Sunday, December 27, 2015

Easy to Learn / Difficult to Master - Part 2 of 2

Following up on the Contrave hopes, they ended up being dashed. Not long after starting Contrave, three primary symptoms showed up, constipation, headaches, and ringing in the ears. I was ramping up the dose at the rate suggested by my doctor but it turned out to be too difficult. I called him and he told me to ramp up the dosage at an even slower rate. After a month of very little sleep, an increased temper, and only a minor change in eating habits, I saw my doctor for a follow-up. I did manage to lose somewhere between 3 and 5 pounds in those 4 weeks. He said that I needed to see the silver lining in these symptoms. By being so sensitive to the medication that I was having intense symptoms, it was quite likely that the Contrave would be a successful recourse for my weight loss.

After two more weeks, MBWM and I discussed things. She encouraged me to stop the Contrave. I reversed the ramp up to a ramp down and pulled myself off of it over the course of three weeks. After 2 weeks of being completed off of it, the constipation went away. The headaches have diminished but not gone away. The tintinnabulation has not diminished. It has me worried that it may have become a permanent part of my life.

I have to admit that I am completely disappointed in the Contrave. I didn't realize it until I was ramping down that I had put so much faith in the medication. I fear that I am down to only one choice, surgery. That is a discussion for another time, however.

What is going to happen is that the whole family is getting into making changes to our collective eating habits. Over the last couple weeks, I have been teaching the kids about using a stop light to describe foods. There are red light foods (only once a week, if that). Yellow light foods (once every day or two). Green light foods (As often as possible). MBWM has added the idea of changing the base of our meal plan from carbohydrates to salad. I am definitely looking forward to that. I am also going to start grading my efforts. I am an instructor, after all. I am used to develping a rubric and grading assignments.

With the future firmly in sight,

Eliot

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Finding the Joy in the Little Things

First of all, my apologies for not starting Easy to Learn / Difficult to Master - Part 2 of 2. Details will follow. Instead, this tangential entry is being offered.

I consider myself truly blessed in so many way. A simple one this morning was seeing Quail shakily coming down the stairs rubbing his eyes. While I was sitting at the dinning room table, he crossed the hallway from the bottom of the stairs to the bathroom. He pushed open the door and informed my that he had to go potty.  A few minutes later, he comes out, still walking unsteadily and rubbing his eyes. But all signs of lesser-wakefulness disappear as he spins on a dime and dashes back into the bathroom. He then comes out of the bathroom clutching his new Hot Wheel airplane before dashing back upstairs with his treasure.
Two other simple joys to share:



I have not been very good at long-term committing to much in the form of health-improving efforts. Success needs perpetual attention. I am quite low on energy but I am going to commit to a few items of improvement and track it on here. If nothing else, I will have a record of where improvements are needed and what events have taken place. Since I am still deciding what form those improvements are going to take, I will have to report later on what efforts I am taking.

Yours in the joys of the season of hope,

Eliot

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Easy to Learn / Difficult to Master - Part 1 of 2

There are numerous games that are simple to learn but difficult to master. We even have a book that came with small, round, white and black pieces and game boards for 10 games. All of the games are easy to learn and difficult to master. I can only remember that it includes mancala and checkers. I am now at the point in time where I can safely say that weight loss, while not a game, is definitely easy to learn and difficult to master. More accurately, easy to learn but nearly impossible for me to master. The rules for weight loss: 1. Eat Less 2. Exercise More. Everything else is refinements. To add in developing that mastery, I went to my doctor to ask for some medical assistance. It is called Contrave (8 mg naltrexone HCl and 90 mg bupropion HCl in extended release tablets).

I started researching weight loss drugs about a year ago with an article in the New York Times about liraglutide. I was put onto the naltrexone/bupropion combination while talking to a supervisor of mine. I was about to take my second leave of absence from a teaching position because of my ill-health brought on by my morbid obesity. He is a heavy-set gentleman as well. He said he couldn't afford the medication but his doctor had given him prescriptions for the components. His doctor had provided instructions for making it work after researching it.

