My neurologists recently submitted a request for Ampyra to my Medicare D Prescription Drug Plan This is a new drug to help people with MS walk better by assisting the nerve message to go along damaged myelin sheaths. I was denied this coverage because it was not on their formulary.
As this drug costs over $12,000 a year it's obviously out of my budget. Therefore I will not be able to reap the benefits from this drug without some help to purchase it. As it's just been approved I understand that it may take time for it to be approved by prescription providers. I'm hoping that they will fast track it on their formulary's.
This issue brings me to the core issue of drug costs especially for people with Multiple Sclerosis. There has been a drop in the costs for the average person who takes prescriptions drugs due to the increase use of generics. For the family budget this is a very big plus.
However, it's only in the past 10 years that prescription drugs have been developed specifically for MS. And these prescription interferon drugs (disease modifiers), Betaseron, Avonex, Copaxone and Rebif are widely used by those who can afford them($20-30,000/year) thru their drug coverage.
These drugs are all Biologics. Developing generics for these biologic drugs has been very slow. And an additional problem for those of us with MS is that these drug companies also have a very long extended time with a drug to be exclusive. So generic drugs are not available. And I should add that these drugs as generic's will not come cheaply.
For the first time people with MS had hope that they could moderate the downside of MS with these interferon drugs. And they have been so helpful to many people with Multiple Sclerosis. I myself have benefited from Betaseron and now from Rebif.
Now because of more understanding of the biology underlining Multiple Sclerosis with advanced technology more drugs to help us are coming onto the market.
The latest Drug is an antibody Tysabri which is also used for Crohn's Disease. In both cases it's used only when the 1st line drugs are not effective. This is a once a month intravenous infusion therapy in a clinic, hospital or MD's office.The cost is about $32,000 a year plus the cost of the center where the infusion occurs.
Yes,this is a very exciting time for people with Multiple Sclerosis. Just thinking of the positive improvements in lives that these new drugs can bring to us is mind-boggling. Yet there is no doubt that our glass is half full.
The downside to all this is their costs. When you think of the way our Healthcare System is structured a person with MS is at a real disadvantage.
Our Health coverage comes through the workplace. If a person with MS is working for a large company the cost of their drugs is spread out over all the employees. But if they are working for a small company there's more of a problem. Small companies do not have the numbers to absorb the higher costs easily. And many small companies do not offer Health Care coverage at all. And if part time work seems like that's all a person can handle the chances of having Health Insurance Coverage is very rare. To insure yourself would be prohibitively expensive if you can get the insurance coverage at all.
I'm hoping very sincerely that this new Health Care Bill that passed will help to even things out. We have such a indiscriminate way of giving people Health Insurance in our country. If you work for a large company you are usually covered. And even here how much you have in co-pays or limits varies. Working for a small company is iffier and self employed even more so.
Of course at age 65 or two years after you have been approved for social security disability there's Medicare. However that certainly does not cover all the costs. A lot of States have a program that helps seniors with limited income with the expense of Prescription drugs like Epic in N.Y.. Once you've lost all your assets trying to pay for these drugs or you can no longer work there's Medicaid. This also varies from state to state . This last line of defense is good to have but wouldn't it be better to have help before you lose all trying to pay for the drugs?
This situation is very depressing and this is why I personally was in favor of the recent Health Care bill that passed. This bill has much to offer us. However, the details of how it will be implemented are being formulated right now within each of the agencies involved in it's implementation.
And of course the Health Care lobbyist's are in overdrive. The drug companies, the healthcare plans, the hospital's, the doctors etc. all want to protect their income. Which I respect. What I don't respect is gross profits made on the backs of people not being able to have healthcare. I personally feel that it's immoral.
But there are things we can do to help to make the implementation of this new legislation benefit us. We have our own lobbyist the MS Society. And the NMSS is really working hard lobbying for us at this critical time.
For example people living with MS could save thousands of dollars a year on their needed prescription medications through the legislative bill H.R. 3799. This bill would cap monthly out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs at $200 per prescription, or $500 per month for those taking more than one medication. The National MS Society participated in a national call-in-day on April 13 along with many other patient advocacy groups.
If you have concerns like I have and if you are not an MS Activist you must become one. The MS Society is on top of what's going on in Congress and will lobby for us and our needs.They will keep you informed and you can participate on many different levels to assist their efforts in helping us. For example you will be asked to call or e-mail your legislator on these critical issues.
They make it very easy. You are encouraged to comment on how the issues personally affect you or people you know. Or you can just sign it after you have read it of course. But this is something positive you can do.
So go to www.nationalMSsociety.org/MSactivist and sign up become involved and do it at the level you are capable of . That's all anybody would want.
"Into a woman's keeping is committed the destiny of the generations to come after us." -Theodore Roosevelt
Happy Mother's Day all special mom's.
To those who are raising young children with disabilities. And those whose older children develop disabilities.
"The love of a mother is never exhausted. It never changes, it never tires; it endures through all; in good repute, in bad repute. In the face of the world's condemnation, A mother's love still lives on." - Washington Irving
To those who have disabilities themselves and are raising young children with disabilities or are raising young children without disabilities.
And those who have disabilities and their grown children develop disabilities.
"My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me, and I felt that I had someone to live for, someone I must not disappoint. - Thomas Edison
And I don't want to forget grandmother's who have disabilities themselves or whose children or grandchildren's children have disabilities too.
"When you are a mother you are never really alone in your thoughts. You are connected to your child and to all those who touch your lives. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child." -Sophia Loren
And my favorite??..
The Special Mother
by Erma Bombeck
Did you ever wonder how mothers of disabled children were chosen?
