It’s springtime in Central Texas. My favorite time of year. Bluebonnets and 70-degree days. Last year, I was working too much, and missed most of it. This year, I’m taking advantage of a slow patch, and enjoying every bit of it.
I’ve been on the new antidepressant Brintellix for four months now. I haven’t had a single side effect, except maybe hot flashes. But it’s hard to attribute those to the antidepressant, seeing as I’m fifty-two. Dr. McEnroe started me on samples of this shiny new drug in November, in an attempt to help me out of the pit. It seems to have worked. I’ve actually caught myself, a couple of times over the past several weeks, thinking: “Holy shit; I’m feeling happy.” Not just amused or content. But actual, full-on happiness.
Now, at the four-month mark, Dr. McEnroe has cut me off on the samples and called in a prescription. After much research, the cheapest I could find for a 30-day supply of 20 mg Brintellix is $266. And that’s with a $30 coupon. On top of that, he’s got me on Deplin, a medical food that seems to enhance the effects of the antidepressant, at $30 a month. Add to that, the shrink’s $175 fee for a 30-minute visit, and we’re up to $475 a month. Luckily, Dr. McEnroe has begun to lengthen my leash and we’re now shifting to quarterly, instead of monthly, visits. All of this is out-of-pocket due to my high-deductible insurance plan, which is all my law firm has offered for the past few years. $266 a month ($296 when the coupon runs out at the end of the year), is obnoxious for one prescription. This is not a viable option long-term. I’m hoping the changes I’m making now that I feel better will render the drug unnecessary. But I do not want to be blind-sided by the depression again, so I’m in a bit of a pickle.
Speaking of pickles: pickles are low-carb, and so are very much a part of my new dietary regime. Here’s what happened. In February, when I started feeling a little peppier, I went and got a wellness exam. My first in three years. I had gained quite a bit of weight since my last visit, and my numbers were not good. My fasting blood glucose, at 113, was in a range deemed “pre-diabetic.” Seeing as my mother is diabetic, and knowing first-hand (second-hand?) what lie ahead, I immediately made drastic changes. It’s been two months since I gave up all sugar and starches, as well as most fruit. This includes anything made with flour or grains, beans, lentils, peas, potatoes, and pasta. Whole grain. Half grain. Multi-grain. It’s all out. What do I eat besides pickles, you might ask? Leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, berries, nuts (mostly walnuts and almonds) and nut butters, eggs, whole-milk cheeses and Greek yogurt, heavy cream, butter, avocado, coconut milk, olive oil, coconut oil, grass-fed beef, chicken (with skin), fish, and pork, including bacon.
After two months of this way of eating, I’ve dropped 24 pounds. It’s probably closer to 20, seeing as my first weigh-in was at the doctor’s office fully clothed. Here’s the cool thing (in addition to the coolness of dropping 20 pounds): I feel fantastic. I have more energy than I have had in ages. I sleep well. My digestion is vastly improved since I stopped eating grains. I don’t crave carbohydrates or sugar. I’m not constantly hungry. I feel brighter. I feel happier. I feel zestful. Now, how much of this is due to the diet, and how much to the antidepressant, is the $500-a-month question. At some point, I’m going to stop taking the drugs and see if I can determine the answer. Hopefully I’ll find I can sustain these feelings of well-being on diet and exercise alone.
As for exercise, it’s been a brilliant spring here in Central Texas and I’ve taken to walking at lunch-time nearly daily. A work colleague and I started off at thirty minutes and a couple of miles, working our way up to over an hour and five miles in 9-weeks time. Here are a few photos of what we see during our lunch-time wanderings:
BigLawBoss also has been going through a bit of a transition. A few weeks ago, he told me he and his wife are divorcing and he was moving out of the house. An example of the new “gray divorce”: both of them are in their early 60s. I didn’t make an attempt to feign surprise. I did, however, find myself feeling happy for him, along with much compassion. In fact, the respect I’d lost for him while he was sneaking around is returning. He since has moved into a condo, along with a few pieces of furniture and his guitar. Kind of Steve Martinesque from The Jerk: “All I need is this lamp.” Since BigLawBoss moved out, he too seems a lot happier. Between the two of us, we’re like a whole new law office.
So that’s springtime in Central Texas in a nutshell: everything is blooming.