What I learned this week: One big thing, one small thing, and one in-between


Big thing: I do daily injections to help manage my MS. It's an expensive medication, and I'm very fortunate to have insurance that covers the majority of it. Despite that good fortune, I regularly complain about having to pay my portion of the co-pay — even after co-pay assistance.

A few days ago, my prescription for the medication was called into Walgreens by my new neurologist (see below). For the past five years that I've been shooting up with the stuff, the prescription has been filled by a "specialty pharmacy," not the local Walgreens. The new nurse who called in the Rx didn't realize this, though, and erroneously sent it to Walgreens... who soon contacted me to let me know there will be a bit of a delay while they await delivery of the meds and that my cost for the 30-day supply of injections will be $6000.09.

Yes, you read that right: SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS and NINE CENTS!

I about died. Then I immediately thanked my lucky stars — and God, too — for my insurance. And for specialty pharmacies. Then I canceled the Walgreens order.

Lesson learned: In mere seconds, I realized the importance of shutting up about my measly $35 co-pay portion when I could be paying $6000.09 per month. Or going without. I guarantee I'd be going without, if not for the insurance. 

Small thing: Speaking of my MS — which I really hate to focus on but this is indeed what I learned this week — I met with a new neurologist the other day. I'd been seeing the same one since being diagnosed in 1992. He was (is) an old, old man who finally, after practicing longer than I've been alive, chose to retire a few months ago. We had our last annual appointment a year ago. He told me then (his exact words), "You are a miracle, Lisa. You are one of the few who have figured out the mind/body connection. You are truly a miracle." That was the last time I saw him. Considering his advanced age, I took his exclamations with a grain of salt.

Fast forward to my appointment this week with my new neurologist, a young gal from India (whom, maybe this is crazy to admit, I chose from the list of local board-certified neurologists mostly because she reminded me of my friend Vidya from India). After discussing this and that, my new neuro had me run through a few physical tests. Her response: "You are strong!" Then she had me walk across the room. Her eyes grew big, a smile crossed her face, and she exclaimed, "You are a miracle, girl!"

I couldn't believe it. Very same words from the young neuro as had been uttered by the old neuro.

Lesson learned: I'm a miracle... at least in the eyes of my neurologists.

young brothers

The one in-between: Yesterday my grandsons and I read one of my recent picture book acquisitions while on Facetime. Well, I read it to Bubby. Mac preferred roaming the house and finding a bone for Roxy while I read. Meh... he's two.

Our Facetime session was short, but just the sort of thing I need now and then to carry me through til I hug Bubby and Mac again. I like to think it's the sort of thing they need, too — even if treating the dog to a bone takes priority.

Lesson learned: Though it usually feels akin to pulling teeth to get myself added to my grandsons' busy schedule while 800+ miles away, it's worth it. For all of us, I hope. So I'll keep pursuing Facetime opportunities. Perhaps some Skype or Google+ time will eventually follow.

That, folks, is what I learned this week — though I've not yet fully committed to the "big, small, in-between" designation I've assigned each. Depending on the hour and my mood, the order certainly could be flipped, flopped, turned inside out. Still, those are my lessons, and I'm sticking to it.

As I mentioned last week, I'll be offline Saturday and Sunday, for the most part. I hope to see you back here Monday!

Wishing you a most marvelous weekend! Cheers!

Today's question:

What did you learn this week?

Bound to happen

Well, it's finally happened: I've gotten old. I've not come to that realization because of my wrinkles, my achy joints or my crotchety disposition of late, but because of how freakin' young those in the medical profession now seem to me.

My eyes began to open to this truth when noticing that doctors interviewed as experts on various news programs regularly caused Jim and me to comment, "Wow, that's a young one" and "Sheesh, has that kid really actually completed medical school?" Only old people say such things. Hence a conclusion began to form: I'm just old.

