All posts by marie


Judging from the commercials and advertisements, it would seem that we Americans have a lot of gastrointestinal problems and are in need of laxatives and stool softeners. Yes, as we age we may need to take more medications and some have side effects that may affect, or upset our “gi” system in some ways. But more so, our American diet leaves much to be desired, including the need for more fresh fruits and vegetables, and less “junk food”.

But instead of saving those coupons, instead of watching commercials and clipping ads in magazine and newspapers, why not take a dried prune or two. Or if you prefer, a small amout of prune juice. A few sips from those handy little cans may just do the trick. For a lot less money and grief.

When I was hospitalized I was practically “forced” to take colace, which I refused. I didn’t want nor need the cramping sensation and “urgency” to find an available toilet! I requested prune juice, instead of the strange mixture of leftover fruit juice that I was offered with my breakfast. One so called “nurse” even told me that my “…doctor wanted me to have the colace.” To which I responded “I don’t care what my doctor wants. I am a well educated nurse who has studied a year of nutrition as a part of my academic education years ago.”

Who are the Beneficiaries of Prescription Medications?

Certainly not the person who pays for prescriptions and ingests them. Yes; it’s the drug companies and it’s only getting worse. As I age I seem to have more prescription drugs recommended, mostly for minor and /or temporary, diagnoses. And when I ask for generics, I find that their cost is no less, or maybe not much less, than the prescribed medications. I was told today by a reputable pharmacist that generics, when they are first developed, do in fact cost the same as the usual medications. So what’s the benefit in buying generics. Oh sure, I could drive for miles to the big box stores in nearby cities to get a bit of a discount. But what’s the discount in wasting money and stress on fuel to drive around for comparison shopping?

The consumer is certainly not the beneficiary in all of this asking for generics and driving around.

I have been spending on the average of about $500/month on medications, some generic, and some with pharmacy discounts. And I do not have several diagnoses. These are for hypertension, and bladder muscle insufficiency. And a temporary edema of my cornea. And due to lay offs from work in my profession, I have no insurance coverage of any sort, and have finally resorted to living on nothing but Social Security benefits, having exhausted my retirement savings, after only 5 years into a forced “retirement”.

I don’t think I am the only one in this dilemma. Any ideas to share with me and others? Yes, AARP offers plans to somewhat solve these problems, but they can be costly as well, deducted from my Social Security benefits!

I recognize two societal problems that need to be dealt with, though both are long term problems ingrained in the core of our economic system.

First, physicians are “trained” by the pharmaceutical industry to treat every ailment with drugs when a sometimes simple lifestyle adjustment can solve a problem. An example: prescribing laxatives and stool softeners when an ounce or two of prune juice is just as effective. Another example is recommending an over the counter drug like prilosec when avoiding acidic or fatty food might be just as effective.

Secondly, some action, perhaps governmental, must be taken to control the costs charged by the pharmaceutical companies. Why do they choose to WAIT before lowering the cost of a new generic? Obviously to make more money awhile longer, certainly for no reason that benefits the consumer.

Do you really have cataracts?

It started out as a simple, easy, routine visit to the optometrist, maybe the ophthalmologist as well…to see if I needed an updated prescription for contact lenses.

When I arrived I inquired as to whether Medicare covered any of the anticipated expenses. “No”, I was told. The newly graduated optometrist immediately halted the exam for contacts because she informed me that I had cataracts and she could not proceed in examining me for new contacts until I had the cataracts evaluated and removed. She referred me to an ophthalmologist of her choice.

I was out of “fresh” new contacts, so she was kind enough to give me a pair of contacts to wear while waiting for my cataract surgery! But only after insisting that one of my contacts surely must be for “distant” vision and one for “proximal” vision. I had never been told this before in my approminately 15 years of wearing contacts. But because she insisted, I guessed which eye was which to satisfy her.

Since I was not willing to undertake any surgical procedures without significant thought, I gave this some thought. I ardently believe that everyone MUST be their own best advocate in undertaking any medically related evaluations and procedures. (I am a well educated health professional.) I scheduled appointments with two optometrists who practiced with ophthalmologists. Medicare would cover some or all of the expenses for the evaluations I was told. And Medicare did cover these expenses.

The conclusion of both othphalmologists was that i did not need a new prescription for contact lenses, just a supply. AND I had no cataracts!!!


Eating Healthy: Matzo Brie for Pesach

Ever made matzo brie? What to do with all the matzo for the 8 days of Pesach? Matzo Brie for breakfast!

Crumble (break into bite sized pieces) matzo. Beat eggs as for scrambled eggs, and add to the matzo. Fry chopped white onions and saute in butter. After onions are sauted, add the egg and matzo mixture. Fry till done. Enjoy.

