Thursday, December 31, 2009

Every vote counts!

Finally, a poll we can all believe in - other than my very own brain tumor poll, that is. The question being asked here is the following: Who was the biggest assclown of 2009?

Now, in some ways this may seem like a simple answer, when your choices are finally narrowed down to Glenn Beck and Joe Lieberman. I went with Lieberman, because he's a worthless shill who has no problem betraying the people he's supposed to represent, all while lining his own pockets.

On the other hand, I watched a snippet of Beck the other night on Rachel Maddow's show, and from that, I can only come to the following conclusion: this guy is batshit crazy.

Here is the gist of what he was babbling about:

"This time Beck is taking shots at the titan of American capitalism, John Rockefeller, accusing him of having been a secret communist. Beck knows this to be true because he has discovered all sorts of "communist" and "fascist" art on NBC headquarters at Rockefeller Center, as well as on land behind the United Nations that was donated by Rockefeller.

........Rockefeller left clues to his true legacy with these communist art pieces which are hidden in plain sight, and since we have people in our own time who call themselves progressives they must actually be communists (possibly fascists?).

.......Also, Beck's icing on the communist cake is that the Rockefeller Foundation honored Beck's latest target, Obama adviser Van Jones. Got it?"

Well, no, I don't really get it - but then, I'm not batshit crazy. At least not for the most part.

Happy voting!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Another placeholder post

Okay, so I know I have to catch up on things here, what with my story on The Day Tasha Almost Got Herself Arrested at the Federal Building, to my update on Whereupon Tasha Almost Got Mowed Down By a Runaway Pickup Truck in the Bucolic Town of Eagle, WI. Suffice it to say that I believe there's a proverbial key to the city being made for me as we speak. So there's all that.

And I know everyone here in this great Blogosphere of ours is waiting with bated breath to find out who the winner was in my first-ever brain tumor poll. Of course, in conducting this poll I used the finest research methodologies as taught to me at Wharton, excellent institution that it is. So that means I plotted out the variables, calculated the R-squared, looked for the resultant patterns - though I must say, everything wanted to default to the dreaded "swarm of bees" configuration. Then, I put everyone's names on a slip of paper, all the people who had told me they voted and my blog followers, and I just reached into a hat and picked one at random. Of course the hat in question was the Fuck Cancer hat, so that made it especially scientific. Yes, this is the kind of academic rigor I'm known for, folks. An inspiration to many.

In any case, it turns out that my winner was none other than.....Miz Laura! Who I immediately called with the good news, and even though it was 3AM, I could tell by the jubilation in her voice just how excited she was:

Laura: "Huh? What? Who? Who the hell are you again?"

Ah yes, the typical confusion under such circumstances, of those who can scarcely believe their good fortune.

So what with that done and with Laura soon to be receiving her very own Fuck Cancer hat, my epicly long blog posts will return, but in the meantime, I present you this, which pretty well sums up exactly what I myself say when anyone around me dares to utter the words "Joe Lieberman"......

Saturday, December 26, 2009

BCBS, not completely heartless after all

I know I rail against BCBS here on a consistent basis, exposing them for the faceless bureaucratic monolith they are......yet once in a while, when even the most mercenary of companies feels moved to do a kind deed for the little people, well, that tale must be told.

And so it came to pass that last night, after I got home from being with the family for Christmas, I sat down with a nog to open my remaining gifts, including the box purportedly from BCBS. Perhaps they’ve sensed that I’ve been thinking evil thoughts at them, knowing that I’ll have new battles to fight with them in the new year after my reconstruction? Because apparently the wise and practical folks at Blue Cross consider all sorts of things “optional” when it comes to this kind of surgery. Like nipples. Or tattoos. This surgery which, I might note, they are legally obligated to pay for. Yes, it took an actual law on the books to get insurance companies to pay for reconstruction. So perhaps this was their attempt at extending the proverbial olive branch?

And indeed, it was! Basically their way of telling me – “Hey, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Even if we arbitrarily decide to deny you coverage of your reconstruction surgery, as we like to do, just for the hell of it, there are other options for you. Here’s one of them. Enjoy!”

Because what was in the box was this:

I’m not sure these need explanation, but the product text includes the following:

“The trophy rack you’ve always wanted!”


“Fashioned after a lifelike set of woman's breasts, Jingle Jugs, when activated, begin to move in rhythmic motion to the song, "Titties & Beer".....They're a must have in the game room or in the bar....Put a new top on 'em to match the season. Mount 'em next to your trophies in the game room - leave 'em on "Motion Detect Mode" and startle visitors when they jiggle and dance to "Titties & Beer." The opportunities for laughter and fun are endless with Jingle Jugs!”

The only thing accompanying this wonderful present was a note that explained “BCBS Foobage Plan C.” Oh, and two random sheets torn from what appears to be a pet supply catalog. But it did finally occur to me that some lackey – I mean, dedicated employee – of BCBS must have taken advantage of the fact that their headquarters are in downtown Chicago, and instead of wasting money on postage to actually mail this – money that could be better spent to prop up BCBS CEO McCaskey’s paltry $11M salary – they came by my place to drop it off. Because packages don’t make it through the US mail without some kind of identifying sign of postage, origin, etc., so there was definitely a local input to this.

But best of all? The Jingle Jugs have the all-important pink ribbon on the box, meaning we’re all united in the fight against breast cancer! Sniffle, it truly does take a village. You, me, BCBS, and Jingle Jugs. I can only weep at such an outpouring of solidarity....

Friday, December 25, 2009

Joy to the world!

As one of the earliest advocates of health care reform once proclaimed in a moment of figgy-pudding induced rapture:

“God bless us, every one!”

- Tiny Tim

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Was this necessary?

Okay, so before I get to the fascinating saga of How Tasha Almost Got Herself Arrested, I just have to note something I read in the paper yesterday, something that makes me wonder who exactly the Sun-Times has writing some of their columns.

To wit: it's an article about some local mobster's "holiday dinner," as he got approval from a judge to lose the house arrest for one night and go to dinner at a fancy seafood and crab house downtown. So far so good. They give the background and say ".....what reputed Cicero mob boss Michael 'The Large Guy' Sarno did." Okay, still fine. Not the most clever or original of nicknames, but whatever.

Then, in a later paragraph:

"Sarno, also dubbed 'Fat Ass' by some colleagues, has denied any wrongdoing...."

Seriously? "Also dubbed 'Fat Ass'"?? God forbid they should include those kinds of "nicknames" in every article. "Casey Moll, also dubbed 'Bitchwhore' by her former landlord" or "Katherine Hart, also dubbed 'Deadbeat Con-Artist' by all the many people she's scammed money out of" etc. Actually, that would be kind of interesting.

