Wednesday, March 30, 2016

My Wish on this World Bipolar Day 2016

My wish this year is simple: better treatments, more affordably priced, and available to all who need them.

That's a tall order, I know.

I'm one of the lucky ones. I can afford, thanks to insurance and my husband's medical savings plan through his job, to get most of the medication that I need. I say most because there are newer treatments that my doctor would love to try me on (I'm struggling with my old med cocktail lately, it doesn't seem to be working any more even with dose increases, which increase side effects even if they don't help your mixed state...)

She had some samples from the manufacturer, but said plainly she was reluctant to start me on them because the medication would cost 1000.00 per month, out of pocket, because it's not covered by my Medicare Part D insurance plan.

Because I have a Medicare Part D insurance plan, I am ineligible for discount programs from the manufacturers of the medications. Why this should be I have no idea; it seems to me that if you're on Medicare you should need the discount more, not less. But it doesn't matter. Because of that, I can't get the costs down.

So whether or not the newer meds would help me remains a mystery for now; until their price comes down, I won't be able to find out.

It's terrifying, how many meds my insurance company has eliminated from its formulary this year. Including the brand name drug of my mainstay in my treatment; so far, the generic does not seem to be working as well as the brand name did, even at a higher dose.

It leaves me wondering what will become of me if time doesn't work with the latest med adjustment to straighten me out. If the depression keeps gaining on me; if I keep sleeping all day because one med makes me exhausted even though another makes me edgy.

This is the shallowest thing I could post as far as side effects from my Bipolar treatment go, but it's more than just an issue of appearance and losing your self-image.

I've gained a lot of weight in the almost five years since I began my journey on Bipolar treatment, mostly, sadly, because I couldn't continue on Lithium, which didn't seem to impact my weight.

I'm not even on the meds considered the worst offenders for weight gain (though, those are the ones that my insurance company would rather I take, the ones that are tier 1 and 2 meds) still, I've gained and weigh more than I ever have in my life, even more than when I was 9 months pregnant with my daughter.

Adjusting my diet does not seem to help. I am limited from working out because of degenerative disc disease and other joint problems from a rare genetic syndrome.

In other words, I'm toast when it comes to these meds and weight gain.

The weight gain isn't just humiliation on top of all the other suffering that Bipolar already brings, it puts me at a greater risk for serious health problems, specifically Diabetes, which can be brought on by this classification of medications.

I am taking multiple meds in that classification. And it scares me. A lot.

This is what I looked like before I was (correctly, at last) diagnosed with Bipolar and began treatment:

This is what I look like today:

It isn't the years that have aged me so much. It's the medication (and yes, the illnesses themselves.) But the weight gain is just insult to injury and I worry for my future-- will I add Diabetes to the list of things that I have to deal with because of the fact that these treatments are the only options available that my body can tolerate?

I've been on so many medications since being diagnosed, and failed or been allergic/intolerant of most, that I'm kind of stuck right now with what I've got, even though it really doesn't feel like its working any more.

All the while, in my doctor's office, sits samples of a new med which may very well be able to help me. That has a better side effect profile than the meds I'm currently on.

It could be The Answer.

And I can't have it.

Because of money.

Like I said, I'm lucky that I can afford any treatment at all; right now the copay on one of my meds cost 415 dollars to fill at the pharmacy. I'm lucky that supply will last two months.

If it works. If it helps at all. If it's even worth taking any more.

So again, my wish for everyone who suffers not only mental illness but all illnesses on this World Bipolar Day: affordable medications. More research. Don't just medicate us and cast us into a corner once a drug goes generic and we don't interest you any more, Big Pharma.

Keep working on better treatments, and I promise you, anyone who possibly can will be so grateful for them, that we would very, very gladly pay all we can for them.