Life

Insurance and Water Leaks and a Million Phone Calls, Oh My!

Wow. You never realize how many steps there are to get some tricky medication covered by insurance until you have to, well, deal with insurance because you’ve received tricky medication. Well, it’s not “tricky,” it’s just a higher-than-average dosage, but apparently insurance freaks out over that. I’ve spent literally the past two weeks calling among three different insurance departments, two different pharmacies, and my doctor’s office every single goddamn day for at least an hour to get my new meds covered. Basically it needs to be verified by the doctor and the pharmacy, then get pre-authorization through several departments, then get an override because of the dosage increase, since insurance mistakenly thought I already picked up the full new dosage when I only picked up the old dosage, but because of that they won’t let me refill it before October when I needed it yesterday. The whole huge process is just a crapload of time wasted on phone calls and listening to hold music and explaining the same situation over and over and over and, yeah…

Good news is that I finally got through and successfully picked up my meds an hour before closing at a pharmacy I don’t usually go to. Turns out the factory that makes this medication was shut down for a while because of Covid, and so the prescribed amount did not arrive on time for me to pick it up. The pharmacist at my regular pharmacy is really nice, and she’s like, well, I would fill it partially but I’m afraid that it’ll trigger something with insurance and you can’t fill it again and then you have to do this whole thing again, so I’m just going to see if I can transfer you to this other pharmacy which I think have the full dose and you can go there. Oh and did I mention it’s like $400 of meds, for one month, and I need to be on it for at least three months even if everything goes well? The other pharmacist was like, are you sure this isn’t a mistake and I was like I wish, but no. She said when she called my regular pharmacy to verify she was told of the ridiculous runaround I had to do to get it covered, and she sympathize greatly. Good times!

While all this shenanigans are happening, our bathroom drain pipe decided to spring a leak (probably because one of the earthquakes) and soak a giant water bubble into our downstairs laundry ceiling. We peeled off the paint and drywall, put a bucket under the drip, and called a plumber. Someone came and fixed the pipe (small, simple leak) and then we got a water damage crew over to look for mold. They said there’s very little mold, and it’s a small job, but haven’t given us an exact quote yet. And then we have to call some construction people to patch the hole in the ceiling and/or replace the cabinets, depends on if they’re warped from water damage or not (won’t know until the water damage folks get going). And all these things are all relatively “small” but they all add up, you know? There was a lot more phone calls and texts and emails being exchanged but my s.o. handled most of those. What is with these few weeks? I’m having try #2 at getting pregnant next week and all these crap just have to pile on top of each other, don’t they? You know, they say the year 2020 is bad luck for folks born in the Year of the Rat. Superstition and all, but sometimes I really wonder.

Life

Good Mondays – Reading

Well hello folks. It’s been a slight while for a Good Mondays entry but hey, at least it’s here. With all the crazy stuff going on in my life I’m just glad that at least I have a small part on the Internet where I can talk about insignificant but happy things. Anyway, today I want to talk about reading. More specifically, the fact that I’m reading books again!

You know, I was an avid reader growing up. Bookworm definitely described me to a T, all throughout grade school, college, grad school, and all that. I didn’t have that many books in my house mostly because I grew up poor. But it’s why I love libraries, and I’ve devoured many many tomes through that (and occasionally I go into bookstores and just read, yes, I know, not good for the bookstore, but I can’t afford buying all the books!). But as the years went on, I began to read less and less. No time, other distractions (TV, video games, yeah mostly those haha), or bouts of depression that make me not want to devote any time to reading. Eventually I just let everything drop, and basically only read articles online or forums, which, as we all know, could take a toll on one’s mental health, especially if done for a prolonged amount of time.

So last month I set a goal. I will read more! Starting with the non-fiction book I checked out from the library that I wrote about in the last blog post. It’s the first book I’ve finished in years, and I think that must’ve opened the floodgates, so to speak. I started to follow book rec blogs (since I definitely have not kept up with any bestseller lists) and put the ones that I could find onto my library’s digital loan program. Not everything has a Kindle version and not every ebook is available in my library, but there’s enough to get me started. I’m not ambitious – none of the a-book-a-week or whatever awe-inspiring goals these book reviewers go through. If I can finish reading one thing every month I’ll be a happy gal.

