April 23, 2010

Because everyone likes hearing about my ulcer (, , )

by fluffy at 5:41 PM
I finally got the Zegerid today. Of course the pharmacist was really really worried about giving it to me because of the recent Nexium prescription. At the same time, he thought I should be aware that Nexium is "the same stuff," which it almost is (it's esomeprazole which is a kissing cousin of omeprazole), but it's in a time-release formulation and doesn't have the antacid, and that doesn't actually, you know, help for what I need it for. And of course I'm not going to take them both at the same time.

April 20, 2010

The state of the stomach ()

by fluffy at 12:08 AM
Once-daily Nexium isn't nearly as effective as twice-daily Zegerid was. I don't feel like my ulcer is making any progress, and I still wake up with a sour tummy. I should talk to my doctor again. Ugh.

It doesn't help that I've quickly fallen back into my pre-GERD habits, though, but when I look at lists of food to avoid, well, what the hell is there left to eat? Basically it seems like everything but water and the blandest possible food is off-limits.

I've also been having pretty bad headaches lately, as well as gas, stomach pain, and dry mouth. Those show up on Nexium's side-effect lists, so maybe I really should see my doctor about this. Bleh.

April 15, 2010

The comprehensive guide to transit etiquette (, , )

by fluffy at 10:04 AM

It often seems as if many people who use BART could use a bit of a reminder in how to keep the entire experience pleasant and efficient for everyone. If you keep a few simple things in mind, you can make it more pleasant for others, which in turn makes it more pleasant for yourself.

Of course, much of this also applies to other transit systems. Feel free to use the suitable parts accordingly.

April 14, 2010

Prescription acid reducers are EXPENSIVE (, , )

by fluffy at 7:11 PM
So I finally got a new scrip today, for Nexium (the purple pill), which my insurance was willing to cover. My cost after insurance was still $42 for a one month supply. The cost before insurance was $180! Zegerid looks like it costs over $200 for a one month supply. That's insane!

At least that costs me less than the (not at all effective anyway) OTC version ($20-$30/week depending on brand) but why does the prescription version cost three times as much for what is basically the same medicine plus a time-release capsule?

At least this is just a once-a-day pill. My prescription also only covers two more refills, so maybe the intent is that I take it for three months and then I'm done with it since supposedly the ulcer-causing bacterium will actually be gone by then, and my doctor will be able to suggest something else for maintaining the acid reflux.

Stomach update (, )

by fluffy at 11:01 AM
So it turns out that while my doctor was on vacation, his fax machine wasn't working, so he never got the request from Walgreens to get the full authorization for the prescription. And of course Walgreens never did the followup on their own, because why should they care? But when I had called Walgreens they said that my doctor was "taking care of it" when my doctor had no idea there was anything to take care of.

Meanwhile my ulcer is back in full force (even with taking the OTC version of the medication, paid for completely out-of-pocket of course) and I'm miserable. I got very little sleep last night, and apparently it'll still take a few more days to get my insurance to clear the prescription.

April 12, 2010

Super saver ()

by fluffy at 2:58 PM
So as we all know, Amazon provides free shipping for orders over $25. They also have many items which are just barely below $25, such as the Star Wars Trilogy ($24.99), which does not qualify for Super Saver.

They also have many cheap items, such as Charles Leonard Inc. Ruler, 0.06 Inch Increments, 77556) ($0.29) which can be used to push an order past the $25 threshold in order to get free shipping.

Sometimes these items are backordered, and in order to provide items more quickly, Amazon will split an order and eat the shipping cost (which is usually around $3.90 per shipment).

Today I received a rather large box which contained the following:

  • A cheap 10-gram wooden ruler
  • Plastic packing bags
  • A receipt for a $0.29 ruler + $3.90 shipping - $3.90 super saver discount
Suggested alternative to Amazon (which I can now post publicly seeing as how I don't work there anymore): For orders which are $24 or up, offer super saver shipping as an option where the discount simply brings the total price down to $25. I'm sure people would rather pay $1 for shipping than waste natural resources and peoples' time just to save some money.

(The somewhat-ironic thing is that they ended up shipping the Star Wars DVDs with another order anyway. I suppose that their total cost and impact was the same, though, since if it hadn't been for that other order they probably wouldn't have split the order. Still, seems silly.)

April 11, 2010

April 10, 2010

Putting it to the test ()

by fluffy at 7:39 PM
So, ever since college I've been living with the belief that I'm MSG-sensitive, due to a not-very-controlled-but-good-enough-at-the-time series of observations about migraines and tactile hallucinations, which seemed to coincide with eating MSG-rich foods and which stopped when I stopped eating them. A recent forum thread (which I alluded to in a previous blog entry) led me to finally question this assumption; several peer-reviewed controlled studies have been done on MSG sensitivity and nothing found any rhyme or reason or consistency to an MSG response.

There are a few possibilities which came up; I came to the conclusion when I was going through a pretty stressful time in my life and had terrible dietary habits, and it could have been the combination of MSG and salt, along with being in a perpetual state of dehydration, for example, and perhaps this led to a taste aversion to the flavor of MSG itself.