But if I ever get my name in the paper again or in print in general, let's just state here and now that NO nicknames should be included. Because really, that would then be an insanely long article, and I don't think we need that kind of deforestation in the world, m'kay? Global warming is bad enough as it is.

Fat ass indeed......

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mystery solved?

This morning I rushed through my usual routine so that I could make it to my retinal specialist appointment – and the answer to all my problems, naturally – on time. And it would seem that the ophthalmologist offices in Chicago have a special on the Reader’s Digest BIG PRINT version, because they’re chock full of copies at this doctor’s office too. Oh well. I read a story about some woman who became a minister or pastor, and she explains how she found her calling thusly: “I took that picture of Tom (her husband) looking so dashing in his policeman’s uniform in the paper that day and put it in a scrapbook, with the caption ‘God, please keep Tom safe in your heart and protect him always.’ The very next day, I got the call telling me that his patrol car was broad-sided, and he was dead.”

Huh? Am I the ONLY one who doesn’t really get how God figures into this? Who maybe thinks the Big Guy was a bit asleep at the switch there??

Anyway, soon enough I get called in, they do the usual tests which show nothing, except that apparently I have excellent eye pressure. No really, I do. Normal is 10-22, and I’m a 20. Sweet! Umm, what does that mean exactly? No matter, though it does prove that I'm an overachiever in all things. Really, just a way of life for me.

Then I get to see the man of the hour, Dr. Flood, a tall, rangy guy with a booming voice – and an astonishingly keen sense of humor.

Dr. Flood: Okay, rest your chin here and your forehead there and I’ll check out a few things.
Me, as I bonk my head and almost impale my eye on the contraption: Ow!
Dr. F.: Ha! Business has been slow around here lately, so we try to get patients to gouge their eyes, drum up more business.
Me: Not a bad plan – it almost worked.
Dr. F.: Next time! So, it looks like the tests Dr. Yang ran didn’t find anything, so we’ll do some different tests that are more sensitive, to look at the entire retinal area and the blood vessels in your eyes.
Me: I hope we find something! I mean, not really, but this is driving me crazy. And we’ve ruled out the brain tumor worry.
Dr. F.: That’s always a good thing to rule out. And yes, if these tests don’t show anything, then, well, sometimes we just can’t find the answers to everything.
Me: Then I’ll look like I’m crazy.
Dr. F.: Exactly. Psych consult! Ha, just kidding!
Me: Well, if we don’t find anything, I’m going to use this to become famous, write it up in the JAMA
Dr. F.: JAMA, or perhaps……The American Journal of Ophthalmology, that would be even more prestigious. You could name it….Tasha’s Disease!
Me: See, it’s all coming together now – the MBE as my claim to fame….

He then shows me a model of an eye, the retinal area, and it has a little structure in there that says “This is the macula.”

Dr. F.: Now, this part that says that, that’s not actually in your eye.

I like this guy.

I go have these other tests done, which involve an IV, yellow dye flowing into my (hard to find, as usual) vein, and so much flashing of bright lights that if I didn’t have an eye problem before, I do now. I can’t see a damn thing. I’m then sitting and waiting in another office by myself, waiting for the results, when Dr. Flood pokes his head around the corner:

“We may have something! Hold tight! I’m going to look at another scan.”

I’m almost giddy with delight at the news. Yay, an identifiable eye problem!

He then comes in to show me what he found. Which turns out to be…..a very tiny pinprick of white, which would be a drusen if I were, say, 70, but instead is a drusen-like formation, or Central Serous Retinopathy. He gives me some long explanation about fluid buildup, blurry eye, the formation of a blister in the retinal area, etc. I only have one question.

Me: So what causes this?
Dr. F.: It’s generally caused by stress, and is found in Type A personalities….

I burst out laughing at this point.

Me: Hahahahahha, stress, of course! All roads lead to stress in my life! Or vice versa!
Dr. F.: Yes, and it’s not the kind of adrenaline rush from danger, or stress from, say, being chased by a lion, but more a high level of day-to-day-stress, as one is out in the trenches, every day, slogging through….
Me: Story of my life. Me in the trenches. Yep, it all makes sense now.

As for the cure or treatment…….there isn’t one. I get to live with FBE until it eventually, hopefully, goes away, which apparently is what happens after 3-4 months. But am I the only one who sees the irony here? Because a lot of my stress is caused by the damn medical bills, dealing with the asshats at BCBS, calls from collection agencies for stuff I refuse to pay for because I shouldn't have to - and so I'm getting these stress-related mystery ailments that, lo and behold, mean more expensive tests that BCBS has to pay for, at least in part. Hello? What's wrong with this picture?

Anyway, I stumble out of the office into the snowy streets, happy that I at least have an answer, laughing ironically at the stress part, and heading downtown, for Part II of the day: the Daley Center and small claims court, or at least the filing part of small claims. Where I’m lucky I didn’t get myself arrested………..

(to be continued)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

FBE digs in for the long haul

Another day, another date with FBE at the doctor’s office. As I was waiting to see Dr. Yang, it occurred to me that maybe I could kill two birds with one stone. Did I have the right forms with me? Yes! So I excused myself for a moment and went into the hallway to the next office over to drop off my pre-Rackotomy (scheduled for 1/18, for those who’d like to drop bon-bons off at the hospital) papers to my plastic surgeon’s office. How convenient is that?

Here, the most "interesting" reading seems to be Reader's Digest - no Macular Degeneration Musings or anything exciting like that, sad to say. I haven't seen a Reader's Digest in a while, so I had no idea that they had moved to this larger, magazine-size format, with the really big print. Interesting concept.

It only occurs to me about 15 minutes later that these are the special Reader's Digests, for (hello!) the eye doctor's office. Look, I never said I was all that quick on the draw, okay? Geez.

Soon enough, after more tests and more of my bumbling around Mr. Magoo-like, Dr. Yang says that there really isn’t anything wrong that he can see except for some kind of abnormality with my retina, but that’s all he knows. Hence, tomorrow I’m off to – yes – the retinal specialist! Which is apparently several hours of bumbling around, according to their information sheet. So if I wind up posting some complete nonsense tomorrow from the doctor’s office (“but Tasha, how will we be able to tell?”), don’t blame me, blame FBE. Whatever that means.

And then, when I get home what should I find but a package from....BCBS? Or at least that’s what the supposed return address says, though I doubt BCBS has spirited workers industriously addressing boxes by hand. And writing “do not open before X-mas (yeah right!)” on the side. But you never know – they’re certainly a crafty lot, and anything is possible. Thus, to be on the safe side, I have put the box in the farthest corner of the house, and as we speak, I am debating between putting it outside so that the cold kills the anthrax or whatever else might be in there, or perhaps just detonating the whole thing.

