Way to go Anthem Blue Cross! Adjusting my rate by 29.9%

Got it in the mail today.

Rate change effective March 1, 2010
While we strive to keep costs as low as possible, it is necessary to adjust our rates to cover the escalating cost of health care. As of March 1, 2010, the monthly rate on your HMO Saver will change from $329.00 to $427.00. Anthem Blue Cross will usually adjust rates every 12 months; however, we may adjust more frequently in accordance with the terms of your health benefit plan.


Now, please excuse me for a moment while I ask the insurance company where they expect the policy holder with multiple sclerosis and seizure disorder to come up with another hundred bucks a month… assholes.

Thing is, they don’t. They REALLY want to drop me. *lol*

See, this is something that most people wouldn’t notice, I don’t think, but that going to law school has done for me. It taught me how to look at the world through my Genuine, Certified “So-This-Is-How-They-Screw-You” Lawyer GogglesTM. And the second that I saw that my premium didn’t jump a nice neat $100, but rather $98, I knew something was up. (Who ends a number in a 7? Honestly?!) It bugged me. So I decided to figure out what percentage we were looking at. Sure enough, 29.9%. You know what that means, boys and girls? It means they’re not allowed to raise my premium by 30% or more. There’s a rule, somewhere, saying they can’t. They’re raising it as much as they can.

It is rules like this that we need more of.

When I talk about healthcare reform, I am talking about making more rules like this. Maybe Insurance reform is more what is important to me. I dunno.

It seems crazy to me that the amount of money it costs for my healthcare per year is more than I have made per year.

I mean, let’s do the math –

Monthly Insurance Premium: $427
Topamax (copay): $30
Cymbalta(copay): $30
Seasonale (copay): $30
Lisinopril/HCTZ (copay): $10
Gabapentin (copay): $10
Herbal Meds: $50
Psychologyist for therapy – One Visit:$90
Psychiatrist, monthly visit: $10
One visit to a doctor if I feel sick: $10
Total before Copaxone even comes into the picture: $697

Copaxone would be $780 (and that’s the 30% copay) if I weren’t incredibly lucky and having my copay taken care of by Shared Solution’s copay assistance program.

If I didn’t have Shared Solutions’ help, it would cost me $1477 before I even started thinking about things like rent, food, or utilities.

That blows my mind. Lets add to that my student loans. How the hell am I supposed to conquer THAT?

I am NOT a stupid individual, nor am I lazy. I have a bachelor of music in music business from Berklee College of Music. I have a juris doctor from Southwestern University. I am 29 years old. But even my best job didn’t pay me enough to do everything up there and take care of all my needs.

Anthem is counting on that.

This company that is supposed to exist to help people is trying to bully me out of my policy by making it too expensive to have the good coverage that I found through them in the first place before we discovered that I was ill.

Well, guess what, Anthem Blue Cross?

You can’t bully me.

I will always find a way to keep my ass covered, and if I can’t do it, my crazyass awesome family and friends will. Because that’s what we do for each other.

Thank you, Patients Like Me.

This whole time, I’ve been commisurating with other people who have MS, and still feeling like almost no one still *gets* what it’s like to be me.

And that’s because they don’t. They don’t have seizures.

Thankfully, the good people at Patients Like Me have finally put together a community for people with epilepsy.

Now, this is not to say that I’ll abandon my friends over at the MS side. That would be incredibly lame… but it IS to say that when I was filling out the symptom charts, the neurological symptoms (including mood, memory, seizure (including number, types, and severity)) much more accurately matched the kind of thing that I deal with every day.

What’s even more interesting to me is coming to the knowledge that my my seizure disorder puts me in a place where my seizures are more severe and occur more frequently than your average epileptic.

I could be upset about this, and perhaps a small, childish part of me is angry at God for it, if not for one thing that really made me smile.

On the forum there, in a topic about whether or not belief in a deity helps us through our seizures – how we cope with the “why” of having epilepsy, one poster wrote something I 100% agree with. She typed, “We are sick to help others deal and learn. Although each has more detailed reason’s, that is what it comes down to.”

I think we obviously learn from it ourselves, too. But it’s something that rang as true. I mean, at first I thought that developing the seizure disorder was a punishment of some sort, but that was just because of the timing. I mean, I developed the seizure disorder because of my multiple sclerosis… and my first *real* episode that turned into seizure-after-seizures-after-seizure happened 2 weeks before I was supposed to take the CA Bar Exam in 2008. I was hospitalized just before the only CA bar exam where they let in 60% of applicants. How’s THAT for bad luck?

