“As the Boots Turn” Episode #4, Depression, Drugs and Medical Varmits!


Cowboy Cat (CC)[cue the music, cue the opening credits, cue the announcer]

We join the hero of our tale as he continues his quest, seeking answers that may not exist, seeking rest; seeking respite; seeking resolution of that eternal enigma:

“Is the glass half full or half empty?”

Previously on “As the Boots Turn” our hero had lost his job but had, in turn, gained the opportunity to rest and recover from the stresses imposed by that job and the horrid drivers in the badlands of the Dallas/Fort Worth highway system.

It appears that our hero is close to an answer, getting healthier every day and pursuing his dream of dance.

[cue dramatic surge in music, announcer’s voice deepens]

Will he succeed?   Will he find the answers he seeks?  What dangers await him?  What fiends lurk in the shadows?  Only time and a few commercial breaks will tell…

Time to rest… Time to think… Time to plan…
Time to dig myself out of a hole…

For those that are keeping track, yes, we’re still talking about  Number Two (on the list) (That joke never gets old does it?)  Kinda like farts.  Farts have been funny since time began.   Even the word “Fart” sounds funny.   Now where did I put that T.P.? 😉

Medical Symbol (CC)One of the first things that I had to do when I became unemployed was to visit my doctor, my Primary Care Physician.

Why? Pray tell.”  I hear the teeming mass of eight people reading this blog ask…

I’m glad you asked!  🙂
(Hey it’s my fantasy world and I have a great time there!)

To answer that we need to go back a ways…  In August 2011, the stress of the commute and the stress at my old job had reached such a point that I felt I had to talk to someone, a professional, or I would explode.  Literally.  I felt as if I were walking a razor-thin line between holding on and completely breaking down.  I needed help and I knew I needed help.

Depression (CC)I made an appointment with a Psychiatrist, showed up and was taken by the doctor’s assistant into her office.  Where she asked me lots of questions and typed like mad into her computer.  Eventually she called for doctor, who took 30 seconds to read what she had written, and he says

“You’re depressed.  Seriously depressed, actually.  Take one of these daily, read about depression on the Internet, set up an appointment to start seeing a Psychologist on a weekly basis and see me in a month.”

“I’m What!?”  I thought as my mind was struggling with the fact that I was paying $165 bucks for this guy’s assistant to make the diagnosis and for him to basically stroll in, read a computer screen for 30 seconds, talk to me for five minutes and sign his name to a prescription.  I am so in the wrong profession!

But, I did what he said; he’s the professional after all.  I headed home, got the Rx filled on the way, made an appointment with a counselor, and did some reading on the Internet.

I found several websites that described depression in men.  And I found one of those “Quizzes” like the ones that appear in ladies magazines.  Something along the lines of  “You might be depressed and not know it! — Take our Easy 10 Question Quiz to find Out!

Well, dear readers,  I took that easy 10 question test and scored a thousand out of a hundred.  OMG!  Not only was I depressed, I was literally a textbook case.  I was a walking, living, breathing example of what depression looks like in men.

Shadow Man (CC)Truthfully I don’t know which was worse, realizing that I had been suffering from undiagnosed depression or realizing that I was depressed in a depressingly mundane normal way!  SMACK, right in the middle of the bell curve!

My inner domestic diva was very traumatized by the stigma of being “normal” anything.  She even forgot to polish her tiara that week and some of her bon-bons went bad before she could eat them.

Get all that?  Depressing isn’t it?  😉

While I was in the shrink’s office, uhmmm, psychiatrist’s office, I got the distinct impression that Mr. Psychiatrist was surprised that I was still functional at all; or that I hadn’t gone postal on someone.

When I started seeing the Psychologist, we talked for quite a bit.  Eventually we determined that my symptoms started appearing years ago.  In hind sight, given what I know now, I’m pretty damned proud of how well I held up under the strain and managed to remain functional with undiagnosed depression for a period which stretches back at least 2, maybe 3 and 1/2 years!

So, let’s recap.  Tony at the time of his job loss was:

  • under extreme stress,
  • physically and mentally exhausted,
  • taking drugs for depression, a condition which had been untreated for a period of 2-3 1/2 years and
  • suffering from “Shift Work Sleep Disorder”

Ok, now everyone go grab a soda or something.  We are almost done but you probably need sustenance if you’ve been reading the “As the Boots Turn” Series in one continuous sitting from Episode #1.  Anyway, I’m going to go get something to snack on.  Literally.  BRB.  (BRB = “Be right back” for the non-chat folks out there.  BRBGAB = Be Right Back, Getting a Beer,  BRB#2 = Be right back, performing certain body functions that you really didn’t want to know about but now you do and now you have an image stuck in your head that is going to put you off your feed for a while.)
..

