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Mar 28

A Bit Of A Medi-Lapse

3-28-15 – This past month or so since my last update had a few notable things happen.

The first is that my daily chemotherapy drug, Imbruvica, stopped being delivered.  To recall the situation, the drug costs about $11,000.00 per month, which is kind of expensive.  Since I don’t have anywhere near that kind of money, Johnson & Johnson kindly take care of it through a patient assistance program.  Thing is, they approve for a year at a time, and my first year with them was up about a month ago and surprised me.

I contacted the folks at J&J and they sent me the forms for my oncologist and me to fill out, which we did, but it took some time to get the forms, then to get the oncologist to fill them out, then to get them back to J&J, then to get them approved, then to get the deliveries going again.

So, all in all, I was off my daily chemo meds for about a month.  It’s all fixed now though, as I got my first monthly bottle of them yesterday and started taking them again.  I made sure this time to put a reminder in my Outlook calendar a month BEFORE the year is up to contact J&J ahead of time so that there won’t be a lapse next year.

I also saw my regular doctor again since last time I updated.  We went over all the basics, and talked more specifically about the high cost of the breathing meds Spiriva and ProAir HFC (Albuterol inhaler).  The Spiriva was just way too expensive for me to afford every month, so after looking at the Humana drug formulary I emailed her after my last visit, she recommended that I switch from the high-costing Spiriva to a less costly albuterol delivered via a nebulizer machine.

My mom has the machine and is very familiar with everything about it, having used it extensively.  She said that it’s kind of a pain in the behind and that it didn’t work as well nor as conveniently as the Spiriva.  She said she doesn’t even use it anymore, and that I could take it if I wanted.

Since then however, the cost of the Spiriva and the Albuterol inhalers I use dropped from a total cost to me of over $300 per month to about $70 per month, now that I’ve got my $300 yearly premium paid to Humana.  Bottom line: I can now afford the Spiriva, so will forego the nebulizer machine.

I think at this point it bears repeating: Someday, when I’m king of the world, the insurance companies are going to be completely abolished.  Single-Payer for all will be my declaration!  So let it be written.  So let it be done!

Then we got to the issue of my blood pressure, and I said, “we’re gonna have a fight now.”  I told her that I just wasn’t buying into any of this business about me having high blood pressure.  I’ve been taking it at home pretty regularly now, and it goes between 120 / 72 to 150 / 78, but mostly in the lower ranges.

Not too long ago, recommendations for generations by medical professionals were that one should try to keep their blood pressure below their age+100 / 90.  That would put me at 156 / 90, and I’m well within that.  Then the drug companies put together studies that showed that everyone should be at 120 / 90 or take meds to lower it; Meds they conveniently make and sell.

My doctor disagreed that the drug companies had an agenda associated with those studies.  I subsequently disagreed with that analysis of the situation, armed with the knowledge that all corporations have an agenda, and the drug companies CERTAINLY have an agenda.  In concert with the insurance companies who also have an agenda, I don’t buy half the BS they’re shoveling, unless if jives with reality in a big way.

She pointed out that it’s totally up to me if I want to ignore her advice and not take the drugs to lower my blood pressure, but that she had to advise me that if I didn’t it would increase my chances for heart attack and stroke.  I pointed out to her that I have had relatives who smoked, drank, did drugs and ate fatty food slathered with lard who lived into their 90’s, and a nephew who was apparently fit as a fiddle suddenly die of a heart attack at age 18.  That said, I’ll take my chances, and if I die of a something related to my supposed high blood pressure, she should feel free to say, “I told you so”.

Then she let me know that she’s leaving her practice and that the office would get me hooked up with another doctor there, possibly the one my mother sees.  I’ve heard a lot of good things about him, so that’s fine with me.

She also scheduled me for another set of blood work to be done in about a month, on April 20th at 8:20 AM.  They’ll draw it there at my doctor’s office, rather than at the hospital like we did last time, and I’m to fast for 12 hours prior to the blood draw again.

My sister-in-law Trisha passed away also since my last update, which was a very sad thing.  She’d found out not long before that she had advanced esophageal cancer.  We talked on the phone about her condition and her fears and my own 14 and a half years with the disease, and how important it was not to lose hope.  She said she knew something was wrong for a long time, at least a year, but put off going to the doctor until she just couldn’t stand it any longer.  Unfortunately, by then it was too late to do anything about it.

Attending her funeral and seeing her and the family there hit me harder than I expected, and it really got me thinking about how important it is to let those we love know it – to tell them in words just what they mean to us, and not assume they know.  Sometimes in our busy lives, we forget how much that means to one another.

I suppose that’s pretty much all there is to note on my medical condition since the last update, so until next time, take care and try to make it a point to tell your loved ones what they mean to you.