Watching your medication costs might save your job!

Who know?  This shocked me when I heard it.

I recently took a call from a human resources worker at a company. One of their new hires had a medication that he took daily and the HR lady needed to know how much it was going to cost. Why? Because the cost of insuring that patient was going to affect whether they could afford to renew the insurance for their company. The story had a happy ending because I was able to tell the HR lady that the medicine would be $1,500 a month to cover, not the $45,000 a month they had feared, but what if it had been that much? A talented, skilled employee might have been let go or might have had to go to an insurance exchange because the company couldn’t afford to keep him insured.

Sometimes medications are expensive for a good reason – because the medications are highly effective, expensive to make, or for many other reasons. However, sometimes doctors will choose newer, more expensive medications because a drug rep said so, or because they aren’t thinking about the cost. It’s definitely worth a chat next time you see your doctor, and another chat with your insurance company. There very well may be a good medication that has been out longer, has had more time for the price to drop, and will work just fine for you! Keep in mind that most doctors aren’t aware of the cost of medications, or what your drug coverage is.

Most of the time, the best place to start is by calling your prescription insurance company and talking with one of their pharmacists. Working with the customer service representative, they can tell you what lower cost alternatives are, price them out, so you can then ask the doctor if a change would be appropriate. I’ve seen this save people many thousands of dollars without sacrificing any quality.

Personally, when I take medication, I try to ask for older, tried and true medications that are well understood and well studied. I let someone else be the high-paying guinea pig.

For Those With Stuffy Noses

your guide to beating a cold if you have narrow nasal passages
As a chronic cold sufferer, I’ve developed some good strategies for shortening the time I’m down with a cold. Some of them are old reliable remedies, but this multi-phase approach has helped me knock days off of my recovery time.
I have really narrow nasal passages and allergies so I get stuffy easily. This also leads to sinus infections. If you’re like me, you’ll be helped by these tips.

During the runny phase

Go with Garlic

First, believe what your grandmother says about chicken soup. It really is good for you, especially if it has lots of garlic. It treats scratchy throats and may have some antiviral effects.
If you don’t want garlicky chicken soup, cut a clove of garlic into small pieces and swallow them with water. It’ll make your sweat smell like garlic, but it’ll help you beat that cold.
Rest Up
We all know that it’s good to rest when you are sick. That’s because our body does most of its healing when you are asleep. Elevate the head of your bed to help with stuffiness.

During the Stuffy phase

Take hot showers

Inhale warm vapor to help loosen mucus and clear more of it out. Eucalyptus and mint help with this.
Use a nasal spray

Use a nasal spray like Afrin or the generic, but only when your nose is stuffy, and only for a few days. This will help you breathe and prevent crud from building up, causing pain and sinus infections. Overuse will cause a backlash when you stop using the spray.
Rinse with saline

IF you can stand it, rinse out your nose and sinuses with warm salt water. Don’t make the solution too strong or too hot.

When you are coughing

Suck on Something

Cough drops can help, get the ones with menthol or eucalyptus.
Whet your Whistle

Drink plenty of black tea with honey and lemon. The astringent properties help a sore throat.
If you need more help, you can use a cough syrup or honey, but try not to overuse it unless you are trying to get to sleep. Clearing your lungs means the cold goes away faster.

For more tips about controlling coughs, check out this post: Favorite Home Remedies for Cough

During all phases

Avoid multisymptom cold medicines

Just treat the symptoms you are having. Multisymptom cold medicines can actually make you feel worse and slow healing.
Drink lots of fluids

Water, salty broth, black tea, and green tea are all great for colds. They moisten tissues and thin phlegm.

I’ve found that by treating the different phases of my colds differently, I’ve been able to get back to work a lot faster and be less miserable.


Help for buying Epi-pens if you don’t have insurance (or even if you do)

Epi-pens are in the news lately because of their price jump.

I have a way of making that better.  I won’t lie, you still may have to pay a lot, but you won’t have to pay over a thousand dollars for a two pack of Epipens if you use this trick.

