Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Back to School

My two boys returned to school on Monday. This is both good and bad for me. Of course, I enjoy their company, and we did a lot of fun things this summer. And after only three days, the early mornings are already killing me! Soon, our evenings will be filled with soccer practice and hours of homework. I do enjoy those relaxed summer evenings.

On the other hand, I am enjoying my very quiet house! I really didn't do much writing at all this summer, so I'm looking forward to getting back to my working routines. So far this week, it's mostly just clearing off my desk, going through my e-mail, and trying to sort through the stacks of back-to-school paperwork.

I've been feeling very good this past week. I was even able to enjoy a day hiking at a local creek with my friend and our kids on Friday. It's so hard to figure out why I'm feeling good, though. As I mentioned last week, a mix-up with my insurance company forced me to cut back to just one Valtrex per day temporarily. Is that why I'm feeling good? If so, what's going to happen when I go back to the full dose of two Valtrex per day? Do I need the higher dose to prevent drug resistant viruses? Or maybe the timing is just coincidental, and I've reached the end of my "herx" reaction (a temporary worsening) and can expect to keep improving?

There's another option, too. About 3 weeks ago, I started Naltrexone, a medication that's supposed to boost my Natural Killer (NK) cell function. Maybe that's starting to work.

So many questions and so few answers! All of this is so new to everyone, including the doctors. I guess I just need to wait and see. Hopefully, my higher stamina will continue.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Insurance Woes

I've gotten so far behind on blogging lately! It's the busy season for me, summer, with my kids home from school. We return to our normal routine next week when school starts, and then I'll have more time to write.

The past few weeks have been filled with one health insurance mess after another, mostly to do with our prescription drug coverage, which seems to shrink daily. It's so frustrating!

First, I stopped by the drugstore to pick up one of my allergy medications. It's a generic 12-hour decongestant/guaifenesin combination that I've taken every day for the past 8 years or so. The pharmacy clerk told me my insurance had stopped covering this medication, and it would cost me $100 (with insurance, it's $20). The insurance company never contacted me to let me know our coverage had changed. Phone calls got me nowhere - they couldn't tell me why it was no longer covered or what I could get as an alternative.

To make matters worse, it turned out that they are no longer covering any medications in this class. Both my younger son and I take two different varieties of this medication to help control our allergy and sinus symptoms. Since starting on these, my sinus headaches have almost completely disappeared, and Craig made it through last spring without a single sinus infection.

Then, weeks after sending my new Valtrex prescription to our mail-order pharmacy, I received a letter in return that they couldn't fill it because it was "beyond my limit." I guess they had a problem with the higher dose? Who knows. Anyway, I was in a panic, so I e-mailed Dr. Levine and begged her to call the insurance company and plead my case. She was understandably reluctant to get involved in a long battle, but she finally agreed to give it a try. After multiple phone calls and faxes, Medco finally agreed to fill the new prescription, but said they could not send it to me until August 30. No idea why? So, I had to cut back to just one Valtrex a day to make them last until the end of the month.

Meanwhile, I'm struggling to find a new, low-cost way to get the decongestants for Craig and I. I guess we'll have to pay for them out of pocket, so I'm looking for the lowest prices. So far, seems to be the best option. I'd appreciate any recommendations from other people who have to pay for their own medications. As frustrated and fed-up as I am with our prescription insurance, I also have a new appreciation for people who don't have any insurance at all. I can't imagine how difficult that must be. Any advice on low-cost prescriptions is welcome!