While researching the drug, one of the things I discovered was that my prior health insurance company, Blue Cross of Idaho, didn't cover it. And then, wouldn't you know it? I get a great position at Boise State University and it puts me right back on Blue Cross of Idaho. I didn't have to sign up for Blue Cross. I could have stayed with Mountain Health Co-op. I had a much better experience with Mountain Health Co-op than Blue Cross of Idaho. But in order to get the dental and vision benefits, I needed to sign up for medical benefits. *heavy*sigh*

I finally say enough is enough and make an appointment with my doctor for some basic blood tests and ask for his thoughts on increasing my blood pressure medication and prescribing the components of Contrave. My blood pressure is doing well but he knows I have a blood pressure machine. He trusts my efforts so that request went smoothly. The second request didn't happen. He would only prescribe the Contrave. I said I already knew it wasn't covered by my medical insurance. He said there was a discount card that I could obtain from the company. Having spent a fortune on Weight Watchers and a greater fortune on Positive Changes Hypnosis, I was already anticipating sticker shock.

But there was to be an intense case of sticker shock. Sticker shock - The difference between the romanticized expectation of cost and reality. I called Blue Cross of Idaho for pharmacy delivery. Insert at least 5 minutes of navigating the phone menu and being on hold. They have contracted their delivery pharmacy out to CVS and transferred robotically to them. Insert another 20 minutes of navigating the phone menu and being on hold. I asked to have it delivered to see if it was now covered. They said it wasn't covered so it would be $50 per month. Now I have a starting number to work with. I take it to my local home-town pharmacy. They manage to induce sticker shock. Expecting to pay about $70-$80, they inform me it is $219. Ouch! Time to research other options starting with CVS.

Only CVS has started singing a different tune this time. This time, they confirm that it is $50 per month but say that if Blue Cross doesn't cover it, they cannot fill the prescription. Argh! On to the second option, the information from my doctor concerning a discount plan. Click-click: Open Chrome. Type: contrave.com {enter}. Click here; click there. Type a few things. Click a few more times. Discount card printed! Good news: $70. Bad news: For 2 months. *heavy*sigh*.

I started the Contrave two weeks ago. I will report on its effects tomorrow. In the near future, I hope to report on the surprising and yet thoroughly depressing outcome from hypnosis.

Yours in the need for an improved future,

Eliot





Monday, November 24, 2014

Happily Forward to the Healthy Future

And so begins another week of making myself healthy in mind, body, and spirit. While hypnotism is the focus of my efforts these days, I wanted to start out with a short rant. I watched and analyzed and devoted attention to the passage of Obama-care. I felt that what was in place prior to Obama care wasn't effective. After all, I had to pay for everything out of pocket. While there were aspects of Obama care I didn't like, at least it was a step in some direction that was better than the non-activity of years that left me and my wife precariously unprotected. How well I remember the hair splitting of a couple of my wife's pregnancies where her prenatal care was covered by Medicare (thank you) but anything beyond that wasn't. And then Obama care was passed. I looked forward to analyzing my options. My initial analysis showed that I fell into that gap of making too much for Medicare but making too little for Federal subsidies. But I continued my analytical pursuits, obtained Federal subsidies, analyzes more than two dozen plans, and launched into Obama care coverage.

I learned many things from the experience of obtaining and applying that coverage. One of the things I learned is that Blue Cross, while always as polite as possible, was more willing to pay for services when I was attached to them through an employer. It seemed that they were most interested in recouping their overly generous premium payment. Blue Cross required my wife to get a primary care physicians referral before starting physical therapy. Okay, that's a hoop. Let's jump. And then crash and burn. Blue Cross refused to pay the bill because the physical therapy was for my wife's chronic osteoarthritis, not an accident or injury. Stand back up, brush off, and try again. Chiropractors have been good to her. She switched to one. The chiropractor's office was in contact with Blue Cross several times because of MBWM's concern over payment. Blue Cross said that payment would be made. And Blue Cross, after a couple months of seeing the chiropractor, declined to make the payments.

