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Okay, so I’ve been whining a lot lately. I think I’ve had reason, but whining none the less. But this past week has borne out my long-held assertion that this, too, shall pass. Here are some updates:

Thanks to www.elisapreston.com for this great graphic.

Thanks to http://www.elisapreston.com for this great graphic.

  • Monday was my first infusion with the doubled Actemra dose as well as my first methotrexate injection. While I was pretty wiped out Monday afternoon, I was no longer hobbling in pain when I got up Tuesday morning. That was the first time that’s happened in more than a year. The most amazing part is not only the pain relief but how much the mind-numbing fatigue has lifted. Not even the dreaded methotrexate brain fog. I have had so much energy and enthusiasm this week, I feel like a new person. I don’t think I realized how badly I felt until I started feeling better. I even sent a message to my rheumatologist on Wednesday afternoon extolling how great I feel. I know it’s early and I know that I have a history of becoming resistant to treatments, but if this great feeling should go away tomorrow, I’ll continue to be thankful for the wonderful week I’ve had. As the old joke goes, “He may not be Mr. Right, but he’s Mr. Right Now.” This treatment plan may not work forever, but it’s working for now and I’m happy.
  • My insurance copay for the Actemra, which was $150 under my old plan, has dropped to $50 under the new plan.
  • According to my scales (my doctor’s is slightly different), I’ve lost 15 pounds since I started on my weight loss journey. As a result, all my labs are looking good. Cholesterol is down. Triglycerides (which are the bane of my existence) have dropped by half, well into normal limits. The glucose intolerance I developed appears to be under control with results at healthy levels. All this happened over the holidays where I succumbed to more temptation than I should. The really, really good news? The exceptionally expensive drug that I’ve been taking to support this journey is now covered by my new insurance, so I can afford this investment. (My cost dropped from $1100 to $35.) Of course, I still have to lose more weight than I’d like but I am encouraged by these early results.
  • I think I’ve worked through all the (ridiculous) insurance/COBRA issues that cropped up and have my 2016 insurance plans in place as they should be. There are still weird, errant things that have popped up. For example, I got a letter from my December insurance carrier with a bill for $222 for premiums for December. The website clearly shows my payment for more than $600 and fully paid coverage through December 31. No clue why I got this letter and the insurance rep says it was sent in error. Errors like that tend to result in denied insurance claims. And while we’re well into January, I have no doubt there are some miscellaneous claims from last month floating around cyberspace. So I’m still holding my breath but I have paid my premiums through the month of February (for not only health but the previously missing dental and vision coverage), and I am hopeful everything is finally solid.
  • I had my follow-up visit with my spine surgeon. My TLIF surgery is healing nicely. I have a follow-up in four months at which time I’ll hopefully be released. At this point, though, the surgeon did clear me to do the stretches to help resolve some issues I’ve been having with my IT band, so I should be able to improve that situation as well. Those stretches tend to torque the spine and my physical therapist was very hesitant to have me do those until I got clearance.
  • There are still some things unresolved. The big one is that my disability claim that I filed in November is still “pending”. This means I have had no income since I left the workforce. Under ERISA regulations, they have two more weeks to make a determination. I have no doubt they are looking for ways to deny the claim so I have started my search for a benefits lawyer so I can appeal the decision.

All in all, 2016 is starting off well. As they say in the securities business, “past performance is not an indicator of future results.” This means that just because things have gone well in the past doesn’t mean they won’t go to hell in a handbasket in the future. I’m, if not smart enough, at least experienced enough to know that things can change in a heartbeat. But I at least have hope and that’s a good thing.

I hope your new year also bring you hope as well as health and happiness. Thanks for checking in.

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