Friday, January 28, 2011

Corn Allergy

The thing about a corn allergy is that sometimes it;s not just socially isolating, it feels like a downright punishment. 
It's bad enough that you can't just go out to eat with friends, or try out a new restaurant, or stop for coffee and a muffin if you're caught in traffic on a long commute. 
A simple headache remedy costs a fortune, and you have to jump through hoops of red tape before you are given the privilege of paying it.  But the worst is going to the doctor. 
You're sick, with some complaint or another that simply doesn't improve on it's own.  You need medical advice, and probably medical treatment.  And you're tired, worn down from your ailment. 
However, you need to remind your dr that those latex gloves could be dusted with cornstarch.  Women need to bear in mind that the lubricant used during an internal exam is probably corny.  (and generally just put up with the itch of a topical one-time exposure)  And then you get to the prescription. 
"Is there corn in that?"
You get The Look.  Stifled laughter, poker face.  Why would there be corn in medication?  Corn is a vegetable.  It grows in fields, it's easy to spot on the dinner table. 
"There are often corn derivatives used in the excipients of medication." 
This gets a little better reaction, at least it sounds as if you know what you're talking about.  There's hemming, and hawing, shuffling papers or clicking of a computer mouse. 
"Dextrose, microcrystalline cellulose, xanthan gum..." 
At some point, you're told to talk tot he pharmacist, who blinks, and tells you to talk to your dr. 
Eventually, you either get an answer and start the "What are my other options" routine. 
Ideally, since you're not feeling well, the dr and pharmacist would be proactive in helping you track down a brand name of a medication that will work for your condition and is safe.  But more often than not, they leave you to do the legwork. Once you've exhausted all other avenues, you get to explore the world of compounding. 
I find that doctors are reluctant to write a prescription for compounded medication.  They prefer prefabricated pills, probably because the strength is guaranteed and they don't have to think about dosage or scheduling or anything like that.  With the pre-prepared prescriptions and over the counter medications, there are also pre-prepared instructions.  They fit into a neat little niche in your chart.  Compounding confuses things. 
Eventually, you usually get what you need and it only costs a small fortune.  :P  Or, if you don't *really* need it, you give up and save a small fortune. 
And then there are medical procedures and tests.  Some require contrast dyes and other niceties that just don't come with handy ingredient labels.  And the personnel don't have time to argue with you or track down answers.  So you either play a squeaky wheel, or give up and play the martyr.  It's only a few days/weeks of reactions, and the benefits outweigh the discomfort. 
Or there are tests where they say "If it's too uncomfortable we can always give you something." 
Except...with a corn allergy, you need to prepare for that scenario and have something safe available.  Which is expensive if you end up not needing it, and stressful even if you do. 
So you suck it up and just deal.  Cavities, biopsies, freeze off a mole.  Things no one likes to do.  As a human being, you suck it up and deal because you know that the end result is worth the discomfort.
But with a corn allergy, you quake inside because you know that if something goes wrong, they'll make you a whole lot more miserable the more they try to fix it.  And you have a very limited number of options to minimize the discomfort to begin with. 
It's no wonder they tell us it's just stress.  The miracle is that we don't all turn gray the first year after diagnosis! 

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