Epi-pens actually have a generic form that costs a lot less than the brand. The problem is, not all the pharmacies have the two linked together in their drug catalogs – so if you ask a customer service agent or pharmacy tech about it, they may not automatically see the alternative.

The alternative to an Epi-pen is called simply ‘epinephrine auto injector.” It usually costs three or four hundred for a two pack without insurance, which is a lot, but it’s a whole lot less than the brand name currently is.

If you do have insurance and want to pay the generic copay, call in and ask the customer service agent if there are any “alternatives” to the Epi pen. That’s the magic word. If you say “does the Epi pen have a generic?” the agent may check, not see one, and not think to ask a pharmacist.

The difference between a generic and an alternative is simple. A generic is the same active ingredient as the original brand, just made by a different company, and only the inactive ingredients are supposed to be different. An alternative is usually a slightly different drug that is used to treat the same condition.   Put simply, an Epi-pen IS an epinephrine auto injector, but not all epinephrine auto injectors are made by Epi-pen.

The thing is here, both an Epi-pen and an “epinephrine auto injector” should be on the same project page because they contain the same thing. But they often don’t, so you can save a lot of money, and possibly a loved one’s life.

Success – step by step


It’s good to have goals.  Sometimes, no matter what we do, we fail at them and don’t think we can succeed. How does a person deal with that? We try and try and never get anywhere. This can happen with weight loss, creating a business, kicking a bad habit, writing a book. I’ve found that large goals are pretty hard to achieve unless you do it the right way.  I call this Incremental Success.  Here’s how.


Shift your Mindset

If you are going to succeed, it’s very important that you shift your mindset. You knew that, though, right? Easier said than done. The simplest way to do that is to take extra time out to focus on the successes you have made. Get better and better at doing that and soon it will be more natural to think of solutions before roadblocks, strategies instead of why you can’t do something.


Make Small Goals

Finally, keep your goals small. Keep your efforts incremental. That way you can notice and mentally celebrate whenever you achieve a step. Also notice those little non measurable aspects of success. In weight loss, for example, how it’s easier to get up off the floor after a few days of exercise, or maybe you are less winded after your walk.


Enjoy the Process

While you are not giving up and focusing on success, there’s a way to make it fun! Get interested in the process. The journey is as important as the destination. When you encounter a roadblock, you can almost make a game of thinking of ways around it. Get creative whenever possible. Accept that you will have failures and decide you will learn from them.


Don’t Give Up

Most successful people will agree that the main key to achieving goals is not giving up. That sounds incredibly obvious, but it’s also rather easy to do. Many of us give up by default. But persistence is the one thing that the greatest people in the world, past and present, share.

To continue with the weight loss example, here is how you might follow the incremental plan under this circumstance. It’s easy to see how this could translate to any long term goal.
First, shift your mindset and decide that you can lose weight. Focus on times in the past where you have shown self control. Prove to yourself in this way that it’s possible.

Next, instead of deciding “I am going to lose ten pounds” which seems like a reasonable goal, decide “I am going to cut 100 calories a day.” Or “I am going to take a fifteen minute walk every morning.”

Then, as you do this, notice all the small ways your new habit is benefiting you. Maybe you breathe a little easier. Maybe you feel a little better. Continue with new goals and keep them small.

Don’t give up. If you have a bad day, or even a lapse of a week, get back to it. Just stop giving up. Keep on doing it.

That is how you can achieve incremental success.


“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”

Sir Winston Churchill


“It is wonderful what great strides can be made when there is a resolute purpose behind them.”

Sir Winston Churchill

Transgender Truth

Trans folk may not be what, or who, you think they are.

If you have a trans friend, I commend you. If you have a trans family member, I commiserate with you. If you, yourself, are trans, I support you.

However, many people may never have met anyone who is transgendered. There are so many misconceptions out there, so much fear, and so many lies.

