Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Good News, Bad News

I've blogged before about the advanced macular degeneration in my left eye. The six weeks in-between treatments passes too quickly. Today I had my sixth appointment with the retina specialist.

My vision has deteriorated over the last three visits. Today my left eye couldn't even make out the letters on the top row of the eye chart. I was shocked and more than a little concerned.

Paralleling the deterioration in my eyesight, the retina scans I get every visit show my condition has worsened. Linda, the delightful "little girl" who does the scans showed me the images from today and my last two visits. Even my untrained, nearly-blind eyes could see the progression from bad to really bad. I knew I was about to get another shot in the eye.

The retina specialist explained that after an initial positive response, some patients stop responding to the Avastin injections. Apparently I'm one of those patients. A subset of these patients have success with injections of Lucentis. Hopefully I'm one of them.

Except for the one time I didn't have to have an injection, each visit to the
retina specialist costs about $2,000. Of that, $75 is the Avastin. Lucentis costs nearly $4,000 per dose. Like that's not bad enough, I'll need the treatment every four weeks instead of every six.

Thankfully I have good insurance. Still, I had to fill out a ton of paperwork, including an application for assistance from the Chronic Disease Foundation which will cut my $400 per injection copay in half. I have to send them a copy of last year's tax return, too.

Increasing the frequency of my visits is upsetting. But the idea of losing my vision upsets me even more. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the Lucentis treatments will work.

I've been asking my partner and others to either drop me off or pick me up from the appointments. I really hate putting people out, especially as often as the appointments roll around. Everyone I know works during the day.

Today I drove myself home from the appointment. I took scotch tape with me and taped two pairs of the freebie shades available from the office inside my giant, old man sunglasses. It worked well enough to get me from the doctor's office to the home of...

The Crotchety Old Man

1 comment:

CathyB said...

OMG, that blows, Michael!! I may have read before, but what about the other eye? Do you have MD in that one too?

Thank goodness for good insurance! And I hope the paperwork will result in reduction of the co-pay. Dang.

And please consider my offer: I am off on Fridays. If you can get some of your appointments on Fridays, I would be more than happy to assist in getting you to and from them. It wouldn't be a favor, it would be paying it forward for similar assistance given to me over the past year with my surgeries and complications.

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