“What goes up, must come down.” These lyrics keep dancing around (banging around?) in my head. They seem to be the only thing that accurately describes my current state of being. And let’s face it, my life in general.
Once again, the rug has been pulled out from under me. I felt like my life was traveling in an upward momentum. With starts and stops along the way, of course. But, truly could I expect anything less? Still, generally moving in a positive direction.
After such a struggle throughout the fall, with a constantly flaring body unresponsive to current courses of treatment, unrelenting fatigue, and an onslaught of back and forth calls to insurance pleading my case, there was finally some light at the end of the tunnel: infusion treatments were finally approved, literally in the 11th hour.
I began my Simponi Aria infusions around Christmas and experienced immediate improvement in my symptoms. My morning stiffness went from 3 hours to 2 and even onto a mere 1 many days!! My fatigue was abating and I was able to participate in multiple family gatherings without weeks of post-event “crash and burn.” It was a gift. It was a miracle!
I anxiously awaited my second infusion and experienced similar success, even a tad better this time! “We may have finally found something that treats my autoimmune illness,” my heat sang with glee!
Visions of days without pain coupled with participating in, instead of just sideline observing my life danced in my head! I even allowed myself to daydream about a future of renewed productivity and purposefulness.
In the last couple of weeks, my body started to crash again (hence the lack of blog posts); locking, swollen joints, pain and fatigue. But this time, I was happy for the symptoms. Strange, I know. But they were clear indicators that the infusion indeed was working because I was on a downward trend heading right into my next scheduled infusion…
This Monday! Hooray!! I can’t wait! Bring on the relief!
But, then, remember the second half of my opening refrain? …
“…Must come down…”
And, come down it has. Crashing down.
Today, was my first follow-up with my rheumatologist since the start of the new infusion treatments. I gave him the same low-down I just gave you. And he looked sad. Defeated.
“Has the billing office contacted you?” he tentatively begins.
“Guess they’re leaving it up to me to be the Bad Guy.”
What? What is he trying to say?! My heart begins to sink. Am I hearing this right?
Both Medicare and my (supposedly “super-duper”) private secondary insurance suddenly decided to retroactively decline my treatment.
“Its off-label,” they tsk. Tsk.
Well guess what numnuts?! EVERY medication I take is off-label. I have a RARE disease that does not get studied because it is not profitable for the drug companies whom sponsor said studies. Never mind, that my disease, Relapsing Polychondritis, has an extremely high mortality rate in untreated cases (before discovery, most people were diagnosed post-mortem). Guess they don’t care when it’s only a 1000 people in the U.S. population.
So, now, not only have they denied any future treatments, they have also reneged on payments due for treatments already administered! That’s 2 infusions at the “cut-rate” price of $10,000!!! How can that even be ethical?
Doctor: “Legally, you could be held financially responsible for this amount. Ethically, I could never allow that to happen. And, we could continue treatments if you have a bunch of cash lying around to pay out of pocket.” Wry smile.
Full disclosure here: I just did our taxes and guess what? My husband and I currently bring in a combined annual income of a whopping $33,000! So, yeah, I don’t think so.
So, bottom line… it appears that insurance (or let’s face it, in this case, the government), feels it is more cost effective to keep me chronically ill (meaning more urgent care costs, hospitalizations and the such, in the future) and unable to have gainful employment (requiring on-going SSD payments), then to pay for a medications that will treat my disease (now) and prevent the progression of it.
What kind of upside-down world do we live in?
But, guess what? The ball has once again landed back in my court. And what choice do I have but to evolve and adapt once again? To reassess life and the options it presents me, to pick up the pieces and try to build something worthwhile out of the rubble…
And I will.
But, for a short bit, I just want to have a pity-party.
To whine, “why can’t anything ever be easy, or at least simple, for me?!”
Because it just is NOT.
There must be some major life lessons I’m supposed to learn this lifetime around.
They say that when you pray for something, God doesn’t give it to you, he (she) gives you an opportunity to develop that skill. But did I really need another chance to practice Acceptance. Resilience. Inner Strength?
It feels like I have enough of that to fill 10 lifetimes.