But all of this is between me and Blue Cross. Now that it's time to renew within Obama care, I will be repeating my research. While I won't be excluding Blue Cross, I don't want to shoot myself in the foot in spite, I will be making my choice under the advantage of painfully won wisdom.

Another part of that painfully won wisdom deals with paying for Obama care. The government will be paying out less to me and most other people. They don't have enough to go around. I imagine that will become ever more a fact of health care coverage as time continues. Companies, after a year's worth of their fiscally painful experience, are almost unanimously raising their premiums. These two events change my monthly payment from $31.65 per month to an average of over $130.00 / month. That is an increase of more than 4 times. Since paying rent on time is hit or miss, that additional $100 is distressing. This amount is made all the more painful because I am paying on credit cards for the medical services that I thought were covered but weren't paid on. To make matters worse, because I qualify for Obama care, I will have to pay a penalty if I don't sign up.

I hope that the learning curve for the Obama care process becomes less painful with time because I'm not sure I can afford the Affordable Care Act.

At this point in time, Lemur asked me to put her name into my blog. Here you go, Lemur! Quail wants in too. Hi, Quail!

Although, for me, things might be looking up in the financial department. I have a difficult decision to make. The decision revolves around keeping the status quo versus possible 5 week deeper under-employment bookending an incredible, 4 month opportunity.

An opportunity in my life is the hypnotism I am undergoing. For it to work, I have to listen to the recordings as much as possible. Not doing as well as I'd like on that front. But I will be changing my scheduling to make sure it happens. To assist mentally, I have been viewing the hypnotism in a manner similar to prayer. For prayer to work successfully, I have to put forth the effort to bring to pass what I am asking for, whether it's physical or emotional or spiritual. The same applies for hypnotism; for a change in attitude to occur, I have to change my attitude consciously and intentionally.

And I will intentionally succeed.

Time to get on with getting on,

Eliot


P.S.:
When Flambeau took his month's holiday from his office in Westminster he took it in a small sailing-boat, so small that it passed much of its time as a rowing-boat. He took it, moreover, in little rivers in the Eastern counties, rivers so small that the boat looked like a magic boat, sailing on land through meadows and cornfields. The vessel was just comfortable for two people; there was room only for necessities, and Flambeau had stocked it with such things as his special philosophy considered necessary. They reduced themselves, apparently, to four essentials: tins of salmon, if he should want to eat; loaded revolvers, if he should want to fight; a bottle of brandy, presumably in case he should faint; and a priest, presumably in case he should die.

C.K. Chesterton
Father Brown: The Sins of Prince Saradine
Kindle Location starting: 2350

LLIB:
36. Donate two pints of blood every year.
37. Make new friends but cherish the old ones.
38. Keep secrets.
39. Take lots of snapshots.
40. Take a kid to the zoo.

Monday, November 17, 2014

New Experiences

Hypnotism is an interesting process. My only concern was falling asleep. I had researched hypnotism several years ago and knew I would be in good hands. And the gentleman I worked with was friendly and humorous. He handed me some pre-recorded sessions along with my personal recording of that session. In review, I would have to say I enjoy hypnotism and have high hopes for the future. That is not to say that the personal follow up of listening to morning, personal, and evening recordings is going well. Immediately after the live session, I was filled with a euphoria that carried me through proper eating and additional exercising very well. Part of that was applying a philosophy I use in prayer. I can pray for assistance, but I still have to put forth the effort to bring things to pass. In the case of hypnotism, I need to positively reinforce the instructions to make the changes more permanent. And it worked incredibly well the first day of hypnotism. It was easy to push into extra laps at the pool. Eating fresh fruits and veggies was enticing. It was exciting feeling the conscious mind being bolstered into better decisions. The supportive pre-recorded personal sessions were missed because of work, bad weather, and being away from home. The morning and evening recordings weren't nearly as effective, possibly because of their generic wording, as opposed to the directed nature my personal session. But I am looking forward to following through at every opportunity. According to the people I'm working with, the more the hypnosis sessions are used, the easier the weight comes off and the longer it stays off. I'm still searching for corroborating research, but I am eager and hopeful.

