Senna Leaves

I truly hate what sulfasalazine does to my gut, but as a DMARD it helps my feet tremendously.  Fond as I am of remaining ambulatory, I deal with the med’s unpleasant side effect.

Dr. Synonymous has a particularly relevant post up, and it brought to mind something I read in an Open Mic comment a while back, in which Whitecoat shared a recipe:

Reminds me of an old recipe I used to use for constipation in cancer patients on opiates.

2 cups finely chopped raisins
1 cup finely chopped dates
1 cup finely chopped prunes
1 box senna leaves (finely chopped)*** (SEE FOOTNOTE)

Mix all ingredients together. Add small amounts water until mixture can be flattened out into small pan. Cut into small bars. Cover each bar in graham cracker crumbs. Freeze on cookie sheet then put frozen bars in bag in freezer. Eat them with a large glass of water.

I have a lot of ingredients in my kitchen that others have said aren’t normal staples, but senna leaves isn’t one of them.  Dates I always have.  Raisins, usually.  Prunes. Ummm – only in mid-August when they’re fresh off the tree.

Aside from the leaves and graham crackers (which I also don’t stock), this is really just a bunch of dried fruits that you don’t want to feed large quantities of to a toddler still in diapers.   I wondered if the key is just dried fruit washed down with a big glass of water.  I also wondered if it would work to swap out different ingredients, since I have many other kinds of dried fruit.  It does.  Dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried apricots… doesn’t seem to matter.

It’s pretty tasty, regardless of the reason you’re eating them.  Next time I’m going to put everything through a food processor (or at least a grinder) to change the texture.

Posting will be light, as I have two teenagers leaving for Guatemala next week and there’s still tons to do to get ready for their trip.

Senna is an herbal laxitive.  Like all herbs, it acts as a medication.  It should not be used by people taking warfarin/coumadin, digoxin/lanoxin, or diuretics.  If you are taking any medications (herbs, supplements, prescriptions…) talk to your doctor before trying senna.

Emergency Prep & Drugs

Flood, earthquake, tornado, hurricane, terrorist attack… The list of possible disasters isn’t very long.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t important to prepare.

One small line in most emergency preparation lists suggests including an extra month of prescription meds in your emergency kit.  I wondered idly how one might go about doing that, but when nobody in my family was regularly taking prescriptions it wasn’t an issue.  Now it is pertinent.

The problem isn’t with believing it’s a good idea to be prepared.  The problem is the difficulty of obtaining the extra month’s worth of meds.

1.  Insurance will not pay for early fills.  If you want to get an extra month, the cost will be entirely out-of-pocket.  That might not be a problem for one or two less expensive medications, but it’s a big deal if the cash price of your monthly trip to the pharmacy is nearly $3,000.

2.  Even if you pay cash so that you can have an extra month on hand, there’s still a problem.  Prescriptions allow a specific number of refills.  If you pay cash to get that extra month early, you run out of available refills at the pharmacy a month early.

I’ve jerry-rigged a solution.  I do not wait 30 days to refill my meds.  For a while now, I’ve refill my prescriptions every 27 days.  The first month, that got me three extra pills.  The second month, I added three more for a total of six extra pills.  The third month, I was up to nine extras, and so on.  For some weird reason, every now and then the insurance company says it’s too soon to refill and I’ve had to wait the full thirty, but this usually works.  Doing it this way, within a year, you’ll have a managed to stockpile an extra month’s worth of most prescriptions.

This doesn’t work with methotrexate, Enbrel, or anything else that’s filled for four weeks instead of one month.  Having skipped my Enbrel when I was sick, I know that when dealing with the stress of a disaster, I don’t want to be without that particular prescription.  However, since I was already well into the process of trying to accumulate an extra month’s worth for my emergency kit when I got sick, I filled the prescription at the regular time anyhow (despite not being out).

It’s a good thing I did!

Add insurance change to the list of potential emergencies

They had the audacity to send out a letter last month with instructions that we should refill prescriptions before the end of the month (on our old insurance) because it would take a while to get everyone into the new insurer’s computer system, and it probably wouldn’t be possible for the pharmacy to verify coverage for a few days.  I could picture getting laughed out of the pharmacy if I tried that, so didn’t bother.

Next the insurer said they should have everyone processed by the 10th, but we could just pay cash and then submit a request for reimbursement.  I didn’t think that would be needed, since I last filled on the 10th and would just be stretching things out to the full thirty days.  Unfortunately, the 10th came and went without new insurance cards.  My dear husband, concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get my prescriptions, was duly impressed when I said that I supposed this counted as an emergency, and explained my strategy to him as I dug into my emergency supply.

It was nice to be prepared.  It wasn’t nice to need it, but it worked out.  I had to pay cash to get my mtx last week, because there’s no extra stash on that one.  The rest of my prescriptions, though, I’ve been able to take normally, without the stress of wondering when those insurance cards are going to show up.  The tiny effort needed to be prepared was well worth it.

Do you include a month’s worth of prescriptions in your emergency kit?

For more information on disaster preparedness:




As I finished vacuuming the upstairs and headed into the laundry room to fold clothes, my husband grabbed a basket of socks* and headed downstairs.  He grinned as he quipped, “Got any more naps planned for today?”

Funny man.

Make breakfast, take a nap.  Clean the kitchen, take a nap.  Vacuum and fold laundry.  Prepare the noon meal, and yes, take another nap.

It’s not that I planned it that way.  Some days, though, I’m just so exhausted that sitting down automatically means that I fall asleep.

Fatigue was probably one of my first autoimmune symptoms.  It went unrecognized, though.  I had four babies in five years, and a fifth a few years later.  I chased little kids all day.  Who wouldn’t be tired?  Somehow I had the idea that things would get better when the kids got older – when life got less labor-intensive during the daytime, and I’d be able to sleep all night.

I was wrong.  At some point, the fatigue wasn’t just a normal part of having a houseful of little kids.  Fatigue can indicate a problem.  I never talked to my doctor about fatigue, but once my RA was diagnosed and treated, I found that I had more energy than I’d had in years.

When everything is well controlled, I can go like the Energizer Bunny.  When things aren’t quite as well controlled, it’s more like my battery is about to die.

I’ve learned to pace myself.  A task that requires moving around can be followed by something that can be done sitting down.  Spacing the different types of jobs throughout the day, alternating periods of activity with periods of rest, allows me to get more done than if I push through all the demanding tasks and collapse before the end of the day.  When needed, I take a short nap.

Perhaps I should have been a cat.

*I don’t fold socks.  They all get tossed into a single basket after they’ve been laundered, and everyone is responsible for finding & folding their own socks.