A drum roll seems inadequate

Today, we took a big step. It could save us a few hundred bucks a month while providing Stella with a better form of nourishment. OR IT COULD RUIN EVERYTHING.

You see, Stella’s formula is no longer covered by insurance. The really insane part of all this? Regence covered the formula when it was fed to her through a tube. But now that we’ve busted our asses to wean her off the tube, saving the insurance company costs encompassing her pump, tubes, tape and peripherals, they will not pay for her formula. It makes no sense whatsoever. NONE. We even had her doctor write an appeal, explaining why the formula was medically necessary. Doesn’t matter. Formula is completely excluded under the asinine rules of our insurance plan.

Stella’s elemental (hypoallergenic) formula costs about $40 for a 14-ounce can, roughly twice as much as typical formula (probably a little more). We can’t afford this right now. Especially since I was laid off. (I’d been expecting to go back to work part-time, but no dice. Did I mention I was available for freelance writing work?) That said, OF COURSE, we will continue to buy this formula and make whatever sacrifices necessary if we discover that her pricey fake milk is indeed crucial to her well-being.

A dietician recommended a formula based on hydrolyzed whey protein. This means that there is dairy in the formula. Even though it is partially broken down to “aid digestion,” this formula poses a risk. So, we’re starting slow. To make her 24-calorie-per-ounce formula, I usually make batches of 10 ounces of water mixed with six scoops of formula. So today, one of those six scoops was the new formula. I’ve read that it can take up to two days for the intolerance to rear its ugly head with symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting and general fussiness due to the pain. So I think I will stick with the low amount of new formula so that I don’t completely bombard her system with dairy.

It’s possible that she’s already outgrown the intolerance (though it usually happens closer to one year). Or that she never even had it to begin with. I’m not sure I ever explained that her “cow’s milk protein intolerance” diagnosis has never been proven scientifically. It’s just a theory based on her lab results and symptoms. Cody and I have read about another possibility: lactose overload. This could’ve happened when, after experiencing painful reflux, Stella nursed for very short periods (because taking in larger volumes exacerates reflux), giving her tons of lactose-heavy foremilk and little to no fatty hindmilk. All that lactose may’ve overwhelmed her system, which just couldn’t break it all down, causing damage to her intestines, weeks and weeks of diarrhea, terrible stomach pain, etc.

Another bit of motivation for this somewhat daring move is that her current formula consists mostly of corn syrup. Not the best quality nutrition. Might as well give her sugar water and a multivitamin. Then again, with all the corn syrup she’s eating, shouldn’t Stella be morbidly obese by now?

She was fussier than usual tonight, and her cheeks are rosier than usual, so I am already worried. Not sure we’ll have the guts to continue this trial much longer. In the meantime, I’ll be watching her facial expressions, cheeks, and general mood very carefully.


  1. Mariangela · August 20, 2012

    OMG… I am living the same nightmare with the insurance company, they don’t want to cover it and it is so expensive!

    • Olga · September 4, 2012

      mariangela — we ended up getting ours covered through WIC and secondary state insurance. can you call a social worker at your hospital or doctor’s office and explain the situation? there are programs out there that you might be covered under. and yes, it is RIDICULOUS.

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