I am hopeful that my Indiegogo experience will help pay for the hypnosis. I am not able to pay for the rest of the hypnosis since I barely make rent, but I am hoping to take some of the sting out of payments with crowdfunding. Look for my entry at: Jolly Old Saint Nicholas Wants to Lose Some Weight.

Now, I won't know how much weight I've lost. I wish I could have a running update of my current weight, but I don't have a scale at the moment. I way too much for my personal scale (375 pounds) or the YMCA scale (400 pounds). Instead, I am going to use my clothes, especially my belt, to track current weight loss.

And so it has launched! I will be excited beyond measure as I track my progress.

Yours in the joyful permanence to come,

Eliot

P.S.: "Life is ten percent what you experience and ninety percent how you respond to it." - Dorothy M. Neddermeyer

Now I am going to assist myself into responding without the use of food - Eliot Smith

LLIB:
31. Buy whatever kids are selling on card tables in their front yards.
32. Once in your life own a convertible.
33. Treat everyone you meet like you want to be treated.
34. Learn to identify the music of Chopin, Mozart, and Beethoven.
35. Plant a tree on your birthday.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Day of Initiation

The cold weather arrived early this year. And today, we have snow. Winter has arrived in southern Idaho. And with it comes two events of initiation of interest to me.

The first was seeing a man on a riding mower out mowing the snow in a local baseball field. It was then I discovered that my smart phone was at home. Otherwise, I would have taken a picture. I would have pulled over and walked into the field to make it a good one.

The other is that I will be heading to Positive Changes hypnosis in a few minutes. My appointment is in more than an hour but I don't want to be late amid the weather delays and related traffic issues.

As things stand today, I am surrounded by blessings innumerable. This is not new. What is different today is that I was designing a crowd funding page at Indiegogo. I took their advice and didn't launch immediately so I could advertise among friends and family. As I did so, I managed to raise a little over half of what I needed. I can start the process today. The crowd funding site will still launch on Monday, but I don't have to wait to get started.

I look forward to posting later today about the hypnosis experience.

Yours in the hope of retraining the brain more directly,

Eliot

P.S.:
The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it. - Elbert Hubbard

Eliot’s Addition  - And well before asking if it should be done.

LLIB:
26. If in a fight, hit first and hit hard.
27. Return all things you borrow.
28. Teach some kind of class.
29. Be a student in some kind of class.
30. Never buy a house without a fireplace.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Effort of Pushing Forward

Little things start to show progress. And then Halloween comes along. In our house, we serve dinner after the kids have come back from Trick or Treating. And then we let them eat their fill of candy. This is to get rid of as much candy as possible. And while I have yet to gorge myself on the candy, I worry about its availability. Hopefully, the kids will polish it off before long.

In more exciting news, I may have to opportunity of going through hypnosis. This excited me as a means of retraining the brain. That is where I feel I need the most help. Although, the idea of crowd funding has my interested. If one guy can get $55,000 for potato salad, maybe I can appeal to the crowd funding population. The key points of the above article from Forbes are:
First, people are willing to give to something that they believe in.  And with the propagation of easily-accessible, widely-visible crowdsourcing platforms, it’s really easy to get your project in front of people who believe in it.
And second, how you present your offer it more important than ever.  It might even be more important than the offer itself.
And the conclusion of the article:
Nevertheless, there are some universal lessons to be learned here, questions that you should ask about your own product before you start a crowdfunding campaign of your own.  Does your product help people, make them laugh, lift their spirits?  Does it tickle their funny bone?  Do they tell their friends about it?
Then maybe it’s a good fit for Kickstarter (or another crowdfunding platform).
I'll be putting my thinking cap on to see if I cannot make arrangements for making or making back the money necessary for the hypnosis.

Yours in the hope of the retrained brain,

Eliot

P.S.: Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. It's up to you to learn from the experience. - Eliot

LLIB:
21.  Learn three clean jokes.
22.  Wear polished shoes.
23.  Floss your teeth.
24.  Drink champagne for no reason at all.
25.  Ask for a raise when you feel you've earned it.