going to put together a gift basket for my pharmacists.  They are that awesome to me, even if it scares me that they recognize my voice on the phone.