For instance, so many many people I know think being transgendered is a lifestyle choice or something you do on a whim.

Did you know it’s actually a medical condition?  Researchers are beginning to see evidence that it is indeed possible to have a brain with the structure of one sex, in the body with the structure of the other sex. Because of biology and hormone balance, it is more common for male babies to be born with a female brain than vice versa. The cause seems to be hormone fluctuations that can sometimes happen during pregnancy.

The result then, is someone who feels, deep inside themselves, that they are one gender – because their brain is built that way – while their body is shaped another way. Some people who are transgendered are also intersex, where their body has both male and female sexual characteristics, but their inner sense of themselves differs from the arbitrary decision their doctor or their parents made at birth.

Bottom line: in many cases, a transgendered person has a valid and measurable medical reason behind their decision to take on a role as the opposite sex. It is a decision that only comes after much soul searching, it is not a whim or a snap decision, it is not a fetish, and it is not a lifestyle choice.


Transsexuals versus crossdressers

A crossdresser is someone who dresses as the opposite sex, for enjoyment or for many other reasons, but who still identifies as their birth sex. A transsexual is someone who was born as one sex but is changing to another. They may or may not have had surgery.


Sex versus Gender

Sex is what your body is shaped like. Gender is how you feel inside.


Problems with restroom access

Something that most people don’t know is that people who are going through gender transition are often required to be on hormones and live exclusively as their desired gender for at least a year before getting surgery.

If we think about this, it’s easy to see that forcing someone to use the bathroom of their birth sex could be quite problematic. This would require someone who is dressed as a woman, is passing quite well, and is doing everything like a woman, to use the men’s room anyway. This is a recipe for beatings and even murders. Meanwhile, if she had quietly used the women’s room, sat in the stall as she always did, By the way, she might have been doing that for months or years – without causing alarm or trouble. She doesn’t want trouble, she just wants to use the bathroom, like any woman.

Surgery is difficult, painful and expensive. Hormones are expensive and can be dangerous if mishandled. Doctors sometimes refuse to treat trans patients. So for those who say “why don’t they just get it over with and finish the process?” please consider that the person in question may want, very badly, to finish – but be unable to. It’s harder to get a job when you are trans, after all, and there are a lot of social roadblocks. Jokes about trans folk are common, there are few legal protections, and people die every day for being trans.

Because of the way she’s routinely treated, I know a trans woman who often says “we are the last niggers in America.”


Are transgendered people dangerous?

No. Nothing about having gender dysphoria makes you any more unstable than any other person. Statistically speaking, heterosexual-identified males are the most likely to predators, whether of children or otherwise. People who are trans may actually have more compassion than others because they are so frequently mistreated.


Can gender dysphoria be cured another way, such as through prayer?

No. It can’t. Gender dysphoria can be suppressed for a period of time as a person denies it and tries to meet societal expectations of who they should be. Many people try to be ultra masculine or ultra feminine in an effort to “be who they should be” before realizing that they truly are the other gender inside, and it’s not just a phase. Methods of treatment that don’t involve a transition usually result in depression at the best, suicide at the worst.
What trans people want

It’s a large subject and impossible to speak for everyone, but in general, trans folk just want the same rights everyone else has. They don’t want special rights, they just want to live normal lives. The goal of most trans women, for example, is to simply be a woman – not to be specially privileged, but deserving of the same respect everyone else gets.


What trans people are not

Trans people are NOT interested in “converting” your kids, and being trans is not contagious. They aren’t dangerous or unstable and many have incredible amounts of self knowledge. In general, they are not perverts. They are also not necessarily gay. They usually aren’t “confused” either.


How to refer to transgendered people

Individual tastes differ. You can say “a transgendered person” or “transgendered,” but never “a transgender.” Similarly, “a transie” can sometimes be an affectionate descriptor, but never “a tranny.” A tranny is a part off a car, not a person, and it’s usually very offensive. “Transsexual” is also usually appropriate.