I warn you though, BCBS, you will not break me; I am of sturdy peasant stock, and we can soldier our way through pretty much anything. I’m not saying that “it’s just a flesh wound!” is our mantra, know what, that is what I’m saying. Bring. It. On. Wait, what was I talking about again? I get so caught up in my rantings against BCBS that sometimes, it all just blurs together. Kind of like.......FBE.

On a final note, how about a shout out to my reader from Libya! Umm........mazel tov??

Monday, December 21, 2009

Life’s little triumphs

I blithely ignored the dire warnings on the news, about how stores were running out of Christmas tree lights for whatever reason – Santa’s elves were especially lazy this year or something and didn’t make enough. Whatever. Because I knew that in my infinite wisdom, in years past I’ve taken the lights off the tree, bundled them up oh-so-carefully, and put them in a box labeled “Christmas stuff” which was then safely stored away. Piece of cake.

So naturally for the last few days after liberating my tree from its bucket-o-ice, I’ve been hitting all the stores looking for some simple white lights. Grocery stores, drugstores, you name it. For some reason, the only thing they have are these really expensive, ugly LED lights which look like small tubers. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t those the super-long-lasting eco-friendly lights? And since Christmas lights in general last for about 600 years or until someone oafishly breaks a single light (or, ahem, misplaces all the lights), just how long do we want these things to last exactly? I know LED is the Big New Thing, but really, that makes about as much sense as an LED oven light.

Anyway, today I hit another grocery store, then went to Home Depot, where sure enough, nothing but icicle lights and lights-on-a-stick. Dejected, disheartened, I’m about to make my way out of the store, you see what I see? A stray box of white lights! Right there, as if they were placed before me by the hand of God himself! Victory!! Sure, they’re mini-lights, and there’s just one box, but hell, that’s good enough. As usual, I raise my arms up while making the “V” for victory sign, as I make my way jauntily and triumphantly to the register. On the way there, I decide to ask a store clerk about the light thing, in case I’m missing some big other special section of the store.

Me: Excuse me, but do you have any Christmas lights other than what’s over there?
Home Depot Guy, shaking his head sadly: No, we’re all out, but rumor has it the Home Depot on North Ave. has some, and then there’s the...
Me: Ha, no need! See? I found this last little rogue box of lights!
HDG, joyfully: Oh, that’s great – a stray box! If that’s not a Christmas miracle, I don’t know what is!
Me, beaming: Exactly!

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock......oh, sorry, got caught up in the moment there.

In any case, I make my way home, determined to get that damn tree decorated already once and for all. I’ve dragged a box of decorations up from the basement – not my full complement of insanely fragile ornaments, but a secondary box. I figure I’ll see how the two galoots manage the tree this year before putting out everything breakable.

Packed away in this box I find....another box. Which I open, to discover a whole bunch of new ornaments I bought last year at the Christkindlmarket downtown, and which I never used. I have a vague recollection of this, though I don’t remember what I bought specifically.

But I think it’s instructive to look at this and see where my brain was last year, after that bike crash, 7 weeks of daily radiation, heavy psychotropic drugs, etc. Because the first few things I unwrap are reasonable enough: brightly colored balls, a snowman, an elf on a sleigh. A glass slipper, hmm, okay. Then....a demented-looking clown? And......a potato?? Hmm. I wonder if there are any other tests they can run on my brain?

NOT a tuh-mah!

Just got off the phone with Dr. Von Roenn, and while I know this will surprise some (many) of you, she claims there’s nothing wrong with my brain. Whee!

Dr. VR: So the MRI showed that your brain is normal.
Me: Damn!
Me, weakly: Umm, I mean, that’s great news, really. Though I think my friends would argue with you about that.
Dr. VR: Wouldn't all of our friends? It gives proof to the saying, with friends like that....
Me: SO true!
Dr. VR: In any case, I would check with the ophthalmologist again, then plan on seeing a neurologist.
Me: I saw Dr. Grimm before – I guess I could muster up the time to see him again, if I had to (as I mentally start going through my wardrobe, wondering what I could wear for my appointment with him that would scream “a goddess yet approachable”).
Dr. VR: That would be a good idea.
Me: So....there wasn’t any detritus or anything floating around in there as an aftereffect of the bike crash?
Dr. VR: No, nothing like that. Well, there were some areas that looked a bit suspicious that took up more contrast than other areas, so that’s why the test took a bit longer than usual.
Me: What?? But....
Dr. VR, rushing to head me off at the pass, seeing where this might go: ....but that’s unchanged from last year, so it’s nothing for you to be concerned about.

Hmm. So I get good news, but something new to fret over. Are those just the “special” parts of my brain – you know, the ones that speak to my astonishing intelligence – that feel the need to suck up more dye, as fuel or something? Or......

Btw, whoever picked the brain tumor option in the poll, YOU LOSE!!! Hmph, so there. In order to do the poll giveaway in the scientific manner I’m known for, I’ll throw into a hat the names of my blog followers and commenters and the people who I know voted, and will pick one of them at random. Results to follow...

And actually, since I still don’t know what the problem is, I tell you all that when I go in to see Dr. Yang, Eye Doctor to the Stars, tomorrow, I will demand answers to the FBE! Blurry-eyed proletariats of the world, unite!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The *real* issues of the day

I’ve finally, belatedly, realized that by railing against things like insurance companies, idiot Republicans against health care reform, the destruction of the manatee habitat, etc., that I’ve been completely overlooking the issues that are truly critical to keeping this country on track. Luckily, we have people like Stephan Pastis, esteemed investigative journalist/comic writer, to not only help keep us focused, but also to achieve victory where it once seemed impossible. Behold:

And then, proof of sweet victory, thanks to the valiant efforts of Rat, Pig, Duck, and Snuffles:

I bow down before your greatness, Mr. Pastis......

No worse for wear

I'm happy to report that, in spite of my taking the advice of crack-smoking newspaper columnists who tell people living in northern climes to "put that Christmas tree in a bucket of water and leave it outside for 24 hours for maximum longevity!", my tree-encased-in-bucket-of-ice seems to be doing well. The water level is going down every day significantly, so that means Tree is soaking up tons of water which will help it stay fresh and......wait, what's this?

"Schlork schlork schlork......."

(I watch in disbelief as first Kona and then Bell poke their heads under the tree and loudly start drinking water from the Christmas tree stand. Lots and lots of water.)

