Monday, September 30, 2013

Fear and Loathing of Baltimore

One day, long, long ago in high school, my bully sailed up to me and said (I don't remember how this started, by the way), "I know why Hopkins went to Baltimore for college- it was to get as far away from you as possible!"

I had my back to her, which gave me a second to collect myself so that she couldn't see the homicidal rage in my expression before I turned to face her.

"Had that been the case, he would have gone to Stanford," I deadpanned, silently appending the requisite 'you bitch' in my mind.

She stared blankly for a second, so I added, "It's in California. Johns Hopkins is in Maryland. I take it that geography is not your best subject." I executed a neat marching band pivot and stalked off down the hall.

Of course, she'd just said what everybody (including me, to my eternal anguish) thought, anyway. I shouldn't have responded, but slicing her clean through was as good as it was going to get.

It's not that I have ever faulted his decision, or his ambition; I've always faulted myself for not having better prepared for the obvious. As he said the other night, "Something in-state was not going to happen." No, it wasn't, thank you, Hopkins, but you could have attended a second-tier elite somewhere closer- and if you were going to hurl me on the pyre that was your ego, why the hell couldn't it have been M.I.T.? He's never grasped what it took for me to stand there, smiling, and tell him how fantastic and wonderful it was that he had been accepted to Johns Hopkins while the bile rose and my chest tightened.

The irony that we're both still here is not lost on me. That I still want him to live up to his potential, and the Devil take Baltimore, isn't, either. I just can't risk telling him the truth, and this war between logic and emotion is stressful as well as unpleasant.

Maybe it was Baltimore, but by God, it wasn't Stanford. It was not Stanford.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Now Available in a Handy Chewable Tablet!

That's not something one really expects from one's oral contraceptive. Having lost one of my ovaries last year along with the grapefruit-sized mass sitting on it, my gynecologist and oncologist both agreed that I should keep taking my ultra-low-dose oral contraceptive as a mild hormone replacement therapy so I wouldn't go through "The Change" (duh-duh-DUUUUUUNNN) too soon. I'm only 44, so yeah, I'm on board with that.

I'd been on this particular pill, which was the lowest-estrogen product on the market, for several years; imagine my surprise when I got a notice from our pharmacy benefits company that the pharmaceutical company had discontinued it. They were, instead, going to offer almost exactly the same thing except that it's now, WOWEE, a handy chewable tablet.

Their patent was due to expire in the spring. Anyone conversant with the brilliance of Big Pharma knows why they tweaked it thus: to keep selling it at a high price while the non-chewable version was snapped up by everybody and their pet cat as a generic. There are a many things I'm willing to take as a generic, but something involving precisely-calibrated hormone doses is not one of them. (The thing about generics is that the per-dose active ingredient has to be 'in-range', ergo, it does not have to be exact. That's not really something most women are looking for in a contraceptive, I think, but I digress.) Otherwise, it's exactly the same drug as before, but the chewability makes for a brand-spankin' new patent.

The thing that bugs me the most about it is, well, what if it doesn't dissolve very well? Does that mean I'll be running around with estrogen stuck in my molars all day until it bothers to dissolve? That doesn't sound like a very effective delivery method for a drug that by virtue of its on-label use, needs to be delivered in full at almost exactly the same time on a daily basis. If I were using it for actual contraceptive purposes, I'd be a little upset.

Furthermore, do adults really require chewable tablets? While I realize that the relative age of people engaging in the Horizontal Mambo is dropping precipitously, are they so young that The Pill has to mimic a Flintstone Chewable Multivitamin? These are pills the size of a baby aspirin, folks, not the horse pill size of some broad-spectrum antibiotics I could name.

This morning I hauled myself out of bed and took my first dose of this wonder drug. It's mildly sweet (I'm wondering what they used as the sweetener- if I get a headache later, I'll be pretty sure it's aspartame), crunchy, and no, it did NOT completely dissolve. I swished some water around in my mouth to rinse the rest of the dose down. Most of all, I felt a little stupid. I've been able to swallow pills since I was a small child and taking one version of The Pill or another since I was eighteen- this just felt, well, patronizing.

Next on the horizon, I'm sure: chewable Viagra, although it would be far more patronizing were it a soft chew.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Inconvenient Houseguest

As has been the case a little too frequently in the past, I am once again crashing at my sister's while Mom is hospitalized. Let's just say that the first chemo drug had serious consequences and Mom is yet again a guest of the Big City hospital.

Aside from having had to go buy clothes (I packed for one day, ha, ha, and this is now Day Five) I always feel underfoot. It's a two bedroom, one bath house, so it takes coordination when I'm here. My sister's asleep, so I am washing their whites. I used one of the towels, so I feel obligated to pitch in.

Their Golden Retriever is napping at my feet-he keeps us sane when this stuff goes down. I unwisely bought some black clothes, on which his red-gold fur shows up nicely. I love the dog, and I did help pick him out as a puppy.

The other habit I got into a few years ago was bringing in groceries. Fast food is bad for you, of course, plus it gets tired after a while. One of the previous hospitals had mini-fridges in the room, where I would store my lunch for a couple of days in advance. This one doesn't- so I eat breakfast and wait until I get back to the house to have supper.

So here I sit, waiting for a clean towel, planning My Day at the Hospital with Mom. This is life as I know it for the next while.