Ways to support a trans person

First, treat them as the gender they present as. If you are confused about pronouns, just ask. Avoid asking a bunch of intrusive questions unless they have showed they are comfortable about it. Other than that, just talk – enjoy their company, treat them as a person. Most trans folk don’t want to center their life around their transition, they have other interests, skills, loves, dreams. Above all, just treat a trans person like… a person.


How you can help

I know this post has been long, and the people who need to read it probably won’t. Even if you never donate to a trans friendly charity or help a trans person directly, though, you can be educated about the subject and gently correct wrong assumptions and incorrect facts along the way. Also, parents, please teach your children that staring and making inappropriate comments is not polite and can hurt people.

I would truly appreciate it if anyone chooses to share or forward this blog entry, it may be copied and duplicated in excerpt or in part by anyone as long as the original intent of support is maintained. Thank you for caring enough to read this!

I’ve had it up to here with junk!

Me and Neko
Until recently, this was organized for me.

Several times in my life, I’ve had to cut my belongings down to nearly nothing.  Although one might expect that it could turn me into a hoarder, it’s done the exact opposite. Though I like to be prepared for anything, I still also have a deep desire for a clean, well organized space.

But, I have a lot of hobbies and I really am good at acquiring things. So what is a natural pack rat to do?

This subject is fresh in my mind because I’m about to move into a new apartment that’s actually slightly smaller than the one I live in now. I grew up in a heavily cluttered home, and lived that way for a long time. It was partly because I never had enough shelves or cupboards, and partly because I’d use things and not put them back.

When I moved to my last apartment, I vowed not to do it again – and though I’ve done better, and my life still isn’t as cluttered, little bits of junk keep creeping in. I think the main problem is just not having the right kinds of storage space. So now I’ll start out with more shelves, bins to store things in, and also I’ll be doing some serious tossing of junk.

I want everything I own to have a home! I’m tired of stacking things. Someday I’d love to have some flat storage racks for my various papers and boards. I’ll start with a CD tower for my media. I want doors to close over my junk so I don’t have to look at it, too.

It’s been shown that a clean, uncluttered environment leads to mental peace and harmony. I can’t wait to try that out.

Better Posture for a Better Life

Has anyone heard this as a kid?  “Sit up straight!  Stand up straight!”

It looks like Mom, or Grandma, had the right idea.  Not only can good posture make you look taller and thinner, but it also improves your ability to breathe, makes you look more confident, reduces your stress level, improves your concentration, and even improves your mood!

Wait, what?

It’s true.

While good posture obviously isn’t a cure-all, it’s an often overlooked aspect to life.  Your body works better when important internal organs aren’t squished, your bones and muscles support you more evenly too.  As mentioned before, you breathe better.  And your brain releases neurotransmitters that make you feel more in control of things.

Slouching can actually sap your energy, while moving your arms can make you feel more lively.  It’s all here in this article from Medical Daily:

Change Your Posture To Improve Your Mood, Memory, And 5 Other Aspects Of Your Life


I’ve actually seen this work.  When I sit up straight and breathe deeply, or walk with my head up and shoulders back, I feel better, more confident.  In this case, mood is affected by behavior rather than the other way around.  When I’m feeling low, I can change my mood by changing my posture.

To me, that’s incredibly powerful.  For those of us who feel stuck in moods, this can be a great way out.

Don’t lose weight! Win Health!

I’m working on a weight loss program, based on a bunch of research, and it has me thinking.

I think sometimes our inner selves are freaked out by all the ‘loss words.’ Like “lose weight,” “drop pounds,” “lose fat,” etc. With all that losing, might it want to hold on to what it has? Focusing on loss might just sabotage our efforts.

I’ve heard it said that your inner self never hears negative modifiers, so you say ‘I’m not going to eat ice cream,” it thinks “I’m going to eat ice cream,” for example. I don’t know how true that is but I’ve been playing with the idea as a way of reframing my weight loss journey to be more positive.