Never mind.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Summing it all up

Doubling down on crazy

I almost can’t watch the health care reform stuff on tv anymore, because it’s too infuriating, pretty much every part of it. But I got sucked into watching Rachel Maddow last night, and this was what she started out with:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

This video, quite frankly, leaves me a bit speechless. Praying against health care reform?

“Jesus says, if they’re going to die, let them do it already and decrease the surplus population! No wait, that was Ebeneezer Scrooge. Whatever. Pray with me to the Lord to save us from the blasphemers, desirous of health care for the people!”

Oooookay then.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Now the wait

This morning I set off to be shoved into a dark, cold, wet tube, where......oh, wait, that was radiation treatment last year. Today’s big fun involved being shoved into a tube with trolls clanging on pipes into my ears very loudly. I went to my appointment only after the usual morning routine with The Kone; brain scan or no, some things are sacred.

Of course, once I get to the MRI emporium, I am treated as my triathlon goddess status requires. Or something. Maybe it’s the Fuck Cancer hat – based on how smiley everyone is when I wear it, I really think the FC hat has the power to bring people together and to shine a little light on this oftentimes bleak world of ours. Kumbaya.....

Anyway, as I’m hanging out in the waiting room, I figure I’ll see what magazines they have to read. Oh look, my favorites! “Gastroenterology and Hematology” and “Somatom Sessions” – multiple issues no less. I plan to catch up on some reading, but then I see the computer where it looks like the homepage is set to Northwestern Memorial or something. How silly. I sit down and am typing into the Set Home Page box “t..h..e..t..h..i..g..h..m..a..s..t....” when my name is called.

The nurse who takes me back to draw blood and such is very nice, but as she’s handing me the gown and socks to change into, she’s staring at my hat, which I’m still wearing because it’s always cold in these places.

Nurse Pat: Let’s see, what’s your hat say.......
Me, helpfully, since she’s still peering at it: Oh, it says Fuck Cancer!
NP: Oh boy, that’s not something I’ve ever seen on a hat before!

Hmm. I’m not quite sure how to take this. Is she with us or against us? After all, that kind of comment is akin to saying “Hey, now THAT’S a baby!!”

NP, continuing: I have to show that to the other nurse. Margaret! Margaret, come look at this hat!

Nurse Margaret comes over, studies the hat, and there’s silence for a moment while I wait for the verdict.

NM, finally, in solidarity: Yes. We should all wear those.
NP: Oh, that’s a great idea.
NM: We have a friend who’s going through it all, so that’s exactly our sentiment as well.

Whew! You really don’t want to irritate the people who’re about to shove you into a tube and zap you with neutrino particle beams, ya know?

So I go in the tube and listen to the banging trolls, which is supposed to take half an hour, and when I’m done, I see that there are now TWO nurses in the room instead of just the one that was there formerly. Hmm. Trying to gauge if they look concerned. Tough to say. Maybe the sheer complexity of a superior brain such as mine simply needs more than one person to study it properly. But why the heck did that take a lot longer than 30 minutes, I wonder. Hmm. Clearly paranoia has now set in, and I’m looking for clues anywhere. Are those tea leaves I see over there?

I go to check out and find out how long it’ll be before I get the results. After all, it’s been ten minutes, so shouldn’t they have something for me by now? (tapping fingers impatiently)

Checkout guy, cheerfully: Okay, so you should hear from your doctor with the results within 2-3 business days!
Me, glumly: Gee, that’s great. So basically I’ll know something by Christmas, right?
CG: Exactly!

Ho ho ho.......

(Note: I did call my oncologist yesterday to tell her I was having the MRI today, so I’m actually hoping that she’ll call me with the results before this 2-3 business day malarkey. Thinking I might call her again to remind her.....)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Al Franken, American hero

So I was having a few 'nogs tonight, relaxing, toodling around on the internets in between catching some of SNL's Christmas skit special and chuckling at the "lost scenes" to It's a Wonderful Life (George Bailey, about Mr. Potter: "hold him down while I kick him, Mare!"). And what should I find, which I liken to Christmas Miracle #2? Something we thought we'd never see in this lifetime?

Yes, it's someone actually having the balls (finally!) to tell Joe Lieberman to just shut up already. Or at least in the Senate, where members of Congress are allowed to pontificate for hours on end, one "honorable" senator after another, this was the equivalent of him being told "hey Joe, STFU, okay?"

The paragon of spinehood who shut this weasely little bastard down was none other than Al Franken. Al, you were great on SNL, and you're even better now. Thank you, from a grateful people (person) who think(s) sniper fire is too good for Joe "Aetna" Lieberman.

By the way, who's the clown who voted for the "brain tumor" option in the fricking poll?? I thought we had agreed that no one would dare jinx me like that! If I *do* have a brain tumor, it'll be on your head, you cretin. And if you win, you won't be getting the Fuck Cancer hat, oh no. No, it'll be the...the.....the plushie brain for you instead. Yeah, that's it. So there!

And for inquiring minds who want to know the status of FBE, no, it's not better. It's gotten worse, actually, and it's driving me a bit over the edge, quite frankly. Hence the nog. I still don't think it's anything other than a mysterious eye ailment, but if that's the case, why can't they figure that out? I mean, what are we, in Ukraine, where the answer to every health problem is some combination of vodka, honey, and raspberry jam? And I'm not even making that up. Though come to think of it, hmm, they might be on to something.....

A Christmas miracle

Cue Wayne’s World too-doo-loo flashback music

Me, singing along to the radio: Rum pa pum pum, rum pa pum pum, rum pa pum pum......gee, I wonder what a “pum” is, anyway.....

Jenn and I are in her car going to her parents’ house for Thanksgiving, and after much searching, we managed to find the lone station playing Christmas music on the radio.

Jenn: What a pum dork. I’m pretty sure it’s just filler.
Me: Filler? In a Christmas carol, where every word is a gem of meaningfulness? Nay! Plus they have the word “rum” in there, so obviously those are all meant to be real words. Maybe they meant “pim”, and it was a typo in the carol scroll when the Wise Men jotted things down. Rum pa pim pim – a drink of sorts, that’s it. Pim’s is a champagne or cordial, right? See!

Jenn seems to be developing some kind of nervous twitch in her eye – I guess the holidays can be stressful for some people, but me, I just like to roll with things as they come along. I might suggest that tactic to Jenn later when she’s a bit more relaxed.

The next song that comes on has some weird synthesizer crap, and is something I’ve never heard before.