But I’m a good person. Like a really good person. I used to put together all kinds of things for philanthropies before I got diagnosed with MS and this seizure disorder knocked me on my ass, and since it has, I still I foster kittens for the animal shelter even. So after praying a bit, I realized, if this is a punishment, it isn’t my punishment.

So – yes, I find immense comfort in God through the idea of suffering this near constant physical annoyance because it helps make people better. I would much rather be His instrument to help me and others learn than to simply be a piece of of someone else’s punishment, so it really pushed me to find the best way I could use my situation to be an active force to help others learn and to deal with what we deal with every day. To remind them that we’re here, suffering from time to time, but still being awesome, and that we deserve their care, empathy, and time.

That’s why I keep this blog and why I participate in Patients Like Me, both on the epilepsy and multiple sclerosis sides, as well as forums here and there, and on Facebook and LiveJournal. It’s like if I can’t go out into the world because I’m going to have unexpected seizures throughout the day, I’ll make my mind – my consciousness about the conditions and health and whatever else, travel the ether as much as my body remains still.

I just want to make the biggest positive change possible that I can in the world.

So, I’ve found a new way to relate to the world for support purposes — as an epileptic, though I don’t have a diagnosis of epilepsy, it’s a much easier way for people to understand “seizure disorder,” since to the average person, they pretty much mean the same thing. At least from a safety-perspective, it will make it easier to find ways to improve my mobility and self-esteem.

But I never would have found out that there were more people out there, dealing with life the same way I have to, day after day on a couch or a bed, or holding the hand of someone they love just about wherever they go because they don’t know when their body will just go *boom* — if not for Patients Like Me.

So thanks, guys, for making such a difference in my life, and likely, in the lives of so many others. 🙂

Today’s Goal: Just Get Through It. – Spoons Optional.

I was fewer than 10 minutes away from work today when Adam turned around and took me home.

That probably doesn’t sound like much, but it takes an hour to get me to work in the morning, and the reason he was taking me home is that I had so many seizures on the way to work that he finally just decided I wasn’t going in today… mostly because the last one (ok, the last 4), were memory-loss seizures and I didn’t even remember having a job.

It was the better part of an hour before I remembered it. When we were home, I immediately fell asleep, and if it weren’t for Gabapentin and 5 Hour Energy, I don’t know that I’d be awake right now. Fatigue is *rough* today

But you know what? I am awake, and it’s not about doing everything awesome. It’s just about doing it at all, and not holding yourself back, and not judging yourself harshly if now’s just not the time.

I was really considering whether or not it’s a good idea for me to become an attorney earlier today, because being an attorney puts you in a fiduciary position where you have to be responsible for things, but if I work with someone else and I have employees/agents for specific things (paying bills, etc.) then I should be able to do it.

For those of you who are wondering, I want to go into entertainment law, which I have a background in and I think will work best with the kind of needs I have anyway. Besides, even bitter lawyer agrees that it’s the best kind of lawyer to be. 🙂

*sigh* I started this entry a good 2 hours ago. I had to stop because I had a seizure and ended up accidentally pooping on myself and the couch.

Glamorous, huh? I know that’s not the sort of thing you’d expect one to admit on a public journal, but the whole reason I keep this thing is to have an honest account of the life I live and what it’s like having MS and seizure disorder and living a full life anyway.

Part of MS sometimes is losing control of your bowels. So I got up, cleaned up myself and the couch, took a bath (which, yes, of course exacerbated everything else), and fell asleep. But I’m back up now, and back on course. I swear. If seizures and numbness and tingling and pain weren’t enough, I got an extra reminder that I’m not in control today.

And I’m still studying anyway. *lol*

I’m not sure if that makes me crazy, very focused, defiant, or what. Who cares? Why bother judging? I gotta do my thing.

I’ve worked too hard and come too far to just quit when I’m this close.

Besides, everyone deals with a little crap in life. Some of us just deal with it a little more literally. 🙂

cannot push today.

Ladies. Oh, Ladies. Don’t ever let a man let you think we’re the weaker gender.

We have it physically harder than guys if we have a seizure disorder.

Menstruation means guaranteed seizures. It also means, for me at least, guaranteed MS fatigue. Oh yeah, and you have your period.

If you ask me, this means I am freakin’ punk-rock tough if I’m still operating in any capacity whatsoever during my period.

Unfortunately, even with a 5 Hr Energy Shot, I can’t even stay alert for more than 5-10 minutes at a time today.

