Modus NonOperandi

Yesterday, I felt like a little rice cooker completely under pressure, with its cover bubbling up and down from the steam. I felt hot when I woke up so I took my temperature which was 101. I considered calling in sick again, I could barely walk in a straight line, but what was I going to do? Lay in bed for the 4th consecutive day in a row? I forced myself into the office and I have to say, I started to feel better as soon as I started responding to emails and being my productive cubicle-sequestered self. I felt alive, like, thank God I have a brain to use.

In addition to catching up on work, I reviewed and signed the listing agreement for the sale of my condo. Looks like I’m selling since I autographed all those pages yesterday. In the end, I realized it’s better to be completely free of the condo. It’s not in a hot neighborhood. Who knows how long rents will remain high? I might as well cash out and be done with it. Sayonara!

Selling brings a whole host of decisions and tasks that make me want to jump off of the soon-to-be-dazzling Bay Lights Bridge. But I will save all that goodness for another post.

It was a jam-packed work day. Mind you, I have the flu. I only want to go to bed after work. Instead of heading home, I take the MUNI cross-town to my acupuncturist appointment. Dean has the appointment after mine. When I finish, Dean greets me and the acupuncturist says, “Feel better, Catherine, I’ll see you next week.”

I’m confused because Dean’s supposed to be doing acupuncture too and instead we’re both walking out the door. He explains that it’s too stressful for him to get to the appointment in time given his commute. Fine, I get that. He adds that she asked if he wanted a referral to an acupuncturist close to his work and he said no.

That’s when I lost it.

I cannot single-handedly conceive Ghost Baby when the 2 of us both have infertility issues. I have done everything in my power to correct the situation. I have undergone more than my fair share of blood work, procedures, prescriptions, injections. I do acupuncture. I have completely (and unhappily) examined every ingredient that goes into my body. I submit the receipts. I fill out the paper work for reimbursement. None of this stuff is free. I am not going to say I do everything, but damnit, I do a good majority of it.

Where has all this gotten me? Let’s check the stats.

79 pounds (thank you tasteless, disgusting, gluten-free, alcohol-free, sugar-free diet for putting me nowhere close to my goal of 91 pounds)

1 influenza virus

0 ghost baby

I do feel self-conscious airing my dirty laundry publicly, but at the same time, I feel like other people never do. So there’s this perception that people who write blogs it’s all about travel and design and unicorns. Next thing you know, you read that some famous blogger is getting divorced and you wonder was she ever for real? With all her gazillion posts, was she ever upfront about her genuine life. I mean, these are not fairy tales we are writing. These are factual accounts of our lives.

My blog is real. Like this is me. The real, sometimes happy, sometimes sad, always OCD me. We do a lot of fun stuff. We travel, do staycations, enjoy all the amazing things that San Francisco has to offer. But we also have problems just life everyone else. And it wouldn’t make sense if all I wrote about was Disneyland. If you haven’t noticed, this ain’t utopia.

That’s All Well and Good

Time for a lifestyle, fitness, health status update.

I started seeing a new acupuncturist today. I found her after doing some research; she was awarded best SF acupuncturist by the San Francisco A-List. I also gravitated toward her undergraduate background: BA in environmental studies from UCSC with an emphasis on biology and writing. Oh yeah! Great minds think alike. I’m excited. We established key metrics and have a plan in place.

She was was pretty impressed with what I’ve done so far to get on track:

  • Stopped taking medication: wellbutrin, ambien, no more botox.
  • Eliminated sugar from my diet.
  • Eliminated caffeine from my diet.
  • Curtailed alcohol consumption.

I feel like I’ve done so much, but I have more homework. Here were her recommendations:

  • Acupuncture 1-2x week.
  • Chinese herbs.
  • Try Juice Plus, PreNatal, PreNatal fish oil.
  • Avoid wheat, soy, dairy. Try almond milk, rice milk, or coconut milk.
  • Eat cooked, warm food and drink.

I see a nutritionist on Monday and will share her recommendations as well.

Are You Lacking Brain Cells? Kaiser is Hiring Retards

Are you ready for another KAISER IS SHIT post?

Before I get into yet another tirade, let me delve into a little background. I am a life-long Kaiser patient. During my teenage years, I was at Kaiser every month seeing a dermatologist for severe acne. For God’s sake, I was a candy striper at the Kaiser Oakland hospital in high school and as a result, was given a nice little scholarship for college. Cool beans. I loved Kaiser. I felt like it was a well-run organization.

But now, as a patient with even bigger problems than acne, I am starting to see how deplorably they run the business. It’s like they decided to cut costs by hiring a bunch of dumbnuts who could care less about doing adequate work. Hmm, let me just sit here at my desk and collect a paycheck. What a fucking amazing job! Don’t answer phone calls. Don’t fill out paper work. Do absolutely nothing.

I think that’s the criteria Kaiser uses. Are you good at nothing? Do you like to do nothing? Work at Kaiser!