Me: What ho? What happened to our Christmas carols?
Jenn: You don’t know this song? It’s really popular.
Me: Umm, not in the Midwest, apparently. I’ve never heard it before – and in Chicago, the stations start cranking out the Christmas tuneage starting about September, so we hear them all.
Jenn: See, listen – “simply having....wonful Christmastime...”
Me: “Wonful”? What kind of word is wonful?
Jenn: Well, it’s supposed to be “having a wonderful Christmastime” but all those syllables don’t fit in there so they just smush it all together.
Me: You’ve gotta be kidding. This....this is a heinous song. Hey, can we pull over for a second? My brain just escaped this effrontery to common decency and went looking for cover in that cranberry bog over there.

I reach over and change it to another station, having formed an immediate, visceral, primordial hatred of this song, which I assume is sung by Alvin and the Chipmunks – or at least that’s what it sounds like. Shudder.

Later that day

We’re hanging out in the kitchen, getting the turkey and trimmings prepared, Christmas music playing in the background. Suddenly I hear the telltale notes of a synthesizer, and look up, like a deer caught in headlights.

Me: Oh god, it’s that song. Make it stop! I really can’t stand this song.

I think that was when Jenn’s family first started falling in love with me.

The rest of my time in Boston, I find myself lunging for the radio whenever that particular piece of tripe comes on. But out of curiosity, when I get back to Chicago, I decide to look up the song, to see if it’s just me or if everyone shares my sentiments. Which is when I discover the impossible: this thing is a song by Paul McCartney?? Wow. I guess we have the rest of the Beatles to thank for keeping HIM reined in all those years, huh?

And no, it’s not just me. Here, a transcript from an NPR show on “Christmas songs you loathe” –

SEABROOK: Can you sum up a Christmas song you don't like?
Mr. LANSING: "Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time" by Paul McCartney.
Mr. LANSING: He is normally a very good melodist and normally really writes a good tune, but that song is meandering. It's got synthesizer leaps everywhere.

(Soundbite of song, "Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time")

Ms. AMY BAYLOR-CASEY (Listener): It's the soundtrack to hell.
SEABROOK: This is Amy Baylor-Casey of Meredith, New Hampshire.
Ms. BAYLOR-CASEY: I swear, the devil is standing there to greet you with an '80s keyboard strapped to his chest, playing horrible, echoing notes and singing...

(Singing) ...simply having a wonderful Christmas time.

(Soundbite of song, "Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time")

Sir PAUL McCARTNEY (Singer): (Singing) Simply having a wonderful Christmas time.

I rest my case. And just so you can experience this mockery for yourself, here you go:

You may be wondering where the “miracle” part of all this is, and that, my dear friends, is this: that there is a song that completely blows away in its awfulness the previous top contenders for worst songs of all time. Namely, anything by Huey Lewis and the News, and the godawful Jefferson Starship or Starship (or whatever they started calling themselves in their later evil incarnation) song We Built This City. Now that is a miracle. Merry Christmas!!

On a separate note, I have my brain MRI scheduled for tomorrow, and while I’m not saying I’m super-excited about this appointment or anything that could finally give me an indication of what the hell’s going on with FBE......I do wonder if the homemade brownies for the MRI crew are enough, or if I should throw some Christmas cookies in there as well? Gaily festooned with ribbons, of course. Nope, no excitement here whatsoever. Is it Friday yet??

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Zen and detritus neck and neck...

Okay, I’m pretty sure that’s not a blog post heading one sees too often. But it’s true – at least by last count in the poll, most were thinking that either Zen was the answer to all my problems (umm, or at least FBE), or that this was nothing but a case of lingering bike crash detritus. Which is all well and good, though Alert Reader T-Odd did point out that I forgot to put the all-important “God factor” as a poll choice. Namely, that God is smiting or punishing me for.....something. God knows what. Taking his name in vain maybe? I dunno, cancer and a potential lurking brain tumor seem a bit harsh for that, wouldn’t you say so God? I mean, Jesus fricking Christ, enough already. Anyway, I figure that God is punishing me for that indefinable something via The Cancer, so we don’t want to necessarily blame him for everything. Because then he might really get pissed off. Gee, and then what? (Picture me rolling my eyes here....)

I also forgot that Motya once mentioned that the FBE could be because I’m “not fighting cancer enough,” that I need to “fight harder.” So true! That one I think we can just take as a given.

And finally, I also forgot the scariest option of all: that they won’t figure out what the deal is and I’ll just have to live with FBE until it disappears just as suddenly in 8 months or so. That would indeed suck, because have I mentioned yet how REALLY FUCKING ANNOYING the whole FBE thing is? I have? Oh, okay then.

I have noted with interest that no one has yet selected the “brain tumor” option, which is a good thing. Because even though I don’t believe in such things, I’d have to then track that hapless person down and beat the crap out of them for sending the Bad Luck Fairies in my general direction. Hey, no sense taking chances here, okay??

Other random notes:

• When you read in the paper that after you get your fresh Christmas tree you should put said tree in a bucket of water outside for 24 hours so that it “soaks up tons of water and stays fresh longer!”, that’s great advice, as long as you live in Florida. What the hell, why are OUR newspapers giving people such asinine advice? Because I really enjoyed it today when I had to haul inside said tree that was frozen into a bucket of ice. I can hardly wait to see how long this puppy lasts.

• Speaking of trees and their accoutrements, what’s the deal with stores NOT selling Christmas tree stands? I went to several stores yesterday – nada. Well, except for the stand that has some tubing attached to it that you wend up into the tree, attach it to branches, and at the end there’s something that looks like a big funnel that you apparently pour water into. “No more messy water-adding to your Christmas tree stand!” Okay, so really, as a nation, just how hard do we find it to bend over and pour water into a Christmas tree stand, for god’s sake? I mean seriously, do I look retarded?

• On second thought, given that I wound up thawing a bucket-o-tree in my kitchen today, then put up the tree with the assistance of two Dobermans (yes, I’m fostering Bell for the holidays, or until she’s adopted) who tried to munch on the branches as if it were their own personal salad bar, and who also decided the tree-stand-water was much tastier than their regular water.......well, let’s just not ponder that question too long.

• Finally, Alert Reader Brian has also suggested an addition to the “Holiday Tips for Dealing with the Cancerous Person in Your Life” list. And that is essentially that anyone who asks asshat questions of the PWC (“Why aren’t you drinking? Wimp.” “Hey, gained some weight there, huh?” “So, I heard someone talking about this blurry eye thing of yours – what’s that all about? Getting old??”) should be held up as an article of ridicule for the rest of the evening once they’re told that the PWC actually has cancer. I am totally on board with this, of course. Ignorance is no excuse, and those are rude probing questions in any case, but even more so when the responses are “It’s the cancer!”, “It’s the cancer drugs, asshole!”, and “It might be a brain tumor, so STFU!” respectively. And this reminds me of the time when I was out to dinner with Jon and Liz and a few other people – and Gary told us all this delightful story about this guy we mutually knew, who we had played hockey with, who was young like us and who got cancer......and died shortly thereafter. Of course after a short stunned silence we all leapt on Gary like a pack of wolves and mocked him mercilessly for the rest of the night. “Hey Gary, we’re getting a bit too festive here. Why don’t you tell us another great story about some young person you know who died of cancer??” Ah, good times.....

