Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fixing the hole(s) where the rain gets in

A lot of people have been asking/commenting on the fact that I've been notably absent lately from the online community. I've also been more absent than usual in the 3D community. One reason is that I've been dealing with some medical issues in the past few months. (I'm fine. I'm okay. Or, I'll be fine, I'll be okay.)

I thought I'd take a minute to share some information that might be helpful to some of you.

I'm poor and uninsured. There. I've said it. That being the case, these past few months have been especially stressful for me because of doctor bills, lab tests, prescriptions, etc. But even though I've spent hundreds of dollars that I technically don't have, I've also saved hundreds. How?


So many people are uninsured (or grossly under insured) and those in the medical profession understand this. There's no shame in needing medical help and not being able to afford it. Let me say it another way. You deserve to be healthy regardless of your financial situation. Obamacare not withstanding.

There are four things I do regularly that save me HUNDREDS of dollars every month.

1) Ask your doctor if they offer reduced rates for services.  If you don't ask, you'll never know. Some doctors and other professionals have a sliding fee scale. Some will offer you the rate at which they are reimbursed by insurance companies - which is seldom the number you see on your bill.  I did this and had one person reduce their rate from $100 to $60.  All I had to do was ask.

2) If you're going in for a follow up visit to have something re-checked, ask if it's possible to have the nurse run the test or do the check up. I had to go back to one doctor for a follow up test. The cost for the office visit was $125.  I asked if I could just see the nurse and have her run the simple test.  Cost?  $8.

3)  Before getting a prescription filled, call every pharmacy in your area and get their price. Generics are always better if your doctor agrees.  Then, if it's not convenient to drive all around town, go to your nearest pharmacy and ask them to match the lowest price you can find.  It's been my experience that they always will.  After all, they would rather have some of your money than none of it.  I've paid $11 for a $34 prescription. You just have to ask.

4)  For expensive, ongoing prescriptions, there are almost always patient assistance programs.  Ask your doctor, or go online to find out about them.  Just do a Google search for the brand name.  You can download the forms.  You'll fill out a page or two, include your most recent tax return and give the whole thing to your doctor who will fill out the rest and send it in for you.  If you qualify, your meds will be shipped directly to your doctor in three month supplies.  You'll have to re-apply every six months, but for someone like me, it's more than worth it.  I take over $1000 in medication every month - and it's all free. Directly from the drug company that makes the product.

Take care of yourself. Easy to say, believe me, I know. But it IS possible if you're willing to ask for help.

Anyone else have any tips on how to save money on healthcare if your uninsured?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Body Image

I was in the shower this morning when my son walked in for whatever reason, and something occurred to me.  I have never been self-conscious around him.  I don't run around in the nude, of course, but since it's always been just the two of us, we pretty much have an open door policy.

My body image is skewed, to say the least. Regardless of my weight, heavy or not, when I look in the mirror I always see the same me and I don't like what I see. (which is why the mirrors over the bathroom sinks are the only two in our house.)

Anyway, Andy doesn't know what it is to be ashamed of one's body.  All his life I've told him, every single day, that he's the most perfect, the smartest and the most handsome guy in the world.  Because he is. No one has ever told him anything different, so why should he think otherwise?  But here's what I thought about this morning.  Andy doesn't care what I look like either.

When he walks in on me in the shower, he doesn't look at my stomach and say, "Whoa, Mom! What the hell happened there?"  He doesn't look at my breasts and say, "Better roll those things up before you trip over them."  He just sees me.  His Mom. And he loves me.

I could learn a lot from my son.

My trainer tells me I look different now than I did 20 some pounds ago. Common sense tells me this must be true, but I don't see it and I don't really feel any different either. Maybe it will come with the next 20...or the 20 after that. One thing that's different, though, is that I'm feeling a little better about myself every day. That's a good thing. What will be a great thing? When feeling good about myself is no longer contingent upon a number on a scale.

Now THAT will be a great day.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dealing With ED

I feel like a fraud.

I finished my memoir about my meth addiction and recovery. I signed with an agent. I've worked with two editors and am beginning the final draft of the book. And I feel like it's all bullshit. All I've done is trade one addiction for another.

I've struggled with bulimia and compulsive overeating all my life. This is my eating disorder. My ED. It started when I was twelve years old. The only time I've been free from it is when I've been on drugs. It's amazing what cocaine, prescription diet pills and/or meth will do for and eating disorder. Why, the ED just disappears! But take away the drugs and here we go again.

So I'm a fraud.