Since I figured out the sensitivity, I always responded to the flavor of MSG with a prophylactic migraine protocol — aspirin, caffeine, and water. I would also often still develop a migraine (but not the hallucinations) anyway, and that could very easily be a psychogenic response. (Pain is one of the hardest things to measure objectively or repeatably — even the mere suggestion that a change in pain response is being measured is enough to completely change the way the pain is responded to.)

So, I decided to try eating some MSG-flavored food. Not a controlled double-blind study or anything, just a simple test to see if I can eat MSG without ill effects. Of course, I won't be able to draw any useful conclusions from it, aside from whether I actually need to keep on avoiding MSG (regardless of what the real underlying cause is).

It took me a while to figure out which food to use as a test, though. I didn't want to buy something I wouldn't normally eat anyway (such as Doritos), and I didn't want to buy MSG as a raw ingredient since even if I'm not sensitive to it, I wouldn't be using it anyway. My basic criteria were: decent-quality food that came as a single serving which I would normally eat (regardless of MSG content) but which happened to contain MSG. I finally settled on clam chowder as such a thing, since every time I've wanted clam chowder, every store-bought brand has been rich in MSG.

So, of course, imagine my surprise that pretty much every brand of clam chowder is now MSG-free, which I would have never known if I was operating under the assumption I couldn't have MSG. (Which is a bit ironic since a big reason for this is so that I can relax about what I eat and actually enjoy things again, without needlessly constraining the people I'm eating with.) I still ended up buying a brand with MSG — but it actually took me a while to find one!

Anyway, I haven't eaten it yet - I'll probably try it tomorrow night.

April 7, 2010

Another reason to hate the insurance industry (, )

by fluffy at 4:46 PM
So, because of my ongoing stomach issues, my doctor had put me on an acid reducer, and gave me a week's worth of samples, but he said to not bother filling the prescription if it didn't help while I still had samples. A week went by, and my issues cleared up very quickly, so I filled the prescription. The pharmacy, however, had trouble filling it, because insurance denied the prescription — they wanted me to either use a different (cheaper) acid reducer, or get a specific statement from my doctor that the one he prescribed me for is the one I have to take. The pharmacy can't just change the prescription because the closest generic formulation isn't quite the same, so legally they have to get permission from my doctor to change it.

Of course, this week my doctor is on vacation, so I get to wait a whole week for him to get back.

Meanwhile I'm just taking the OTC version of the same acid reducer, but the lower dosage and isn't nearly as effective, and my ulcer is coming back. And of course the OTC version is just as expensive as the prescription version, and isn't covered by my insurance.

So I get to pay out of pocket for a while until my insurance and my doctor can work this all out. Meh.

April 6, 2010

One app I'd like to see for iPad (, )

by fluffy at 8:50 AM
As a device, the iPad is pretty interesting, although as a platform, I'm just not that excited about it very much. I do see a lot of potential for it in the music space, though. The obvious thing is to use it as a controller for Logic, but there's a different sort of app I want it for: sheet music.

Specifically, what I'd really like is the ability to load a MIDI file or Logic/Sibelius/whatever score, select one or more instruments to display, and one or more instruments to play as accompaniments, as a means of practicing my instrument.

Although I suspect that I could already do exactly this with any number of MIDI-based scoring environments on the Fujitsu tablet PC I just bought off eBay for $260. (But that wouldn't be Shiny and Revolutionary.)

Anyway I guess what I'm saying is that I don't really care about the iPad, and I will roll my eyes severely at "the first iPad band" because it's like people forget that musicians always use whatever they have available to make music, and it's not like music software is anything new.

April 5, 2010

MSG debates (, , )

by fluffy at 5:36 PM
There seem to be three camps in the ongoing debates about MSG as a cause of migraines:
  1. Zealoty MSG-conspiracy folks who think that any form of glutamate (bound or unbound) is WRONG WRONG WRONG and all MSG in all its forms should be stamped out FOREVER
  2. People who are out to disprove the MSG-conspiracy folks, who use any use of "I am MSG-sensitive" or "MSG is one of my migraine triggers" as evidence that someone is in camp 1 who are all experiencing psychosomatic/psychogenic symptoms and are WRONG WRONG WRONG
  3. People who have MSG as a trigger for migraines, usually among many other triggers

April 4, 2010

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April 2, 2010 could be better ()

by fluffy at 10:32 AM
So, back in Seattle, I used Progressive Auto Insurance for my car insurance. When I moved to San Francisco, I sold the car and (of course) canceled the policy.

For my new car, I was going to go with eSurance since I'm friends with Erin, but Progressive's rate was way lower for a much higher level of coverage, so I decided to go with them again. So I bought the policy, and then tried registering for the website, and discovered that my old user ID was still in use. So I tried logging on to that ID to see if I could add my new policy to that account, but I just got a "Sorry, we are unable to process your request at this time" error — ostensibly because there was this account with no policy, so their backend didn't know what to do with it.

I ended up making a new account, so it's another user ID to keep track of. Then on the new account I noticed you can change your user ID, so I tried logging on to the old account to see if I could even do that — no dice.

I guess I'm just glad they don't tie accounts to email addresses, because then I'd be screwed.

I guess if I ever switch insurance again (likely!) then I will never be going back to Progressive, since I don't want to have to make yet another user account there.