Adam woke me at 10:30 this morning with 2 Gabapentin and the 5 hr Energy Shot because it was about time that I get up, otherwise, I think I could have slept through the day.

I’ve only been able to eat an egg today, and like, a bite of the hash browns that Adam made for us. I feel awful for not eating more of what he made, but my stomach always feels so bad when I’m having seizures.

I keep trying to guilt myself into caring about studying for the bar exam today, but I just don’t. I’ll probably do some multiple choice questions later, but I honestly feel like crawling into bed. I’m only writing this so that when I look back and wonder what happened and why I wasn’t writing up essays and studying at the library with Rax, I know why.

There was a good 4-5 minute stretch earlier today where I had my hands on the keyboard and I couldn’t move them, and a few seizures earlier today where I couldn’t move for 8-10 minutes at a time. Today is just one of those “not in your control” days where you make the best of it.

I’m glad I recorded my outlines last year. I wish I had recordings for Professional Responsibility, Criminal Law, and Evidence… but making those will be studying too. I think I might just be listening to my own lectures today. Hey, something is better than nothing.

Edit: Apparently, the guilt worked. I do really care about studying. I just can’t make myself do it yet. MBEs make sense. At 2 minutes a question, I only need to be up for 5-10 minutes at a time.

Also – a new favorite song of the moment.

Also, it’s rare that I say that I have a very favorite song. Well, right now I have a very favorite song. It’s “Oh My God” by Ida Maria.

Here are the lyrics. They’re short, sweet, and to the point. I think you’ll understand why I like the song so much if you think about it in the context of my life.

A warning to others with seizure disorder out there: watching this video might set you off. I’d recommend just listening to it here. For those of you who wonder what it’s like to have seizures, when my eyes stay open, it’s kinda like the video… and when they don’t, it still feels kinda like watching the video makes you feel.

“Oh My God”
by Ida Maria

Find a cure
find a cure for my life X4

Oh my god
oh you think I´m in control
Oh my god
oh you think it´s all for fun

Pin a smile
Pin a smile on my face X4

Put a price
put a price on my soul X4

Oh my god
oh you think I´m in control
Oh my god
oh you think it´s all for fun

Find a cure
find a cure for my life x4

(guitar solo)

Find a cure
find a cure for my life x2
Put a price
put a price on my soul
Build a wall
Build a fortress around my heart.

Oh my god
oh you think I´m in control
Oh my god
oh you think it´s all for fun
Is this fun for you?

Oh my god
oh you think I´m in control
Oh my god
oh you think it´s all for fun

oh you think I´m in control!
Oh my god
oh you think it´s all for fun

Oh My God! x5″

What do I do with this?

So, in my quest to pass the bar exam, I finally found a good bar tutor.

For better or for worse, he says that when I know my stuff, I’ve got it down. Good analysis, good writing, and all. It’s just a matter of performance — but when I think hard about something I can’t remember, every time, I have a seizure. He’s noticed it, and so has Adam.

And the harder I think, or the more I try to think about at once, the bigger the seizure.

It’s directly related to memory. And it hurts, literally. And when I come out of the ictal state, sometimes I’m in the right time-frame, and sometimes I’m not.

That really fucks up my studying when I’m doing active studying, which is what I really need to do if I’m going to pass.

Worse, it makes me not want to study at all because when it’s go time, I know that I can only count on myself to have big seizures if the answer doesn’t just pop straight into my head.

This means two things: 1.) I had better know my stuff COLD to make it less likely that I’ll stress myself out on the days of the test. 2.) Even if I know my stuff cold, if I have seizures during the test, it’s a coin-flip situation as to whether or not I’ll be able to perform day of.

It also means that while I want to still work with Rax, it is more stressful to do so because I’m doing different topics with him than I am with my tutor, so it feels like I’m spread out in a million (ok 4) different directions. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I don’t think that I’m studying effectively that way.

Gah, it can’t be about feelings. This is my future.

And I can’t focus for shit. I always feel behind and sick and confused and not good enough. I’m having trouble studying right now because every time I sit down to the books, I’m confronted with feelings of inadequacy and not of hope or excitement like when I started. It’s like I’ve forgotten why I started up this thing again and I want to back out of it when I should be feeling strong because I’ve been letting someone else tell me how I should be doing this – and instead of reviewing topics and then taking practice tests, I’ve just jumped right in. It’s like I haven’t even given myself a fighting chance, except to be wrong.