It's all the same thing - numbing out. Things or ways to distract me from whatever demons I'm still running from. I thought I was fixed. I thought I was all better. I thought that being drug and alcohol free meant everything was okay. But it's not. I'm not.

So I put myself in Fat Chick Rehab at my parent's house a few weeks ago, and it's helped. (My parents are truly wonderful people. They're the ones who made it possible for me to go to drug rehab.)  I've lost weight - the healthy way - and started exercising every day. Being with Mom and Dad has helped get me on the right track.  It's also been a reminder of the origin of my eating disorder. So I'm moving back home this weekend.

My parents aren't the cause of my bulimia any more than they're the cause of my drug addiction. They didn't cause it, and they can't fix it. I have to do that. So I'm going back to a therapist I saw ten years ago who specializes in eating disorders. I quit seeing her because my ED disappeared.

I didn't tell her I'd started doing cocaine and prescription diet pills. This time I will.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Hiatus That Really Wasn't.... was more like a giant slump. Actually, speaking of it in the past tense isn't honest. I've been hosting a battle in my head,(okay, battles,)not the least of which concern the following questions:

1) Would it be in my best interest to use this blog to talk about other addictions I suffer from?

2) Would baring even more of my ragged soul help others who might be afflicted themselves?

I'm not sure of the answers yet, but I'm leaning toward full disclosure. In the meantime, know that THIS is how I feel most of the time.
** Disclaimer: My current issues have nothing to do with drugs or alcohol, but Gary Busey just kills me.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dual Diagnosis and Recovery (repost)

Once it became painfully clear that I needed to go to rehab for meth addiction, I knew I also needed a dual diagnosis program. It wasn't difficult to find one. Many addicts have mental health issues in concurrence with their addiction problems. I don't know the exact statistics but as I said, finding a program that would treat both addiction and underlying pathologies wasn't hard. The hard part was finding a program that actually treated mental health rather than just using the catch phrase 'dual diagnosis' as an advertising gimmick.

* * * *

I've had chemical depression all my life. This is different from the depression that most people go through at one time or another. The chemicals in my brains don't work like they should. Much like a person with epilepsy, I need daily medication to be able to function.

Unlike epilepsy, though, there's a huge stigma associated with mental illness. Especially depression. In the past twenty years or so, it seems everyone is on some kind of anti-depressant. It's almost chic. People even put their dogs on medication for depression and other 'puppy pathologies'. There are television and print ads all the time for one drug or another. "Tell your doctor you want (fill in the blank). It will open up a whole new world for you."

A quick aside: doesn't asking a doctor for medication as opposed to having one recommended make him/her a drug dealer? Just an observation...

I don't want to have depression. I would do anything to not be the way I am. The thing is, I just am this way. For good or ill, I'm playing the cards I've been dealt. Sometimes I play them better than others.

The stigma associated with mental illness resides in my mind as much as it does in society. There are times when I need my medication adjusted. There are times I forget a dose here and there. It's during these times, when the depression breaks through, that I feel like a freak. I can't stop crying about nothing. My motor skills deteriorate. It's difficult just to get up and make it through a day. Sometimes I think the worst part is that I know how weird it is. I understand how difficult it must be for the people around me who see me fall apart for no apparent reason. Most of all, I know how helpless it makes the people who love and care about me feel. All of this, of course, makes me feel like more of a freak.

I believe much of my addiction was an attempt at self-medicating. The hideous flip side is that I've done even more damage to my brain through years of meth and other drug use. Some say the additional damage is permanent. Some say my brain will repair itself with the passage of time. Regardless, I know I have to take medication every day for the rest of my life.

The biggest obstacle for me, though, isn't the medication. It's not even the stigma. The biggest obstacle is me accepting me. I know all of this about myself, yet I still get so frustrated and self-punishing when I have to face facts. When everything is going good, my meds are adjusted correctly and I'm taking them faithfully I don't think about it too much. I take things for granted. It's when things kind of get derailed and I feel myself slipping that I start feeling like a freak again and self-loathing creeps back in.

A huge part of my recovery, though, has been getting to a place where I can accept me for me. Over time, I've started to understand that the things that make me who I am - the good and the not so good - are okay. It's how I choose to deal with my idiosyncrasies that will make or break me.

So I'm trying. I'm trying to become comfortable living in my own skin, and I'm getting better at it, too. But sometimes, like today for instance, it takes more work than others. The difference now is that I know I can get through today and things will be better tomorrow if I just do the next right thing...whatever that may be.