Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lysol Rambo

I really love fall in Boulder - the leaves change colors and the snowline moves closer and closer down the mountains towards us. The air turns crisp and clean and cold, but it's almost always still sunny and gorgeous. But there is one thing that I really hate about the first few days of cold weather in Boulder: sick students.

At first, it probably doesn't make a lot of sense to hear someone with an autoimmune condition (i.e. someone who is sick all the time) say that she hates sick students. But read that sentence again: as someone with an autoimmune condition, I hate sick students.

I know, obviously from personal experience, how much it sucks to be sick. It's no fun not to feel well. But here's the thing: when you feel sick, stay home. I don't hate you because you are sick - I hate you because you are wandering around campus sniffling on everybody. You're coughing next to me in class. You're sneezing on me on the bus. And all the while you're complaining loudly about how sick you feel!! GO THE HELL HOME!! You're going to get your perfectly healthy classmates sick!! Your immune compromised classmates who inject themselves with immune suppressants every week (i.e. me) will have no chance whatsoever!!!

Yesterday, in response to these complaints, one of my friends told me I should just Lysol everybody on campus - i.e. Lysol as a verb, which I loved. We decided we were going to make me a Lysol Gun. 

Part 1: Supersoaker
Part 2: Lysol
Part 3: Run across campus like Rambo and disinfect every inconsiderate contagious student!!! 

Many Much Snooze = Give Up?

I've been having a lot of trouble getting out of bed lately. I've just been so tired that it's almost impossible to get myself to wake up. Then, once I finally wake myself up, it takes almost as long to convince my body to move. Which sucks.

But today I discovered yet another challenge: if I hit the snooze button on my alarm clock for over two hours (told you I was having trouble) then the whole alarm turns off and resets for tomorrow. I find this problematic. If it has already taken me two hours to wake up, shouldn't I need to get up more, not less?

Or is my alarm clock telling me that it's ok to just give up and go back to bed if it's really taking me more than two hours to get up? Hmmm.....

Monday, October 25, 2010


I feel like an oxymoron. (Or maybe just a moron?)

I've been having really bad pain in my legs for a few weeks - my knees and feet have been giving me a lot of trouble, and so the muscles in between feel like they are made of fire all the time. It hurts to stand. It hurts to sit. It hurts to be. APL and I are also dealing with some pretty serious financial issues. And I'm so over being a student, but I still have homework to do every day. I'm stressed out and more exhausted than I think I've ever been in my life.

But, despite my exhaustion, it takes me hours to fall asleep every single night. I guess this part makes some sense - exhaustion doesn't necessarily lead to sleep (though that feels like an oxymoron all by itself!) Every night I take medicine and vitamins specifically to help me sleep. I light a scented candle, turn on my humidifier, and relax before trying to fall asleep. It still takes hours to get to sleep.

But then, even though I can't fall asleep, apparently I can't wake up either!! Lately it has been taking me literally hours to haul myself out of bed in the morning (or afternoon, as the case may be.) Sometimes I can't make myself wake up, so I press snooze a hundred times or accidentally fall back to sleep for several more hours. Sometimes I'm awake, but I just can't make my body move out of the bed. Sometimes it's both. Today, for example, I wasn't able to make myself get out of bed until 12:45pm. I'm having trouble making it to my classes on time and my earliest class is at noon!!

The solution to this difficulty getting up seems to be to go to bed earlier, right? But I can't fall asleep!!! Hence, oxymoron. Or moron. Whichever.

::sigh:: I'm a grumpy bear today. ~;o(

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Foreign Language Study: Health Insurance

Health insurance is like an impossible foreign language that I seem to be  totally incapable of understanding. I can read two different Japanese alphabets and identify hundreds of Chinese characters, but I can't understand health insurance. In two more months I will graduate with two advanced degrees, but I'm pretty sure I still won't be able to understand health insurance. 

Also, trying to figure out health insurance is like a full time job for which I do not have time (or energy). But, over the past two years since getting diagnosed with RA, I have made at least a little progress in understanding what is covered by my own student health insurance plan. Or so I thought. 

When the health insurance paperwork arrived in August, I actually went through it instead of just signing up for it the way most students probably do. As far as I could tell from my scrutiny of the paperwork the university provided, it was the exact same plan I've had for the past two years - the one where I needed to come up with a way to pay an extra $800 a month for my Enbrel

So imagine my surprise when APL and I went to pick up my last 4 dosages of Enbrel and we only got charged $60. And this was without any additional support from EnbrelSupport or any other program!! Not that I'm complaining - obviously my inability to understand my own health insurance actually worked out in my favor for once! But I just couldn't figure out how the exact same health insurance plan could give me such different benefits this year.

Finding the answer wasn't easy - it took a whole afternoon of calling and searching through convoluted health insurance websites. But, eventually, I figured it out: the university student health programs used to be undewritten by Aetna, but now they are underwritten by United Healthcare. And, even though the school documents show it as essentially the same plan as last year, apparently United Healthcare has way better prescription coverage than Aetna did. In this case, it has worked out awesome for us - $60 a month we can afford!!

But it got me thinking about health insurance more generally, and I find the more I think about it the less I understand it. As someone with a pretty major (and pretty expensive!) preexisting condition, I am never going to have much choice in my health insurance (unless there are some pretty big changes in our health insurance system as a whole.) I will only be able to get insurance through my school, my job, or my husband's job. (I'm already 27, so no luck for me on Obama's plan to give you coverage under your parents until 26). Because of my preexisting condition, I pretty much have to take the best insurance I can get and run with it - right now the best I can get is student health through the university.

Which got me thinking: what if it had gone the other way? What if the university had switched from United Healthcare to Aetna? What if my co-payment for my Enbrel had gone from $60 to $800? I would have no choice in the matter but to pay the higher co-pay - the one I definately can't afford. Under the "same" student health plan, I would suddenly go from being able to treat my RA to not being able to afford to treat my RA. 

How does that make any sense at all? How is that fair? Like I said, I don't understand health insurance.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dear Targeted Adverstizing: I Hate You

Only a few moments ago, I was enjoying some soup for lunch and amusing myself by looking at silly things on the interwebs when I was very rudely accosted with this flashing disaster of targeted advertizing:
I have RA and I:
(a) was able to get out of bed more easily
(b) brewed myself a pot of coffee
(c) found a treatment that works for me
(d) all of the above.
 Learn about a treatment option that may help you do more on your own (for moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis)
Oh! Be still my beating heart! This treatment will help me get out of bed AND brew a pot of coffee? Holy shit! My problems are solved! My sadness and frustration over my physical limitations have evaporated! Will the wonders never cease? Who needs grad school or a job or a family or the ability to travel when I can look forward to a life of getting out of bed AND making coffee!!