December 6, 2018

Life of a Migraineur: What's Free

Visiting my Neurologist is bittersweet. Sometimes I am excited for new advancements in treating migraines, eager to try whatever is new on the market. But that means I still suffer from migraines. I have been with the same Neuro since I was eleven years old. He knows all my history. I know all the nurses; they have watched me grow up just as I've watched their children grow up through pictures. Yet I will never get used to their greeting smiles every time I enter the office. It is one of pity. It is one of empathy because they know my history with migraines and my continuous search for a cure. And none of us ever say goodbye by saying, "see you later" because it is our hopes that I won't see them again in three (3) months. Maybe by then I will know what's it like to be free from migraines.

Treatment is only good for so long. I believe the daith piercing is still very helpful. My overall number of migraines did indeed decrease. The last dosage adjustment of daily meds seems to have helped also; the migraines are less severe. But as of this year, I developed a new kind of headache triggered by the weather, humidity percentage and pollen count. It would come and stay dull for days. Unlike a migraine that would take up residence on one side of my head, this new type of headache started in back of my head then worked its way around. Also unlike the severe migraines I am used to, I could still function with this new type. Sure, it slowed me down a bit but I wasn't immobile. Sometimes it would go away and sometimes it would develop into more. So how was I to treat it? And what exactly is it?

Bad News: My Neurologist and his resident explained this new type of headache pain is still a migraine in my case. I still have aura associated. It lasts far too long. But instead of literally knocking me out and causing nausea, it torments me slowly. It nags. It teases. It ignores the eviction notice.

Good News: The number of severe migraines has drastically gone down. Never mind that in its place are a cluster of small migraines. It is possible that a new approved drug can help me further. Aimovig is dubbed the "miracle migraine medication" and is a breakthrough according to studies and patients worldwide. In May 2018, it became the first medication to be FDA-approved for the prevention of migraines. Users report 50% less migraines. Therefore, allowing people like me to live their best life without the inconvenience of chronic pain. And it's not a daily pill. It is an injection taken only once a month. That's needle and done. No doc visit. I can self-administer. #DASSIT

Sounds great, right? Except my health insurance does not cover it. The Neurologist warned me that my wack ass (my words, not his) insurance would most likely deny the claim. Before I got in the car good, the pharmacy was calling me. They received my doctor's prescription order and attempted to fill it. However, the insurance denied coverage. The retail cost is $679.99 so would I like to continue with the prescription order? Let me say it louder for the people in the back hard-of-hearing. πŸ—£ONE INJECTION COSTS ALMOST $700 PER MONTH!

First of all, why should I have to choose between paying for medical treatment and paying rent? I cannot afford that out-of-pocket cost. I crunched numbers. I re-adjusted my budget multiple times. I was ready to cut off cable, lower wifi speed, and keep the heat on bare minimum (rationalizing that my fitty 'lem snuggies would keep me warm). I was going to host a "Shop My Closet" party to sell clothes and handbags that I barely wear anyway. I was ready to stop eating meat to save money and become an instant vegetarian. But I can't eat romaine lettuce because of the E. coli outbreak. By the way, did you know E. coli is a bacteria that lives in the intestines of people and animals? So who the fuck keeps shitting on the lettuce?! Anyway...I even considered a GoFundMe; I have seen way worse reasons for crowd-funding. At least my purpose is for a cure and better quality of life.

I prayed. I prayed harder. Then I let it go. The doctor's office said given my medical history, I qualified for a discount and though it wasn't a sure thing, the pharmacy should accept it. My Neurologist's office provided a history of my file listing all other medications I've tried over the years. Basically to prove that this specific treatment is the next logical step. Meanwhile, I asked for my coverage claim to be resubmitted but again, insurance would not cover a single copper penny.

So I went to the pharmacy to pick up the new 'script. It was about to hurt my heart to swipe my card for $679.99 but the medicine is worth a try. It could be a miracle drug. I could be the next person splashing in waves on the beach in informercial saying how it changed my life. I, at least, owed it a chance. And if it's meant for me to try this new treatment, the Lord will work it out like I asked Him in prayer. The pharmacist greeted me with a smile (not the empathetic kind but the "I got everything on your Christmas wish list" kind of smile). And this is the part where I started crying in the middle of pharmacy. The discount was honored. My total amount due was $0.00 for a whole year.

Listen. I didn't walk out. I praise danced my way to the car. I lifted one hand to say "Hallelujah" and the other hand had a tight grip on the prescription bag. I am so grateful. So appreciative that I have a team of support looking out for me. No doubt my parents prayed on my behalf. So blessed to have a God that favors me. Whether the injection works or not, I learned a lesson in faith.

It has only been five (5) days since my first preventative injection. Thanks to Chickadee for administering it for me. I was far too nervous—as evidenced in my shaky hands while recording it. So far, it holds true to its purpose. No obvious side effects except an immediate burst of energy. I was running around my place doing a load of laundry, emptying the dish washer, wiping wood surfaces, cleaning mirrors, and reorganizing my shoe closet according to color and type. And I still wasn't tired. Hours later, I forced myself to sleep by cranking the diffuser with extra drops of lavender and chamomile essential oils. The next day my body felt stiff and heavy (joint pain is a common side effect) but I was fine after soaking in an epsom salt bath. If these are the only side effects I experience, I am totally okay with that.

I don't want to get my hopes up. I don't want to jinx it either. Yet I am claiming good health. I so want this "miracle treatment" to work well with my two (2) daily migraine meds as the perfect cocktail. This is a long journey and I am buckled in for the free ride!

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