Saturday, October 3, 2015

I Don't Like This Place

Pilchard's had some vomiting problems of late. Once a week, for the last three weeks, she's thrown up a rather large hairball. I comb her a couple times a week, but when it happened a third time, I started to worry that she might have something else going on. Off to the vet we went. I need to get a better cat carrier. There are a lot of choices out there which would be much easier to transport than the hard sided carrier I have. I'm getting rid of the one I've had for nearly 30 years. The clasp on the door doesn't hold anymore. If the cat is docile and just goes into the carrier and sits, it's fine. But Pilchard tries to force the door so it doesn't hold.

She's down .9 of a pound since our March visit. That does not bother me as she tops the scale at 13.1 pounds. She's always been a bit chunky, but could stand to lose a couple pounds.

After blood work to rule out any underlying problems, it seems the problem is not being able to get rid of hair she ingests while grooming. I have to add a can of wet food to meals now and laxative paste as much as I can. Dr. Cody wants her to have 2 inches per day, but I'm going to be lucky to get a quarter of that. The stuff I have is 'chicken flavor'. Neither girl was impressed with it.

If she continues to vomit hair, there may be a mass in her stomach, which was tender on one side, that will need surgery to remove. Let's hope it doesn't get to that point. I can't imagine the hissing and spitting and growling I'll have to deal with after bringing her home from that kind of appointment. There was enough anger Thursday and Friday to last me the rest of the year.

I found this amusing.

The stress of going to the doctor can cause cats to shed. Pilchard sheds a lot anyway but there was this mass on my pants. It stuck, perfectly, to the wall.

Beverage:  English Breakfast Tea


Thursday, October 1, 2015

That's a Surprise

Over a year ago, my guild mate, Amber, who lives in Australia, sent me two packages of this cookie called "Tim Tam". I'd never heard of it. They are biscuit-like cookies with a flavored layer sandwiched between them and the whole thing dipped in chocolate. It was a lot of fun to have something from the other side of the world.

I was in Target a couple weeks ago and had to walk down the cookie aisle to get from point A to point B. I thought I wanted cookies to nosh on but not really, I decided, until I saw this.

Wait...what? I've had the regular Tim Tam to the left. The caramel was new to me. I had to try those.

Here's a cross section of the cookie. There's the 2 biscuit layers and the cream layer with caramel and the outer chocolate shell. They are good but rather sweet. This is not a tray of cookies you'll sit down and eat all in one sitting.

For me, the attraction of these cookies is the connection I have to Amber. If I hadn't known about them, I would have passed them by. They aren't remarkable in their own right; more a novelty in the vast cookie aisle. What they remind me, though, is just how global life is now. These are an Australian cookie on the shelf of my Wheaton Target. Some executive made the decision to either import them or have a manufacturing plant make them here. I can't see them taking over much more in shelf space, but who knows. Something new and different could garner just enough of a following that we'll see other flavors besides plain chocolate and caramel on the shelves.

Beverage:  Dunkin Donuts Tea


A Return of the Yum

It's back.

Panera has their autumn squash soup back. One bowl of this and life doesn't feel quite so hard. I have to cut back on eating out at lunch. It's too easy to let someone else cook and then pay for that privilege. But...but...soup...

Beverage:  Dunkin Donuts Tea


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Part of the System

This is going to be a bit of a rant. You're welcome to skip over today's post.

I had a CT scan of my colon to better help the gastroenterologist, now added to my health team, determine if I have problems related to the recent bout of diverticulitis. The fact that I have to add another doctor to my list of health care professionals is annoying enough. A double annoyance was the need for the scan. The insurance stepped in and sent me half-way across the suburbs to an imaging center not affiliated with my doctor. Their hours for scans were not conducive to my schedule and I had to be more than a little firm that I can't just drop my life for a CT scan for a non-life threatening medical condition. They were not happy but we worked out a time I could come. The technicians were very nice. The front office staff, not so much.

Now comes word there are cysts which need to be looked at. These require ultrasounds, two, to be exact. Fortunately, ultrasounds do not require insurance approval so I can go to the center I know and where they have hours conducive to working people. But I'm told the cysts are benign so I'm puzzling over the need to have the scans at all. "Because you have RA," I'm told, "we need to watch these things." Seriously?

And, speaking of RA, I'm supposed to be taking Orencia. While the Humira gave me pain-free days, it wasn't doing enough to stop joint damage, according to Dr. Francis. I felt fantastic, as you know, if you've read the blog for any length of time. To me, being pain-free is my number 1 quality of life issue. If the joints are being damaged, wouldn't I have pain, or is the Humira masking that? I don't know the answer to that question, but I'll trust Dr. Francis' judgement and try the Orencia. Might as well asked for the moon.

The pharmacy I had been using is not where the insurance sent me for the Orencia. The first contact with the new pharmacy was pleasant, but the gentleman giving me the hours they are open neglected to tell me the time zone. I had been dealing with a pharmacy in Atlanta. I knew their hours. Just saying you're open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. doesn't help me. That could be Central Time or Hawaiian Time, for all I knew. Add to this, the amount of travel I've had to do and I'm not home much before 5:30, my time. Those days I haven't been traveling, I don't remember that I need to call this pharmacy because I have this thing called a "life" and clean underwear is more important than dealing with people on the phone.

When I do get in touch with them, I find out I have a rather large co-pay to get Orencia. There is no patient assistance for which I qualify. I'm directed to yet another number to see if they have anything.

Tests. More tests. A new doctor. New drugs. More phone calls. I feel less like a patient and more like a commodity. This is not how health care should feel.

I realize that, as one ages, more things start to simply wear out. It doesn't matter in what shape you find yourself. We're not designed for the same longevity whales achieve. There are more working parts to break. I also realize I have a chronic illness, an illness where my body turns against me. Add to that another illness which can have repercussions with my RA should I have another attack and we want to not have that. One of my friends, who has a number of issues said, "Welcome to the system. It doesn't hurt as much if you hand them your wallet and bend over." Graphic, to be sure, but perhaps not an all-together unfitting image.

I don't want more tests. I don't want to have to call 5 different places for drugs which may, or may not, let's be clear that we're not sure the Orencia is going to do what Dr. Francis wants. I don't want yet another specialist. I'm struggling with all of this because, until 2012, I rarely got sick. Honestly, I don't know how people with worse diseases than me handle a stable of doctors. I remember reading that people in the fire zones in California were told to pack up quickly and one woman grabbed her medications, all 17 of them. 17! I can't even imagine.

So tonight I have list of phone numbers, dates and times of calls and whom I talked to. I have another trip in the morning to finish up a couple of jobs and then, knock on wood, it appears there's a lull before crazy sets in again. I can stay in the office, work some overtime to complete reports and take an aspirin if my joints ache. We measure things on a "quality of life" scale. When I step back, my actual "quality" of life is good. I'd even go so far as to say "great". Yes, I have the occasional twinge, but who doesn't? I have no quarrel with the treatment I get from my doctors. They seem to be looking out for my interests, but I've always been a person who wants to go low on the medical scale. What's the lowest, cheapest thing we can do now, first, to see if it works? Then, if that doesn't work, we step up. Tests, tests and more tests. Changing drugs. Phone call after phone call is not the lowest, cheapest thing we can do. I feel sucked into a whirlpool I don't know I can get out of. That's my biggest frustration.

Beverage:  Water