April's CR Diary

A diary of a 30 year old woman following CRON, or Caloric Restriction with Optimal Nutrition, for health and life extension.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

No Good, Very Bad, Terrible Horrible Day

Isn't that the title of one of my favorite children's books? Or was that, "The Little Engine that Could Find the Perfect Protein Source?"

Today was a bit trying. I knew yesterday that I was developing an allergic reaction that I've had before, but I was hoping to fight it off because in the past, the only treatment that's worked has been prednizone (a sterroid) and very strong antihistimines. I discovered recently when I was on antibiotics for a minor ailment that now that I am on CR, my body reacts very strongly to prescription drugs. So I was terrified to take the strong sterroid stuff.

But I spent last night waking up every twenty minutes or so in agony with itchy hives. They're invisible unless I scratch them, which I suppose is lucky, but it basically just means that I look perfectly normal while I feel like I'm in hell. I finally woke up for the last time at about four am, and seriously considered going the the emergency room, but was scared of the amount of money that would cost. The hospitals in south Jersey, where I actually live until next week (I live seven miles over the bridge to Philly in a suburb thereof) are "Out of Network" so if I went there I would have to pay out of pocket.

I called my assigned by the insurance company doctor and actually talked to him... he said there was no way he would call in a prescription for me, and that there was no way I could be seen in the morning. He said to take benadryl and deal with it. I've already taken that -- I know it doesn't work.

I eventually called my mother and asked her what she could find online to help. She searched both the net in general and the CR Society archives for me (she has online access at home... I do not. She is also a librarian and teaches online searching, and so can find anything. This is a cool thing for a mother to do. I don't know what people whose mothers aren't librarians do. As far as I can see, librarians are the only indispensible category of professionals.) She found new Claritin OTC product for hives that I bought that kept me from climbing the walls, though it in now way solved the underlying problem.

In the meantime, I knew I absolutely had to get to the office and make a flyer that absolutely had to get into the hospital this morning, so I go on the expressway, hoping to beat the traffic. By this time it was six thirty am.

It took me an hour and ten minutes to get to work, even at that hour. I am soooooo glad I am moving next week.

Once I got there, I answered some email, made my flyer, emailed it to the layout person to wait for her to get to work and lay it out, and resumed my search for a doctor who would see me.

Called my doctors office. Sure enough, there was no way they could see me anytime in the next two weeks.

Called my insurance company. They said that if I saw any doctor that was not my assigned primary care physician, they wouldn't cover the cost of the visit.

Called some other doctors in network to see if I could switch to them and make them my primary care physician. They said sure I could switch, but they couldn't see me till mid next week at the earliest.

Called my insurance company again. They said all that was just too bad. That was after I spent fifteen minutes in electronic phone trees before getting a real person.
By this time I was running around my office, literally screaming at anyone who was unlucky enough to be there, that I was moving to Canada at my earliest convenience.

And I am not the kind of girl who makes idle threats about moving to more civilized countries. When my friends expound on how they've gotten Irish citizenship for themselves and their children, just in case, I tell them to write me a postcard while I stay here and fight for a better world. And be a dear and send me some nice Irish whiskey while you're at it, we'll need it here in the still barbaric USA.

Eventually, my flyer gets made, I discover that if I go to an ER in network (which is far from my house but close to my office) it won't be but a $35 copay. So I cancel the marriage proposals that I'd sent out several Canadian friends who were no doubt quite confused, even disappointed, when they opened their email this morning to discover that they had both been offered a chance to marry me and lost it, all before arriving at the office. The early bird catches the worm, they say. That will teach Canadians to sleep past seven am. Sorry, Kris, Doug and Jordi. It wouldn't have worked out anyway. Everyone knows that it never does when you marry for health care.

I had to go to the hospital that I've been working with anyway, so it occured to me that it would be most efficient if I could be seen there. I talked to one of my nurses and she said no problem, it's not busy, we'll get you right in. There are occasionally some advantages to working for a nurses' union, as long as you don't mind taking your clothes off in front of people you work with.

So I went, dropped off my flyers, and was seen almost immediately by a sweet RN and a very nice young doctor who was amused at the story of the time my cat took predinizone so he would stop chewing on his tail.

They gave me the appropriate drugs, wrote me a prescription, watched me for half an hour and sent me on my way.

I ate a nice lunch with a friend, having decided that one should not take prednizone on a completely empty stomach. Romaine, tomatoes, vinegar, chick peas, black olives, honey dew, strawberries and pineapple with a touch of romano cheese. Felt much better.

Took the rest of the day off from work and went home. Tried to lie down, but couldn't sleep. Read disturbing article about genocide in Sudan in the New Yorker.

Decided to pop over to my mother's to check my email, as that is usually soothing.

By this time the sterroid was making me hungry! I ate the entire bowl of tuna fish with hotdog relish that she offered me, and a few Trader Joes' pretzels. Checked email, and was still as awake as one of those lizards who never closes its eyes. Thought about what it would be like to be one of those lizards, and never have to fight with health insurance companies. Wondered if they even have those lizards in Canada, which is notoriously chilly and unsuitable to your average cold blooded guy or girl.

Went home. Made myself a vodka cranberry with some vodka I've had lying around since before I started CR and had been thinking of giving away and some of my unsweetened cranberry juice. Not everyone's cup of tea (or cup or cranberry) but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Fell asleep within half an hour. Woke up at half past six, unsure of whether it was am or pm. A quick check of the traffic report on the radio confirmed that it was evening rush hour. If there's one thing I know, other than how to organize nurses, it's Philly traffic.

Now I'm on my way to fill my prescription and feeling much better, though stuffed from the tuna fish. I am probably a touch over target and tuna is not ideal, but considering the prednizone and the fact that I was starving, I could have done worse. At least I got a ton of protein, which had been low for the past several days. And I can take my medications without getting sick.

I really hate the American health care system, and I'm glad I've dedicated my professional life to helping nurses reform it.

Tomorrow I may have to take my calorie level a little low, to the 800 serious zen inspiring levels, to even out for today and to counteract any crazy making effects of sterroids. I'm only on them for five days, and a low dosage. I pointed out to the doctor that I am a touch underweight now, and he said that he could see that and would write me an appropriate medication.

The nurse who took care of me said, "Other than the fact that you have hives, you're an extremely healthy, *thin* young woman."

My blood pressure is down to 110 over 63, down from 110 over 70 pre-CR. The nurse said, "It really couldn't be better."

My temperature was 99.1, proving that I am still a hot blooded Scottish redhead girl. At home it's usually right on normal. Wonder if longivinex would make me colder. Consider again becoming a lizard. They seem happy, though a bit slow, and rather too scaly for fashion.

More tomorrow.


  • At 5:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    April, you're a riot even when you're not feeling well. Your stream of consciousness communication is very entertaining, and your wars with the typical American diet and the healthcare system are inspiring. Hope that you're doing better by now and that the move goes smoothly -- A Fan.


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