Considering how much I detest Kaiser, I should clearly explain why I chose to stick with Kaiser for 2013 instead of switching to a PPO. Bottom line, Kaiser is cheap. In total for 2012, I have spent less than $3,500 on all my health care expenses: paycheck deductions, 2 ultrasounds, 1 hysterosalpingogram, a multitude of lab work, 4 intrauterine inseminations, fertility meds, a year supply of contact lenses, 15+ acupuncture treatments, herbs, and various prescriptions. That total also includes my dental and vision expenses, but obviously the bulk of the expense has been Kaiser costs. I can only imagine how much all of the above would have cost me if I’d had a PPO.

I guess, in the end, you get what you pay for so I need to temper the bad patient experience with the cost.

I’ve wanted to go to specific recommended acupuncturists (not covered by Kaiser) in the past, but am now thinking of going the cheapy route and trying the acupuncturists who are covered within my plan. Might as well give it a try. I called Member Services to ask what my options are. Mind you, I called Member Services not some Hyderabad-based customer service rep.

Member Services: No, acupuncture isn’t covered.

Me: What? That’s not possible.

Member Services: Kaiser does not cover acupuncture. Acupuncture is not covered with any medical plan. You have to pay for it out of pocket.

Me: But my employer-based Kaiser plan has it in writing. I quote, ‘Acupuncture Services – Covered.’

Member Services: Hmmm, let me do some research.

[2 minutes pass]

Member Services: Yes, acupuncture is covered for you.

Me: Excuse me? Can you explain to me your process? You initially told me acupuncture was not covered. Now you tell me it is covered only after I press you. How did you suddenly change your mind?

Member Services: I had to read the notes for your plan and it shows that you’re covered.

Me: Why didn’t you read the notes for my plan before telling me I wasn’t covered? Are you dumb? Seriously, are you dumb?

Does Acupuncture Even Work? A Pissed Off Patient is Wondering

I’ve been seeing my acupuncturist for over 4 months now. The whole point is to get pregnant by regulating my periods which sadly have been occurring less frequently ever since I became a patient. My period finally came today, a whole two months since my last cycle. I forget, until it happens, that I get highly emotional when I’m on my period. That emotion came out in flares.

Tonight while I was laying down waiting to be needled, my acupuncturist talked about my need to do this and that, and how I should be focusing on this and that, and I swear to God all the thisses and thats got to me. I could hear the tears bubbling inside and then I just lost it. A river of hopelessness and despair poured down the sides of my cheeks into my ear canal and my hair. “You are stressing me out!” I sobbed. “Why am I never doing enough? Why isn’t this working for me!”

I held back all the other things I wanted to say. I truly believe in the power of acupuncture, but is this all a waste? Maybe he’s not the right healer for me even though 3 personal friends of mine swear by him. These are friends I trust wholeheartedly. And oh, the money. Flushing money down the toilet as our accounting professor used to say about corporate excess. Was this my personal excess? A waste of money, a waste of time. I don’t even enjoy the sessions, the needles do hurt sometimes.

Bleh, hopefully I will be feeling less volatile tomorrow. I was reading a book about how you should stick with something for 3 months and if it’s not helping to stop. I will give it another month or two.

Pins and Needles

She’s a god of fertility, a miracle worker when it comes to treating barren women. I’ve gone to a handful of acupuncturists, but decided this time, to take it to the mother lode.

Located in none other than the 26-story 450 Sutter Medical Building, Dr. Lifang Liang’s office is wall-papered with birth announcements and holiday cards. I’m not exaggerating. Plastered with baby pictures and hand-written notes from women thanking the doctor for making their motherhood dreams come true. She’s an ob-gyn doctor who integrates chinese and western medicine to treat infertility.

She sat at a desk scribbling into a new file for me. “You want baby?” I nodded, walking her through my menstrual history.

“How long you on pill?”

“20 years.”

“Aye!” She shook her head and continued writing. “Too long.”

She sketched a picture of fallopian tubes, walked me through the menstrual cycle and the hormone spikes. “You still young. I do my best. No guarantee, but we work hard.”

She pulled out a binder-like photo album stuffed with letters and pictures. She scanned the pages, then pointed to an Asian woman. “She have same problem. No period. Now, see. She have baby. Happy baby. She 41, much older. You still young. No stress. You – no stress!”

She told me to have Dean come in to see her as well. That’s the first I’ve heard from any acupuncturist which makes total sense. Why would I be the only one to get acupuncture? It takes two to make a baby, right?!

Before she started the acupuncture, she showed me a doll with all the meridian lines, then pointed to where she’d prick me and why. Again, no acupuncturist had demonstrated what they were doing before. They just go straight to inserting the needles. She pricked me on my hands, legs, feet, head, and all around my tummy. I’ve never had needles inserted in my tummy before, but that would make sense, right? To my surprise, her acupuncture did not hurt at all. No uncomfortable sensation like I’ve experienced with all my acupuncture treatments. There’s always been a slight bit of pain, but not with her.

Here’s what’s painful—her price. But then again, you get what you pay for, right? She charges $150/visit which does not include the additional $4 per day of herbs. I am to see her twice a week for the foreseeable future.

Dean gasped, “That’s over $1,000 a month, are you serious?”

The poor guy. If he thinks that’s expensive, wait until we’re a 3-person household.