Then I started physical therapy to repair the damage from little cusshead Mickey pulling me into a face plant when a deer nonchalantly crossed our path during a walk a few months ago. My regular doctor referred me to a fine physical therapist. I read her impressive credentials (she's one of the physical therapists for the US Figure Skating team) then was shocked upon meeting her at my first appointment. She looks the same age as my youngest daughter! There's no way she could be just 25 since she's been practicing since the early '90s. She's performing miracles on my back and has clearly worked hard and long to get where she is in her career, so my conclusion is this: I'm just old.

The final incident relates to Megan's medical scare this past week. Because of the fortunate outcome of a worrisome circumstance, Megan gave thanks and gratitude to her ob/gyn on a recent blog post, a post that included a photo of the doctor. I have never met her doctor and I was amazed at how young this gal is -- this gal who holds the lives of my child AND my grandchild in her hands. Yet, her expertise in the field and the way she's proved herself exceptionally capable lead me to now stand firm in my conclusion: I'm just old.

When I first became a mother, doctors were older folks whom I looked upon with respect and admiration, much as I would a wise grandparent. As the years went by, doctors seemed a little more my age, like a colleague or friend or at least someone who enjoyed the same music and television shows as I did and understood the same pop culture references.

Now, all of a sudden, the doctors I come across are youngsters, many years behind me and certainly not interested in the same music or television shows that interest me. And I don't even seem to know what constitutes pop culture anymore, let alone share any references to it with today's doctors.

My only conclusion: I'm just old.

My only question: How the heck did that happen?

Photo: MS Office  

Today's question:

In what ways do you most notice you're getting older?

Bubby's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

Today is Bubby's birthday. He's two. Instead of partying til the cows come home, though -- or the javelinas, as the case may be in the desert -- Bubby is recovering from what Megan said he surely must consider the very worst day of his life.

Bubby woke up early Wednesday morning with a fever of 104.7. That's one-hundred-four-point-seven! Panic level. Mama Megan called the doctor and the doctor said, "Get him in."

So in Bubby and Megan went, and for the next several hours Bubby underwent a strep test, blood tests, chest X-rays, and two attempts at collecting urine via a catheter. Poor baby. In fact, toward the end of the long, long visit, Bubby expressed his dismay to Megan by telling his mommy, "Baby sad. Baby sad."

Right off the bat, Bubby tested positive for strep. The quest for proof of a UTI causing the high fever went unresolved as the timing of the catheter insertion never seemed to coincide with the call of nature. The results from the blood tests and chest X-rays were ordered STAT and sure to arrive within two hours, Megan was told. But apparently STAT doesn't mean what it used to, so after spending about five hours at the doctor's office and various labs, Megan was told to just take Bubby home and she'd be called with the results.

Just before 5 p.m. the call came and the diagnosis was given. Turns out Bubby has something in one of his lungs called "air-space disease" that either has developed or may develop into pneumonia. To me, "air-space disease" sounds a little like some covert operation NORAD should be involved in, but I guess that's not the case. According to Wikipedia, air-space disease "is a general term that described edema and exudates in the airspaces of the lung (the acini and alveoli)." Clear as mud, I say.

Seems the blood tests confirm there's something definitely going on, as they show "a high number of the blood cells that fight infection."

Treatment is the same as if Bubby indeed has pneumonia: round after round of amoxycillin, Motrin and Tylenol. Of course, Bubby didn't want to take the first dose, so Megan followed the technique of effective mothers throughout history: She threatened him. "If you don't take this," she told him, "we will have to go right back to the doctor." Bubby swallowed the yucky stuff in no time flat.

End of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Sort of. That night wasn't all that wonderful either, Megan reported.

That was Wednesday, this is Friday. Today Bubby returns to the doctor for a follow-up. I'm crossing my fingers it's a far less painful day than Wednesday. And I'm crossing my fingers Bubby will be up and at 'em by next week. For that's when the real birthday partying til the javelinas come home -- or the two-year-olds wear out -- is scheduled.

And that's when Grandma and Grandpa are scheduled to arrive to hug and kiss and cuddle a hopefully no longer sad baby, and to wish him the most wonderful, pleasant, all happy, very good birthday ever!

Happy birthday to the bright and beautiful Bubby who totally rocks this grandma's world!

Today's question:

What's the worst medical procedure you've undergone?