I know everyone keeps talking about active learning, and that writing out essays will really help me with active learning, and I’m gonna do that. Don’t get me wrong. But I really, really just need to just freakin memorize this stuff. Hardcore, word-for-word, memorize it.

I think I can memorize what I don’t already know in 30 days. I know most of it. The rest of it is detailing. Big picture, fortunately, I got down the first time. I just panicked in the test room, had a ton of seizures, and wrote poorly. It’s important that I not panic this go-round.

I am having the worst time about knowing the “right” thing to do with preparing that I am almost choked to inaction. At least something’s better than nothing. I’m writing up what I can, and am doing Adaptibar, and am reviewing notes and am listening to my recordings. I’m doing my best between seizures and naps. That’s all I can ask of myself.

Adam says the more I do it, the less scary it’ll be. Maybe I’ll get used to doing 3 essays a day eventually. 🙂 Then they won’t seem so scary.

I think I can… I think I can…

Yesterday, I managed to work through some of the worst cog-fog I have ever had.

Seriously! I told Adam that there was no way I was going to be able to absorb anything, and that studying was useless. He said that’s fine. Study anyway and see what sticks.

The man’s a fucking genius.

I mean, he’s not. That’s basic idiot-proof “How To Get Ahead In Life 101” – it’s like the MAGNUM OPUS of instructions on how to achieve. It’s the answer to getting past all anxieties and fears and past every problem you have and every obstacle.

Just do it.

Don’t think about it. Don’t give the reason’s you can’t or that you should or that you shouldn’t or consider the way it should be done or shouldn’t be done or whatever. Don’t worry about whether you’re doing it right or wrong. Just do it.

So, you did it when you had cog fog. Great. It took longer, but guess what? It’s done. You did it. When you think, “Did I do that?” The answer is yes. Finished! Off the list!

That’s the beauty of life. The only way you can be SURE that a disability will hold you back and stop you from doing something is if you let it stop you from even attempting it. So, cog-fog or not, pain or not, seizures or not, I keep on chugging along.

This morning I’m not so hot. Lots of pain in my wrists, ankles, back, neck, and knees – and I’m hit real hard with fatigue. Fortunately, I’m not having many seizures at all. So, I’m on 200mg of Gabapentin, a 5 hr energy, and a goodly amount of CA legal herbal supplement in an effort to continue to study. I thank God that I live where I do, or I couldn’t work today.

Anyhow, Adam just brought me breakfast. (I love that man!!!) I’m going to go enjoy that and get back to business. I’m not about to wimp out now.

Now THAT is more like it!

Up before the alarm by, like, 5 minutes.

Dog fed, watered, walked, and played with.

Already gave a phone interview regarding life with MS and seizure disorder that started as a survey of how I felt about my experience calling Shared Solutions. Suggested to the Teva representative that they throw some money at CCSVI research because I think that Copaxone and CCSVI treatments are not competing goods, but complimentary science that should be studied together. While I was at it, I volunteered to be a patient. *lol*

And it’s only 8:30 a.m.!

If he hadn’t told me he had a headache when I woke up an hour ago, I’d surprise Adam with breakfast in bed.

Instead, I’m going to drink a Mix1 and organize my stuff for today’s Real Property Funfest.

I said it on Facebook, and I’ll say it here too, for posterity’s sake: For the next 48 hours, I don’t care what the book says… I own Blackacre, with my awesome powers of ROCK. There are 5 covenants of title in every general warranty deed, and there should be a black metal song about that. It’s already in my punkin head. *lol*

Another thing I thought I’d never say… I need more fat in my diet.

So it’s been a while since I started the Swank Diet, and I can already tell a difference. Unfortunately, it’s a negative difference: severe increase in seizures.

This is hella lame, because it also had a few great positives: I’ve been losing weight, enjoying being creative in the kitchen, and it’s helped me make some new friends!

So – why am I sure that it’s the diet?

Because my seizure doctor and I had a long talk about the Ketogenic diet for people with Epilepsy, which is awful close to the Atkins diet – or almost the OPPOSITE of the Swank Diet.

We concluded that it probably wasn’t a good thing for me to try to control my seizures with diet.

But today, I broke the Swank Diet. I had a cheeseburger and fries. I went, within an hour, from having seizures every 5 to 10 minutes, to being seizure free for 3 and a half hours.

My MBE practice question scores… they also jumped up 5%. I finished at 68% tonight.

Well, at least it’s that cut and dry. 🙂 If only the rest of my meds showed me that quickly that they worked well! 🙂