Horrendously Expensive Medications

The latest email from includes an article from a subscriber who couldn’t afford the $280 (!) co-pay on a prescription. He remembered those TV ads about how the manufacturer “may be able to help.” He called and explained his situation. They gave him a coupon for a month’s worth free. Since his was an acute condition, this was enough to get him through.

It can’t hurt to ask!



The Three Second Rule is not for Eye Drops

The eye drops bottle is not kidding when it says “Do not touch the tip of the bottle to your eye or any other surface.” Not even for a fraction of a second.

My frugal instincts led me to continue to use the (nearly full!) eye drops after they touched my eye and all it did was make the conjunctivitis worse. Because the bottle became contaminated in that less than a second in which it touched my eyeball, and I was just dripping germs back into my eye every day.

Throw it out.


It’s not the Sodium, It’s the Balance

All my life I had low-normal blood pressure, except when exposed to petrochemically-based fragrances and grooming products, then it spiked. The fairly low blood pressure was fine and dandy, until I got where it wasn’t safe for me to cook anymore. I switched to frozen dinners (mainly Marie Callender’s – they don’t taste fakey like some brands). I noticed my blood pressure started running a bit high. Not horrible like the petrochemical spikes, but too high for complacency.

Prepared foods often have higher levels of sodium than scratch cooking, and high sodium intake is often associated with high blood pressure. So I Googled around and learned, or re-learned, that part of managing sodium levels is not just reducing sodium, but balancing it with potassium.

The sites I found talked about eating potassium-rich foods like peas and bananas. There’s only so many bananas and peas I’m going to realistically eat. Eating them did lower my pressure some, but not enough, and I knew I’d eventually drift away from eating that way. So I bought some potassium tablets and added them to my weekly minder pill-keeping-track-thingy.

Well, wow. Within a few days my pressure was back to my normal 117 or so over 73 or so. I think I’ll take the potassium tablets maybe five days out of seven instead of every day, because there is such as thing as TOO MUCH potassium. If you take too much it can cause irregular heartbeat and even cardiac arrest.

Adapted Neck Brace

The bones in my neck are pressing on nerves and sending electrical zings into my head. The chiropractor recommended a neck brace. I ordered one on Amazon, but it was too short for my neck. Rather than buy another, I spent $3+ at Walmart on rectangular pieces of Velcro and made an extension.

The brace makes me hold my neck in correct alignment, and provides some support for my big ol’ (brain-filled) head, so my neck isn’t under as much pressure.




Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on in both Kindle and paperback versions.

Kindle preview:


Dry mouth?

For a while there I was waking in the night with a painful pinching sensation where my mouth had dried out. I looked around for a solution and found XyliMelts tablets. One side adheres to a tooth, to prevent choking on it during the night. The tablets release a moisturizing ingredient all night long. The flavor is mild and pleasant. They are available in mint and in mint free.

Since using XyliMelt, I’ve slept all night, never waking with painful dry mouth.

My local store doesn’t carry them; I bought them on Amazon.

Doctor Amazon

Ever need a medical device, maybe a carpal tunnel wrist brace or walking boot? What did it cost?

Wandering around Amazon I saw a reviewer saying a walking boot for his broken foot would have cost $250 and insurance didn’t cover it. He bought it on Amazon for $40.

When I shop Amazon I always filter the search to include only four star or higher ratings, and eligible for free shipping (on orders $49 or more).


Witch Hazel and the Infected Digit

In this digital age, all it takes is an infected right index finger cuticle to disable me completely. It was my Mousing finger! My Kindle-tapping finger! I was helpless.

The internet told me to use antibiotic ointment. I’m allergic to most of those, and didn’t want to buy any anyhow. The internet also told me to soak it in warm water and keep it elevated. That was okay, but not working fast enough to suit me. Touch typing with nine fingers is like setting a spider loose on the keyboard, a mess. I was having to change the TV channel with my left hand. Terrible!

I told a friend I was adding a little witch hazel to the water, just in case it helped. He said his Kentucky granny swore by witch hazel and he still uses it for any cut or scrape.

That gave me the push to soak the finger in straight witch hazel several times through the afternoon and evening. I slept with it elevated.

This morning there is still a small healing spot there, but the swelling and pain are gone and I’m typing with all ten fingers.

Hooray for witch hazel, which is also an fine traditional aftershave and astringent. Available in the first aid section at Walmart, just $1.44 for 16 ounces of the house brand or $3 for the name brand.