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First there was asthma, then there was more.

standard May 20, 2009 7 responses

I have been anxiously waiting for summer to arrive. Summer was going to be our salvation from the horrible winter germs and viruses that have plagued us since December. Summer was going to release us from the grip of asthma anxiety. Summer was going to rawk.

Until Little L started getting rashes.

The first time she broke out in little red dots all over her body I assumed that she was reacting to an afternoon spent rolling around in the grass. C sometimes has a bad reaction to grass. Whatever, it’s nothing, goes away after a quick bath.

Little L’s spots didn’t clear up after a bath. In fact, they got worse. Then she got a fever, so I assumed it was just another virus. But the next time she was out in the sun she broke out again. And the time after. And yes, the time after that too.

It turns out she’s not allergic to grass, she’s allergic to sun. OK, fine, maybe allergic is a strong word. She’s what they call photosensitive – her skin doesn’t react well to exposure to the sun, any exposure at all.

According to her doctor she’s not in any danger and she should outgrow this condition. Her helpful advice is to just keep Little L out of the sun, which, living in California, is definitely easier said than done. I’ve purchased a number of long sleeved, SPF swim body suits and I’m stocking up on sunscreen, not that it’s doing any good at all. And after a couple days of completely and utterly freaking out about this newest twist, I’m coming to grips with it.

This is Little L. She has quirky medical issues. None of them are all that dire. They’re just tedious, and time consuming, and yes, potentially bad, or they would be if we hadn’t noticed them right away and taken steps to protect her from herself. In the winter we will load up on asthma and cold medicine and in the summer we’ll stock up on protective clothing and sunscreen. And we’ll stop saying things like “Yay summer is coming! Relief is almost here” because now we know for a fact that Karma reads my blog and she’s taking notes, and really, we don’t need to give her any extra ammo.

Still Battling Asthma. Still Winning.

standard March 26, 2009 4 responses

Our battle with asthma gets weaved into blog posts about sleep, about germs, about the never ending hunt for affordable medication. It’s such a part of our lives, a part of our daily routine, that I never think to stop and write up an update.

Uh, well, that’s because there really isn’t an update to give.

C has had a spectacular winter with minimal use of big guns. She gets her daily dose of Singulair every day and has had very few flare-ups all winter. Knock wood, but her doctor and I are even toying with the thought of taking her off the Singulair this summer to see how she does without it.

Little L is another story. When she’s healthy she gets a daily dose of Pulmicort, the only medicine that seems to keep her symptoms under control. At the first sign of a sniffle or a sneeze I double that daily dose and do a hasty please-no-asthma-flair-ups dance. A cold can mean one or two asthma attacks in a single night and the destruction of our very tenuous sleeping through the night habit. (Cut me some slack, OK? She only started sleeping through the night a couple months ago. The nightmare of no sleep is still very fresh in our minds.)

But even though I hold my breath when I hear coughing from their room, I’m still awed by how commonplace all of this seems to us. Yeah, our kids have asthma, so what? They’re active, happy, normal kids. So what if they get a bit winded after dancing around the room? So what if I have to double check that I’m carrying their inhaler when we go for a family walk? We’ve never had to run to the hospital in the middle of the night. And they sure don’t act like they’re any different. As long as I don’t forget to order their medicine on time we’re a regular normal family. (Mental note: Order more medicine tomorrow morning.)

Even as I make light of all this, I know that 20 years ago our life wouldn’t have been the same. If Little L didn’t have her control meds she’d probably be having breakthrough episodes nightly and we would, for sure, have made many late night trips to the ER. The same is true for C, even if her asthma isn’t quite as severe as her sister’s. Fact is, even as we take our evening nebulizing treatments for granted or chuckle when we see Little L strap on her mask before turning on the machine by herself, a small part of me says a quiet little thank you for the medicine that allows us to pretend we are a normal, healthy family.

(Dear Karma, please ignore this post. K? Thanks.)