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fun with polls!

And now for something completely different: a poll! My MBE has now turned into FBE, or Fucking Blurry Eye, because it’s so damn annoying. Seriously, it’s as if it hears its siren song being played, and is stubbornly refusing to go down without a fight. Great, so I’m like the tumor-carrying version of the Titanic, is that it? Though I guess the Titanic actually did sink like a stone, so maybe I’m more like the Alamo. Yeah, that’s it, the Alamo. And the brain tumor is still Dirk Diggler, proclaiming “You are not the boss of me!” in a strident, belligerent voice as often as possible.

So between FBE and the fact that I’m now getting a headache every day, I’ve paranoidly decided that it’s brain tumor central around here, oh yes. But what are the other possibilities? For that I turn to you, my dear elevens of readers. Please note the poll now gracing the left side of the blog. I encourage you to vote early and vote often, as we say around these parts, and the person who comes closest to the correct answer will win something very special, if I can actually figure out who voted for what response. Like I know how these polls work? Please. Otherwise it might just be a random drawing among those who are actual “followers” of my blog, for the chance to win something fun and appropriate. Like, say, your very own Fuck Cancer hat! I know, the mind reels at such munificence.....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Awkward moments with cancer

Yesterday I went to delightful Tessie’s birthday party – to refresh our collective memories, Tessie is my brilliant goddaughter, and despite her stubborn refusal to eat Yoplait yogurt “for the cure”, thus potentially saving her godmother’s life, she is an eternal delight.

In any case, all the usual suspects were there, including Motya’s brother Pavlo, who I haven’t seen since probably LAST year at Tessie’s b-day party. I would say I know Pavlo (and the whole family – Motya’s mom was my teacher in Ukie school way back when) pretty well, as we used to all hang out and he dated an erstwhile friend of mine, Kate, for a while. This would be Kate who I’ve known since high school, though we hadn’t talked in a while when she friended me on FB, after which I sent several notes to her via FB, and she never responded.

Okay, so are we completely bored yet with the whole social networking update? Yeah, me too. But the background is integral to the story, so bear with me.

So, I’m at Motya’s yesterday during the party and chatting with Pavlo in the kitchen, who mentioned that he heard from Kate via FB, and I made some sarcastic comment about “oh, isn’t that nice, she’s continuing to blaze her way slowly through FB, ignoring people as she goes along.” And he excused her by saying that she’s “not very good with the computer stuff” or some such crap, or not on there very much, to which I say – what, she hasn’t been on in the last year? And she knows about The Cancer too, because mutual friends who are total gossips know, so I’m sure she knows. Yet somehow she’s still living her high school Queen Bee persona and expects me to, what, show up on her doorstep with a strudel? Beats me.

Then Pavlo mentions that he spoke to her over Thanksgiving, and our conversation takes an odd turn.

Me: You actually talked to her? Well, next time you do, why don’t you work into the conversation something to the effect of “so Kate, how are your friends with cancer doing who you haven’t spoken to in 2 years?”
Pavlo, chuckling: Oh sure, yeah, right, huh?
Me: Come now, I’m sure you can work in the friends with cancer bit, right?
Pavlo, looking completely befuddled: Sure, I guess, huh, what?

Then it hits me. He has no freaking clue what I’m talking about.

Me: Oh. My. You don’t know about The Cancer, do you...
Pavlo: WHAT cancer??
Me: No one told you that I have The Cancer?
Pavlo: What??
Me, shaking my head sadly: That means you don’t read my blog – so you’ve been missing out on all that fun and hilarity all this time too – it’s a regular laugh riot over there!
Pavlo: Fun and wha...?
Me: Well, at some point you have to laugh about this stuff.
Chris, Motya’s husband: Laugh or cry....
Me: Exactly!
Motya: Hey, The Cancer is the best thing to ever happen to you! Otherwise you would have run out of things to write about by now.
Me: So true! Well, maybe not. I seem to find my material everywhere. But there’s no denying that The Cancer has proven to be a veritable goldmine of stuff to write about.

By now Pavlo clearly thinks we’ve all lost our minds. But so far this hasn’t even been the Awkward Part. Because then we chat a bit, he asks your basic questions (what kind of cancer, what treatment, etc.), then says something sympathetic, accompanied by a rub on the arm, like “I’m so sorry to hear it.” Then later as I’m leaving, we hug and he gives me a comforting “Hang in there...”

And quite frankly, that’s the awkward part, because really, the sympathy and condolences are sooo last year, whereas this year we’re all about the jocularity. Or trying to be. Maybe that’s the anti-depressants talking. But the sympathy stuff, at least in person, that seems to fit more when you’re newly diagnosed and dealing with the shitty bad news. Not that the average person could be expected to know this, not at all.

(As an aside, I don't think I'm so important that news of my having The Cancer would spread like wildfire instantaneously - I just figured that by now Pavlo would have heard something or other, via osmosis.)

So in keeping with my overtly helpful nature in all things cancer, and given the fact that the holiday season is upon us and festive gatherings are sure to ensue, I’ve put together a few Holiday-Appropriate Tips on Dealing with the Cancerous Person in Your Life. To wit:

1. While Pavlo was kind of a dork, the fact that he made an effort to say something was touching and sweet. So I don’t actually fault him for that – because what’s worse is saying nothing. Being like Kate, for example, and for whatever reason disappearing. That’s far far worse. Even if you worry you’ll sound like an ass, just speak up, for god’s sake! Express sympathy! Whatever! With a few exceptions, as in.....

2. Even if a person is carrying around an oxygen tank and has hospice on speed dial, never ask them “Are you terminal?” Yes, someone asked me that last year, and granted he was drunk, but still, that’s no excuse to ask something so completely asinine. If that’s what comes out of your mouth when you’re drunk, don’t drink.

3. Roll with it. If your Person With Cancer (PWC) is in a joking mood and makes a comment like “so do I get the last turkey leg? Because I have cancer, you know...” while making the Sad Cancer Face, don’t get all appalled and up in their kitchen about it. Just say the natural thing, which would be “No, of course not, everyone knows dark meat causes cancer. Oops, that train’s left the station, hasn’t it? Here you go!”

