Category Archives: Pharmaceuticals


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!!!


the victim, the guinea pig caught in a web

4 months ago i moved to a new community, and now cannot wait to leave. not my idea of where to live. nevertheless, i have had to find a new provider for health care. he is drug happy and referral happy. so now i have been seen by a hemotologist to correct a mild anemia (with diet) and a orthopedist (have a fractured  femur  and pelvic bone, thanks to a fall in my own house! ) to be corrected by use of the leg and prn pain pills. at any rate, be careful not to get caught in the web of health care that you may never really and truly need. for an expense…see next post.

lost your work and insurance?

i have some ideas to share. things that i have had to figure out.

  • reconstiting contact lenes. oh sure, the manufactures say throw them out every few days. guess why? i have found that when i accidently lose a lens, and find it, i put it in solution for a day and it is reconstuted. can’t afford to keep buying these…
  • can’t afford your rx meds? first check around with drug and grocery stores and ask them their prices for a specific medication. also call or email or write to the manufacturer. some are willing to give you a free or reduced suppy for a few months.
  • need to see a health care provider? ask your state for what options are available for reduced cost care, or supplementing your contribution.
  • last but not least, if you need an expensive procedure like i just had, don’t be above asking the provider if “charity care” is available. do not be humiliated. you have paid your dues to our society.
  • lastly, for now anyway, network with people, friends in the same situation for ideas.

Scoliosis and what to do…

My scoliosis was first diagnosed when I was in college, way back in the 60’s. It is lumbar, one of the worst kinds. It didn’t bother me for years; I made it through 2 pregnancies with no pain. And then lo and behold, I lifted some heavy bags 4 years ago, felt a “pop” and here we go. Found  a pain specialist at a major medical center. Surgery is on his mind. Not for me. No one is touching my spine with a knife!

So my solution: an occasional 1/2 pain pill during bad days. A 1/2 muscle relaxant on bad nights so I can sleep. But the very best!! yesterday I had a private bikram yoga class taught by the teacher and founder at the local center who has scoliosis too. What a great relief from stretching out those muscles and vertebrae. I will be going back and taking classes.

The bottom line: lots of folks have scoliosis. I would recommend anything before, or instead of, surgery. I also found that over the counter Icy Hot does almost as well as medications. Heat helps too. The yoga teacher works in a highly heated and humid room. How can you help relaxing?

Why do I have scoliosis? I attribute it to the fact that the “girls” in my generation did no exercise. We read and studied while the boys all played sports. As an adult I was a runner for 30 years, but it was too late then to reverse the damage, and may even have made it worse.

The bottom line: if you have this condition, try anything but surgery. And keep the young ladies in your life physically active. My daughter in law was a basketball star and is now a runner. Lucky her!

The wheel goes round and round

It goes round and round.

Just got a message from a dr’s office (spinal pain). Not willing to see me; “nothing more to offer me” how does he know? Hasn’t seen me for over a year! WHAT? That means he doesn’t want to do charity care. His office bills independently. Nice. I just wanted a damn consult about pain and budding incontinence. And the muscle relaxants he prescribed are outdated. He can’t even do that? Oh I get it. He came to this country to get rich. I forgot. So if I can’t pay 5k out of pocket, why should he bother seeing me? So I left another message for his scheduler. I will run her ragged. Who cares? I just want a damn consult, paid for thank you, by charity care for which I was approved till june of 08. His message was for me to see my usual provider. Well, thank you, fool, but my PA at the cheap clinic is not a spine pain specialist, and referred me to YOU. And I have no insurance. So I get no help anywhere?

Not sure what to do next. I am my own patient now…after all these years of advocating for others, no one advocates for me. screwed. I am really angry.

I have been a health professional, an advocate, for nearly 40 years. And now I find myself living like a health care indigent. NO INSURANCE AND NO WORK after being laid off twice in the last 7 years. So the clinic admin person just called. She will talk to the doc again. yah sure. We shall see.

Veterinary Medicine?

I have often talked about the misuse of drugs in health care. That is, prescribing drugs we don’t need, thanks to the pharmaceutical industry “training” our health care providers. But only recently have I observed this to also be inherent in veterinary medicine. Maybe I need to find a new veterinarian?!