I wish I have more profound things to say than “yay! me reading!” I don’t really haha. However, I do feel like I’ve recovered something I’ve lost due to years of depression. I’m not sure I’ve stopped reading books solely because of depression, but stress definitely has something to do with it. And the more stressful my environment is the less I want to do things that require thought. I would delve into Youtube and other visual, super passive media because I just didn’t have the energy for more focused activities. (Come on, you can’t say that reading things like Swann’s Way doesn’t require active energy. Like, there’s a reason people study this stuff for their Ph.D thesis or whatever.) So me getting back into reading actual books, and finishing them, is a good sign. I can’t promise continual progress, and so my Book Thoughts series might be slow, but I’ll definitely try to set some time off every day to read. It used to be one of my greatest joys. It should become one again now.

Books

Book Thoughts – Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country by Sierra Crane Murdoch

Yes folks, I’m 1) reading books again and actually finishing them and 2) going to blog down my thoughts post-read. There’s just something nice about putting reactions into words, and I’ve been following a couple of book review blogs and was inspired. Anyway, this is named “Book Thoughts” because these entries are not reviews, per se, because I’m not going to give them a score or anything, although I’d wholeheartedly recommend ones I really love. It’s kind of exciting, both me picking up reading again and talking about them. Also makes me work on my critical reading skills after I’ve been out of school for such a long time. It feels good.

So, the book I’m going to talk about today is Yellow Bird by Sierra Crane Murdoch. (I’d type out the whole title but man it’s long! Plus it’s in the blog title anyway.) It’s journalistic nonfiction mostly revolving around Lissa Yellow Bird, a Native American woman from Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota. I first heard about Lissa from a This American Life episode called “A Mess to be Reckoned With.” It was absolutely fascinating and I picked up the book as soon as I finished listening. The episode doesn’t go into what the book entails – the disappearance of an oil rig worker – but on another case a few years later involving Lissa’s niece, who’d also disappeared. Because Indian reservations have odd jurisdiction rules when it comes to law enforcement, a lot of crimes go un-investigated by either the US police or the reservation police. So Lissa, in this case, is basically the person to go to if you’re looking for someone, dead or alive, when official law enforcement can’t, or won’t, help you.

The book’s main story is about the disappearance of Kristopher Clarke, or KC. What happened, who was involved, how did the case and trial go, etc. But it was also about Lissa. Who she is, what she does, how did she come to be. Murdoch, the writer and a journalist, has been following Lissa (and subsequently KC’s case) extensively for years. She went into extraordinary details about not just the case itself, but everything surrounding it – from the extensive family history of the Yellow Birds to the history of the reservation (and how the United States government, along with a whole long line of unscrupulous white business owners, have completely screwed over the reservation in terms of land, money, oil rights, and all that in between.) It is about so much more than just what happened to KC, and the narrative is richly interwoven with many stories about the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara nation (MHA) as a whole. I have learned so much and feels like I’ve only read a sliver of the injustices and trial and tribulations that faced Native American tribes. It really puts in perspective just how badly everything was, is, from such a microcosm of what from the surface to be a confined case of missing persons.

However, because of the all-encompassing nature and the sheer number of people involved in the story, the narrative can get a bit confusing. The author tries to mitigate it by always adding descriptions along with names. “Lissa talks to so-and-so, the sheriff in charge of the case.” Or “So-and-so, the tribal leader of MHA, goes to Washington DC.” Stuff like that. It helps some, but I still find myself constantly trying to remember what else she had said about so-and-so before, and it can get very distracting. I think the book could benefit with a giant “who’s who” tree, like an index of every single person mentioned with what they do, how they’re related to Lissa or KC or whoever, so that if I don’t remember exactly I can flip to it and quickly find out. But alas, it doesn’t have one, which I think is a miss.

Overall I think the book is very interesting and informative. Lissa is such a strong and imperfect human being and absolutely fascinating to listen to. (Another reason I highly recommend the TAL episode, because you literally do hear her talk and it helps with the narrative voice so much). I was unfamiliar with all the background – never knew the MHA nation existed, didn’t know North Dakota had an oil boom, you know, the most basic stuff, and the book does a great job of both entertain and inform a clueless reader like me. I’ve read some reviews that the book seems a bit meandering and disjointed, which I can see why considering what I said in the previous paragraph. But I personally didn’t mind too much, and find that the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. I was taken through this great journey and came out with newly gained insights. And just like real life, the journey doesn’t wrap up neatly or even ends, for that matter. It continues on and I’m just glad to parse a slice of it as it goes.

Life

Bad News

Got my blood test back. I am, unfortunately, not pregnant as of this time.

Yes, I am sad. My husband is faring worse than me. The doctor remains optimistic. There’s only a 60% chance that it would succeed, after all, and I have enough embryos to try again. I’m just sad that I went through all the painful shots for two weeks for nothing so far. Oh well. Five more times until I run out, right? Although if I keep on trying and it just ain’t happening maybe at some point I’ll reassess. But now is definitely not that time. It’s only my first try after all.