After the commercial break, we’ll return to “As the Boots Turns” and discover our hero not only taking drugs! But is hoodwinked by a dealer!  *GASP*

Welcome back dear readers, Uhmmm… readers pretending to be viewers.  Ouch.  That made my head hurt.  I now have my iced tea.  Hopefully you now have a refreshing beverage of your choice.  😉  But I digress…

About that drug dealer…

LexaproSince August 2011 I’ve been taking these little happy pills called Lexapro.  At first I couldn’t tell that they were doing anything.  But the counselor, who I was seeing on a regular basis, and the information on the Internet, both told me that it takes up to 60 days for an effect to become visible.

I first noticed the effect around day 40 when I found that I was no longer desiring to metaphorically reach across the counter and slap the daylights out the rude patron who was yackin’ at the top of their voice on their cell phone like they were at a WWF Wrestling Match instead of inside a library!   I mean PUH-LEAZE!  I really do NOT want to hear about the results of someone stranger’s last trip to the OB-GYN!   Eeeewwww!  I hope she got that rash cleared up.

Sarcasm, just another service we offerTrue the desire was still there, but it wasn’t as strong.   Not that I ever did slap someone.  Nope, I remained courteous and helpful and professional.  But oh my, the desire was certainly there!  😉  Maybe I should have.  I bet the other patrons would have applauded.  Sarcasm!   Hello!  This is called Sarcasm!  It is a literary device designed to produce laughter.  But I betcha that anyone who works in a service role with the general public, from bartenders to nurses and a host more, are all probably wiping tears of laughter from their eyes right now and saying “You GO Gurl!”

But I digress…  😉

So, the happy pills were helping.  I could tell that I was getting better but  I could also tell that I needed some help and a lighter work load at work.  So, I wrote a letter to my boss telling them about the happy pills and asking if they could go easy on me while I was getting the depression under control.  Their response was to give me even more work to do.  *sigh*

Expensive Medication (CC)Fast forward to March 2012, the day I lost my job.  Being unemployed and taking an anti-depressant is NOT a good thing because Lexapro is EXPENSIVE.   At my former insurance’s so-called “negotiated rate” I was paying between $115 and $130.  The price kept going up and down for no apparent reason and was never the same from month to month.

Knowing that I couldn’t afford that much money each month, I went to my doctor to discuss my options — with my general practitioner, who is awesome, not the idiot specialist who had prescribed the Lexapro to me.

I knew that if I just “stopped taking Lexapro” very bad things would happen–messing around with brain chemistry is serious stuff friends and neighbors.

I also knew that if I was paying a negotiated rate of $115-130 then the full cost of the drug was probably a lot more!  As it turns out I was only saving $10-20 a month because of my “special insurance price”.  So much for my so-called “insurance benefit”.  Sheesh!

So, I’m sitting in the little examining room waiting for my fabulous doctor who I love dearly.  With me I have a list of all my drugs, including the Lexapro.

I had learned that Walgreens has this discount drug card which costs $20 per year and it saves you a lot of money on drugs.  The catch is that you need to have your drugs prescribed in a three-month quantity and all my drugs were for a single month at a time.  So by getting the discount card, and having my doctor re-write the prescriptions for a 90 day supply, I would be able to continue to get almost all of my drugs at a cheaper cost than what I was paying under my so-called insurance benefits!!!!!!  SHEESH!

It is amazing how a little knowledge can save you a lot of money.  So, as soon as you finish this blog entry, click “share” and “leave a comment” down below saying how fabo I am, then run, do not walk to your local Walgreens or your favorite pharmacy and talk to the nice folks behind the counter.

That’s how I found out about it.  Literally.  I was picking up a refill of one of my drugs and I bemoaned how much they were and that I was newly unemployed and the girl behind the counter said “I am so sorry! Do you know about our discount card program?”  And Voila!  I was saving oodles of money!

But, back to that nasty drug dealer….

Snake Oil SalesmanSo getting a 90 day Rx for all my drugs pretty much solved things, except for my happy pills, Lexapro.  I was hoping that my doctor could write me a prescription for another drug in the same drug class (which I learned about from that nice girl behind the pharmacy counter–It’s amazing the friends you can make at 3 in the morning at Walgreens).

Anyway, I knew that there is no generic for Lexapro so I was hoping another, cheaper, drug would produce the same effect.  And I learn from my doctor that Lexapro is a drug with an active ingredient that is pretty much identical to a drug which has been out on the market for ages.

The old drug was called Celexa.  The chemical name is Citalopram.  According to my doctor, my good doctor, not that con-man snake of an idiot specialist, Celexa had the active ingredient now found in Lexapro and it included an inert substance as well.  The inert substance was kinda along for the ride but it didn’t do anything except make the pill bigger.

So, when Celexa, also known as Citalopram, had been out long enough for other companies to be able to start making generic versions and thus introduce competition and thus drastically lower the cost of not only the generic but of Celexa, the sneaky no good scheming money-grubbing low belly varmit of a drug company stripped out the inert substance, THUS making a “new” drug called, yes, you got it.  Lexapro!  And according to the information I’ve found on the web, the research indicating that the so called “new drug” has enhanced benefits is under debate.