For example, instead of focusing on losing weight, it might be helpful to think about how you are growing stronger. Instead of thinking about all the cookies you can’t have, you could think about how much better your body feels eating fresh fruit.

It’s so easy to be discouraged when the scale isn’t moving. But there are so many little wins you can focus on, when it comes to becoming healthier. There’s reduced pain, increased flexibility, increased strength, clothes fitting better, the nutrient rush from a healthy meal, the sense of accomplishment from taking care of yourself. This fitness journey isn’t about loss, it’s about winning!

How to win at losing weight

If you want to lose weight and gain health, there are three basic secrets to improve your mindset. Your healthy mindset is your most important ally in this journey. If you lose that, you will most definitely fail.

Set Goals – Know Why You Want It

There are two kinds of goals that are important – a big goal and many small ones. Your big goal is your vision. It’s what keeps you moving. It’s something you need to really, really want, because it is going to remind you of why you are doing all this, at times when you’re low and cravings are kicking your butt. For example, my big goal is that I want to be 150 pounds by age 40. I have 3 years to do it in. I have about 75 pounds to lose. I want to be fit, strong, able to bench a fair amount, and have awesome shoulders and arms. That’s the vision that keeps me going. Maybe your goal is a marathon, or to hike the Appalachian Trail.

Your small goals are critical too, they are the stepping stones that will get you to your big goal. For example, you might say “I will lose two pounds in two weeks.” Or “I will walk around the block without getting out of breath.” Every time you meet a goal, give yourself a pat on the back – that success will help you go farther.

Stay Positive – Focus on the Journey

If you can be mindful of all the little things there are to love about being healthy, and being on this journey, you will be more likely to continue. Even though weight can be slow to come off, there are a million good things that happen between each one pound mark. If you made a really tasty salad, savor every bite. If you feel good after walking, take a moment to enjoy it. If you feel your abs tighten more than usual, or notice a little more strength, celebrate it! Really focus on the good times.

If you learn to appreciate the process and each tiny victory, the lifelong changes you need to make will have a better chance to take hold.

Make it Easy for Yourself

The more convenient you can make your healthy habits, and the more inconvenient you can make your unhealthy ones, the better. So make sure your walking shoes are by the door, make sure you keep junk food out of the house, prepare healthy lunches on the weekend ahead of time, keep vegetables and nuts or whatever you want to use for snacks at hand. Where you can, buy colorful, appealing foods that attract the eye. Find exercise that you really enjoy, or at least that is tolerable. For instance, I like weight lifting so I do that more than I’ll run on a treadmill. Keep reminders of your goal around you, such as pictures of that race you want to run, or that trail you want to hike, or that bike you will buy when you meet your goal.

If you take a moment to make your healthy snacks and healthy activities more convenient, you will be less likely to grab junk food as you hurry to work.

STDs and magical thinking

I have mentioned before that I help out sometimes at advice websites. I’ve noticed something. Some people seem to fixate on STDs and pregnancy almost as if it’s a great “boogeyman” that can defeat the laws of physics. Their concern over the consequences of getting pregnant, or getting a disease (seen by many as about the same thing, by the way) overrides all rationality.

I’ll get questions about HIV, for example, things like “I hugged someone, could I get HIV?” I understand ignorance, but often the questions will come up after they have already been told that HIV is a very delicate virus that doesn’t survive for more than a minute ore two (AT MOST) outside the body, and requires blood to blood contact or sexual fluid to blood contact. Even so, the fear and emotional impact bypasses any kind of logic.

I’ve seen people ask if they could get pregnant if had taken a shower with someone and kissed them in the shower. Sorry! It doesn’t work that way! Though they do know where babies come from, superstition reigns supreme. I’ll keep out of explicit territory of course, but it’s really amazing how many misconceptions I see that persist even after proper education has been given! Instead of thinking of the way things really work, people who are afraid often start thinking symbolically, as if viruses can defeat the laws of physics.

Fear is a powerful emotion but it’s sad when it overcomes people’s reason.