So the current plan is to stop all meds until I have my period again. And on the first day of my period I call my doctor and I guess we just do the whole shebang once more and hope for the best? So it’ll be at least two weeks before anything happens – enough time for my super bruised and sore buttock muscles to recover, at least (only to be jabbed more later but, I digress). I read it takes an average of three tries to get pregnant this way, so, hope?

I’m not feeling great today but I’m sure I’ll feel better soon. It just means that I have to do the procedures again and again until it sticks (and, * sigh *, more Covid testing). Like I wrote yesterday, it’s mostly out of my hands, so spending too much energy being sad doesn’t help. Better conserve it for the next chance. Meanwhile I will think and post about happier things, like books I’m reading. (Oh hey, I finally started reading books and finishing them again. Wow. Been years since I’ve done so.) So yeah, it’s not all anxiety and gloom on the horizon.

But maybe just a little bit, today.

Life

The Light at the End, Maybe

Well hello peoples. My, can you believe it’s September 1? It felt like an eternity since I last blogged. Partly because I’ve finally gone through the final, man-controllable step in my IVF journey, and so it feels like a huge hurdle cleared. Partly because, well, every day since March feels like forever, doesn’t it? (And the smidgen of hope that is November is another eternity away.)

But anyway, I’m going to talk about what has been happening with me. So I finally had the embryo transfer done last week! The whole process was an ordeal, but not really painful or anything. They had me taken a valium instead of any anesthesia, as they didn’t have to cut anything. Basically an embryo technician took out the chosen embryo in the petri dish, showed me to make sure it was mine (everything’s double checked by multiple people), suck it into a syringe thing, which then went through a catheter that my doctor had already inserted into my uterus, and then it got implanted inside guided by another technician with an ultrasound machine (you know, the kind they use over a pregnant lady’s belly to see blurred image of the baby). It was only uncomfortable because I had to have a full bladder for this to work best, so I was just trying so hard not to pee while they do the procedure. And boy, the lady who operated the ultrasound was like the most cheerful person ever haha. She was so gung ho about it and optimistic and everything (my doctor was too, of course). It really felt like they were really cheering for you to have this baby, you know? Especially since my husband couldn’t be in the room because of Covid (normally he would be.) I was very sad that he missed the whole thing, because yeah, so technically I was just watching a tiny cell in a petri dish on a tv screen becoming a shiny spot on the grainy ultrasound imaging screen after, but somehow it was so emotional. Like, I was watching life potentially happen! Not gonna lie, I totally cried afterwards (you needed to lie down for 15 min post procedure), feeling all emotional and wishing my husband was next to me. Well, until I had to get up because my bladder was about to burst and ran to the bathroom as soon as I was able. At least I got pictures to show him.

I wish I could say that everything was just an anxious wait after. But it’s not. Why? Well, I’m seriously in so much pain that I didn’t even think much about the pregnancy test at all. So I had to do these progesterone shots to help with pregnancy. They’re suspended in oil and you have to inject them in your butt cheeks every day with a pretty damn long needle. And the shots are so goddamn painful! My whole buttocks and upper thigh swelled up to twice its size after the first couple of days – so much that I couldn’t fit into my normal underwear and had to co-opt my husband’s boxers instead. I could only take Tylenol, which is not great for baby’s development, so I try not take it as much as possible. Also, they recommended bed rest for 48 hours post-op and I totally understand why. I couldn’t keep my eyes open, because the swelling was so painful that it interfered with my sleep. I couldn’t lie down properly, couldn’t sit properly, and had absolutely no energy for a solid week after. It’s why I didn’t blog anything, because I couldn’t sit for more than half an hour on my computer chair without getting completely wiped out. As the days dragged on it got better by tiny increments. I can sit more or less ok now, and the swelling had gone down to a half of what it was before, but I still looked bloated as heck and the pain is not going away. I seriously cannot imagine another full 8-12 weeks of daily progesterone shots after this. I may have to, at some point, ask my doctor if we could switch to a different method. Like right now I couldn’t walk properly and stairs (yes, my house has lots of stairs) are a nightmare still.

Well, I’m going in for the first pregnancy blood test tomorrow, bright and early. I hope everything turns out positive, because otherwise I just suffered two weeks of the shots for nothing, we’re down one embryo, and we have to do everything again. But let’s try optimism, yeah? Everything’s out of my hands now, so let’s just take a deep breath and hope for the best.

Cheers!