4. Speaking of the SCF, do NOT try to usurp the SCF for yourself. That is the sole proprietary right of the PWC, and that is non-negotiable. There’s nothing worse than sitting at a table full of people all making the Sad Cancer Face and the little thought bubble over their heads is clearly saying “Boy, I hope this isn’t her Very Last Christmas. How sad would that be?”

5. Don’t go yammering on about how tough your life is, what with having SO many parties to go to, and SO many gifts to buy, and gosh, when will there be time to polish the silver for your own party, and blah blah blah. Because then I’ll be forced to try to trump you and will bitch about my own life, about how I still need major surgery in January and gosh, when will my money tree start producing so that I can pay my thousands of dollars in medical bills, and gee, what the hell is this MBE thing already and I SO hope it’s not a fricking brain tumor, and I wonder how many more side effects of FatSurly I’ll discover, etc. Invariably, I win.

6. Do not tell your PWC what they should or shouldn’t be doing “for their health.” Yeah, it’s the holidays, it’s stressful enough as it is, and we’re dealing with our mortality here, okay? Just pass the booze and shut up about it.

7. Most importantly, make sure you load up the PWC with extravagant gifts. Because you never know what the future holds.........okay, not really. It was worth a shot though.

I will add to the list as needed, but in the meantime, it’s a pretty good place to start.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Brain MRI scheduled, whee!

As the saying goes, if you do what you’ve always done, expect to get the same results. That’s why I decided to take a bold step in a new direction this morning - namely, parking on the Tammy Wynette floor at the Northwestern Memorial Parking Garage. Yes, it’s true, no Babs, just the twangy sound of Tammy belting out “Stand by your maaaan.....” Perfect way to start the day, with that irony-tinged voice.

As an aside, and purely hypothetical, do you ever get to the point in, say, a parking garage, where you’re on the way to the 8th floor (Babs) and going by what should be (and would be) space after space if people hadn’t deliberately parked like total asshats? Because their behemoth Escalade is so important to them that they feel they deserve to take up two spots? And then perhaps you feel this compulsion to stop your ascent and wedge your car into the tiny spot next to an asshat car such that it’s almost impossible for them to get in on the driver’s side? Okay, maybe that’s just me. Never mind.

Anyway, My Brain Tumor and I pluckily make our way to the Prentice, where eventually I get to see Dr. Von Roenn and tell her my symptoms, which, quite frankly, could mostly just be signs of me getting decrepit in my old age. Stumbly, forgetful, screwing up words, neck pain – ech, what sprightly young person doesn’t have all that going on? But that still leaves us with MBE and the increasingly frequent migraines, which defy explanation. Dr. VR can’t figure it out either.

Though I have to say, the fact that a brain tumor IS so unlikely kind of makes me feel like my doctors think I’m just MSUing. Making Shit Up. Now, why I’d do that, I have no idea. Perhaps I miss my frequent visits to various doctors and the subsequent deluge of nonsensical bills that BCBS doesn’t want to pay? Right, because that’s so much fun. And why would I make up MBE, rather than something more potentially intriguing, like liver pain? Liver problems are a big thing in Ukraine, where the standard excuse for anything is “oh, I can’t eat/drink/do that, it affects my liver.” Seriously. So there’s precedent there.

Regardless, Dr. VR decides to humor my seemingly hypochondriac self and says we should either do an MRI or send me to a neurologist, and we decide to do the MRI first so we have more information to work with. I’m on board with this, but then afterwards I belatedly realize that my neurologist is Dr. Grimm, aka Dr. Grimmhottie. Damn! Well, this’ll give me time to decide on the appropriate hoochie-mama attire and practice my lines: “Yes, Dr. Grimm, I’ve been having this MBE for 7 or so weeks now, and hey, are you single?” I think that’s sufficiently subtle. And even if it’s not, I’m not entirely responsible for what comes out of my mouth – it’s the brain tumor talking. Filter, what filter?

Anyway, MRI is scheduled for next Friday, so hey, at least I'll know something (maybe) before Christmas. And how festive would THAT be, if I seriously did have a fucking brain tumor?? "Thanks, Santa, just what I've always wanted!" Sigh. I tell you, if that turns out to be the case, there'll be no holds barred when it comes to the drinking and other vices, yes sirree. In fact, just in case I'm going to make sure there's a bottle of, umm.....glogg, yeah, that's it, glogg, with MY NAME on it. So there.

As an aside, Blurry Eye has been completely acting up tonight, worse than usual as I'm trying to get work done, and even better, I have a headache that's originating from, yes, directly behind MBE. Perhaps this is MBE's last stand ("You are not the boss of me!!") before the jig is up and he's exposed as the tumorific self that he is? Gee, it couldn't have anything to do with stress, now could it.....

Brain Tumor Day, whee!

Or rather, what I hope is NOT brain tumor day. Some five weeks now after I first started experienced MBE (Mystery Blurry Eye), I’m finally seeing my oncologist today to see if we can rule out some things. Like the aforementioned brain tumor. And, say, an aneurysm. Because yes, MBE is still in full force, and it’s annoying as hell. It would probably be slightly less annoying if we ruled out the major stuff, but as it stands now, it’s there as a constant reminder that something could be Seriously Wrong, like the little Blur of Doom, a harbinger of bad things to come. Or not. Hopefully not.

Anyway, I’m not saying that I’m looking forward to this oncologist appointment or anything – it’s just a coincidence that I’m coming in with a homemade fruitcake for my favorite (at least for today) doctor, Dr. Von Roenn. Oncologist to the stars and all that. Well, doctor to me at least.

By the way, I did a little investigating and discovered, to no one’s great surprise, that Dr. Reddy’s is an Indian pharma company that GlaxoSmithKline, the makers of the real Imitrex, has been battling as Dr. Reddy’s has started cranking out its useless generics. Indian pharma, hmm. Gee, I wonder why those pills didn’t work at all. Can we say “quality control issues” much?

Habib: I do not know why this medicals machine is not working. Joe, what do you think?
“Joe”, from customer service, moonlighting in production: I do not know either. But many of my distributors, they tell me about their problems, that our soft-ware it “crashed” their computer when they try to load it down. Perhaps the medicals machine it has crashed?
Habib: But I did not knock it over or fall it down.
“Joe”: Look here, this machine that makes the mints for our sister company in Bangalore, it is working. We will just move productions over of these headache pills.
Habib: That will take a lot of times.
“Joe”: No times at all. See, we just move the labels over so now we are labeling these correctly.
Habib: You mean the mints as the headache medicals.
“Joe”: Yes, this is what I mean. This is correct because these pills are white and the mints are white. It is like our wise god Ganesh has blessed us with this solution.
Habib: Ganesh is indeed all-knowing and wise. Yes, I am enthusiastical about this solution!

