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,


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,


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: {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,