 I took my dog, a 10yo Tibetan Terrier, to the vet on Tuesday because she was having some diarrhea. So what did I come home with?

  • cephalexin capsules for her itchy belly
  • bordatella vaccine (for potential kennel cough, which she has never had)
  • a fecal test for ova and parasites (just in case that was the cause of the loose poop) just got a call; test normal!
  • panacur (to add to her food to kill parasites that she MAY have had; and MAY NOT have had) obviously she didn’t.
  • 8 cans of low fat food
  • a creamy conditioner to rub on her belly to take away the itching. I believe that meditation and talking to her would have worked just as well.
  • a topical spray when the itching gets crazy. She hates it. Smells and tastes like ethanol.
  • a special order for the new drug that is being pushed for allergies: atopica. I have decided that I would rather deal with the allergies in a naturopathic way.
  • biohazard fee. For what? recycling the   syringe used for the nasal inhalant bordatella vaccine?

The bill: $258.91. And I have decided not to give Sara most of this stuff. I am very sorry that I was in a naive mood and bought this junk. I was being stupid and forgetting my same anger toward the human medical industry. I need to find a naturopathic veterinarian.

Do We Really Need These Drugs?

Until I was hospitalized 1 1/2 years ago for a perforated ulcer,  I was only on one daily Rx medication: the  one pill for keeping my hereditary “borderline” blood pressure under control. However, my “provider” felt she needed to add a calcium supplement to prevent osteoporosis and aspirin to prevent a heart attack and a decongestant, in lieu of just standing upright and blowing my nose. And then, during the hospitalization, Protonix was added (I can live with that). As was Norvasc which resulted in severe hair breakage and loss. I just dumped that one. And a bunch of drugs that caused fluid retention and more drugs to cope with constipation (which I never experienced). Lots of drugs prescribed; few that I took.

Now why did I need all these drugs, and even more that I just didn’t take? Well you know my bandwagon about the pill pushers in this country. And why did I even have a perforated ulcer? Too many inappropriate drugs prescribed for back pain., osteoporosis, nasal congestion!  (I have idiopathic scoliosis and a spinal fracture which didn’t bother me at all for many years when I lifted heavy  bags of books).

So now, without health insurance (yes; one of the 47 million Americans), I am trying more and more to reduce any of this junk, these chemicals, that I put into my body. Why? The side effects. And the cost!  Maybe it is my BP med that is making me a little tired , not the aging process? By the way, the insurance company DID NOT PAY FOR ALL OF MY HOSPITALIZATION AND MEDICAL CONSULTANT EXPENSES.  Surprised? I had to. After a “lay off” due to downsizing at work, with no income, and no insurance. (even though I had worked as a manager for a HEALTH insurance company!). Who pays for all these medications? I go to a local neighborhood clinic that is low cost, for the blood pressure med. But anything else? Well check into Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA). They have been most helpful with the drug that will prevent another ulcer.

 As a health professional, I have encountered patients/clients/members who are on as many as 21 medications each day. This is incredible. Who is monitoring this regimen? How can  people keep this straight? How do you do this? And what is really necessary? And what interacts with what other medications?   Contraindications? And what are the side effects? And who is helping to monitor this? No one. Does your doctor/provider/”prescriber” have time to do this? Of course not. And what if all these medications have the resultant side effect of confusion?

 Oh! The answer! Health insurance companies are now providing programs like healthy living support programs that  have nurse case managers who give advice to “members”. The nurse case managers are the gate keepers who help the “members” manage their medications (often from many states away) and keep costs down for the insurance companies (don’t go back to your doctor’s office! that will be a bill that the insurance company will be expected to pay). Just call me, your case manager. the nurse case manager  can talk with you after he/she enters your data into 47 computer  screens.

 So what to do? Think about who you vote for in the next election, and why. No; we don’t need another layer of bureaucracy. We need a WELL THOUGHT OUT PROGRAM FOR NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE. So that we can be as progressive as other developed countries. This is just one little step. Think about this.  Don’t just go along with a candidate who says she/he supports health care. You need to look way beyond that kind of statement. What is really in mind? What kind of program? Managed by whom? Who will be in charge? Who will do the oversight? THINK!