Somehow I visualize God hovering over the earth selecting his instruments of propagation with great care and deliberation. As He observes, He instructs His angels to make notes in a giant ledger.
"This one gets a daughter. The Patron saint will be Cecelia"
"This one gets twins. The Patron saint will be Matthew"
"This one gets a son. The Patron saint.....give her Gerard. He's used to profanity"
Finally He passes a name to an angel and smiles. "Give her a disabled child".
The angel is curious. "Why this one God? She's so happy"
"Exactly," smiles God. "Could I give a disabled child to a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel!"
"But has she patience?" asks the angel.
"I don't want her to have too much patience or she will drown in a sea of sorrow and despair. Once the shock and resentment wears off, she'll handle it. I watched her today, she has that feeling of self and independence that is so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I'm going to give her has his own world. She has to make him live in her world and that's not going to be easy."
"But Lord, I don't think she even believes in you"
God smiles, "No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect - she has just enough selfishness"
The angel gasps - "Selfishness? is that a virtue?"
God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally she won't survive. Yes here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn't realize it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a 'spoken word'. She will never consider any 'step' ordinary. When her child says "Momma" for the first time she will be present at a miracle and will know it. I will permit her to see clearly the things I see...ignorance, cruelty and prejudice...and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life because she is doing my work as surely as if she is here by my side"
"And what about her Patron saint?" asks the angel, his pen poised in mid air.
God smiles "A mirror will suffice"
Have a wonderful and happy mothers day! Let yourself be pampered and filled to the brim with love. ellie
Last week my two wonderful sons put up a ramp off of the bridge going over our back yard which runs from our house to the deck. This ramp allows me to go down to our garden to where my raised salad bed is.
It's easy for me to go up and down the ramp with my wheelchair or my new walker. If my walking is gone after I've been out front or I'm not good I can go back up the ramp by sitting on my walker and push myself up backwards very easily.
In every way this new walker was a wise choice. The larger wheels make it easier for me to go over grass, gravel or bumpy dirt. This walker also has a basket with space to carry my gardening equipment. And of course I also can more easily check my plants like my Climbing Fairy Rose Bush and other plants on that side of the garden.
In addition it allows me easy access to the side of our house to check on the plants there too.Then I go around to the front where I garden also. As I have also put in a lot of time and thought there too. So it's important for me to check that out just like I do in back.
My son's will be putting together a slide show on how they made the ramp. So be sure to check back if your thinking of putting up a ramp, They put mine up in 2 days! ellie
Last Tuesday I was down at my Neurologist's office having my monthly IV Sol-u-med treatment. There were four other patients there also. We were all of a similar age and had had MS for years. We had adjusted to our losing function by adapting to continue to have a good life.
I was feeling good coming out of my last relapse and a bit chatty. The room has low light a very easygoing nurse and comfortable chairs which produces a restful environment. We started talking about things that were of mutual interest and found that the ways we have been accommodating multiple sclerosis in our lives was quite similar.
For example: we started talking about how much we like using the computer. And we found that we were all dependent to quite a degree on the information given to us by our children and grandchildren. Then laughing we shared that they all were giving us too much information too fast! They didn't do it on purpose. Their brain's just worked faster than ours now did.
We also were finding similar ways to compensate for this too. We unanimously agreed that having them write it down so that we could do it at our own speed was the best. And it was a unanimous very strong no- no to giving us two or three Windows Shortcuts at the same time. One at a time is our speed.
Then we moved on to talk about gardening which was a love of us all. I had just recently received three Rose Plants from the Antique Rose Emporium in Texas. I shared how I want to use them as a bower over part of my bridge that goes across my yard to get from my house to the deck. One of the group there had a husband who loved planting roses so we shared information on roses. And when we talked about our vegetable gardens I had to share my raised salad bed too. One person was going to try the upside down tomato plants as her dog was into everything. As we all had dogs at some point,we understood.
And of course the conversation came around to the heat problem. In the summer for all of us it was early to bed and Early to rise so that we could get out before it got hot. When we went out we all brought our cell phone's with us so if we stayed out too long and couldn't move we could call to get help back into the shade.
I've been thinking about this conversation throughout the past week. I've been trying to figure out why it seemed to be so satisfying and meaningful to me.
Could it be that over the years we had had to face and learn to live with most of the same problems with MS. And over these years we had all learned to adjust to our losing function by adapting to continue to have a good life. None of us were giving up on finding ways to continue in some fashion doing things that we love to do. I think it was because of this there was a real emotional connection of similar problems we faced .
For example most times when I mention heat being a major problem limiting how much I can do outside in the summer to non-MS people I feel a sense of disconnect. There's no gut emotional connection that you feel they understand. But this is what I was getting with the other women from our talk .
But then when someone talks to me about their divorce or the loss of a spouse or child I can't that say I have a gut emotional understanding of their situation either.
You can understand other people's issues on a much deeper level if you have had a similar experience. You can try even if you haven't had the experience but it will not be a gut emotional connection with that person. I'm sure that this is the reason why support groups are so popular.
I know of people whose only friends are those in their support group. I haven't done much with support groups and when I tried it didn't meet my needs. However this casual conversation with like people was very important to me.
It was also a reminder to me not to expect the impossible from people who haven't walked in my shoes. ellie
This is a don't miss event. We have no coverage in the USA on the major networks of the Paralympics during the events.
But there is going to be a recap of the highlights this Saturday from 3 to 5 PM ET on NBC If you already have plans- tape it to watch later.
NBC did a similar program after the summer Paralympics in Beijing. I watched it with my family they all agreed it was marvelous, inspirational, would not have wanted to miss it.
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