Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 211 of 365

Every time I go to the doctor I feel like I'm digging a bigger hole for myself.

Today was the rheumatologist appointment and I had a couple things I wanted to find out about. The first one was about another medication - one for my back. On Day 190 when I was at the pain clinic one of the only acceptable options for me was an anti-inflammatory medication that I could use sparingly for a few months to provide some temporary relief. When the pain clinic doctor gave me the prescription he cautioned me that the use of this drug will cause an increase in the side effects of my methotrexate (the chemotherapy drug I take for the rheumatoid arthritis). So I hadn't taken that anti-inflammatory yet, hadn't had any temporary relief from the back pain yet. I wanted to check with the rheumatologist first. His answer today?

No. That medication is not something you should be taking.

The second thing I wanted to find out about was something to relief the miserable pain, stiffness, and swelling of my hands. My hands have always been the first to go. When I'm starting to have a flare-up I notice it in my hands first. I've given up crocheting. I've given up hand quilting. I squeeze toothpaste with the heel of my hand. I mostly wear slip on shoes. I can't grasp things, hold things, or balance things in my hands.

And now since my entire day at work is spent typing away (and I have several days of those in a row each week), my hands aren't getting better. In fact, they are getting worse. A lot worse. So I asked about some braces I can work in.

His answer? Yep, that might be a good idea. Except...

If the hands are getting worse despite the aggressive drugs I'm taking, we need to take a closer look. There should be no reason, even with the excess typing, that the pain, stiffness, and swelling should be not getting better and it especially should not be getting worse. So another ultrasound has been ordered. And if the results show the hands are the same or worse than before?

Another treatment. Just about the last option. An expensive option.

On Day 15, I started an expensive treatment. A $500+ a shot once-a-week treatment. Over $2,000 a month for one injectable medication. (Thank goodness for some insurance help.)

But this new, last ditch effort medication? Three starter doses, then doses every eight weeks (or could be more often). Each dose is a 2 hour IV. I have to sit in the infusion center for 2 hours at a time. But the cost is the worst part.

According to the nurse, around $10,000 a treatment. That's ten thousand dollars for each one of those IVs. Thirty thousand dollars right off the bat for the starter doses. $10,000 each time after that. I don't know what insurance covers, but imagine not all of it.

If that won't make a person depressed, I don't know what will.

So here at the end of the day, I'm retreating to my sewing room and am going to fold some fabric. Some bargain fabric I got this week. Perfect for kids quilts, and perfect for a different project I have coming up soon.