Sunday, September 27, 2009

Drugs & Doctors

Since losing my health insurance more than a year ago, I have been ordering my prescription medicine from overseas. As an asthmatic, I have come to rely on an inhaled corticosteroid although I admit that I need to try and wean myself, after having used this corticosteroid for about three years now, or I need to switch to a less powerful medicine than the inhaled powder that I have been using. Instead of Advair Diskus, I was forced to switch to a generic form of this drug, one made by the same company and only found outside of the US, once I began ordering my medicine from overseas. When I had health insurance, I could get a package of 60 blisters for a co-pay of $30. Without health insurance, this same drug costs $400. at Wal-Mart. Overseas, the generic form is available for $75.

Over the summer, when I experienced a cash flow problem and couldn’t make my usual bimonthly order (my original prescription called for two inhalations per day; I can control my asthma by administering only one inhalation per day), I ended up having to visit the doctor that used to treat my asthma and allergies. For the cost of an office visit, I managed to get enough free samples to last me until I could place another order overseas and wait the two weeks for delivery. Many doctors, I’ve found, are fairly easy to manipulate so that it is possible to get what one wants, at least when it comes to getting a prescription and/or free samples. This doctor’s most pressing concern was getting paid. Apparently, he thought that I wouldn’t be able to pay him as quickly as he wanted.

My wife and I have been fortunate to find a really good pediatrician in this area. My wife refers to him as “the best doctor on the planet.” For me, I haven’t found a good doctor, that is, one who takes the time to listen to me and one who seems genuinely concerned about my health, since leaving Oklahoma eleven years ago.

When my sister came to visit us in Oklahoma and to see her nephew for the first time, she brought along a nasty cold that she passed along to us. Because of the exhaustion of caring for an infant, teaching two classes, and taking two classes as a graduate student, my body didn’t have the immunity that it needed. This cold eventually became bronchitis and then pneumonia. Once I got sick enough, I began seeing a doctor who had his own clinic and his own pharmacy. During the few months I saw him, he gave me enough erythromycin to last two weeks but never enough to cure me. It wasn’t until I went somewhere else that the doctor treated me with what seemed like a more powerful antibiotic along with albuterol and a corticosteroid. My pneumonia ended up lasting about six months before I was considered free of infection. This new doctor ended up treating me whenever I was ill during the four years that I remained in Oklahoma, and recognizing my financial straits, he often gave me free samples instead of a prescription requiring that much more money.

As a sidenote, I have to add that getting pneumonia made it that much easier to remain an ex-smoker, having quit when my wife was pregnant. My sixteen year anniversary of not smoking is coming up in January.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

No More Plastic Water Bottles

No longer buying plastic bottles of water is one benefit that has come from having very little extra money. Probably the three of us in my family averaged three bottles of water per day, sometimes more in the heat of the summer. Drinking that much water caused us to spend about $14.00 every ten days, even though we were drinking some of the cheaper brands. We have now attached a filter to the kitchen sink so as to filter the water that we use for drinking.

This charcoal filter is supposed to significantly reduce the amount of atrazine in the water, a chemical that has been found in our city water on a regular basis. The city says that the highest amount of atrazine detected in our water, which is drawn from wells below the Missouri River before it is purified, is 1.8 ppb, which, according to the EPA, is at an acceptable range. Recent news reports reveal that the amount of atrazine is actually much higher in many parts of Kansas, and these reports call into question the validity of these water tests conducted by certain municipalities. Filtering the water is safer than simply drinking water from the tap.

It is unknown whether the water we were purchasing in bottles had ever been tested for chemicals. Having more control over what we put in our bodies is another reason to make this switch to filtered city water.

Now instead of storing plastic bottles in the refrigerator, we have been refilling glass water bottles and keeping a glass milk jug filled with water in the refrigerator. We also have to make fewer trips to the recycling center to drop off our plastic waste. Although I had been aware of the hazards to the environment that plastic water bottles created, I once doubted that I could ever give up the practice of drinking water from a plastic bottle. I’m happy to say that I have made the transition to a more environmentally friendly practice.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

That Link to the World

This picture reveals where I spend a large part of my time. I'm not the kind of person who requires the latest technology; in fact, I prefer the conventional monitor to the flat screens currently available. I even have a spare monitor tucked away in a closet just in case something were to happen to the monitor that I have been using. Although much of my teaching is done on this desktop, I tend to use my laptop when typing up those comments that I return to my students with their grades. That laptop has been a blessing on nights when thunderstorms prevent me from working on my desktop or when an ice storm causes the transformers in the neighborhood to stop popping.