God help us all.........

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Same as it ever was, the sequel

While I feel the need to write about a Christmas “miracle” – which involves my discovering a song so heinous that it makes Huey Lewis and the News look like Rachmaninoff in comparison – it’s also been a while since I’ve written about the scourge on this earth that is BCBS of IL. And I do strive to write about all things festive around the holidays, so what’s more festive than dealing with the minions at BCBS on this cold, blustery day? Not much, I’d say, so off we go!

So let’s recall that last Friday, I had the migraine-from-hell, the one that the generic Imitrex did absolutely nothing for. Nada. Goose egg. On a 1-10 level of pain, I’d give it an 8, just below the 9 that was having shingles when I was in Kiev and couldn’t get any medication until my dad smuggled some over to me via Lufthansa. I’m reserving the 10 level for some heretofore unseen apocalyptic level of pain that surely exists and that I will yet visit in my lifetime.

But I digress. Point being, after this tomfoolery I did a bit of the googling and discovered that I’m not the only one for whom “Dr. Reddy’s” doesn’t do jack shit, so I figured I’d call my doc and see about getting a prescription for something else, i.e. something that actually works as intended. It’s sooo annoying to keep popping pills that are about as effective as sugar wafers. So I leave a message with my doc, and the nurse calls me back.

Me: yes, the generic Imitrex was totally useless, so I figured I’d see about getting a prescription for something else.
Helpful nurse: Okay, that makes sense. What’s the generic you were taking?
Me: Dr. Reddy’s.
HN: Wha....did you say....Dr. Reddy’s? That’s the name of it??
Me: Yep.
HN: Really? Could you spell that?
Me: R-e-d-d-y-apostrophe-s...
HN: That’s seriously what it’s called? With doctor like d-o-c-t-....
Me: No, doctor as in D-r-dot. I know, it’s unbelievably hucksterish, like Dr. Reddy’s Miracle Elixir, isn’t it?
HN: That’s for sure. Wow. I
Me: Yep, I know.

I actually go get the package to make sure I’m not just MSUing, and no, they have the name of the active ingredient there, sumatriptan succinate, and then right above it where the non-generic has Imitrex, it has Dr. Reddy’s. Classy. What brain trust came up with that, the same guy who suggested the name Aciphex for the acid reflux drug?

Anyway, the nurse speaks to my doctor, who’s happy to write a prescription for Maxalt or the one she likes, Treximet. But, wise to the ways of the asshats at the insurance companies, and recalling how Imitrex itself would cost me around $200 for 9 pills, I tell HN that I’ll call insurance directly to see which drugs they cover under my prescription plan, which is supposed to be a $10 co-pay deal. Right.

This morning:

Me: I’m just trying to find out which migraine meds are covered under my prescription plan, so my doctor knows which one to prescribe to me, since the generic doesn’t work.
BCBS Lackey: Okay, what meds would you like me to look up?
Me: Maxalt, Treximet, Imitrex.
BCBSL: Okay, let me put you on hold, I’ll be right back.

(5 minutes pass as she checks with Simon Legree, aka her supervisor.

“It’s some pesky woman whining about her migraines. You know, the usual blah blah blah,” she notes, rolling her eyes. “What should I tell her?”

“Bah, tell her the usual – none of that stuff’s covered. What are we, a charity?? Our CEO is at the bottom rung of salaries of health insurance company CEOs,” he bellows. “You want to talk tragedy, look at that, his paltry $10M! Not her fucking migraines! Tell her to put a bag of frozen peas on her head, like the rest of us do!”

BCBSL, smirking – “Will do, boss.”

“Bwahahahahahahahahahahaha!” they cackle together gleefully.......)

BCBSL: Okay, this is what we have: for any of these medications, you need prior authorization.
Me: Umm, what’s that?
BCBSL: That means that we need a request from your doctor to prescribe these, and then that request needs to go through multiple channels here to be authorized. Maybe. There’s no guarantee that it will be.
Me: But wh...
BCBSL: Your doctor will have to note that you’ve tried every other medication and it hasn’t worked...
Me: Bu...
BCBSL, continuing: .....and oh yes, the process will take 7-15 business days. Though again, there’s no guarantee that it’ll be approved.
Me: Bu...
BCBSL: And the Imitrex and Treximet are non-formulary, so you’d pay 50% of the cost. The Maxalt is formulary so you’d only pay 35%.
Me: So for Imitrex, I’d be paying half of the $243 that NINE PILLS now cost??
BCBSL: That's right. IF we let you have them in the first place.
Me: So what do you cover with the prescription co-pay?
BCBSL: The generics.
Me: You only cover the medications that don't work for me.
BCBSL: Right.
Me, after a moment of stunned silence: That’s.....bizarre. How do I get this authorization from my doctor?
BCBSL: They have to fax us a form.
Me: They have this form, and your fax number?
BCBSL: Oh yes, of course!

10 minutes later, on the phone with Karen, the HN at my doctor’s office:

HN: Okay, what did you find out?
Me, giggling helplessly: Sorry I’m laughing – this is just beyond absurd. Apparently we need a special dispensation from the Pope to get these medications.
HN, also laughing: The Pope? That shouldn’t be a problem at all.
Me: That’s what I figured too.

After explaining the situation, it turns out that she has no forms and has no idea what to send them or where. So back I go to calling BCBS to see if they can fax a form to my doctor’s office for them to fill out and fax back. Are we all clear on this? I’m not sure I am.

Me: So I’m calling to see if I can get this form faxed to my doctor’s office as they don’t have it but need to fax it to you to request some migraine meds that I apparently need prior authorization for.

I’m now talking to someone from Prime Therapeutics, the company that handles prescriptions for BCBS.

PT woman: Okay, do you mind if I get some information from you first? Your doctor’s office will have to call a number to get this form faxed to them, but if I have that info from you I can make sure I’m giving you the right number to give to them.
Me: Sure.

I give her the info, and then she looks up my meds.

PTW: Hmm, I’m showing that Imitrex does NOT need a PA. It’s non-formulary so you’d pay half the cost, but you don’t need authorization.
Me: Really? You’re sure?
PTW: That’s what it’s showing. And the others you mentioned – those don’t need a PA eithe.....
Me, rushing to get off the phone: Thanks, that’s awesome! Love you, gotta go! Talk soon! Best to the kids!

I quickly call my doctor’s office:

Me: Now they’re saying I don’t need authorization – let’s strike while the iron is hot!! Call the pharmacy! Order those pills!

This has only taken me all morning to deal with, of course. So far.....