However, since Lexapro is a “NEW” drug, it is protected.  Other companies can not make a generic version!   BUT the generic version of Celexa is very similar chemically as Lexapro but with an inert filler along with the active ingredient!   Like! OMG!  That totally sucks (said in my best Valley Girl Voice).

I ask you…. WHY would a doctor, the so-called specialist, the Psychiatrist, who is supposed to know about this stuff, prescribe ANYONE a drug that costs over $115 a month, every month when I the patient can get three months of a cheaper drug that produces the SAME EFFECT for $12.  Yes, TWELVE DOLLARS!  Gee let’s do the math!  3 x 120 (avg price) = $360 versus $12.

And people wonder why healthcare costs keep going up?  But I digress. 😉

A moment of complete seriousness before we go on.  If you are taking Lexapro and considering going to the generic Citalopram talk to your doctor.  I can tell no difference between the two drugs; they seem to work exactly the same for me.  I did some searching on the Internet and there is a lot of discussion about the relative differences.  This link I think sums up the comparison using “plain english” instead of “doctor speak” — Lexapro vs Celexa.  But let me repeat: do not do anything that messes with your brain chemistry without talking a doctor in whom you have complete trust!

The point?  I’m still on the happy pills.  And BONUS, now that I’m unemployed *ahem* a self-employed line dance instructor, I’m getting rest and sleep.   I am not being exposed to constant stress at work and I’m not dealing with even MORE stress during the daily commute which means I’m getting more and more healthy every day.

Is this the final episode of “As the Boots Turn?”

Itty Bitty Cowboy Kitty in a Big Boot (CC)Ah yes, dear readers, Uhmmmm…. dear viewers (in keeping with the meme), we find our intrepid hero recovering from years of trauma….

It sounds corny don’t it?  But that is exactly where I find myself.  Which brings me full circle…

Is the glass half full or is the glass half empty?
I think I have my answer:

On the glass half empty side ….I’m out of shape.  I’m not healthy.  I’ve got some potential future stressors in that my retirement money and the lump sum distribution I’m getting will only last so long.  That money will run out and eventually I’ll have to get a job again.

Also on the glass half empty side, I’m still trying to convince the state of Texas that I deserve to have the unemployment benefits owed to me; that there was enough fault to go around on both sides of the equation when I lost my job.  If the appeal fails, then over $10,000 vanishes into the insurance company’s coffers instead of coming to me.  If I succeed in my appeal then it definitely becomes a glass half full.

But on the glass half full side…   I’ve been given a wonderful gift, a gift of time.  Time to focus on me:  time to get my life re-arranged so that living healthy is my “New Job” and making sure that living healthy isn’t something I do, but it is an integral part of who I am!   I now have time, time to pursue my dance and writing passion full-time.  Time to see if it they can be turned into a career.

Outlook on Life ©But on the glass half empty side…  Yes, of course I’m looking for work,  and if something comes along that is worth it, I’ll apply.  I’ll have to have an income coming in because I certainly can’t live on $800 a month.

But on the glass half FULL side I also find myself not wanting to put myself back into a pressure cooker!  This time off is doing amazing things for my mental and physical health.  I wasn’t kidding earlier when I said I’m bubbling over with ideas and plans and of course those plans include dance.  More on that in future posts.

Also on the glass half FULL side…  Dancing was the one thing throughout the last couple years that, pardon the drama, kept me sane.  That and having some very good and very patient friends!  🙂    I truly love being a librarian but I also love dancing and writing.  I’m at a cross roads and I’ve got a lot of thinking to do.

Mid-Life Crisis (CC)Depression, unemployment and a mid-life crisis like a cherry on top!

Eeeeeeeekkkkk!!!!!!

OMG I’m a mess!!!!!!

I should write a book!

Hmmmm… now there’s a thought…  *grin*  Maybe I will!

.On  the whole, I think the glass is half full…

Nope, it is DEFINITELY Half Full.  It isn’t something I can quantify, but I feel better and more optimistic than I have in several years.  However, no matter how all this plays out, no matter if my plan to improve my dancing and my writing in an effort to turn pro turns out… …my top priority and my immediate plan is to get in shape, get fit, and get healthy both physically and mentally.  Achieving that goal definitely weighs in on the “half full side”

This disaster, isn’t a disaster after all, it is an opportunity.  I think I’ll go get a beer, do some thinking and do some planning….

Uhmmmm, make that “a healthy cup of hot green tea with a bit of lemon and honey” instead of the beer.  😉

See ya on the dance floor!

Related Links and Articles:

About TxCowboyDancer

Eight time Country Dance World Champion. I love to dance. In the middle of a journey, transforming myself from "unemployed and out-of-shape" to "in-shape and full time dance instructor, writer and graphic artist."

Posted on Thu, Apr 19, 2012, in Misc and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

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