Who Am I Kidding?

plastic bags1

See that?  That’s 3 of 4 bags that I’m donating.  Clothes I’ve had for a long time hoping I’d be able to one day fit into.  Every spring I bring about 8 large plastics buckets up from the basement, re arrange my drawers and closet and then do the same in the Fall. It’s a chore I hate and I finally realized that it was made more complicated by all of these extra clothes.

So this weekend I committed to stopping the madness and tossing out what doesn’t fit or what I haven’t worn in a season.  The result was 4 large garbage bags.  Hopefully someone else could put them to good use.  Some even still had the tags on them!

I know I’m kidding myself if I think I’m going to get back down a couple of sizes.  I’m realizing also that lots of clothing isn’t necessary. I need several nice pieces for work and several nice pieces for play.  Workout, yard work and lounging pieces.  That’s it.

I feel lighter already!!!

Spring?

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Spring has been really slow to come to New England this year.  I live in a bit of a snow belt and the snow finally disappeared 2 weeks ago, but it’s not really warmed up very much.  But I’ve been walking on the bikepath 4 or 5 days a week with the dog, so I’m hitting my 10,000 steps more frequently than I was over the winter.

I also started back with my personal trainer Nazi mid March and that’s been a great move for me.  I do feel so much better overall when I invest one hour per week with her.  I have always known that movement is the best healer for my RA, but sometimes I don’t listen to my own advise – particularly during this long winter.  I did a lot of hunkering down in front of the TV binging on Netflix when I should have been moving.

IMG952623Remember her?  Well she’s back!!

The RA is still there in the background, but it is not in command of my life right now.  I’m in command, spring is here and I’m looking forward to a good summer.

Celebrex and Generics

December 31, 1998 is when Celebrex first came to market.  It was one of the first medications that selectively inhibits COX-2, which helps relieve arthritis pain and inflammation as well as acute pain in adults.  COX-2 is an enzyme that is involved in causing inflammation and pain in parts of the body where there is arthritis or injury.  Pfizer was the firm that brought it to market.

I’m not a scientist and this is not meant at all to be a technical post.  I didn’t know a thing about COX-2 when I first became aware of Celebrex, or Vioxx, which was another COX-2 inhibitor that was pulled off the market in 2004.  All I knew in 1999 is that I was recently diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and was in severe pain at all times.  I distinctly remember the first night I ceased taking 800 mg motrin pills in favor of Celebrex.  I recall getting up it the middle of the night and the pain was definitely less severe.  I knew it made a difference.  It has been the one constant medication I’ve taken since being diagnosed.  Initially I was taking 200 mg 2 times daily.  As I improved, it went to 200 mg once daily and now I take 100 mg once daily.

If I forget to take my Celebrex, about 11am my knees get painfully stiff and “crunchy.”  It’s the one medication that I can’t skip.  I can skip the methotrextate and the enbrel on occasion without adverse effects, but I need to take Celebrex every day.

I visited my Rheumatologist in January and he gave me a Celebrex co Pay card from Pfizer.  He mentioned that Celebrex was now available as a generic.  I had renewed my prescription the previous week through my mail order retailer that Blue Cross/Blue Shield insists I use.  So when my medication arrived, I saw that I had received the generic, but they had still charged the same $125 copay for 90 days.  I called Blue Cross and was told that’s the cost.

Yesterday Blue Cross/Blue Shield sent me a letter stating they would no longer be filling Celebrex prescriptions, but only offering the generic.  So I called Blue Cross again and asked about the co pay.  It appears that although Blue Cross is getting the benefits of a reduced cost with purchasing a generic, the savings aren’t passed on to me.

This morning I did some research.  Pfizer had about $3 Billion in sales in 2013 of Celebrex.  It was their 4th largest selling medication.  There was some patent litigation in 2014 which Celebrex lost, allowing it to become available in generic form.  It’s a big loss for Pfizer, following the patent expiration of some of their other block buster medications including Lipitor in 2011.  I also learned from Pharmacycheckerblog.com that the FDA grants marketing exclusivity for a generic to a single drug company for six months, so only two drug companies – the brand name manufacturer and the first generic manufacturer – are competing. As more drug companies enter the market the price will eventually cost a fraction of the brand name counterpart. But that first generic to market will usually only be about 20% cheaper than the brand.

Since the patent expired in June, 2014, there should be several companies that are now manufacturing the generic.  My Celebrex generic comes from Lupin Pharmaceuticals and is made in India.  And still costs me $125 for my 90 day supply.

Sigh.

Bleeping Snow!!!

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I live in New England.  I love winter.  Usually.  However, this winter just won’t quit and it’s been a bear.  Or a roly poly penguin wearing a hat and scarf.  The snow blower broke.  Of course we don’t have a truck to transport it for repairs so we’re at the mercy of our friends that let us borrow theirs.  While it was in the shop we had another major snowstorm and had to find someone to plow our driveway. Snow is piled up on the walkways, decks and we only access half our driveway when there is this much snow.

Ice dam?  That’s the new buzz word in New England.  Ice dams occur when ice and snow collect on the edges of our roofs causing a big mess both inside and out.  I have 2 waste baskets and 3 banana bread pans on the window sills in our un heated sun room collecting the water that pours in from the roof line and the windows as a result of ice dams.  It’s ugly and there have been many insurance claims already in the office where I work.