How to Order Medicine from Canada

standard January 30, 2009 2 responses
1. Finally do the math and realize that one child’s asthma control meds cost $300/month, her rescue meds cost $100/month, her sister’s asthma control meds cost $150/month, and your husband’s cholesterol meds cost $90/month.
2. Have a meltdown.
3. Seriously, who can afford over $600 of essential medicine per month?
4. Curse the health care system and your insanely expensive health insurance that doesn’t cover any meds.
5. Suck it up and get ready to shell out a small fortune each month to keeps kids breathing and husband’s heart ticking.
6. Hear from a friend that meds in Canada are way cheaper than in the States and that you can 100% legally purchase them online.
7. Seriously, they even ask for a prescription and everything.
8. Pooh pooh the friend and vow that you’ll never do something that seems as shady as that. Ever.
9. Hand another $600 to the ridiculously friendly Target pharmacists.
10. Wonder why they know your name.
11. Get home and realize why. Swear up and down that you’re done, done, done spending this kind of money on medicine.
12. Stay up all night with a child struggling to breathe despite her expensive meds. Realize that you can’t stop buying asthma medication, ever. Without the meds those nights would happen every other day. They’re bad enough once every couple weeks.
13. Venture onto the Internet to do a bit of research.
14. Pick jaw up off the floor and holler for husband to come see.
15. No, it has nothing to do with the prices for a weekend at Disney. You’ve just discovered that in Canada you can buy the asthma meds for less than 2/3rds the price.
16. $50/month instead of $300 for Little L’s meds. And that’s just a start.
17. For that price I’d do it even if it weren’t legal.

All joking aside, we’ve saved an inordinate amount of money buying our regular prescriptions in Cananda. It does take a little planning because the U.S. forbids the Canadian pharmacies from shipping medicine overnight. Everything ends up going through more or less regular mail and takes almost two weeks to be processed and shipped. Sometimes there’s even a snafu which causes certain mothers to do insane, and do possibly illegal things, like buying drugs in deserted parking lots. But all in all it’s been a good experience.

Don’t believe me when I say it’s worth it? Visit http://www.pharmacychecker.com, plug in the name of your drug of choice. If it exists in Canada, I guarantee* it’ll be cheaper.

Still have doubts? When I told our pediatrician about our little scam she asked for the website. Now she buys her children’s asthma medication there too. No joke.

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And that’s how came to be buying drugs in a shady parking lot

standard November 14, 2008 5 responses

Her Volvo pulled up alongside my Honda and she rolled down her window. The parking lot was almost deserted, just us, a lone school bus and a few parked cars here and there. The glaring “Going out of business” sign on the side of the Mervyn’s was the only splash of color in the grey morning light.
“So, uhm, how much do you want?” I asked as she handed me two shiny foil wrapped packets.
“Uhh, how about $25?”
“OK. Sounds good.” I pocketed the drugs and handed her the money. We said our goodbyes and I got back into my car. She drove off in one direction and I headed the other way. Three minutes. In a shady parking lot. Drugs and money exchanged hands. My very first drug deal*. They always say there’s no limit to what you’ll do for your children. They were right.

*In case you were worried, all that was purchased was an emergency supply** of asthma medication for Little L.
**The medication was needed because the Canadian pharmacy*** we get her meds from messed up my last order. Bastards.
***I order my meds from Canada because here in the US one month’s supply of meds for one child**** costs $300/month. In Canada the same drug costs $45/month.
**** I have two children with asthma. The $300/month doesn’t even cover the rescue medicine. That’s another $160/month/child. Luckily we don’t have to buy that every month.

The other trafficker was a now beloved Twitter friend who jumped to my rescue after my huge showdown with the Canadian pharmacy when it became apparent that neither tears nor my extremely angry mommy voice was going to get them to come through with overnight shipping. (Something about stupid customs or something. Sheesh.) I Twittered my rage and despair and jokingly asked if someone could float me some meds for a couple days. I never expected someone to actually help. I almost cried I was so moved. Just another Twitter success story.

Also, it is possible that I over dramatized the story for literary effect. Though the exchange did take place in an almost deserted parking lot. And there was a Mervyn’s. We went to see what they had left after my new best friend left with her sweetly sleeping child who never woke up as we did our shady deal. We bought some sweaters for C and some socks for Little L. In case you were wondering.