Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Spoonful of Sugar

Lately, I've been ruminating on some of the blogs I read that are written by medical people. There are nurses, doctors, pharmacists, EMT's, ER techs, secretaries and probably housekeeping, for all I know. For some reason, the majority of sites that I have visited have writers who are pretty snarky and sometimes amazingly clever in their turn of a phrase. One particular pharmacist has a palpable hate for "golden oldies", and he seems to have it in for anyone who receives Social Security. Do we all throw the switch on our intellect the day we turn in our key to the executive washroom? There could be reasons why his customers don't understand every ramification of Medicare Part D, since the whole thing was written to deliberately obfuscate the whole plan. Couldn't Congress have written the damn plan in language not requiring an Doctorate of Jurisprudence to decode it?

For the last two and a half months , I have been suddenly stricken with a confusing set of symptoms. It started in mid-December with GERD (gastric reflux). But, my mind told me that it was impossible, since I had been the recipient of an esophageal fundoplication about nine years ago. This is a nifty surgery where the doctor wraps the top of your stomach around the bottom of your esophagus to keep your stomach from sliding up into your thoracic cavity through a Paraesophageal Hernia. It worked great....for many years and then started feeling like I had slipped a cog somewhere in my middle. This was complicated by another miracle of modern medicine known as a stent in my celiac artery. This major artery goes from your aorta to your liver and provides your innards with oxygen to keep digestion going. So, "my Honey" and I headed up the road to Punta Gorda and The Peace River Hospital on Dec. 26th. Tests were run and medicine prescribed (Prevacid and Carafate), which I started taking faithfully right away. Within another week, I was miserable with horrendous indigestion and we rolled on up the road to the ER again. This time, another doctor took a look at my old EKG and my newly minted EKG and said, "I think it is your heart, not your esophagus!" He then threw me into a room and called a cardiologist who sent me by ambulance to a bigger hospital and did a cardiac cath with two stents. Being a very alert and GREAT cardiac doc, he used Cobalt Chromium stents, so gastro doctors could do whatever they needed, after I had taken Plavix and Aspirin for a month. So, Honey and I drove even further up the road to northwestern Ohio and I saw my family doc, my northern heart doc and a gastroenterologist. The Endo doctor did an EGD as soon as my month was up and I discontinued the drugs that could make me bleed. The results are in and I was right.... my fundoplication has loosened up and I had developed gastric erosion in my lower esophagus, but it was in the process of healing from the twice daily Prevacid. He also ordered Carafate Suspension and we immediately discovered that this medicine was the reason that the pain had been so bad in my esophagus...I am allergic to it!
Okay, I took a long time to explain what is eating at me....not my gut, my brain. We drove back to Florida and the Ohio doctor had ordered Prevacid (twice a day) at my Ohio pharmacy. I called them this morning. With my Part D coverage of Medicare, a one month supply of Prevacid, twice a day (60 pills), is $38.00 and change. Since that seemed reasonable, I asked them about my husband's Rx for Prevacid (it works great, but OTC Prilosec is cheaper) and a three month supply of Prevacid, once a day (90 pills), is $116.00! Something just is not right here! If I get a three month's supply (180 pills), it will cost me $114.00....isn't that $2.00 cheaper for twice as many pills? Now, Mr. Hot Dog Pharmacist....Explain to the Golden Oldies how the insurance companies do the math! We are talking belly pain here, not narcotic addiction. Someday very soon, you will be old and eating your words---- I wish I could be here to see what you have to say when you are the one being screwed.
Something very strange is happening in our country. The many bills being passed by congress are placing diametric opposition between the ages. A close friend's granddaughter married two years ago in her early twenties. She and her equally young husband built a four bedroom, three bathroom home with a huge walk through shower, swimming pool on a water site. This was at the top of the housing bubble. He recently applied to the government for mortgage relief, because the young wife had a temporary medical problem and was given a $100,000.00 break on the mortgage. He has told "Grampa" that the old folks are living too long and depleting "his" Social Security. Do you see a pattern here? Our young people are spouting the equivalent of hate speech toward senior citizens....could the government be fomenting this breech between the ages? Soon, Uncle Sam will be floating us out into the ocean on a burning canoe, while the twenty somethings wave gaily from shore and the angry pharmacist leads the choir. So long for a while, that's all the songs for a while!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day to all the folks in bloggityville! I have always let my darling husband off the hook for this holiday, because I feel that it is a plague on the backs of men everywhere. Why are they expected to spring for a "Pajama Gram", teddy bear or long stem roses? What makes this a special day for women only? The TV ads make me feel so sorry for the guys. I think all Valentine gifts should be something that can be enjoyed by, uh, perhaps a great dinner out, a fine bottle of wine or a great box of chocolates. I think my aversion to the gift part is because I have always mentally reserved the day for my memories of my Dad. When we were young, Dad would come home with a big box of Fanny Farmer Chocolates for my Mom and little boxes for his three girls. After we married, our boxes got bigger and our daughters were the recipients of the little red heart boxes. Each year he made the trip to the candy store and then drove about town passing out the boxes that said, "Dad loves me! " This was a man of unique intelligence, who was the epitome of the absent-minded professor. I don't think he actually knew when Christmas or Easter was due, but he knew about Valentine's Day and I would never give that memory away to any one else. I love my husband every day, so he doesn't have to shell out the big bucks for any card company holiday. Today, we met our kids at the local Panera's for lunch (something I really love...the kids, not Panera's...well, I do like it). My daughter-in -law told me about a little ritual that is carried out in their home. Many years ago, my son came home on Valentine's Day with a big bouquet of flowers for her, but as he walked into the house, their little girl said, "Oh, Daddy... you brought me flowers!" He bowed and presented them to her with a wink to his wife. Ever since that time, he has brought Lacey flowers on Valentine's Day. It is so like my Dad with his candy ritual, that I could cry. This is something that is beyond the commercial bit and gets right to the heart of things. But, then....who wouldn't adore this child? She was six when I took her to "Glamour Shots" and we had a wonderful day. She will be eighteen soon, but I'm not into publishing pictures that would identify her to the public at large. She is a beauty and is very well guarded by three older brothers.

If God were going to give me seven grandsons and only one granddaughter .... I got the right one!
Most of the people who are kind enough to visit my blog know that we spend the winter in Florida. As the years pile up around us like wrinkles under our chins and our health becomes more precarious, we seem to be unable to handle the six month stretch in paradise and we end up making a trip north to visit our doctors. So, we are home for a month (I hope is is only a month) and I will have a gastroscopy on Tuesday. Hopefully, we will head back to Ft. Myers by next week, since we are freezing our behinds off. This picture is what greeted us this morning for Valentine's Day. Believe it or not, this is a walk in the park compared to the two inches of ice we drove through in Kentucky and the eleven inches of snow that was on our deck when we arrived in Ohio. When the thaw started last week, 200 or so ice fishermen were caught out on the ice in Lake Erie near Toledo and had to be rescued by the Coast Guard as the eighteen inch ice developed a huge crack between them and the shore. They had fishing shacks, snowmobiles and all sorts of equipment out there when the ice decided to break away from shore. One man fell through the ice on his snow mobile and died of a heart attack. I don't think I could make it for two seconds in forty degree water. The snow had all melted by this week and we had over two inches of rain the middle of the week. Ohio is certainly not boring and I love the changes of season, but I hope the next season I see will be the flowering of the shrubs and trees in May!