A year or so ago, one day without warning, my upper lip swelled to about the size of my thumb. It wasn’t pretty. Though I wasn’t in pain, I couldn’t work because I was scary looking (I thought about posting a photo I took at the time, but it really is gross).

From that time on, I started having episodes where my toes or fingers or lips would swell. If things weren’t swelling, they were itching, like my palms or the soles of my feet.

It wasn’t hurting me, but the swelling would come on without warning and be a distraction. And, of course, I was worried about the unknown. What was in me causing this?

I saw my family physician (I do tech support on his computers, he does tech support on me) who had me take a small battery of tests (probably an AAA battery) only to find nothing.

Then I went to visit the chief allergy guy at Yale/New Haven Hospital. He too could find nothing. But, he was confident, without even knowing what was wrong, that I could be treated. Not only that, he didn’t think we’d ever know what was wrong! But, it made no difference because we’d control it.

There is a great leap of faith necessary to accept a diagnosis like this… and I leapt.

He was right. I started a daily Zyrtec pill and the problems went away. Zyrtec isn’t the most expensive drug you can buy, but it’s not cheap either. My insurance company was paying a large part of the bill and my cost was $60 for 3 months.

Then Claritin left the world of prescription drugs and insurance companies started licking their lips.

With Claritin available over-the-counter, my insurance company decided to remove all the drugs like it from their formulary. Not only wasn’t Zyrtec covered anymore, neither was any generic or proprietary drug in its family. My costs were about to skyrocket.

When I last saw the allergist, I asked if there was anything cheaper to take. There was, and tonight, I got the $7 antihistimine. The pharmacist gave me a stern look and said this was an “old” drug. Though I was taking a small dose, it was powerful. Maybe I should take it at bed instead of with dinner. I might get sleepy.

Now I’m scared.

I told Helaine and she said I was crazy. Why would I let money stop me from taking something that has been incredibly effective? And, as always, she’s right.

If they don’t work, or if they knock me for a loop, I’m only a day away from changing prescriptions again. And now, my insurance company gets added to the ‘do not like’ list.

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