I love skiing and we do it most winter weekends, but this year it’s even been too cold to ski many days.  Two Sundays ago it was -26 at the top of the mountain with 45 mph winds.  I went home.  In fact, I’ve spent most of the winter when I’ve not been working at home.  On the couch.  Watching Netflix.  My fitbit is quiet, the bike path is inaccessible, my body aches from not walking.  My mind misses it too.  Abbie the Jack Russell Terrier misses our walks.

Vacation.  Ours starts this weekend.  Most of you would be jetting to the Carribean, or Florida, right?  Not us.  Where are we going?

Wengen, Switzerland.  The Berghaus.   More snow!  However, it’s 33 degrees there right now, which is MUCH warmer than the -8 at my house this morning.  Sounds balmy.  When we return, daylight savings time will have begun, baseball will be ready to start and I’m going back to training with my girl Cathy at Better Bodies Functional Fitness.  Can spring be far behind?

The Snowy Day

My mom was a children’s librarian when I was young.  She would host story hours and this is one of the books that I vividly remember her reading.  It was a staple at Story Hour and at home where we read about Peter exploring his neighborhood after a snowstorm.

Today was a snowy day for us since the Blizzard of 2015 came to town.    Haven’t had a snow day in a long time, but this one came along at the right time.  I’ve been feeling punk since the weekend and today when I woke up I really had no energy and felt lethargic.  I moved from my bed to the comfort of the couch next to the wood stove.  Binged watched Orange Is The New Black, watched a movie and spent a little time in the kitchen making comfort foods.  I didn’t open my work laptop, although I had planned on being productive on my snowy day.

I felt guilty at first, but then realized how fortunate I was to have my RA flare up on a day when I really didn’t have to do anything.  What a great way to spent The Snowy Day.

2015. Another Do over

Another new year gives us another opportunity to break promises we make to ourselves.  Ok, let’s be real.  It’s another opportunity for Me to break the commitments I make to myself.  Better fitness, more Me time, less stress and better eating. Since I started this blog that’s what I keep telling myself I need to do.  And each year I fail to maintain my commitments. I KNOW my body would respond better if I lost weight, ate better and kept moving.  I know that RA is kept at bay when there is less stress.  I know my immune system acts better when I don’t let the job stress get to me.

I’m a control freak of sorts.  Except when it comes to my own self.  I can always rationalize overeating and over drinking and skiping activity.  As a matter of fact it’s my trademark.

So let’s see what 2015 brings for me. To be truthful, my primary goal this year is to figure out my career.  I need to grow my business a bit.  Not a lot.  Just a little.  Five to eight percent.  That might reduce some of the stressful feelings I have about my job.  I’ve realized I need to work smarter.  RA zaps my energy and gets in the way of peak performance.

I hope you readers will point out my rationalizations and excuses.

Happy 2015New Years Eve Eve

‘Talk About Your Medicines’ Month

So I was recently approached by a woman that is the Community Awareness Coordinator with the American Recall Center.   She helps to educate individuals on recall updates but also is an advocate for medicine safety.  October is Talk About Your Medicines Month and she asked me if I would do a post for her about my medications.  She gave me a guide with some talking points in the event that I needed assistance with a topic(s).  After giving it a little thought I knew that I had a great blog post regarding medicine safety.

As someone with Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease, aka RA or RD, I do take several medications to calm my immune system, reduce inflammation and help with pain.  One of those medications is Methotrexate (MTX).  I’ve taken it since August, 2001.  Initially I started taking it once a week in pill form.  Several years ago – probably around 2011, I discovered that it came in an injectible form.  I’d been having some issues with being sick from the pills and I asked my rheumatologist about it.  He thought injecting MTX was a great option for me since we’d been splitting the 5 weekly pills of methotrexate into 2 doses during the week instead of one dose as a way of making it more tolerant for my system.  What I discovered was that instead of feeling sick one day per week, I was sick two days per week.

I started on the injectible form during the summer and immediately noticed how much better I felt!  No more sickness.  And because I wasn’t being sick and purging the medication, I started feeling much better because I was absorbing more MTX.  The RA definitely retreated and I needed less pain meds and less anti inflammatories.  Everything was fine until earlier this summer when  I started getting sick again.  So much so that I actually left work at noon one day and went home sick.  I don’t do that often.  A couple weeks later the same thing happened and I was very sick again.  The most ill I’d been since started the injectible Methotrexate.

I went into my medicine supply to look at the little bottles that I’d been given.  I had a number of different sizes that the pharmacy had given to me for several months.  I compares all the bottles – from the old supply and newer doses and I noticed a difference in the small print on some of the bottles.  Over the years I’d always had MTX that had preservatives in it.  I could reuse the same bottle a number of times and store it in the cabinet in between doses.  I noticed that some of the bottles said “preservative free” on the label.  I had never been given this type of med before but I suspected that if I was re-using a bottle of preservative free meds, I could be getting sick.

I stopped at the pharmacy the next day and the pharmacist confirmed that I had been receiving MTX with preservatives in it since starting to take it in 2001, but for some reason the form had changed recently and while the lettering on the bottle noted the change, nothing in the notes on the script explained the change to the meds or that I wasn’t supposed to reuse the bottles.

Problem solved.  Lesson learned:  Be very observant about everything as it pertains to your prescriptions.  Ask questions.  Trust your instincts and most of all, remember that it’s your body and you will definitely know if something is wrong.