Or try frying a “clump” of the matzo and egg mixture, as in pancakes. After frying, add syrup and serve like pancakes!

moms and cell phones

It is well known among child development specialists that “en face” contact and communication is very important for bonding between mother and baby. But it seems like the ever present cell phone is more compelling than a mother’s new baby, sometimes. I find it annoying to say the least when i see moms out for a walk with their new babies, mom’s face turned to the back of the baby’s head, while mom talks on her cell phone. Could these conversation be more important than talking to a young child who craves contact, hearing a mom’s voice, learning his or her earliest sounds and words and songs?

I want to just scream at these mothers “is that call really so important?” I honestly doubt that it is. Sure, I may be over-reacting. Maybe a new baby is not as exciting as it was in the 1980s when some of us “aging moms” who postponed having children for our careers were so enamored by this great event that we had waited for? We were the “supermoms” or tried to be. And there were no cell phones so i can’t do a study to compare…

No More Colds

Did you ever wonder how to be rid of the common cold? Try my painless, medication-free, remedy.

When I was in my first semester of college, back in 1964, I had a cold which really interupted my studies. I realized I could not go on for 4 years blowing my nose and missing classes! So I meditated, which I am not accustomed to doing. My mantra was that “I would not have another cold; that I had no time in my life for colds anymore!”

It worked, and I have not had a cold since. Another factor that I attribute this to is that, despite being a health professional (and should maybe know better?) i have never been obcessed with germs. I can’t stand the feel of slimy hand sanitizers. And I ofter rinse and rub my hands without scrubbing with soap. So I collect a few germs on my body, in my body, keeping up my immunity.

I am meticulous about cleanliness, just not obcessed with soap and sanitizers.

Despite recommendation for my age group, I have never gotten a “flu injection” nor the flu. Does my “karma” work here too?

If you decide to try this, I wish you the best. Let me know how it goes…

Trying to live on Social Security

This is a message I was hoping not to write to the company that monitors my IRA. But alas…
I was trying to live for a month on SS (social security) alone. I made it half way through the month: no frills, no fun money, just the rent, utilities, simple food, dog food (for my dog), medications ( two). The only real fun: Netflix, because I can’t read all the time! And one book (maybe I could read more slowly). And I just found out today that medicare, when I am soon eligible, is deducted from my SS check! And I am looking for work, and I just applied for part time work (there isn’t much part time work in my profession) and retirement can be boring. But a salary get deducted from my SS check! I could have fought, at divorce, to receive part of my husband’s money, but I didn’t, feeling it was dishonorable. But that’s what women generally do…I am told.

So I need 1k with tax deducted, from that, to supplement my SS check. I will try to stretch it for 2 months. We’ll see. I don’t want to take out more than I really need to, at one time. And I need to look for a specialized tax agent come the new year, so that I ensure all deductions that are due me are given consideration.

so that’s how it is to live on Social Security!

To your health! Screening Tests

Awhile back, in March of 2010, NPR reported about the “Prostate Test: Lifesaver or Big Mistake?” I sent an email to my sons telling them that they should be aware of this, since testing, I assume and hope, will eventually be recommended to them, and to all men…
…like with breast and cervical cancer screening for women….The important aspect to remember is that screening is just that: screening. It is NOT DIAGNOSIS. It means RISK, not disease (like I repeatedly said in my previous work in newborn screening for genetic diseases).
Screening may need follow up. Please do follow through.

If you can’t afford them, ask the provider if they are available at reduced rate, or for free. Or call you local health department.

Take advantage of all screening tests that are available to you. That’s the bottom line!

what do you do with a fractured leg?

earlier this year i fractured my right leg. and then due to imbalance, i fell and fractured my right shoulder. what wonderful luck! but:

when i saw the orthopedist who diagnosed my leg fracture, he said that my right leg was now 5.5 mm shorter than the left leg. i asked what could be done. the answer “nothing”. so i was to hobble around with this limp for the rest of my life. i guess so. adjust.

i spoke with the orthopedist, the nurse in his office, the sociall worker. no one had any advice or resources to recommend. why? are they irresponsible? is it the state of health care today? why are they working in this specialty. so, as usual, i had to be my own resourceful advocate. and if it weren’t for my status and experience as a health care professional, i would be lost, having expected comptetant “professionals” to help me through this.

what i found: Feet Relief. com. they provide “in soles” for your shoes that can provide a “lift” and support. that, for me, was a temporary correction. and now i have found a company that makes all kinds of orthotics. they say that they can make for me shoe inserts that accomodate my right leg shortening, and can be purchased for all kinds of shoes. (i find athletic shoes to be comfortable and provide the best support.) well i need different kinds of support. i don’t want to wear athletic shoes to that “little black dress” occasion. so this company will apparently also create orthotics to accomodate sandals and dress shoes.

so why am i complaining? the orthotic company cannot make an appliance without an rx from my primary care md or the orhtopedist. try getting a message to them, and request that they fax an rx to the orthotic company. round and round we go. till i suppose i get furious this week and walk sweetly into their offices and ask for the referral (just please make a copy of the damned initial referral) while i wait, thank you.